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24 More Things We Want to Redesign

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Jan 10 2020

When was the last time you were annoyed by something small? Like the mean, angry noise a chip reader makes when it’s done with your card? Or the mess a pen makes when the cap pops off in your back pocket? Or how deeply, achingly, frustratingly hard it is to tie a water balloon?

Those things drive us nuts too. But those tiny moments of frustration can become fodder for a totally new way of thinking. What if the card reader sung the ABCs? What if pen caps locked? What if water balloons tied themselves? (Luckily, someone has already put some time into solving that last one.)

At IDEO, we spend a lot of time rethinking everyday life, from tiny pen caps to the giant, bureaucratic process of applying for a visa. Like we said in 2017: This kind of thinking is our bread and butter. Back then, we asked the IDEO community what they were dying to redesign, and the answers were so provocative that we decided to do it again. Here are 24 more things we want to redesign, if only we had the chance.

Work
The timecard. With a little AI juice attached to email and calendar, there’s no reason that anyone should have to create a timecard: They just need to review it. —Joe Brown

Corporate training. Every organization needs the ability to grow new and adaptive capabilities. Those skills won’t be coming in from an external job board, and definitely not at scale. —Peter Hyer

I want to take a hack at reimagining the experience of identifying and applying for a job. At scale, it's currently a dry, massive vortex of duplicative job boards, cluttered search engine results, and mounting self-doubt and uncertainty. What if we had a universal tool that could help point a candidate to a strong-fit company, job family, industry, or job title based on a series of filters they could manipulate? Job security can prompt a domino effect with a host of other social issues, so let's put candidates back in the driver's seat and make the process of getting there more personal and human-centered. —Chloe Partelow

Networking. It's uncomfortable, awkward, daunting, and surface-level. No one wants to do it, but everyone feels like they need to. —Melissa Lobato

I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of the actual places where we work. I think the workplace should allow more flexibility and choice and generally be more global. I’d like to see deconstructed offices in neighborhoods where people live and like spending time. It will reduce commuting costs, improve productivity, lifestyle, geographical choice, create more diverse and dense neighborhoods, and allow for more creative collisions. —Kateryna Romanova

Education
College, especially a liberal arts education. Turn it into something much more relevant to close the skills gap in the marketplace, and make it much more about life-long learning. —Suzanne Gibbs Howard

    Vocational school. I’m not sure that “everyone needs to (and can) go to college” is the right narrative. That’s the message I got growing up, and vocational schools or trades were either implicitly or explicitly judged. I think we are in a time when we need to take a good, hard look at alternative forms of education. —Meg Rice

    The lower part of the k-12 education system. Why isn't it more globally aligned and translatable? Why does it assume that you live in one country for 12 years? —David Sjunnesson

    Our approach to digital literacy. When our 70-plus year-old dads accidentally tweet a search query, we make fun of them instead of recognizing that behavior like that is indicative of large, looming societal problems between those who have tech know-how and those who don't. —Rachel Young

    Cuddling
    Cuddling. Seriously: what are you supposed to do with your bottom arm?!?! —Santiago Seira

    Breakups
    The breakup: Ow. It hurts. I don't know how to go about redesigning this, but I know there’s a lot of room for reflection and plenty of nuggets of truth to be gleaned from any moment that rips you apart. I have reflected on how to create a scaffolding for yourself that helps you walk out the other side with a sense of gratitude and growth—but still, ow! —Leah Jarrett

    Breakups. And I’d start with an interesting provocation from Star Trek. —Lisa Tacoronte

    Health
    Electronic medical records (EMRs). Some doctors spend up to 50 percent of their days doing admin work, mostly in EMRs, and they are notoriously not user-friendly, not interoperable across companies, and even can cause medical errors. —Jessica Watterson

    Single-Use Plastics
    Unnecessarily one-time use and/or made of plastic: floss. Coffee cups. To-go containers. Toothbrushes. Plastic water bottles—or anything that holds water. Makeup packaging. Tampons. —Shuya Gong

    Recycling How-Tos
    Every single recycling/garbage/composting receptacle on the planet. I challenge you to find anyone who can understand and follow those rules. —Chioma Ume

    Our Relationship With the Environment
    How we make decisions that impact the environment. I'm inspired by seeing calories on food in restaurants, which helps me make informed choices. Why don't we have something similar for electronics, ordering on Amazon, food in the grocery store, to show the impact of a product on the environment? —Dean Malmgren

    Time Itself
    Time travel. It’s just too difficult currently. —Sean Hewens

    Getting Towed
    It’s scary, financially exploitative, and just generally terrible. —Tara Safaie

    The News
    I would like to redesign our concept of what news is. I’ve tried many different sources, and have found none to offer adequate choice, curation, or quality. Most of what passes as news is superficial, salacious, irrelevant, and/or extremely upsetting. I find I’m constantly disappointed. The news needs a total overhaul. —Betsy Fields Smith

    Childcare
    The process of finding childcare. Every parent seems to reinvent it all over again. —Annette Diefenthaler

    Access to Capital
    Women entrepreneurs receive about 2% of all venture capital dollars as compared to men. There's a lot of opportunity to reimagine the funding process so that it's more inclusive of women, people of color, and non-US nationals. —Sam Schulman

    Winning and Losing
    The definition of success. —Ramon Marc

    Online Ticketing
    You have the ticket price and another $20 in service fees, and sometimes you're required to print out a physical ticket that arrives digitally. Huh? —Miles Holenstein

    Life Transitions
    Post-job changes, post-move changes, post-high school changes, post-college changes, postpartum changes, post-divorce changes, post-(insert life change here). There’s no blueprint. Help. —Sue-Jean Sung

    Hot Dogs
    I want them to be healthy. —Michael Hendrix

    If your organization would like to work with us to solve one of these problems, you can reach us at octopus@ideo.com.

    Illustrations by Jenice Kim

    • Jayme Brown

      Digital Marketing Specialist, IDEO San Francisco
      Jayme is a writer and native New Yorker on a quest to find California’s best bagel. She loves people, in all their creative, complex, confusing glory, and San Francisco’s morning fog.
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