We should be human-decentred
The rush to advocating a “human-centred” approach, rather than consumer-oriented, is yet another hype that people follow without much thinking of whether it should be followed.
The “human-centred” approach that looks at consumers as total humans, rather than consumers only, is likely driven by the recent “hype” in design thinking. It is a hype because I can foresee people jumping onto another bandwagon when it emerges. Just like the “hypes” around data analytics or behavioural science, people who are claiming to be design thinking experts seldom spend more than a Coursera or IDEO course to become one. People also tend to pick and choose whatever they think are trendy or will make them look smart, often ignoring the mundane like the order of the questions in interviews (e.g., wrong ordering may limit respondents/users to a certain chain of thoughts).
But this does not bother me as much as the lack of consideration of the appropriateness of the “human-centred” approach itself. While I support looking beyond the market context of communications, usage and purchase, I cannot agree with putting humans in the centre. Despite the pandemic and increasing episodes of extreme weather due to climage change, the very reason of which is humans being self-centred, some of my fellow industry colleagues still proudly advocate their “human-centred approach” as “better than the conventional norm”.
Our “me me me” attitude is best illustrated by this incident in which humans have destroyed animals’ homes for our selfish gains. Animals are then forced to wander around on “humans’ turfs”. Humans therefore consider animals trespassers and “put them to sleep” — calling it “animal euthanasia” which literally means “humane destruction (killing)” in Chinese (人道毀滅).
“Human-centred” approach is narrow and selfish as it does not take into account of the environment and social impacts. It is yet another “hype” and will likely be replaced by yet another bandwagon as soon as one appears.
Note: This piece originally appeared on my Linkedin. I have added an example to illustrate why a “human-centred” approach is wrong.