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Gabriel Mugar is a Senior Design Researcher at IDEO Cambridge where he specialises in working with communities and organisations to design opportunities for learning and collaboration. He draws on a multi-disciplinary background in human computer interaction, organisational sociology, media studies, and education to inform his approach to research and design.

Since joining IDEO, he has explored challenges around learning and collaboration across a range of settings, including State and Federal government, consumer technology, retail, and professional services. Before joining IDEO Gabriel worked in academic research, exploring and implementing new models for collaboration and design in civic and scientific contexts.

Gabriel holds a Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology from the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and is a co-author of the book 'Meaningful Inefficiencies: Civic Design in an Age of Digital Expediency'.

Event role
Case study speaker

Case study

'Collaboration across boundaries'

The allure of automation and efficiency is a driving force in the innovation of new products and services today. The desire to delegate complex tasks to artificial intelligence or hand over messy human conversations to an FAQ is viewed as a successful outcome. And yet, in many cases, those complex tasks and messy conversations still rely on the nuance of human touch to complete the last mile of activity.

By examining how projects at IDEO have navigated the tension between a desire for the efficiency of systems and the value of human interactions, we can look at ways to create conditions for collaboration between service providers and users. In these projects, designers focused on the distinct domains of and boundaries between the two groups and how the boundaries constituted gaps in knowledge, skills, and trust. These gaps needed to be addressed to create productive collaboration instead of fully-automated or static user experiences.

This talk will unpack how a state government website externalised insider knowledge to improve conversations between agency staff and constituents. How a commercial product decided to scale back its automation features to hold space for human input. And last, how a community health approach for contact tracing of COVID infections in marginalised communities looked to trusted local intermediaries to carry out services that outsiders were not trusted to deliver.

By highlighting the boundaries between users and service providers and showing how designers positioned those two groups as collaborators, this talk will look at how designing for collaboration across boundaries might work in other settings and how it can surface issues around power, agency, and equity in design.

Saturday, September 12, 16:45 - 17:30

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