Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Genes of Passion include Simplicity

Christian Lindholm has an impressive resume. He has been called "the god-father of mobile phone users´", with his ideas on making Nokia mobiles (at least in the past) easier to use. Lindholm could be named as the "father" of Symbian s60-smartphone. (Before Symbian had the bad rep that it carries today). He has also been the vice-president of global mobile products for Yahoo! and has been labeled as one of the 180 movers according to VentureBeat. Clearly, this man is to be listened to, if anything.

At Elonmerkki, his main message was the need to reach passion as the ultimate user experience through service design. In this present occupation as the director of Fjordnet Limited, his goal is to transform digital through "elegant simplicity". In other words, he tackles problems of pure misguided design in digital services.
Lindholm´s main thesis is, that anything can, and should be made better. At present the problem in a lot of modern organizations is weak software. Companies do not invest in better programs simply because they, or their employees, do not care enough to change the situation. This ´status quo`, however, is changing. Increasingly people as employees or consumers are demanding better user experience. C**p, as he says, does  not sell. Services like Dropbox are a troublesome issue for monolith companies like Microsoft, simply because they work, and beautifully so. But if the issue is so simple, and easy to point out, why does a megacorporation not tackle it and offer better products? Lindholm does not answer this, and obviously it is a more deep-rooted issue related to bureaucracy, conservatism and resistance to change.

The highest form of design for Lindholm represents  the so-called "of course" -logic: an idea is so powerful and well-functioning that we cannot fathom how we lived before it. The newly designed and improved wrench is an example of this. A clever idea by a mechanic to twist the ends of a wrench proved genius. Elegant and simple. Ergonomics re-invented. The old design becomes wrong and the new is accepted as the prevalent norm. This reaction brings with it an emotional bond and eventual love affair with the product or service. (Albeit it is one-sided or imaginatively reciprocal at best)

According to Lindholm, love affair is what companies should be after. "The right-brain business" brings more value for the company- what he does not add, is the other term that could be used to describe this approach. The irrational business, the religion approach. When a brand becomes more than it is, a consumer product or service, when a bond is achieved that almost no rational argument can break. When we actually name our consumer goods (as in vacuum cleaners or cars) like children or pets and they become semi-living objects in our minds. They become the signifiers of a secular church that we attend to with a religious-like mindset when the real spirituality in our lives has diminished in importance. And this is the world that we are moving into.


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