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Good Design for Good Reasons22:11 with Netta Marshall
Design has the biggest potential for impact, yet much of the world’s design power goes towards low-impact products. In this talk, you’ll hear about my past experience leading design at Watsi, a non-profit aimed at providing access to healthcare for every person on the planet, as well as Palantir’s work to help organizations working on many of the world’s hardest problems: creating slavery-free supply chains, improving global health and fighting disease outbreaks, and providing humanitarian relief in the wake of natural disasters, to name a few. Learn how designers can have gratification working on real problems in the real world.
[MUSIC] 0:00 Hello. 0:05 So, as announced my name is Netta Marshall and I'm a San Francisco based UI and 0:06 visual designer, and over my career I've worked for 0:11 a number of companies ranging from huge corporations to tiny startups. 0:15 Last year I led design at a San Francisco based non profit called watsi and 0:20 I'm currently on the product design team at Palantir. 0:26 So I've always been interested in helping people. 0:32 When I was a kid my parents would make sure that I always had 0:35 some sort of general awareness that there are people in the world 0:39 who needed help in one way or another. 0:42 We would visit food banks or 0:45 annually clear out our closets to donate things to charities. 0:48 And the private school that I went to did a lot of the same via outreach programs, 0:52 and we would do things such like house bake sales, 0:57 with the proceeds going to the less fortunate. 0:59 But as a busy adult this desire this desire to do good stuck with me but 1:02 I unfortunately never really made much time for it. 1:06 I remember taking my very first international trip. 1:08 I was going to Belize for about a week. 1:14 And before leaving, people wish me well. 1:16 They told me to be careful because I was traveling alone and 1:20 a couple of people mentioned to me that rum was cheaper than water, 1:24 which I did not believe for a second. 1:28 I mean, how could that even be possible, but I got there and I found it to be true. 1:30 Water was about double the price as a bottle of rum, and 1:37 I was completely taken aback. 1:41 I mean, I wanted to help this issue, but 1:43 I had no idea what I could do to directly impact the situation. 1:45 So, like most of us, I swiftly got caught up in the whirlwind that is life, and 1:51 that issue fell by the wayside. 1:55 In the spring of 2011, I landed a job at Square. 1:57 And as part of the on boarding process at the time Jack Dorsey would come around and 2:05 take $1 from every new hire and he would use their signature screen in an intro 2:09 in a weekly meeting called Town Square. 2:15 Now, unbeknownst to me, I was employee number 100. 2:19 So during my intro, Jack joked that he was coming back for his remaining $99. 2:23 I blew it off, I had told him that I had no idea where the money was even going and 2:28 he would never get it. 2:33 A few weeks later, in town square, Jack showed a video from charity water, 2:38 which is where all of the new hire funds actually go to. 2:43 And that video outlined that there are 700 million people 2:47 in the world without access to clean water. 2:51 To put that into perspective, that's about 10% of the world's population, 2:55 and that video swiftly reminded me of my trip to Belize and I was so 2:59 moved that I actually cried a little bit into my beer at that town square. 3:03 Once the meeting was over I ran over to Jack and I donating my remaining 3:08 $99 with a $50 tip. 3:12 Moving on from Square, I worked at RDO for about a year and then freelanced for 3:17 a few months after that and I was suddenly exposed to this 3:22 magical land that is San Francisco and Silicon Valley. 3:26 There's so many tech companies building a vast array of products. 3:30 For instance, with the help of an app, I can have someone come to my house and 3:36 install a new shelving system in my closet. 3:40 Or, I can have all of my groceries delivered to my door. 3:43 Or with the press of a button on my phone I can have a driver pick me up from my 3:48 house and take me pretty much anywhere I'd like to go. 3:52 If I want someone to come to my house, pick up and launder all of my dirty 3:55 clothes and bring them back to my house neatly folded in a box I can have that. 4:00 In many ways, it's a place where new ideas to cater to the privileged are bred. 4:05 But, what about those who need a little help? 4:11 Design really has the biggest impact for potential, but so much of the world's 4:14 design power goes to non-impactful and often unimportant products. 4:18 So, it was at this period of my career that I decided 4:24 to dedicate my time to something that was bigger than myself, for real this time. 4:27 So I wrote my friend, Garry Tan, an email. 4:33 He's a partner at Y-Combinator and I said hey I'm looking for a job. 4:35 My only requirements were that the team were super-small, 4:40 that they were building something really important and 4:44 if it was a non-profit, that would be like icing on the cake. 4:48 So he introduced me to Chase Adam who had the original idea for watsi. 