There do not seem to be the words in English to capture the sense of loss I was experiencing by the time I’d reached the point where I concluded yesterday’s post. I cannot say finished writing it because I was moved by my own recollection of the emotions I’d experienced that I needed to get up and walk away from the memory. Even last year, I’d had my doubts about the workability of remotely attempting to conduct a design research analysis and synthesis workshop using digital tools.
Today, I’m convinced that this particular aspect of the human centered design process is not digitizable without significant intangible losses in team chemistry. When teams come together to ‘post-it’ on the wall, it as much a physical activity generating creative energy as a cognitive one. Bouncing up and down, rapidly sketching on whiteboards – sometimes literally grabbing the marker out of another’s hand before they’ve even finished speaking due to the excitement of a spark or idea – all of these are as much an intangible and unmeasurable part of the concept development journey as the output itself.
The magic of design lies in the chemistry of the team, or so Steve Portigal and I wrote in our 2005 article “Shopping for Innovation” after interviewing numerous creative directors from both sides of the client/agency table. The raising of barriers to what is already considered an exercise in judgement leading to losses not yet wholly recognized by researchers and practitioners is the issue I want to leave on the table with this post.
The day creative chemistry can be transferred onto Zoom, is the day I’ll believe digitalization can solve all our problems.