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Shikake: The Japanese Art of Shaping Behavior Through Design



Hello everyone, today we're going to talk about a light-hearted book called "Shikake: The Japanese Art of Shaping Behavior Through Design". What is "Shikake"? It refers to the design that can make people want to do something unconsciously. In daily life, we often persuade people to do things or set rules like "do not do this or that", but the effects are often poor. However, it is interesting if we can use clever designs to make people want to do something unconsciously, to attract them to do things.


The author himself is a researcher in artificial intelligence. When he studied at Stanford University, he found that "shikake design" sometimes works better than artificial intelligence, so he switched to research in "shikakeology" and can be considered as the pioneer of this field. As this field is not yet mature, the book is thin, but the author has collected many relevant cases.


He said that he first experienced the wonders of shikake design when he visited Tennoji Zoo in Osaka. As he was walking along the path in the zoo, he suddenly noticed a bamboo tube lying diagonally by the roadside, which looked like a telescope, but it was facing downwards. Every child passing by would feel curious about this strange bamboo tube and would lean over to look at it. No instructions were needed, no one had to say "come here and take a look", people just naturally wanted to explore, feeling that it looked like a telescope, but it was pointing at something on the ground.




Later, he couldn't help but lean over to take a closer look and discovered that the end of the bamboo tube revealed a pile of elephant dung. The elephant dung was made of plastic and its purpose was to indicate that the elephants were nearby. So he found it interesting that such a small psychological trigger could let everyone know that "we should look at the elephants next". That's why he called this thing "shikake design", which means finding ways to solve problems through action.


In order to meet the standards of shikake design, things must satisfy three conditions, called FAD. The first condition is "fairness", which means that your design should not harm anyone's interests, and you cannot cause harm to others because of this design. The second is "attractiveness", which means that your design can guide people to take some unique actions that you want them to take. The third is "duality of purpose". I think this is very important. What does "duality of purpose" mean? It means that the purpose of the designer and the designed person are different.

One of the most typical examples of this is the little fly that is often drawn in the center of men's urinals. Why draw a fly? Without the fly, urine splashes around and makes it difficult to clean and inconvenient for the next user. People initially tried various slogans like "a small step forward, a big step for civilization," but they had little effect. Others tried drawing a footprint at the bottom of the urinal to indicate where to stand, but this actually resulted in more people not standing on the footprint, causing even more trouble. However, when a little fly was drawn in the middle of the urinal, accuracy improved significantly. The designer's goal was to get users to pay attention to cleanliness and not to make a mess, while the user's goal was to eliminate the fly. Someone even improved upon the fly by using high-tech methods to turn it into a little flame. This flame was particularly interesting because it turned red when dry, as if it were on fire, but when liquid was poured on it, it would fade and go out. This was taking advantage of men's peculiar psychology: they want to extinguish the flame. These small designs that conform to the FAD principles are called shikake designs.





All shikake designs have two very important indicators (translated as "features" in this book, but I think "indicators" is more accurate): benefit and burden. What is benefit? It is the convenience that the design brings. Burden refers to the cost it requires. In this way, we can combine different shikake designs: great benefit, great burden; small benefit, great burden; great benefit, small burden... The best design is undoubtedly one with great benefit and small burden, like the little fly in the urinal. This is a design that does not require users to pay more, but still brings great benefits.


Another example is some office buildings or shopping malls that want to encourage people to take the stairs, because taking the stairs has many benefits. First, it can exercise the body and help with weight loss. Second, it can reduce elevator congestion and save electricity. So how can we get people to be more willing to take the stairs? Some people came up with the idea of putting a calorie label on each step. This means that if you step over one step, you will reduce a fraction of a calorie, and if you step up more steps, you will reduce a calorie. This is a shikake design, but it belongs to a typical design with a relatively large burden and a relatively small benefit. Why? Because the effect of the calorie numbers may be slightly motivating, but not that strong. Another more advanced design is to draw black and white keys on each step, just like the cover of this book shows. Black and white keys are drawn on the steps and some sound-producing materials are added so that when you step on them, they produce the sound of "do-re-mi-fa." So many people will jump up and down the stairs just to hear the sound of the keys. This is a design with a large burden but also a large benefit. Therefore, when choosing the combination of benefit and burden, of course, the smaller the burden, the better, and the greater the benefit, the better.




