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.”
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
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 atwww.indianahumanities.org/
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.
GUEST COLUMNContinued on page 20
Mike Reynolds and the Innovatemap team help clients blend technology and human interaction.