4:51 We met the next morning for 4:56 breakfast, I met the rest of the team that afternoon and I was hired that night. 4:58 I think Chase's question to me was, so, 5:04 do you wanna come with us to Nepal in three weeks, or what? 5:07 No non-profit, to my knowledge, moves that quick. 5:10 I had a really good feeling about what was ahead. 5:14 So I started out watsi about a few weeks later, 5:18 and I spent some time getting my feet wet. 5:21 Getting to know the brand, the product, the voice, the donor base, the priorities. 5:23 And at the beginning of my third week I was on a plane to Nepal with a team. 5:33 We were visiting our very first medical partner, Possible Health. 5:38 And they're located in a far Western district of Nepal, called the Chom. 5:41 Now, getting there wasn't exactly easy. 5:49 After flying into Kathmandu, 5:52 we took an additional short flight into a town about an hour away. 5:53 And following that was an 11 hour jeep ride through windy, 5:59 bumpy, often unpaved mountainous roads. 6:03 Now, keep in mind. 6:08 We were in big comfy Jeeps with seat belts and plenty of room for 6:08 us to fall asleep if we wanted to, but if you were a little kid with a broken leg, 6:12 you would be taking those very same roads on a packed bus. 6:16 And that was really our first dose of perspective. 6:21 So we arrived at Biopanta Hospital where Possible Health operates and 6:27 we got a tour of the grounds and we were really eager to see things in action. 6:32 So the six of us piled into this tiny little patient interview room. 6:36 We were sitting on floor cushions along the wall. 6:41 And we met Hari who had one of the most incredible stories I had heard 6:46 in a long time. 6:50 He was a 15 year old boy who was forced to 6:52 leave his family due to economic constraints. 6:56 He used to live with his parents and siblings. 6:58 He had to drop out of school and move away from home and 7:01 seek work as a construction laborer. 7:04 He had been living with ear infections for a really long time, 7:07 but the pain had worsened and had started to become constant. 7:11 His hearing was impaired and he started having fevers. 7:15 But the cost of treatment was more than he would earn in years. 7:19 He had been brought into the hospital by someone he worked for, and just in time. 7:24 Doctors said that if he had waited any longer, 7:28 left the infection untreated, it would've rendered him deaf, and 7:31 he was so relieved to know that he could have treatment for 7:36 something that he had been living with for so long and at absolutely no cost to him. 7:40 My colleague at the time, Thomas, was sitting on the floor next to me and 7:46 he turned to the left and he asked, have you ever done user testing 7:49 like this before and I whispered no, while I stifled tears and 7:53 it was that moment that I realized the opportunity I had been granted. 7:58 My vehemence for creating quality designs really grew. 8:03 I wanted even more to make watsi the best crowdfunding platform out there, 8:07 so when we got back to the States, I started working on our redesign. 8:11 And that redesign was about a year in the making, 8:15 end to end, and we scoped it out to be a one to one redesign. 8:20 No new features. 8:23 We knew that we needed a better foundation for us to build the products and 8:24 features that we thought were valuable to our donor base. 8:29 We wanted to make the site more image driven, so 8:36 we increased the size of all of our patient photos and 8:39 we introduced a series of heroes on a few pages to create a bit of visual feel. 8:42 Now, this one is as far as our 404 and 8:49 500 pages which can sometimes be forgotten about. 8:52 We even used a series of photos gathered on one of our 8:58 trips to East Africa to better tell the story of how watsi works. 9:01 Now, presenting a compelling and emotional narrative appealing to 9:07 everyone can be challenging, but also very rewarding. 9:10 We put a lot of time, effort, thought and care into what our brand represents, 9:14 how to showcase it visually and what our voice was. 9:19 At watsi, we have put design first and 9:33 we strive to have everything that we produced be beautiful to the world. 9:36 We wanted it to be memorable from our marketing imagery to our copy to our site 9:42 interactions and really not enough non-profits do that. 9:47 In fact, very few think that design is a worth while investment. 9:51 We wanted our donors, both existing and potential, 9:57 to feel a sense of happiness and motivation when they visited the site. 10:00 Like they were part of a solution, part of a movement. 10:05 Now if you've ever been awake in the late night hours, and 10:09 you've been watching television. 10:13 You've probably seen commercials from non-profits who will portray the problem 10:14 that needs solving versus the outcome that is possible. 10:19 They often ask people to prevent something terrible from happening versus 10:22 being a part of making something incredible happen. 10:27 And that's the reason that you see so many bright, smiling faces on Watsi and 10:29 why the stories are so rich, lively, and relatable. 10:34 So, I was actually born with a fairly common condition, I had a herniated navel. 