Sorry for the delay, but here’s my first post after the holidays: setting up a visual guideline

Hi all,

Happy new year 2012! I’m sorry for not posting anything for a while. Things were kinda hectic what with four conference submissions (made them all in time, though – thanks, Naoto, Randy, and Krista!), a workshop at the University of Tokyo’s, and a company visit here in Japan. I’ve been in Japan on a work trip for almost two weeks now, heading back to Helsinki with Finnair’s Airbus A340 tomorrow. So what did I do here?

1. A workshop on social business models at

2. Using my credit card way too much on clothes, hotels, and travelling.

3. Met some cool people in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka (Aino, if you’re reading this, we found a really great and local okonomiyaki place in Osaka!).

4. Presented a visual guideline for a company I’ve been working with on my PhD.

And here, I’d like to briefly discuss my experiences with the last point (I’ll write more about my trip soon, I promise!). I’m more or less halfway with my PhD at the moment and in return for letting me collect data, I promised a company to provide them with a visual guideline for enhancing collaboration in multicultural settings. During the meeting, my contact person in the company asked me this question: “how can you ask a person with no legs to start walking? Why don’t you teach that person how to create their own prostheses?”. I think it’s a really good question, and deserves further reflection.

According to some authors, we have entered an era where having knowledge is no more an advantage, but a necessary requirement to go to the next level. This, to me, sounds like hogwash – to some extent – aimed at making people afraid of the future and hence making them also more willing to buy books these authors have written. This, however, is quite harsh an exacerbation, but there’s a good point in that argument. Although today we are able to do many things with technology, it still doesn’t remove the notion that most people simply don’t have the time to master all these new technologies. Or, as my contact person said, we don’t have time in this business to start learning a new language. So, although we’re surrounded by all this new technology, how do we teach people to create their own prostheses? This is something I learned with the visual guideline I presented the company with.

Any ideas? I’ve been thinking of hosting a 1-day workshop on visual methods & collaboration with the company, but how would you make it easier for people with little or no experience with visual thinking and communication to adopt these in their daily work? Or how would you teach them how to make their own prostheses?

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