Why thing-centered design matters

To improve the design of services it is important for us to better understand why services fail. To understand failure, we need to be able to ‘see’ the systemic structures and behaviors that make any service a whole that is other than the sum of its parts. In doing so we’re able to better grasp the reality of what services are as objects of design. With autonomous vehicles, AI, cryptocurrency, and the Internet of Things, the universe of services continues to expand in new and unexpected ways, and with it the problem space for design, with new types of failures.

The precepts of human-centered design may be necessary but not sufficient to design for new futures. Not as the boundaries become blurrier than before between humans and machines, and between the tangible and the intangible. The precepts of thing-centered design may therefore be a timely addition to form a stereoscope of sorts with human-centered design, for design teams to be able to see with new levels of clarity and depth what it is they’re designing when they’re designing services.