10:41 Now, when some babies are born they have belly buttons that protrude. 10:46 And that usually will correct itself within the first couple of years of life, 10:50 and have little to no effect on the child. 10:54 But mine didn't, and my doctor became concerned with it for whatever reason and 10:57 suggests that I had corrective surgery at the age of one. 11:00 So, whenever I see kids with the same condition on Watsi, 11:05 it hits me a little harder than most and I'm more inclined to donate to them. 11:08 And the same with atrial ceptal defect. 11:13 My kid sister was born with this, and 11:16 it's basically a hole between the two upper chambers of your heart. 11:17 Sometimes it'll close during pregnancy or shortly after birth, but hers didn't. 11:22 So some of her blood would pump from her heart to her lungs in a loop, 11:27 instead of oxygen rich blood flowing into the rest of her body. 11:31 She too had surgery at the age of one, so 11:38 whenever I see patients on Watsi I connect and I donate. 11:41 But it's not just the conditions I connect with. 11:46 It's sometimes just wanting to help a kid grow up happy and healthy. 11:49 Fulfill his or her dreams or just to give sight back to a grandparent. 11:53 I've been a designer since the age of 18 and over that time, 12:00 I've worked on some incredible products with incredible people. 12:04 But I had never had this type of fulfillment before, 12:08 I had got an constant sense of perspective. 12:12 I remember once, I was having a bad day, it was pouring raining, 12:15 I couldn't get a ride home, there were no lifts or uber's available or whatever. 12:22 The buses were packed and 12:26 slow by the time they actually arrived, so I decided to walk. 12:28 So I finally get home and I was tired and I was hungry but I had no food so 12:33 I was stuck eating ramen. 12:36 And as I ate, I decided to hop on Watsi and I was reading through 12:38 some of the profiles and I found a seven year old girl named Nolari. 12:42 She had just been fully funded and her story really stood out to me. 12:48 She was badly burned in a house fire that killed both of her parents and 12:54 her five siblings. 12:59 She was the only survivor. 13:00 She had scar tissue that rendered her left arm pretty much unusable. 13:02 She had no mobility, but you know what? 13:08 She was still smiling in her photo, and 13:12 at that moment I realized I don't really have it so bad. 13:16 Things could be so much worse for me, my life is actually pretty good. 13:22 Now, I try to be cognizant about complaining about first world problems. 13:26 But I think that increased so much more when I started working at Watsi. 13:31 During a trip to Tanzania, we got a chance to meet Nolari and 13:35 she was still that happy little girl that we saw in photos. 13:39 And of course, I was really moved and 13:42 had to sneak off because I was crying into my camera. 13:44 On a separate trip to Cambodia, we visited a partner who runs an on site eye clinic. 13:49 Now, they mostly treat patients who are elderly and have cataracts, and 13:56 they're having their site restored. 14:00 All the procedures are super low cost, they're about a hundred bucks. 14:03 Now for 14:08 comparison, that same procedure would talk about 6500 in the United States. 14:08 And the patients are all so happy, they're able to see for the first time in years. 14:13 He's my favorite. 14:23 But that's not the extent of the impact. 14:25 When you donate, you're not just helping this one person. 14:27 You might also be helping their family members get back to school 14:31 because they no longer have to help grandpa get around town. 14:34 Or you might be helping their entire village because they now have 14:37 a farmer back. 14:40 Your contribution goes so much farther than this one person. 14:43 And it was an honor of mine to really be part of a movement to 14:46 provide a basic human right to people. 14:50 So, after spending about 15 months at Watsi, this urge to really 14:55 help the world become a better version of itself through overwhelmingly large. 15:02 I had finally scratched this nearly lifelong itch but it wasn't really enough. 15:05 I wanted to make a bigger impact on the world outside of the healthcare space. 15:11 I remember being reached out to by probably the nicest recruiter I've 15:17 ever encountered. 15:21 So I sent her back a quick note a couple months later, and I asked 15:23 if they were still interested in chatting, and they were which made me happy. 15:26 And I ended up joining the team at Palantir, and I was so excited to dive in. 15:30 Now, most people don't really 15:35 think about enterprise having the potential for impact. 15:38 But Palantir as an organization and 15:41 its employees have a mission of making the world a better place. 15:45 By really empowering organizations to make sense of their data 15:49 to solve the most pressing problems. 15:54 You would be surprised at the effect proper access to information and 15:58 data can have. 16:02 Palantir works on a number of really incredible projects, but I think 16:05 those that hit me the hardest are the ones that come out of our philanthropy team. 16:09 And I wanna talk about just a few. 16:13 The average family size in Syria is six and a half people. 