This article was originally published on our Medium Platform Rethinking Organizations.
In this past year, all of our ‘norms’ abruptly shifted to a digital plane overnight.
In every sense of the word, we’ve seen ‘digitalization’ take a much more significant role than ever before: in our daily routines, education, way of working, and social interactions. In short, as The Creative Platform defines it, we’ve watched it create our ‘never normal.’
Reflecting back on 2020, we’ve had to adopt new ways of living and moving forward; inevitably, this has called for us to rethink how we can function with the power of technology and digitalization.
In the past 9 months, we have gotten used to the idea of seeing zoom screenshots on LinkedIn instead of large conference venues, throwing graduation caps and getting a diploma on an online conference screen, and even holding virtual game nights & parties for the weekend. It’s safe to say we have and still are looking for ways to recreate these moments through a new online world.
However, as we work to ‘digitalize’ these moments, there is one aspect we mustn’t forget; at the end of the day, it’s always about creating human experiences. Remembering this perspective allows us to understand that our focus should not be on creating the digital version of a physical experience. In fact, it’s merely the opposite.
The key is not to ‘digitalize’ the physical experiences but to ‘physicalize’ the digital experience.
Digitalization not as an aim, but as a tool.
It is important to note that in our so-called “old normal” there was another dimension to the experiences we designed and created for ourselves, ones that came with being in a psychical environment. If we attempt to simply digitalize these experiences via specific online tools & resources, a very fundamental human aspect of the experience will likely be lost in translation.
A primary reason for why some of the digital activities/experiences designed do not resonate or have the desired outcome is that it is essentially built off ‘mimicking’ the physical elements in a digital environment. Whereas when we look from the perspective of ‘physicalizing’ the digital experience, we need to first understand the core human necessity that lies beneath those experiences to build a digital one.
Let’s take a real-life example in this light;
Say you are planning on holding a collaborative business meeting with key people from each department. Typically to facilitate such brainstorming, using ‘post-it’s and creating maps together on a big whiteboard is the way to go. However, you’re not face-to-face, there are no ‘post-it’s, and there is no whiteboard.
What would be the first question that pops into your mind? Are they along the lines of:
“What applications/platforms are there that I can use to create the same experience in a digital environment?”
“What is our purpose with this meeting, and what outcomes do we want to achieve? What kind of experience can we possibly design to do so?”
What is your reaction to the latter? The first question seems a bit redundant, doesn’t it?
That’s because we tend to come up with quick fixes when faced problems and do not necessarily put time and effort into understanding the root cause of the problem itself. What’s important to note is that the human needs and insights create the foundation of any experience, and the purpose is what always guides it.
Hence when we aim to recreate those opportunities in a digital environment, the answer should not be to look for a digital tool for the job, but to understand the core needs of that experience and simply rethink the potential in a new online world.
The pandemic will pass, but the digital tools and our new habits will most likely live on. So don’t you think it’s time we rethink how we incorporate digitalization into our daily lives?