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Adam Richardson

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(Applause) Hello, everyone! I...It's...It’s fantastic to be here. What I want to talk about Are… what I think something is... interesting problem that we have to deal with today. And..and... why people who are... misfit who don’t really fit into established categories,.. categories really good at solving these problems because these kinds of problems themselves are actually misfit. I often... felt a bit misfit... for...for a lot of my life even though I look quite conventional now And... I grew up in London, England. And I moved to the U.S. when I was about 14. These are my dual citizenship, my two passports here. And…I often feel more English even though I actually live in the U.S. for a lot longer then I live in the... in the U.K. I have the sort of funny accent. That like a combination of English and American. And nobody can figure out. And...This is... a feeling of having to bridge two different cultures and two different languages at most It’s something like the... the theme that runs throughout my life. I am certainly not unique in this. There are plenty of people in this room who have ... have experience of having to bridge two different cultures that are much more different than ... than me for sure. It’s not that much of difference between England and... and the U.S. when it comes down to it. But... The idea of ... not feeling like I quite fit into a single category or having to bridge two different things is something that has been running throughout my life, not just on my personal side, but also on the...on the career side. In preparation of talking today, I sort of thought about what are the different roles that I had over the years, ..like twenty years or so I’ve been working. And... what I found is fall into 6 different categories. Industrial design ...That is what I started out with. And doing a lot of user research, interaction design a little bit. I spent a lot of time doing strategy, for product strategy and business strategy. And I do a lot of writing. And... nowadays also doing a little of marketing. and it was interesting to look at how these different roads that I passed these years a kind of common gone in different among what I like what I'm doing now I get the world across a lot different area simultaneously. and it's given me the opportunity which has been really nice to uh...work on very very diverse...kinds of projects on a lot of different clients and organizations and everything from mobile phones to kitchen appliances from thinking about the future of toothpaste to mission control for NASA, for example,we ...come back to in a few minutes. Uh... So...this is the idea of being a misfit. If you're looking in the dictionary for the English word of misfit. I'm not quite sure how to translate it to...into Chinese. But the English definition of misfit is that somebody who doesn't really... uh...you know... conform to this society that they're in. They feel out of place. Uh...you know... they feel uncomfortable in the society that surrounds them. And what's interesting about this is that it puts the blame ...on the misfit rather than on the society which makes sense,right? The individual should conform more to society rather than the society conforming to all the different misfits that they're in it. But if you think about it, this is what innovators and entrepreneurs do all the time, right? They get society to conform to their idea about how the world should be rather than the other way around. The innovators and entrepreneurs see something... uh... if they don't quite like the world. They think they could be done better and they have a vision for that. and they are trying to make it happen. And if society agrees with that difference then society ends up conforming to this new idea. If you look at the history of innovation, the people who are misfits they've actually contrived very large ... everybody from...you know...Leonardo da Vinci to somebody a little bit more contemporary here we have Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, the founders of Apple. Of course, this photo here is from 1984 when they introduced the Apple IIc which my company Frog Design actually designed coinsidently But... the... I think it's really interesting about this picture is their clothing. What their clothing says about how they still fit into the world. On the right, you have Stephen Wozniak. who is like ... computer geek right... he is like he created the first Apple the computer that Apple one which is that would boss sitting here own on the bottom for permanent looking and... I mean he just doesn't look comfortable...right he is like all dress up for this business occasion and he is wearing this jacket that doesn't really fit in very well he is got a kind of an unattractive tie he is like come way to get back to the T-shirt and jeans that he wears everyday...alright for Steve Jobs I think that is interesting if you look at his combination there so both of waists his all business...alright. He is like nice shirt, suspender, bow tie looks very smart, presentable for business below the waist, he is got the...he is got the California...you know... computer causal jeans on which of course he is still very famous for wearing and...and so I think he is... he is somebody...that...that it's very comfortable kind of moving between these two rounds of computers and business which back in 1984 we were really seperated from one and other and now of course they are very intergrated and over time he's also been able incorporate entertainment and media interact combination very able