The extroverted one who enjoys connecting people and topics across continents (and basically lives half of his life on airplanes)
We believe that sharing our ideas and thoughts is much more interesting than listing years of experience and who worked where, etc. All of that’s listed on LinkedIn anyway.
It’s an honor to meet you.
MING & innovation
The story of MING Labs started between people across two continents, and that fact has been part of this company DNA from day one. Marc and I (one of my founding partners) met in Stuttgart, which is my hometown, but at the time I worked in Shanghai for IBM. Marc applied for a job in Shanghai and I was back in Stuttgart and met him somewhere in the middle of my hometown. I immediately thought:
“Wow, connecting to this person probably would make a difference, like it made many times before, when I met people with new ideas and new perspectives, because they help you connect dots, you haven't connected before.”
That's what I've always enjoyed in my life - being open-minded, letting other people's opinions count, and at the same time trying to get some of your views across.
That is something very important for innovation, because everyone has bright ideas and thoughts, but they are not alone in this world. You always need to have different people's thoughts and ideas together to create something differentiating and something new.
This whole topic of connecting people and connecting ideas across cultures, across continents is a very important thing that we see becoming a key success factor in digital transformation projects for some of our large companies. In the past very often there was this approach that someone had a great idea or company had a great idea and then this idea been rolled out across the world.
That just doesn't really work anymore that way, because users, humans are so used to very convenient, tailor-made solutions and these solutions are different in different cultures. If you don't listen carefully to what's going on in different parts of the world your solution might not be successful there. Although maybe back home it was a huge success.That is something which we take very seriously here at Ming Labs. We have very international teams. We have carefully selected those teams around the world from many different cultural backgrounds, because there's always an interesting perspective someone brings in, that you haven't thought about before.
That open-mindedness is something that also big companies should embrace in their digital transformation journey.
It's not going to happen that somewhere in the Black Forest or somewhere back in the headquarters there is a great idea being rolled out to the world and everyone adopts to it.
These companies need to learn that they have to look for innovation and for bright minded people also elsewhere in the world. They have to connect all of that on a more horizontal and less hierarchical structure. That leads me to another very important point which I believe is important in this whole digital transformation journey - an organizational culture.If you take this journey seriously, you really have to embark on it together with your people and not just have a speedboat or some innovation hub out there that is doing innovative things. It's really about getting everyone on board and getting the whole crew behind you. We've seen so many failures out there that just prove that that's not the way to do it.
The creative one who loves storytelling and thinks he understands designers (we are yet to find out whether designers feel the same way)
My name is Marc. I'm the Chief Creative Officer here at MING Labs and what keeps me up at night is how to increase the chances of success in digital transformation projects. The biggest problem I see based on all the projects we worked on, and that's not a secret, is how can we bridge all these different silos in big organizations. What we are good as designers is empathizing with users and trying to understand their problems. Digging deeper on those, building solutions, validating those solutions, and so forth.
So we're somewhat bridging at least these two silos, from the design department to the user. But in these big corporations, if you want to bring something to the market, there are many different departments involved. So there's marketing, sales, there might be external partners and so forth. Many potential roadblocks if you think about it. Or, in case you are an optimist (like me), plenty of potential allies to bring something alive. But somehow it seems very rare that these departments are aligned or pulling in the same direction and believing in the same thing to get something out which really works.
The only solution I see that could bridge all silos is storytelling. Now, storytelling is nothing new. Storytelling is something we designers talk about all the time. Marketing is talking about it all the time. It's on everyone's radar, but the problem is that we develop different narratives in all those silos. And those narratives don't add up, and therefore, we miss an overarching compelling story. It's rather noise, and the targeted end-users don't care, because they have a lot of options. It seems very hard to find this product-market fit out there -- and it's impossible if you don't have a good story.
And this is the twist I would like to introduce in our industry. So as designers, we should not start immediately focusing on certain users to understand their problems. We should rather sit down with everyone who has a say in this project with all the different important skill sets at the table with marketing, with the people who have to sell this solution and even external partners, potential end customers and try to figure out what are the best stories here, we could tell.
Once we identified these stories and we are aligned on those stories, the design process can start. The difference then is: we set everything on the right track, on a solid track, and it's protected by the story. The story will make sure that on this long track, cutting through all different departments and decision making, we will make the right product decisions, the right business decisions, the right distribution decisions, and so on are taken. So, my suggestion is let's dig for the stories first, let's find them, let's align on them and then I am pretty confident that we have a chance to increase the success rate in digital transformation projects.
The strategic one who reads a lot, writes quite a bit (getting better) and speaks on stages across Asia (with people actually listening)
ethics in business
What I'm really thinking and talking about quite a lot and I feel really resonates with people in this moment at this point in time, is the whole aspect of Responsibility and Ethics in digital product creation.
See what is happening out there with Facebook, Google, Amazon posted in the news for all the wrong reasons and from my point of view as designers, technologists and as creators we have an immense power. This is probably unprecedented in history. These are the things that you can do with a small team of experts, who can leverage on all that have been built before, the exponential nature of technology and the global audience reach. But with great power comes great responsibility.
If, for example a client comes or internally the product manager comes and asks the designers or the technologists to cut corners, to use Dark UX patterns, to do things that are not in the best interests of the user, but in the best interests of the bottom line, then from my point of view every person who is involved in creating a product and who is wielding that power has the responsibility to draw a line and say “No”, this is not the right thing to do.
I cannot put this out into the world, because ones we have created it and it's out there, it starts to shape the way that people think, which is another very powerful thing about design.When you think about architecture it is very obvious for us to design a building and then that building designs how people interact with it. If you design it in a very open manner and in a way that there will be a lot of room for meetings, people there will coincide often, because maybe there is a shared central space, where everybody has to go regularly. The way that people will behave in that space will be a lot about collaboration and exchange, generating new ideas.
Whereas, if you design a very closed off space, where everybody has to own office and you barely have to leave it, because all they need is basically in there, then you might have a very focused environment.Similarly, if you design for privacy today, building where you are properly secluded from views from the outside, as you age it might actually turn into something that cuts you off from society and the things that you need.It is very similar with digital products, because when you use a product, the designer has decided on what you can do. There is a certain past and this past starts to literally shape neural pathways in your brain.
Every time you use Facebook it reinforces certain neural pathways in your brain and therefore it changes the way you think and the way you behave.
And this is a power and a responsibility, that from my point of view everybody who is creating products and who is in this space of purposefully creating something that people interact with, has to accept and also has to respect.