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Thoughtless Acts: The Commuter Shuffle

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Mar 07 2019

Human-centered design requires us to observe human behavior with beginner's eyes, so that we can spot the innate ways people interact with the world around them. We call these intuitive and unconscious reactions Thoughtless Acts, and IDEO designers collect photos of them to inspire their work.

I’m grateful for Chicago’s trains—even amid the crush of people jammed into the morning’s rush hour commute and the thought-clouding clatter and clank that pervades every metal car. It’s a marvel that these hulking workhorses of public transport coordinate at all, and are generally safe, on time, and comfortable. And yet I often notice fellow train-goers challenged, like myself, by something basic: What do we do with our stuff? In my time as a commuter, I’ve seen myriad workarounds. Legs became walls propping up clothes and bags; thighs became resting ports for big headphones. And then there was the man who transformed his suitcase handle into a coat rack. Human ingenuity: It’s one more thing I’m grateful for during my commute.

  • Ilan Brat

    Senior Design Researcher, IDEO Chicago
    Ilan is a researcher who delights in travel, from exploring new grocery store aisles miles down the road from his home to far-flung markets in countries overseas. He’s fascinated by how humans organize incentives and cultures in workplaces, and has trouble passing up delicious hummus.
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