One case in this book that I particularly appreciate is about the "World's Deepest Trash Can" in a popular theory competition. Every year, the public invites people from all over the world to participate by submitting their good designs. This particular design is very interesting because it addresses the problem of people littering in public places, not putting trash in the trash can. This could be because they think the trash can is dirty, or they are too lazy to bother. But what if there was a trash can that was the world's deepest? According to the designer, it was three hundred meters deep. Of course, this was an illusion created by sound effects. The designer added sound effects to the trash can, so when you throw a can of coke, a rock, or something else in it, you can hear it falling into the cliff and colliding with other things. This caused many people to try it out just to hear the sound. This "World's Deepest Trash Can" brought a lot of fun and also promoted people to throw their trash in the trash can.


There is a graph in the book that shows the relationship between benefits and burdens. The benefit, of course, is constantly decreasing because people's interest in throwing trash and hearing the interesting sound will diminish over time. The first time playing with it is particularly interesting, but the third or fifth time may not be as interesting. This is a decaying process. The burden, on the other hand, is constant and mostly flat. The intersection point of these two lines is called the "action change divergence point." A good design can make this divergence point continuously move backward, making people more willing to use it repeatedly to seek this feeling.





For example, many children (especially teenagers) like to play basketball, but they don't like to clean up the house. So there is a particularly clever design that adds a basketball basket to the top of the storage basket, it's that simple, just put a plastic basketball basket on top of the storage basket. What effect do you think adding a basketball basket will achieve? It means that children practice shooting every day, from long-range shots to mid-range shots to slam dunks. The frequency at which children collect things suddenly increased significantly, which is a typical action transformation that moves the divergence point backward, making people willing to do this thing for a long time voluntarily. Of course, there are also poorly designed designs, which we call off-target designs. The book talks about this when the author went to a Japanese driver's license center where they drew footprints on the ground to make everyone stand at the same distance. The problem was that the footprints were drawn in a very three-dimensional and beautiful way, like a hand-drawn cartoon footprint. Because it was so three-dimensional and beautiful, it caused everyone to avoid stepping on it, which was a phenomenon of design off-targeting. You put in a lot of effort hoping people will use this design, but they end up not doing it.





So how do these interesting and shikake designs come about? There are two aspects: one is physical inducement, and the other is psychological inducement. First, the physical inducement, the first inducement of physical inducement is feedback, which is the need to give users some feedback, which is basically auditory feedback, tactile feedback, olfactory feedback, gustatory feedback, and visual feedback.


For example, the author saw a donation box in the US, where there are many donation activities initiated for various reasons. Fundraising is not easy, usually done by a child (such as a boy scout) holding a box and soliciting donations on the street. However, this design places a donation box in a shopping mall, which is a circular, pot-shaped object with a slot on the side. You just need to throw the coin into the slot and it will quickly spin inside the smooth surface of the donation box. It's like playing pinball, where you can see the coin spinning inside and hear a crisp sound, until it finally drops into the pipe, and your donation is made. It's like putting a coin into a game machine and starting to play. But instead of playing a game, you enjoy the graceful movement and clear sound of the coin, and donate money at the same time. This donation "pot" surprisingly generates better results than people soliciting donations, because it utilizes auditory feedback (as well as visual feedback).


