Transformation Design II – trend steering

Transforming the world is no end in itself. It aims at keeping or raising the ability and number of people to live healthily on this limited surface. This goal can best be obtained when keeping some standards and constraints, which science has turned out for years. The problem with this is, it’s mostly numbers. Numbers are too abstract for most people to grasp and translate to values.
Therefore, people who have the knowledge to grasp the numbers can translate these to aforesaid standards and constraints. From them, one can derive a list of things not to do. Environmental Organisations have been doing this for a long time. But because being asked to stop doing things is at least uncomfortable, if not outrageous to most citizens, these methods have yet failed to reach a critical mass.  


the world transforms anyway

Since there are 7.5 billion people on earth, there is quite a lot of stuff happening every day. Some of these things, like scientific innovations, have a huge impact on a large scale. Others are more personal, like watching your dad buying an extra meal for the homeless person outside the breakfast parlour. But what it comes down to, is that millions of thinking beings are bombarded with impressions, every day, sometimes deciding to follow or reject the example. Or following what their friends are doing. Thus, trends work.
Some of these trends, if analysed, will turn out to serve our standards and constraints to some degree. Obviously, the higher this degree, the better. Now, instead of forbidding things, we can recommend people the cool things that others are already doing right now. Some of their Friends, even. And this or that celebrity. We can tell their stories, how they gained so much time, happiness, money, sweets, cat videos and general sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
One way to do this is to spread other’s acts of charity, so people can follow the example.  The beautiful team from upworthy, whom I’ve been following for years, is doing exactly that:
It’s more complicated with more complex things, like showing the positive effects of not buying stuff.
If we’re good, we can even create our own trends. That’s where the design part comes in.

secret society of do-gooders

All of this is not new. It’s trend analysis, and marketing, and lobbyism, and secret societies furtively steering the world. Most of it, you can just study. A part of what’s new is that it’s used in this combination. Old means to a new end. A lot of sciences throwing in their knowledge about where to find the regulating screws. Some other disciplines applying this knowledge. Therefore, the more diverse the teams are, the better the results get. Thus, we have our secret society aiming to keep the world intact, as opposed to the classical type. There are no cloaks yet, and also no secret handshake, but a handful of people starting to do this all over the world.
In Germany, you can study this in Brunswick, Germany (, like I do. In Flensburg, Germany, they have an institute for it, containing TD mastermind Harald Welzer, but it’s not a complete study path (yet?). You can also study this as part of the design innovation & transformation design postgraduate program in Glasgow, Scotland. It also seems to be part of both bachelor and master programme of  Växjö university in southern Sweden.
So whatever it is you are doing, if you are interested in bringing positive change to the world and starting up a new discipline, go on and apply.
Meanwhile, I’m off, inventing a secret handshake.

Also published on Medium.

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