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DIAlogues: Kevin Finn (Finn Creative) + Guest Panel

June 20, 2011

The DIAlogues Seminar Series is organised by the Queensland branch of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), and aims to engage, inform and inspire. Each seminar features respected individuals with first hand knowledge of the design industry to discuss their views on current issues facing the design professions, including legislature and policy requirements…

The final review for 2011, was covered by one of the DIAlogues’ dedicated organisers, Jess Clark. Read on for her spin on what was said and what got us thinking at Seminar 05, the grand finalé…

As expected and not to disappoint, Kevin Finn (Finn Creative) and our awesome panelists closed the DIAlogues seminar series for 2011 raising more questions than they came to answer! The June 1st evening was a huge success with some 70 strong creatives joining in the DIAlogue of The naughty F words. Why are we so fearful of failure?

But first, we were delighted by a similar and slightly tweaked Kevin Finn’s what is?, what if?, where to? Kevin tantalized our Gold Coast counterparts in May with this very topic. Kevin may be an internationally recognised strategic communications designer and branding specialist, but don’t let this passionate Irishman fool you, by spirit his is an entrepreneur. Kevin wowed the audience by posing some very large and potentially scary questions. He asked ‘can design change the world?’…. then upon showing an image of an AK47, he asked again… “Well, what do you think?”

“And if you think you can’t change the world, change your own world instead.” This is a mantra that Kevin has lived by that has earned him worldwide recognition through his Open Manifesto project. He believes the artifact is only part of the design and we need to focus on the lasting impact beyond it. Open Manifesto was borne out of Kevin’s inner desire to do more, to contribute and give back to the graphic design community… he never thought that his passion would lead to him editing Edward De Bono’s work in the second issue! Keep your eyes peeled for Kevin’s new project under the label desigNERD called 100+, trivia cards that inform designers about issues that are important to our industry. And in true Kevin fashion he has some world renowned names contributing to his project. So, this is how design can be more powerful, fun and important than the artifact.

Kevin also raised the question, ‘How is design changing?’ There is this buzz-word, ‘Design Thinking’… so, what is it? Dean Poole expressed it in these terms, “Designers are very good at taking little information and extrapolating it out to some future point. Imagining what that could be, contextualizing that idea, bringing it back, having the skills to visualize that idea and share it with others.” Kevin simplifies that further to three questions:

1. What is? What are the facts?
2. What if? Visualize the possibility.
3. Where to? Where may we go…

This process is not linear and can be applied to all types of business. He believes that the design community is well placed to be a part of this, as we do it everyday, and it’s so important that we need to jump on it right now! Design Thinking was discussed in more depth during the panel discussion, so make sure you read on for more…

Kevin left us with his three personal philosophies:

1. There is wisdom in learning and we need to absorb everything
2. Design will help shape the future and we have to use that wisely
3. Life is short but wide!

The panel discussion was kicked off by watching the YouTube video by Sir Ken Robinson, Changing Paradigms. Our panelists – Sue Savage (QUT), Gretel Bakker (Performance Frontiers) and Kevin Finn responded to the video with these main points on success and Design Thinking:

1. Engagement and delivery: To be able to deliver the content in a way that the other person gets it and wants to be involved whole heartedly is what we do every day as designers.

2. True collaboration: Listening and being a part of the solution with your client, not coming to the table with preconceived ideas, but rather, exploring the issue with them. This is the essence of Design Thinking. ‘The best person to tell you what’s wrong is the person with the problem.’ – Sue Savage.

3. Effective judgment: It’s important to learn how to know when you have enough information to act.

4. Success and failure and our understanding of it: ‘We have to move out of the generalizations [of success and failure] and come back to individuals [point of view]. If we have happiness in what we do that is individual success.’ – Kevin Finn. In addition, Kevin also raised the point ‘What may contribute to our fear of failure is blind risk. Considered risk on the other hand is about making a judgment call.’ Think about it. ‘Change happens when the risk of not changing is greater than the risk of changing.’

5. Elegantly failing and setting up expectations: You can set out understanding that you will fail in some way. So if you can minimize the cost and pain of failing by reframing how we look at failure from a bad thing to an exploration that results in information data, then the idea of failing is not so scary. If we can get our clients to agree that this information data is really valuable then the ability to be free to elegantly fail can result in unimaginable results.

The final night was, as have been all the DIAlogues nights, a huge success. Remember to check in early next year to see what awesome speakers we have in store. So, until then, thanks to all of our supporters, sponsors and speakers! Hope to see you then… Jess, Katie, Ash, Amy and Jen [The 2011 DIAlogues crew]

Many thanks Jess for your take on what was a great night, full of lively discussion and deep thinking… We certainly will see you then! I’ll be stalking the DIAlogues site for news on who’s up and when in 2012… Can’t wait!


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