to... kind of spread across... he doesn't really fit comfortablely even to either one of those... any of those catagories individually Am...now as if fairly well known saying in the US from the 1960s which is if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own and this is very much the...the spirit of that time from the 1960s for the county culture and hippies and so on Am...but this is also again...this is what entrepreneurs and innovators do...alright it's like they see something they don't like and they think they have a better idea and they try and go out and make it happen and... Am...God knows we've got enough big problems that need solving and need innovation Am...you know...from global challaneges like climate change...Ah... you know...water shortages, energy, health care, proverty you name it. We've get a lot of big complex problems that have very difficult to solve Am...the conventional thinking with this kind of big complex problems it's that you need a big complex organization Ah...and entity to solve them something like a national government...right which has a lot of resourses to bring a lot of different people together from a lot of different areas to make things happened Am...what's actually been interesting in last couple of years is the most energetic and interesting area innovation for these kinds of problems is that the smaller scale what is known as sub-national Am...and... the reason I think sub-national they're able to be successful is that they're able to a kind of strike of the scale between big global problems and then making things happen at street level which is really where things need to happen at the end of the day uh...so it's like a sudden new category of entity that hasn't existed before Even never really thought about before Uh..then if we change gear a little bit and look at the world of the product and technology the most interesting area right now Um...certainly for the kind of stuff that I like working on are...eco-system um.... prodcuts, softwares, and technologies somewhere Uh...new technologies are emerging together in different ways And...of course the computers and misuc and comunications of all beens combining in different ways for a little while now wistful time in the process of figuring out what that means Um...but this is the most interesting area for.. for product design certainly uh...and software right now which is mostly what I work again Um...one company has done this in a pretty interesting way You might be familiar with is Nike which as um...Nike plus system And...uh...what they did here was they took the very traditional category of running which is very low technology product like shoes, shorts, and undershirts that's basically yet Um..and then they combined it with a very new category of social networking Uh...and they by doing that they gave runners away of talking about their running creating a comunity around running setting challenges for one another uh...tracking their progress over time uh...and it turned running into Nike's fastest growing category Um..which it hadn't been for...for many years Um...now if we so take a step back is actually a common things between these big you know global challenges and sort of much more...micro things in the product design zone Um...one is that they all required the ability to think of the systems level uh...so be able to think about the big system that all the different bits and pieces that going to making it up and how they will relate to one another um...the other reason they're all include uh....a behavior change like getting people to change their behavior in a more benificial way whether it's uh...trying to get people to comsume differently for environmental reasons or uh...to think about their running and sort of to treat their running in a different way so this was a certain amount of persuasion that's required in order to do that uh...i think people who are misfit a very good about thinking about this kind of challenge because they're used to a kind of the looking for the world from different perspectives and being able to uh...kind of integrate a lot of different ideas together uh...now I've mentioned about that I worked on a project of NASA and that was a really honor for me to work on that because space is like something I think interest me for very long time uh...I was born a few month before near Armstrong first stepped on the moon and made this a footprint in the...in the dust on the moon uh...and this idea of of a moon shot uh...you know...flying to the moon it become a term in the US for any big bold idea that really scratches of the relment of the possible um...but when...uh American first went to the moon uh...it wasn't actually necessarily agree to prom it was a good thing to do and it took some pursuading that..that it was gonna be kind of official and it was done in a very kind of conventional way which is talked down to the message right the message comes from the top and then it is communicated down to the people and joint the attendee and the presedent at the time uh...give a great famous speech with its photo is from uh...when he had to convince the American people and the government that it is a good thing to do and he had a fantastic phrase which I love which is "We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy,but because it is hard." and this idea is the hardest thing that he had to do that are the are the most interesting and the most worthwile to do uh...and I think...again this is a great message for innovate some entrepreneur on earth, right? like do the hard things the hard things that can gonna be most benificial and also can give you the most uh...competitive