[community] Response regarding cost of Inclusive Design for Daniel Ura OCAD

Treviranus, Jutta jtreviranus at ocadu.ca
Fri Sep 8 16:57:54 UTC 2017

Thanks Kevin, great suggestions and great catch.

Not knowing what domain of design you are working with Daniel, I’ll suggest some highly promising potential tools and strategies for inclusive design. Anything that recruits and supports a diversity of contributions helps to extend services/systems/products to reach further to the edges. Platforms, especially cooperative platforms that don’t extract wealth but flow revenue to the participants, are one such example: https://platform.coop/about. We will be exploring this at this year’s DEEP conference: http://deep.idrc.ocadu.ca

User continued design is another example.  One of the dimensions of inclusive design is to foster self-knowledge and empower participation in the design and development process. The focus is not only on an inclusive outcome but on an ongoing inclusive process of designing and developing.


On Sep 8, 2017, at 11:50 AM, Kevin Stolarick <kstolarick at gmail.com<mailto:kstolarick at gmail.com>> wrote:

Not to take away from the wonderful comments about Inclusive Design from both Jutta and John, but I feel I should provide a more direct answer to Daniel's question.

Inclusive Design is expensive in the short term yet cost-effective in the long term.
I ask the community if there are any links (articles, research, essays, etc) that substantiates that claim?

So, rather than take on the question of "what is inclusive design?" which I totally grant is very important for his MRP/Thesis, I suggest that Daniel look beyond inclusive design and instead look at the topic of the cost/benefit of design in general.  I would argue that you should consider the extensive work done on the "cost of changes curve" (especially in software) and other work done on the value and business value of design (in general) -- I daresay even some of the "design thinking" work of Roger Martin and others.

I think you will find lots of work that can justify Filipe's statement from a general design perspective more than just an inclusive design approach.  However, that doesn't invalidate its application to inclusive design.  In fact, given all the comments about inclusive design just presented, I think you would do well in your thesis to show how inclusive design can be expected to deliver even better results.

I do worry a little about your use of "frugal inclusive" -- I think I understand where you are trying to go with this.  And, I'm a huge fan of jugaad innovation, frugal entrepreneurship, and design under scarcity, but saying frugal and inclusive sounds like an oxymoron.  You might have to rethink your language here or be very careful about how you present and discuss it.


Kevin Stolarick, PhD

-----Original Message-----
From: community [mailto:community-bounces at lists.inclusivedesign.ca] On Behalf Of John W (personal)
Sent: September 8, 2017 11:33 AM
To: Treviranus, Jutta <jtreviranus at ocadu.ca<mailto:jtreviranus at ocadu.ca>>
Cc: Daniel Ura <danielura73 at gmail.com<mailto:danielura73 at gmail.com>>; community at lists.idrc.ocadu.ca<mailto:community at lists.idrc.ocadu.ca>
Subject: Re: [community] Response regarding cost of Inclusive Design for Daniel Ura OCAD

I love having this discussion!

I want to add one thread to Jutta's great exposition, which is to urge that we take care to be nuanced in our characterization of 'traditional' or 'mainstream' product development and marketing.

Most markets are iterative, by which I mean that they have repeated sequences of identifying customers and then normalizing them on a distribution plot of some kind. So, for example,

- Market A is optimized for the largest number of customers for a product (a single bell curve (distribution of needs or preferences). When a customer's needs fall along the tails of the curve they are deemed 'marginal' or too costly to engage with firms in  the market, so they are left out.
- the tails of Market A, however, are the target market for Market B, which creates its own bell curve that also has tails of excluded customers, and so on - Market C targets the tails of Market B as its customers, Market D targets the tails of Market C, etc. etc.

Market development is, currently, precisely this process of seeking marginal customers of an existing market, understanding their needs and then meeting those needs through new product or service innovations. It has a repeated and continuous focus on marginal customers, trying to re-situate them as the dense core of a new market.

This is more feasible now due to digital control and mass customization.
Think of all the start-ups you know of - many of them are identifying marginals and seeking to make them into customers of a new product or service offering. This was much more difficult pre-internet and WWW.

