Our Comms & Events Coordinator, Kyra Piccione, went to the Designing solutions for the 21st Century workshop as part of TechWeek 2019. In this quick piece she shares the golden nuggets of wisdom she learned from The Britten Institute’s Dorenda Britten, an experienced design strategist and creative thinker.

Dynamo Dorenda Britten, kicked off the workshop by explaining that she was and had always been an outsider.

“I got sent away from school for asking too many questions. I’m not satisfied with repetitive answers, and neither should you be,” she said.

Many years ago (in the 70s), Dorenda read a “terrible” book called The Dice Man. The premise of the book, she said, was that the world was too complex and so the only way to make a decision was to write six options on a piece of paper and roll a dice.

She did that. It led her to Papua New Guinea where she worked on a cargo ship delivering beer to nearby beautiful islands.

But, she said, once the beer got there and was drunk, there was nowhere for the empty bottles to go. So she wanted to do something about it. She went to the breweries asking if they could implement some kind of pick up system – she would help them execute it. They didn’t want to.

It was then she decided “we cannot extract only from the land forever. We have to create value for the future.”

Dorenda went on to speak about how heroes of our past were people who had all achieved a personal goal, people we idolise. She then urged that the heroes of the future will be those whose goals are to improve our environment, society and returns on investment, “they may not even be here to see themselves be named heroes”.

This is when she kicked into overdrive and the gold nuggets started flying:  

  • We can’t lead with guns and drums, but we can lead with being human  
  • Be comfortable questioning the status quo. Be brave enough to demand answers, respectfully  
  • Look more broadly than your own world – that doesn’t include living in a London flat with a bunch of Kiwis  
  • Pick a team, decide on a purpose, then fill the gaps in the team  
  • Cognitive diversity is key – you need both linear and creative thinkers  
  • Agreeing on a purpose should be the first thing any team does  
  • Before we get quality ideas, we must have lots of ideas  
  • Bring your whole self to work – not just the parts that make others comfortable  
  • Will – it’s an underrated word – will helps you dig deep and stay focused  
  • Closed questions are not on. We need open ones  
  • It’s no good designing something in isolation, it doesn’t connect to anything  
  • We have to separate our ideas from our egos. If we allow our ideas to be challenged in the right way they have a better chance of coming to reality  
  • Go out on the street and ask a random person to come in and ask questions. Cognitive diversity from completely outside your world will challenge your ideas like nothing else  
  • It’s about testing assumptions and having empathy  
  • Users don’t tolerate having to figure out how to do things – keep it simple  
  • When you design something you have to have the end in mind. What possibilities/value does it have for the next generation? That’s what we will be judged on when we are dead and gone  
  • We can influence the future. But it’s up to each one of us to do that.