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As a design anthropologist and psychologist, Anna Kirah is an expert in qualitative research methods used to understand the articulated and unarticulated needs of people and to connect this understanding to the creation of meaningful, relevant, useful and desirable products, services and organisational change. She began her career as a design anthropologist in the 90s when she was hired at Boeing, responsible for research for the pre-concept work for Boeing's 787 'Dreamliner'. It was here she was able to test out her methods with pilots, passengers and crew on board long haul flights.

Anna was headhunted to Microsoft in 1999 and was the first anthropologist in the company. She was the Chief Design Anthropologist for Windows, MSN, Windows Live, mobile services, embedded software solutions and digital media. Her experience working for Boeing and for Microsoft and in a wide range of sectors, including software development, advertising, transportation, retail, banking, public services and governmental policymaking, has given her global recognition for her work in trends related to technology, digital transformation, strategy and change management in the age of turbulence.

Much of Anna's work relates to the impact of rapid change on companies and organisations and the subsequent challenges in how to meet the increasing demands of both employees and customers. In the last 10 years, Anna has increasingly focused on planetary-centric perspectives as well. In addition to working at Halogen, a design and transdisciplinary consultancy, she lectures at universities worldwide and sits on the board of Design without Borders Foundation and Design without Borders Africa, solving challenges in LMIC countries.

Event role

Expert talk
Working on the edge in transformation and paradigm shifts'

This talk is a series of reflections from a design anthropological perspective about the future of design and the role of designers. Anna's job has been to unveil truths for organisations: making the known unknown and making the unknown known. She has always said that there is no one truth, and that in any argument - both sides are correct – but only partially. The answer to what transforms organisations lies in the premise that no one discipline is best and that no one discipline alone will solve the challenges we are facing.

Anna has little faith in crossdisciplinary work based on experience and far more faith in transdisciplinary work. When collaborating in a transdisciplinary setting, miracles can and do happen: we transcend our own methods, models and processes, and find ourselves in new realms and in new directions. Our biggest hindrance? Our inability to listen and our inability to see other perspectives than our own. We need to talk more about power dynamics within the group we are working with and the designers’ misaligned focus on self-glorification.

What if some of the most used tools of service design actually cause the problem? How might we truly combine our skills to create meaningful, relevant and sustainable solutions for people (and all living things) as well as our planet? Be prepared for some thought-provoking reflections and interactions.

Friday, September 17, 09:15

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