Anti panel 3.0: the personal urgency to act #disruptsyd

We have choices in the future we want. To ensure a better future, we need to create it. We can begin now together.

Our annual experiment in disrupting the conference panel format occurred again at the Disrupt Sydney conference last Friday. The anti panel followed an extraordinary morning of inspiring speakers and provocative discussion of the impacts of disruption for good and for evil.

The anti-panel was reinvented again for its third appearance at Disrupt Sydney. This year the panellists set the teams in the room three activities on the theme of disrupting Sydney as a place, community and City:

– create a collage of your inspirations from the morning for the future of Sydney
– develop a newspaper headline on a vision of Sydney in 2050
– build a model in Lego of an intervention to move Sydney to a positive future.

The power of an anti-panel is to leverage the ideas, insights and interactions of the whole room. Using exercises individually and in groups enables people to work in parallel. Challenging people to communicate in other ways and to be hands on changes the nature of ideas. We had an incredibly broad ranging discussion driven by the creative potential in the room.

We experienced a different panel to previous years. The interaction between participants was far greater. The depth of discussion was less due to the physical challenges to be met but the breadth of ideas increased. The panellists learned from the energy in the room that we had one design flaw. The newspaper exercise was too narrow a constraint for the middle of a Friday afternoon. Luckily, we adapted timings to shorten that exercise and moved on to a coffee break and Lego to restore momentum.

The themes of the debrief were clear:
– people enjoyed the opportunity to interact through shared creative tasks
– we need time to reflect and to create new ideas and approaches
– ideas flowed from doing
– one person’s utopia is another’s dystopia
– the power of storytelling and metaphors
– whether we were pessimists or optimists, it was clear we could not sit passively with the range of change, opportunities and threats. The future needs to be created.

That final insight was a wonderfully generative outcome from an afternoon of purposeful play. Let’s create our future. A great place to start is leveraging the creative potential of many people.

The anti-panellists were Kai Riemer, Matt Moore and Simon Terry. Thanks again to the DDRG for the opportunity to deliver the anti-panel.

Disrupt the Metrics #disruptsyd

Can your people redefine success? Disruptive innovation changes the metrics of success.

Yesterday working on design thinking, I came across a great article on an Intuit’s lessons from measuring design thinking. A key insight that struck Intuit was that the value of design thinking is the ability to use research and empathy to redesign what success means and change the metrics of projects. The measures of success in Intuit were no longer fixed.

I am sitting today in conversations about digital disruption at the Disrupt Sydney conference by the University Sydney Business School Digital Disruption Research Group. What interests me is how often we accept assumptions as to the measures of success. We talk about disruption with traditional business measures: revenue, scale, market share, employment, productivity, efficiency, profitability, etc.

Disruptive innovations redefine effectiveness. They challenge traditional measures of success using deeper insights on what matters for real success. They don’t accept the prevailing and predetermined logic of success.

New measures already appear in conversations around us: bump factors, percentage of e-commerce participants, community participation, density of interactions, social good, global reach, food miles, transparency of business models. How do we use these in our work?

Do your employees have the opportunity to redefine success? If they can’t discuss what success means, there will be opportunities and threats that they can’t respond too. How do you create an ongoing conversation about new measures?

Disruptive Purpose & Emotion – Experience Design


Disruption is often presented clinically as a rational economic & technological process. Often the only consideration of emotion referenced is the emotions in the reactions of those disrupted. Focusing only on the rational misses a lot. Remember Clayton Christensen, who did much to create disruptive innovation’s present focus, began trying to understand companies that seemed to the traditional participants they undermined as irrational entrants to markets.

We can open consideration of disruptive opportunities to a wider range of influences and inspirations. We must not forget the opportunity to design for emotion, passion and purpose. There is much disruptive potential in the design of new and better services and many opportunities to make work and life more human in the process. 

The Emotional Opportunity at Disrupt Sydney

At Disrupt Sydney 2014 in the anti-panel, an unusual theme rose from the synthesis of the morning’s insight into ongoing activities in digital disruption. A recurring theme was the power of emotion, experiences and purpose. We reflected that perhaps as discussion of disruption matures from a focus on technical wizardry, there is a rise in the elements that make disruptive forces more human.

Disrupt Sydney’s keynotes and short talks had laid a strong foundation for the rise of this theme of human emotion & purpose.  Maria Ogneva had spoken of building community and movements, stressing the pragmatic needs for common purpose and human interactions. As Maria noted community is a human activity. Community is not a use case or a feature. Paula Bray had shared insights in the use of digital in the Powerhouse Museum to create new open conversations and experiences. Ruben Martin had described the potential of sharing human intent and developing solutions to bring people together around intent. Equally the compelling Mya Dellow, aged 13, had described the potential of Minecraft to engage students in education because of its open, creative and addictive nature. Most dramatically, Marc Sagar had wowed the audience with a demonstration of Baby X, an intelligent toddler simulation. This latter talk reinforced the value of emotional interaction and the high bandwidth of personal human communication. 

With this wide range of inspirations, the anti-panel played a key role by empowering the audience.  Participants needed time to synthesise, connect and learn with others on their experience of the morning, to reflect on their own emotions and to connect what they had learned to their personal purpose. The anti-panel was a learning experience.

Experience = Purpose + Process + Emotion

As the focus of disruption shifts to the disruptive opportunities in services, it must increasingly account for emotion & purpose, two very human characteristics. The disruptive services will succeed or fail on their ability to unite a customer purpose with a process of interactions and associated emotions to create something unique, memorable and compelling. Creating community through new services requires an even deeper focus on the purpose, the interactions and the emotional journey.

Best practice is no longer to plan for optimum efficiency in a process or a product. Efficient solutions will always be outperformed eventually. Many providers of efficient services never give any thought to the purpose their customers are fulfilling. That is their loss. If their logic never moves beyond the purely rational drivers of efficiency, then real humans will move on to the next better solution to their purpose, a little dissatisfied that their human needs were met so narrowly and so blandly. 

Design for a Human Experience

Better practice is to design for a human experience that enables a purpose and shapes the emotional value of that experience. A diverse market of consumers will have differing purposes and experience differing emotions. There is an incredibly breadth of opportunity to engage them through emotion and purpose.

Some consumers will care about your values. Others will want to know that you have treated your employees or the environment well. You may not be able to satisfy them all. The way the design of your service or solution outperforms in this challenging but human domain of competition is the foundation for something truly disruptive. That radical disruption is to design for human experiences.

By adding human purpose and emotion to our normal focus on process, we start to make work and our lives more human. In addition to focusing on the opportunities at the bottom of markets, we should focus on that which lies in the bottom of our motivations and decision making. There is a much richer opportunity in making experience design more common in services.