Back to the Human

My best friend wrote this in my high school yearbook: “I’ve lived through some things just so I can tell you.”

Year 1996: connecting through land line phone calls

We had no Facebook then, not even the internet… We used to spend the whole day at school together, and the moment we got home we called each other, chatting for another two or three hours. My father whose teenager habits were very different from mine never understood this routine of ours. He lost his temper every time he saw me lying on my bed, talking to my friends on the phone. He thought it was waste of money and time. He would ask: ‘You were together whole day, what do you still have to say to each other?’ The thing is, we always had something to say.

When my father was a teenager he lived in a smaller city, where it was easier to meet his friends in person. They could walk to each others’ homes or just meet outdoors. He didn’t need to take the school bus like I did. His mother was not worried about traffic accidents. He would write to his friends in other cities. He was proud of his beautiful handwriting and lyrical turn of phrase, which he’d learnt from my grandfather.

Year 1960: keeping in contact through letters

But now, teenagers are all about social media and texting. Many parents complain about how their children live attached to their mobile phones. When my daughters grow into teenagers in about ten years, I can imagine that I will be as puzzled by their habits as my father was, and sometimes probably lose my temper.

So, from one generation to another the environment changes, channels of communication change and the topics change. But what remains the same is the basic need of a teenager to connect with her peers, to share her experiences and belong to a community by following its own rules. Parents, in the meanwhile, will always put their children’s health and safety above all things, and try to raise them the best way they know.

In service design that’s what we mostly think about: basic, timeless human needs and desires.

When we think about human first, we don’t set out to design a service for a specific platform such as mobile or TV. Similarly, we don’t focus on a new technology and try to connect it to a market that can make money. We build on basic human-to-human interaction, be it face-to-face or facilitated by technology. Because we believe that all businesses, at the core, are human-to-human businesses. Every business exists because of the people in it, it’s employees. And every business creates direct or indirect value for other people, its customers and their network. It is incredible how many of businesses today overlook this, their basic raison d’être which is to serve people.

Year 2015, struggles in a technology-driven world

We believe this is due to the fact that we live in a society where everything is getting faster and more efficient. Business focuses on achieving more with fewer resources. Industrial revolution started this change and the digital revolution has accelerated it. Technology has been in the driving seat during this revolution and humans were left in the passenger seat, struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

We at Hellon believe it is time to bring the human back to the driver’s seat, and to create a more humane society where people feel happy, comfortable and in control.

We help businesses remember and understand the people who work for them and whom they work for and bring them back to the centre of their business.

Years ago, my father gave me a very good piece of advice. He said: ‘What makes your life worth living are the people who witness it. People are the proof of what you have created and achieved.’ Twenty years later, I understand more and more what this means for my life. I am also convinced that this is true for business.

Your employees and your customers are the proof of the success and failures of your business. So, how are you going to put the human back into the heart of your business?

Zeynep Falay von Flittner is a senior service designer at Hellon.

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