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Buzzwords Defined: Human-Centered Design


Robyn Klem

Date Published

Nov 13, 2021
3 minute read
Facilitated Session Human Centered Design

Buzzwords. They’re everywhere. Certain buzzwords are so ubiquitous we laugh about them. Sometimes, we hear them – and let’s be honest, use them – without really understanding what they mean.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing a new blog series: Buzzwords Defined. We’ll be putting context around the buzzwords we use at The Clearing and the phrases we hear from our clients to keep us all up to speed – and make our coffee chat vocabulary sound even more impressive.

The first buzzword we’re looking to tackle? Human-Centered Design.

While this may sound like a phrase that only applies to physical products, it actually applies to just about anything. It simply means considering the human perspective during all phases of problem-solving.

That could mean thinking about what a person actually needs when designing a new toaster (not in The Clearing’s wheelhouse) to putting people and their needs first when designing a new workplace environment (definitely in our wheelhouse).

Human-Centered Design focuses on three basic principles:

  • Focus on all people
  • Find the root problem
  • Everything is interconnected

We feel so strongly about this simple concept that we created our own IP framework for it: the AMPERIAN CYCLE®. It’s the five-step prototyping process we use to address specific customer needs in an agile, rapid, and inclusive way. It also serves as a consistent reminder to keep the people impacted by a given change, initiative, etc., at the center of our approach.

The Clearing's Amperian Cycle Process

The outcomes of the process include a shared understanding of challenges customers face, alignment on a data-driven solution, and an interactive prototype of the solution. In short, it’s Human-Centered Design simplified.

To summarize, there will always be a new buzzword. And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that buzzwords come and go. The key thing to remember is not the word (which is simply how humans create a common language around a given concept), it’s the principles and values behind it.

That’s all to say the concept of Human-Centered Design won’t go away anytime soon, but the words we use to refer to it may change – just like any phrase du jour, covered here or elsewhere.