Marty Neumeier – The Robot Curve – UX London 2013

Meta skills – five talents for the robotic age

  • Computer power doubling every 18 months
  • Going beyond evolutionary linear growth path to exponential growth
  • Japanese researchers now making lifelike human robots – faces move, eyes blink, breathe, respond, look at you etc
  • What does all this mean? What’s going on? Where is this leading? What does it mean to be human?

Stuck between Old era (industrial age) and new era (robotic age)

  • Where machines and people start to blend
  • Our skills are very simple – they come from industrial age. Problems today are complex. Needs new kind of thinking
  • Change favours the creative. We are creative and are in a good place to do something

The Robot Curve

At the top is Creative work

  • Original, unique, imaginative, non routine, autonomous. Gives businesses an advantage

When creative work is well understood, it becomes Skilled work

  • Standardised, talent driven, professional and directed

When skilled work is well understood, it turns into Rote work

  • Interchangeable, routinized, outsourceable, managed

When rote work is well understood, it turns into Robotic work

  • Algorithmic, computerized, efficient, purchased

As you get down the curve, you lose value

Your job is always being destroyed by new jobs

  • Metaksills are higher order skills to keep you learning
  • 5 metaskills – Feeling, seeing, dreaming, making, learning

1. Feeling

  • Intuition, empathy.
  • How do you choose a car? Not pure logic. Our brain is really good at picking an option / making a decision based on feed. Our rational brains are fairly weak.

2. Seeing

  • Conscious minds can only process limited amount of information. We can’t see everything all at once – we’re always missing something
  • We need to work on the rational side of our brains. It thinks it knows more than it does but it doesn’t.
  • We love a choice between opposites – A or B. This is easy – don’t need to worry about things in between. Simplified. Ignores all other solutions in the world. Oversimplified
  • Need to develop a 6th sense for these false dichotomies. Eg new = risky, creative = not practical
  • Reject the tyranny of OR and embrace the genius of AND
  • Systems thinking – process of understanding how the components of a system interact to achieve a purpose
  • Complex systems have hidden traps – driven by delays – not getting info you need in time
  • The story of the unfamiliar shower. When you don’t get the feedback you need you keep turning the hot/cold knobs and freeze or burn. Problem: you didn’t get the feedback you wanted quick enough

3. Dreaming

  • We’re not taught how to use our imagination
  • Learn by trial and error
  • The only thing that can’t be copied is originality
  • Creates differentiation, branding, first mover advantage
  • Knowledge x Imagination = Originality

What stops imagination?

  • Unexamined beliefs
  • Rigid mental models – everyone does it this way
  • Lack of technique – don’t know how to imagine things
  • Fear of failure – will people laugh at me? What will happen to my reputation?
  • Shopping mentality – Everything worthwhile is on the shelf – just go shop for it
  • Right answer fixation – We are taught there is a right answer to everything, it’s out there and we need to just find it

4. Making

  • Design thinking is a generative rather than analytical approach to solving problems or achieving goals
  • Knowledge through making
  • It doesn’t exist first – you do it then figure it out
  • Trad thinking – knowing -> doing. This makes you afraid of trying anything you don’t know through experience
  • Ask – Is that really all we know? Is that really all we can do?
  • Add a step in the middle called Making. Let’s imagine new ways and prototype them to see if they will work
  • To appear to be safe, we like to present a process. Comfort factor for CEOs.
  • The standard process: Discovery, Definition, Design, Development, Deployment
  • THIS IS A BIG LIE and we all know it
  • If we stick to this, we will create really boring obvious stuff
  • It’s time we start being honest with our clients. We don’t know exactly what we’re going to accomplish but we know what we’re trying to do
  • It’s not going to be predictable, we’re not going to quit until we get it
  • What is the real process? Confusion, Clutter, Chaos, Crisis, Catharsis
  • What do we do? Research, strategy, design in a linear way? You can’t revisit the step before
  • Do it all at once – Designers design with no info. Do it provisionally. Research, strategy and design all talking to each other. This unearths some really amazing opps. Scary for clients. This is the process of prototyping new things and being original

5. Learning

  • Auto didacticism – metaskill of self teaching or learning how to learn
  • The illiterate are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn
  • The Joy Zone – sweet spot between doing things that are too hard for us and too easy. Between anxious and bored.
  • Figure out how you learn best and keep on learning. How can we contribute back to the world?

We’re not human beings, we’re human becomings


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