Since the foundation of Echos in 2011, we have been talking so much about putting people at the centre of our decisions that you may, perhaps, even be bored by the thought of listening about the three main principles that sustain Design Thinking and, therefore, I am not going to talk about empathy, collaboration or experimentation. What I want, though, is to make a point that I fiercely believe in: as business leaders, entrepreneurs, managers – or whatever position people are applying their efforts to -, by putting human beings in the centre of the things you are designing, we will be, undoubtedly creating a true value to society.

I must confess that, circa the beginning of Echos, speaking of human-centred design felt like shouting in the arid desert. Nowadays, the feeling I have is that people finally got it. By building our society and living amongst other human beings, makes it is clear to me that human-centred design always existed and is what allowed our progress as a civilization.

Recently, I have been noticing that humanity is trending conversation topic amongst many business fields such as tech, digital, education and so on. Everyone seems to be talking about it. After reflecting around the discussed topics in the main conferences and seminars I have recently attended, participated in or heard about, the conclusion was that the “shining topic” of every business gathering recently revolves around: “Human vs Machine”, “Humanity vs Technology”, “Digital vs Human”, etc. Everyone, it seems, is catching up to a thesis defended by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, where he compares his “Dataism” against “Humanism”; in his theory, he claims that the “zero-sum contest” exists between those who are existent by the knowledge brought by algorithms and those who exist by “knowing thyself”.

The one million dollar question is what does it means to be human in the digital age? Klaus Schwab, the Swiss founder of World Economic Forum exemplifies this preoccupation with a new type of humanism: “It all comes down to people and values”, which is why we need to make use of what he calls “a human narrative” to fix our problems.

On the other hand, to write a human narrative in today’s age of smart machines requires a definition of what it means to be human. The true meaning of “humanity” is that there is no truth – or no absolute truth, at least. Every generation has defined it according to its own preoccupations and circumstances.

I could point out many examples about our current preoccupations and context, locally and globally, but I invite you to reflect on what our circumstances are and what desirable outcomes you would like if you had a chance to build a new society. Think about what would you like to build not in the future, but right now! How are you going to design your desirable future?

If you’d like to learn more about desirable futures, you can check out our upcoming courses as well as download for free our Design Thinking Tool Kit by clicking here.

Ricardo Ruffo

As an innovation expert and entrepreneur, Ruffo is a founding partner of various initiatives.
The best known of these is Echos in Brazil, an innovation lab that aims to create a social value in the country through business and innovation. Offering through its business units: School of Design Thinking – a school that puts innovation in practice, and Echos – Innovation Projects.
He is a consultant and speaker on topics like innovation, entrepreneurship, business design, and growth hacking. Specialist in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with extensions in renowned schools like MIT and Berkeley in the United States. Also expert in Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts and Design Thinking by HPI – D.school in Germany.

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