advantage, right? cause nobody else gonna want to try to do them because they are so hard Now, one thing to have its vision of like doing this hard thing but it's also...you also wanna have a sense of it actually going to be beneficial for others, right? so you may think it..is...but you don't actually know for sure untill you do it uh...knowing...in the...the product design roam one way when we do about...do this quite often is what's called design research which means going into people's home or their work places and studying them for a long period of time in great detail...really try to understand their behaviors and their perceptions uh...you know...they have to see the world. then had think about it ah.. to try to ensure the idea that we have the new product is gonna be beneficial. ah..I just mentioned briefly what product can we worked on ah.. you know mostly on New York studio ah.. to do ah..using this project I think it created some..like opportunities for solving a very difficult problem that we haven't had to come up otherwise Uh...so it's a projec project Project M for sure. Uh...which deals with the problem of HIV AIDS...Uh...in South Africa which is you probably know,has one of the highest infection rates of HIV AIDS Uh...in the world and the particular region...uh.. that we were working in ...uh...in South Africa has the highest even in South Africa. Ah..until we work very closely with...uh..local organizations there They've been looking at this problem for quite some time. and truly tried to understand what was... what was things that we can do to.. to increase awareness about getting tested for aids and then actually getting tested. Uh...so there are couple of different pieces to the Uh... to the solution Uh.. one was Uh... using text messages Uh.. there is a special kind of text message in South Africa. Uh... where people send a message to another person to have them call them And the carriers embed advertisement into that text message and we got the carriers to...uh...replace that advertisement in some cases with a message about the national AIDS telephone line. And it sounds kind of trivial, but it actually triple the number of calls into the AIDS telephone line within a couple of months. and resulted a lot more people getting tested. The second piece of the solution was to do home testing kit.There's a lot... obviously ways of getting tested for HIV AIDS in South Africa but a lot of people don't go cuz there's a big stigma so there's a kit that allow people to get tested at home and it is very customized for the South African area. Ah... And then third piece was a consoling service that wants people got the results back they could do something about it. and I thought it is really nice to help them try to understand a culture and take the advantage of things that they're and try to come up with new solutions ah..so you know offen when we were doing this kind of things it's a process about learning we wanna have ideas that what the hypotheses are but we also need double check those...actually..ah..correct and..when you start doing this kind of research you'll find the people are really really interesting and this one huge diversity of ways that people lives, behaves and think And....I was reminded this in kind of a small way but think in interesting way a couple of years ago I was getting ready for work and getting dressed usually I was less formal I'm in California than I am now And I am putting on my sweater here's how I put on the sweater. Let me demonstrate. so I put my ....my head on first And then my arms in. Alright. I take this completely for granted it I've done it since I was...since I was little I supposed somebody showed me how to do it. And my wife goes to me you know really strange way putting on the sweater (laughter) Would you mean is like does everybody put on the sweater that way.... is no Most people they did opposite. They put the arms first. And then put the head on And as....I look around of .....you know of she said that you know you're exactly correct but I am really weird most people put their...the sweater on the other way How many people put their arms in first? Here...how many people? Arms first? Head first? Anybody do it head first? Oh! Right so another lone I am going tell my wife. Thank you very much. But I... it was those things that you know... if something is trival is putting on the sweater alright. if there can be diversity and even something is basic is that. Alright. Just image all the other ways can be diversity and different ways of doing things. I think we have some humility about ......about ideas about the world. I will finish this quote here from Shakespeare from Hamlet There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. And I think this two sites of this which kind of get to what I've been talking about today One is the... it says there are in bless of possibility for doing new things. Alright. There is many many new things that we can do that we can't even think of today. And then, the other side of it is we had to have some...some humility and humbleness for the fact there are all many other ways that people think about how to do things. I mean...it's if we're gonna make anything happen in this world we have understand the respective and be absorbed it into our own. Even has to mind to create change. Thank you. (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 23 seconds
Country: Taiwan
Language: English
Producer: The Big Question Ltd.
Director: The Big Question Ltd.
Views: 140
Posted by: tedxtaipei on Nov 30, 2010

Creative Director of frog Design speaking at TEDxTaipei

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