Complexity and Human-Centered Innovation

Tim Brown, President and CEO, IDEO and Agnes Kwek, Systems Designer, IDEO

..our existing governmental and organizational systems, and ways of working, are ill-equipped to deal with complexity. Human-centered innovation is key to managing complex challenges like innovation and jobs, precisely because it is difficult to predict humans.

Tim BrownAgnes KwekSolving for innovation and job-creation is a complex challenge that involves addressing many parts of a large intertwined ecosystem, such as education, labor market policies, regional economies and so on. Complexity means that parts of the ecosystem will interact with each other in ways that cannot always be predicted. This means the problem is not always amenable to direct, deterministic policy prescriptions or rational economic thinking. Yet much of our existing governmental and organizational systems, and ways of working, are ill-equipped to deal with complexity. Human-centered innovation is key to managing complex challenges like innovation and jobs, precisely because it is difficult to predict humans. Human-centered innovation means solving a problem by helping people succeed towards a certain goal. Governments can employ human-centered innovation in 3 ways: first, by designing the stage for citizens and communities to contribute towards the solution in meaningful ways. Second, aim at creating new aspirations and changing behavior – this requires a deliberate effort to understand how people make decisions and take actions. Third, uncover unrealized aspirations because of today’s social or technological limitations and help people succeed towards those.

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