Unfortunately, the dynamism of open markets still fails in many instances to capture the needs of many people. Those unmet needs are not random, though - the various modes of social exclusion such as radialization, disability, low income, gender, etc - explain to a large degree (in my
view) why marginalization continues despite growth and increasing sophistication in markets. More than ever, niche markets are feasible - a gay men's wine cruise of the Rhine, for example - but the underlying logic is still that you need money to play, and to get money you need work.

I think we still must accept that certain aspects of inclusion will only come through social policy. As a society, we should insist (legislate) that individuals with significant differences be accomodated in the labour market, which means in firms and businesses. It's simply another form of tithe or taxation - you want to do business in our community, you must absorb costs of accomodating workers who are ready and skilled to do the work, even if you can't imediately figure out how to profit from diversity.

To me what is so unique about inclusive design is that we now have, at this very point in history, tools to make every market more inclusive, including labour markets (along the lines Jutta outlines) - but this should not be a theory that replaces our existing understanding of why it is that marginalization is not random. Critical theory + inclusive design = greater potential than ever before to make a peaceful, inclusive, green society.


On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 9:45 AM, Treviranus, Jutta <jtreviranus at ocadu.ca<mailto:jtreviranus at ocadu.ca>>

Hi Daniel,
With inclusive design, rather than designing for the largest customer
base or the average or typical customer, and rather than designing to
find the one best solution for the largest number of people, your goal
is to create a design that stretches to encompass the largest range of diverse needs.

If you were to take any population and plot their needs on a three
dimensional scatterplot it would look like a starburst with a denser
cluster in the middle and points emanating out from that denser
centre. The dots at the periphery are individuals whose needs are not
met by the standard designs and current markets. They are people with
disabilities, people who are marginalized and people who are in very small minorities.
They are not considered in traditional design processes. Their needs
are more diverse or more different from each other than the needs in
the denser centre which are more homogenous but also diverse.
Collectively the dots at the periphery usually outnumber the dots in the denser centre.

If you design for only that denser centre, especially as an entity
like the government or a public entity that nominally needs to be
available to all citizens or customers you will be repeatedly asked to
modify your design or to provide additional alternatives. You will
also find that for many contexts those individuals that had needs
represented by the denser centre will stray to the edges and ask for
adjustments. Taking software for example, each modification will
likely be a bolt-on or hack. This will degrade your design and make it
more difficult to maintain. It will look something like a house with
all manner of things added on but not fully integrated. Eventually it
will no longer work but not before the costs of maintaining and modifying it have steadily increased.

If you inclusively design, you design for the largest number of those
peripheral and edge needs. Because those needs are so diverse, this
means you need to enable personalization, or one-size-fits-one. For
interfaces this is attained through a flexible, transformable
interface. For industrial design it can be achieved through an
inherent and interoperable modularity or adjustability that enables extensibility.

The inclusive design will be more sustainable, more updatable and also
more transferable to initially unplanned new uses.

The cost of the design for only the denser centre is initially less
expensive but far more costly over time. It’s life span is also limited.
The cost for the inclusively designed system that stretches to the
edges is more expensive to begin with but it is less costly in the
long run and will have a much longer life span. The inclusive design
will likely take more time at the start but pay off in less time to
retrofit, maintain and train and in longevity.

Does that make sense to you?

Good examples of this phenomenon include the Web. Anytime edge
requirements were included the systems lasted longer and were put to
more uses. Think of the brittleness of things like Flash and Flex and
then the longevity of CSS. Open APIs and open standards help with
interoperability and inclusive design.

I’d love to amass good examples of this phenomenon, I’m sure people
can think of new examples.


On Sep 7, 2017, at 5:52 PM, Daniel Ura <danielura73 at gmail.com<mailto:danielura73 at gmail.com>> wrote:

Hi all,

My name is Daniel Ura and I'm a graduate student at OCAD studying
Foresight and Innovation. I'm starting my Major Research Project
these days, which is about how businesses could integrate Inclusive
Design and Frugal Innovation principles as a strategy.

Felipe Sarmiento once mentioned to me that Inclusive Design is
the short term yet cost-effective in the long term.

I ask the community if there are any links (articles, research,
etc) that substantiates that claim. My hope is that by combining
concepts, businesses can utilize Frugal Inclusive Design.

I look forward to your responses. Thank you.


Daniel Ura
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