How to speak about complex topics

How to speak about complex topics

Last week, I presented a talk called "How do you design innovation" at the University of Chicago and SAIC, focusing on customer-centric design and exploring Jobs-To-Be-Done. I aimed to cover this complex subject in less than 18 minutes.

To prepare, I studied various TED Talks, identifying key factors that contributed to their effectiveness. I had two mental models in my talk.

  1. The first, PAS (Problem, Agitation, Solution), explores the issue of innovation, its impact on designers, and potential solutions.
  2. The second model, based on Aristotle's concept of first principles, involves breaking down complex issues into fundamental elements and replacing key parts with more effective solutions.

I discussed the point that humans imitate and copy, which hinders first principles thinking. This approach requires you to abandon preconceived notions and focusing on functional outcomes rather than continuous improvements within existing boundaries. Exercise divergent thinking and thinking big.

First principles require you to abandon your allegiance to your ideas and prioritize function end outcomes.

Innovation can look like an iteration of a previous form rather than an improvement of a core function.

Take the original Reese's for example. The fat OG Reese's was getting fired in cars, people riding the subway, and gamers. They fired this format because it takes 2 hands to eat, messy, and induces guilt from the leftover trash.

Introducing Reese's minis in a resealing bag. You eat as many you'd like, no wrapper needed, and no mess. This innovation was a category defining change that made over $50MM in the first year of launch.

Without reasoning by first principles, you will spend endless cycles tweaking small improvements and never have time to invent.

By stating each principle up front, then weaving a short story through each principle, it helps the audience remember your talk after it's ended.

Hope that helps you explain designs to your stakeholders 😁

P.S. I started a new IG account and youtube. 2024 imma be social media influencer 🫣