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BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – July/August 2017

To literally illustrate his point, Reynolds grabs a

marker and strides to a white board. He quickly sketches

a graphic showing how software and technology have

been generated for the last few decades.

The gist of what he draws with stick figures, boxes

and arrows is this: Pretty much since the dawn of the

computer age, engineers have discovered what’s

possible, created technology to reflect that possibility

and then handed that technology over to product and

marketing people to deliver it to the masses.

The problem is, the “masses” usually didn’t

understand the technology or know how to use it. And

the technology often hit the market with flaws and

weaknesses – especially in terms of usability. As a

result, selling technology usually also meant selling

training programs and, eventually, issuing updates (a

process that gave our culture the once-ubiquitous

phrase “version 2.0”).

Reynolds’ point? Users – those human beings who

put the technology to work in their daily lives – seemed

to be forgotten. Technology reflected what was possible,

not what was useful or accessible. And, too often,

technology became the point rather than the means to an

end, he says. Firms would get so caught up in what they

could do and how they did it that they lost sight of the “why.”

New strategy

With his product agency, Innovatemap, Reynolds

is taking a different approach, one that helps companies

create, design and market digital products by starting

with users. They get to the heart of what people want –

from the most basic tasks to needs and desires they may

not even be aware of – before bringing these digital

products to life.

It’s an approach that Reynolds sees as setting his

three-year-old agency apart in today’s marketplace. But

it’s also one that he thinks should become commonplace.

Why? Because when that human element became

overshadowed by technology, he says, something got

lost. To bring that element back, he adds, we should

embrace the humanities. However, Reynolds notes,

he’s not suggesting that we abandon our drive to

improve education in science, technology, engineering

and math, but that we strike a better balance between

STEM and the humanities.

“The humanities are a strength that can be

forgotten. They’re about people and why we do what

we do,” Reynolds says. “Engineers are good at asking,

‘Am I building the thing right?’ The humanities help us

ask, ‘Am I building the right thing?’ ”

In Reynolds’ view, future products will set

themselves apart through their human appeal. As such,

engineers, product designers and marketers must be

equipped with an understanding of, well, humans. And

that can be found through the humanities, those disciplines

that help us understand ourselves and each other, and

that help us express who we are and what we are about.

Time is right

So what’s driving this shift from technology-driven

products to humanity-driven products? Reynolds

describes a few different trends.

For one thing, he believes that the opportunity to


Keira Amstutz

is president and CEO of

Indiana Humanities. This

is the third of a “Take the

Leap” series, which focuses

on individual Hoosiers who

are making a difference

by merging STEM and the

humanities. Learn more at


Striking the Right Balance

Partnering Technology and the Humanities

Twenty years in the software and digital technology world have taught Mike Reynolds

something: We can do better.


Continued on page 20

Mike Reynolds and the Innovatemap team help clients blend technology and human interaction.

Keira Amstutz