16:19 And every minute of every day, 16:24 one family is forced to flee their homes due to ongoing conflicts. 16:27 And thus far, about 3 million Syrians have left 16:32 the country to seek refuge elsewhere, mostly in Jordan. 16:36 But there's 6.5 million people displaced within Syria, 16:39 totaling over a third of the country's population. 16:45 Power structures are constantly in flux, 16:50 so it's pretty difficult to safely deliver aid to civilians. 16:52 But with Palantir, organizations can share data with partners. 16:57 And that allows them to negotiate safe passage for convoys and 17:01 better understand how the conflict might affect future needs. 17:05 There are a number of criminal organizations trafficking ivory and 17:14 threatening to put Africa's elephants into extinction. 17:18 Not only are these people responsible for 17:24 the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of elephants. 17:27 But they are also linked to regional conflict, political corruption, and 17:30 organized crime. 17:35 Palantir is able to provide a platform for 17:38 organizations to allow them to investigate and combat illegal killing of 17:41 elephants of worldwide trafficking of ivory and other illicit goods. 17:45 In fact, last year in 2014, 17:52 East African authorities were able to identify a suspicious shipment. 17:54 And that led to the seizure of $11 million in illicitly traded environmental goods. 17:59 And that was one of the largest environmental crime seizures in African 18:04 history. 18:08 Barron estimated 50,000 veterans, homeless each night in the United States. 18:14 That's enough to put Yankee Stadium over maximum capacity. 18:21 Because of inefficient housing matching process that involves 18:26 multiple government agencies and non-profits. 18:31 These veterans will often remain homeless for up to 300 days, almost a full year. 18:34 Palentirs partnered with an organization to develop HomeLink. 18:40 Which is a web application that really streamlines the house matching process 18:44 within one single, scalable platform. 18:48 This year, we aim to reduce that housing matching process to 60 days and 18:51 expand to chronically homeless populations. 18:57 And introduce Homelink to additional cities across the United States. 19:00 And it's not just the philanthropic projects that are profound. 19:07 We've helped the CDC perform trace back analysis on outbreaks of illnesses and 19:11 infections like e-coli and cholera. 19:15 And we've helped analyze the Haiti earthquake situation to assist aid workers 19:19 on the ground. 19:23 And speaking of disaster response, 19:25 we've also aided workers after typhoon Hyan and hurricane Sandy. 19:26 Former president Clinton even gave us a shout out one year after Sandy. 19:32 >> After hurricane Sandy last year, Chelsea led our foundation's efforts to 19:37 get on the ground in Rockaway and help for the clean up. 19:41 1000 people volunteered to spend a day working with Team Rubicon. 19:43 Team Rubicon started working with this one group from Silicon Valley, 19:49 a software company called Palantir Technologies 19:53 to get volunteers where they were needed most. 19:56 When those young men from Palantir showed me their technology. 19:59 I wanted to join our foundation in the CGI network to really transform the way we 20:03 prepare for and then respond to disasters and other emergency situations. 20:07 >> Designers have far more power than they realize. 20:16 David Berman says, the same design that fuels mass overconsumption, 20:21 also holds the power to repair the world. 20:26 And just to go on a brief tangent here, I noticed that designers will sometimes pour 20:31 loads of time and loads of energy into an unsolicited redesign of something. 20:37 Where they had no idea the brief, the constraints, 20:41 how it fits into an existing framework, or if it can even be implemented. 20:45 Now at that same time, an energy were spent for something good. 20:49 We might be able to break this vicious cycle that is 20:55 designers not supporting impactful projects. 20:58 And impactful organizations feeling as though design is a luxury. 21:00 So, here's the question. 21:06 If design and marketing can make people crave sugar water. 21:09 Or urge them to buy something that they probably don't need. 21:14 Or persuade them to switch from one brand to another. 21:19 Imagine, just imagine what it could do for 21:22 something that's legitimately life-changing, world-changing. 21:24 Normally when people talk about things being world-changing, 21:30 it tends to sound a little bit grand. 21:32 And I don't mean in one fell swoop it can make all that is wrong right. 21:34 What I mean is, it can solve problems on a case by case basis around the world. 21:38 And with that, it changes the reality for people in that situation. 21:44 That's the reason that I value design so much. 21:48 What I hope to leave behind with our generation is that giving and 21:52 helping others can be cool. 21:56 And designing for impact doesn't need to be boring. 21:58 Cheers. 22:02 >> [APPLAUSE] 22:03
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