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Adaptive Products: Designing for Evolution rough Use - page 18 / 31





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they may be inclined to continue their jobs as usual, hoping that people will use products as they intend and not worrying too much about it. This is an irresponsible approach for two reasons: if the products they design can not evolve they will become less useful over time, and if people are not given the freedom to make changes they will be unable to avoid undesirable mediations and consequences. The first reason speaks directly to the traditional requirement for designers to provide a useful and usable product that meets set functionality. The second relates to an expanded view of design ethics that considers all the effects and influences a product may have. All products are predictions, and “All predictions are wrong. There’s no escape from this grim syllogism, but it can be softened. [Products] can be designed so it doesn’t matter when they’re wrong.”28 While designers cannot anticipate all future scenarios they can do their best and allow people the freedom to adjust things as needed.

Scenario planning is a powerful tool to help designers predict how a product will mediate actions and influence people. Designers already use scenarios to provide examples of how products can be used, but usually as demonstrations showing situations that perfectly align with product functionality. When scenario planning is used as a decision making tool it can lead to more versatile products by asking “what if” at various points in an imaginary future; the product is “treated as a strategy rather than just a plan.”29 Designers should work with stakeholders to create scenarios three to ten years in the future to foresee problems and situations outside of what they know from user research. In this way scenario planning can overcome the limitations of user-centered design that “over-responds to the immediate


Brand, 178.



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