Getting Social with the Seattle Design Crowd

POSTED BY Rose Cameron on Sep 25, 2012

Tattoos, leather jackets, spikey white hair, fashion-forward combos of alternative shoes and leg wear. University lecture theatre? No cigar…but close.

Last Thursday, Hornall Anderson added some fuel to the fire of Seattle’s design community by hosting a Design Management Institute (DMI) Night Out event under the theme: Beyond the Boundaries. Essentially – free beer, gourmet pizza and some hot talent in design and social media discussing newfangled inputs into the design process. 

From mammoth corporations to gutsy boutiques, they all gathered along with DMI board member Darrel Rhea (who was also running an intense 2-day seminar on design research in our HAX lab downstairs) to discuss how crowdsourcing and social media will be impacting our universes in the near and long term. Some of the top names in crowdsourcing - BrainJuicer, MotiveQuest, SDL, Eyeka – were in attendance. I got the rare opportunity to attempt to wrangle this gnarly crew as the facilitator. Chiclets out-shouted the guys, bicycle locks were closely critiqued, and the community came together to examine how our practices and thought processes would be challenged by social.

In short – the incorporation of a wider set of thinkers or a “creative class” is being beta tested by a host of companies and agencies. Whether for Inspiration, Ideation, Creation, or Evaluation — all aspects of design are now having “outsiders” influence our final product. When the client feels the well has run dry or the agency needs added juice, we are efficiently able to go out to the wider creative community online for a shot in the metaphorical arm. And we’re benefiting from the observational methods and the meeting of multiple minds:

  • Observing the online conversation for unmet needs/white space opportunities that traditional research never unearthed
  • Including a wider set of specialists/generalists to ideate and edit ideas 24/7
  • Creative people around the world competing for high dollar prizes that will net them a spot on TV
  • Leaning on organic responses to campaigns or testing via investment viability versus familiarity to ensure the next best doesn’t resemble lamest last

(Speaker line-up left to right: Simon Wyld w/ BrainJuicer, Rose Cameron w/ Hornall Anderson, Darrel Rhea w/ Rhea Insights, Liz High w/ SDL, Neil Beam w/ MotiveQuest)

Inclusion of social isn’t “standard protocol” quite yet, and the general consensus was we'll all have jobs and won't get swallowed up by this phenomenon. But there are definitely some new tools to play with in the tool shed as we engage the "wisdom of crowds" throughout the design process. The role of Big Data was also discussed, but we all firmly believe that the art (and the design project) is still grounded in knowing what to do with it!  Some leading lights, including Hornall Anderson, are incorporating these tools into multiple phases of their development processes to ensure that insights are robust and unbiased. And to ensure their thinking truly reflects the evolving desires of a rapidly changing world.

It is our responsibility as a design and business community to divide fad from functional to see how we can best leverage the input from the global creative community to enliven our work.

For more photos see our Facebook page.

WRITTEN BY Rose Cameron

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