I had an enlightening conversation today with IDEO, a global design company. Through innovative work and creations, they help business leaders and companies evolve and grow by getting involved with the design and build of new products and services.
IDEO's approach to innovation is to work with development teams of global companies. I'm convinced if the Elder Orphan group had access to creative designers like IDEO and others, together we could turn the aging industry on it's head. Think about it. Most of the members live alone and have for a very long time. From that, we are savvy, resourceful, solution-oriented, well-educated, and have many opinions, along with ideas. We don't sit and wait for our lives to change. In the two years of it's launch, the group segments into local meet ups and topic related groups like travel, cohousing, relocating, and even cooking for one. Contact me if you want to learn more about us.
The Trick - Transition Design
IDEO encourages companies to step back from ideas but instead to look at and study behaviors and cultures. Take a look at Apple, IKEA, and Google, each has worked very hard to developed the culture, processes, and habits that drive their success.
When I hear or read this kind of stuff, excitement revs. In the article, What Electric Cars Can Tell Us About Redesigning the Food System, the first strategy to think about is "to design for emerging behaviors." So, let's think a bit about one of the biggest issues in the aging industry today. It is the decline of caregivers, both family and professional.
The strategy helped me look at the the problem with a different perspective. From the shrinking caregiver population to the "acts or behaviors" that a caregiver performs. If design teams could "follow" a caregiver throughout the day and observe the tasks one performs while giving care, that could open to an entire new way of solving the problem. So, instead of replacing a human being, design new approaches that solve the things they do, which are:
Here's a clever idea that take Facebook to another level. Have you heard about the virtual senior center? Yes, it has an online access and the older residents connect with others via an application like Skype and Zoom. Now, for me and you, the younger senior, we prefer going out. But for those who struggle with driving and mobility, it gives them a chance to connect with real people face to face via screen. They can't shake hands or give hugs, but I saw a bunch of smiles and lots of talking. How great is that?
Okay, designers, I challenge you, "What service, or app can you deliver to older people who want:"
Aging Alone Expert