Another case involves tactile feedback, which is a method the author didn't expect. The toilet paper we usually use in the bathroom is a round roll with a central axis that holds the paper. The author suggests that if you pinch the round roll into a triangle shape, whether you are a person doing housework or a cleaning lady at the company, when you change the toilet paper roll and put it on the holder, you will find that the amount of paper used will decrease by more than a third. Users feel like they've used enough paper after rolling it three times, even though it's actually only two times in the original (round) roll. This is due to the tactile feedback that makes people feel like they've used enough paper, so they end up using less. It's a way to change people's habits through tactile feedback, so everyone can try pinching the toilet paper roll into a triangle shape.


Another interesting design is the bread machine that can wake people up. The picture shows a bread machine that looks like a single barrel washing machine.



Before going to bed every night, the author prepares flour, water, and eggs, and puts them in the bread machine, and then goes to sleep. The next morning, the bread machine automatically starts baking bread, so the author wakes up to the smell of bread and knows it's time to get up. After the bread machine "dings", you have to hurry up and take the bread out. Why? If you don't get up, the bread inside the machine will shrink, and you'll end up with smaller bread. People who buy this bread machine must get up as soon as they hear the sound and smell the aroma of the bread, otherwise the bread won't taste good and will be smaller. It's a very interesting design that improves people's behavior through olfactory feedback.


There is also a case involving taste feedback. In the past, many people bought train tickets (we don't use paper tickets much anymore, but they are still used in other countries, and many Americans still buy long-distance bus tickets), and they had a habit of putting the ticket in their mouth. When the chewing gum company made a mint-flavored train ticket and partnered with the train company, passengers would find that the ticket had a mint flavor when they put it in their mouth, similar to the taste of chewing gum. So when they got off the train, they would often buy this brand of chewing gum at the station's convenience store. This is a shikake design that utilizes taste feedback.

There are many examples related to different senses. My favorite visual design example is the window display at Hankyu Department Store, which features beautiful cherry blossoms. Window display design is a discipline, and Japanese window display design is leading the world, with many interesting methods. The cherry blossoms in Hankyu's window display are linked to facial recognition. When a user lingers and looks at the display, if they smile at the window, the cherry blossoms in the display will automatically bloom. Imagine how good that feels: you go shopping, smile at the display, and the cherry blossoms bloom. The happier you are, the more beautiful the blossoms become. This design provides both aesthetic feelings and psychological satisfaction, and can make people linger and stay in front of the window, becoming a popular spot for taking photos. The image is here: it's a small mirror, and a little girl standing in front of it. As long as she smiles, the cherry blossoms inside will bloom. I think this design is very touching.





Auditory feedback, tactile feedback, olfactory feedback, gustatory feedback, and visual feedback are all part of the feedback component of physical cues. Good design can provide us with feedback when we do things. Like the small flame in the urinal, which slowly turns from red to gray, this is feedback.


There is also a physical cue called feedforward. Before people take action, they want to do something. There are two methods of feedforward: analog and prediction. For example, the bamboo tube placed there looks like a telescope. Although it is clearly a bamboo tube, it makes you feel like it is a telescope, which makes you want to try it out.


The author's proudest and most shikake design is a special design from Japan that only works in Japan and not elsewhere. In Japan, there is a building similar to a Chinese archway, called a torii. If you have traveled to Japan, you will know what a torii is. There is a torii at the entrance of all religious places. It represents the boundary between the human world outside the torii and the divine world inside. Therefore, if a Japanese person walks through the torii, they know that they cannot behave recklessly here. So someone made a very interesting design, a small torii that looks exactly like a real torii in real life, as shown in the picture, but very small.





Guess what this little birdhouse is for? For example, they place it next to the wheels of the car on the roadside, or at the entrance to a house, or in a crowded alleyway where people walk. What is the purpose of placing such a birdhouse? It is to reduce the possibility of small dogs urinating in these areas while being walked. You might wonder, what does this have to do with dogs urinating? Dogs are usually on a leash, and when they come out, they usually need to urinate. If the dog urinates on someone else's tire or at someone else's doorstep, the owner may not notice and continue walking the dog. But if the owner sees a birdhouse there, and realizes that urinating there would offend the spirits, would they dare to urinate towards the head of the spirits? Therefore, the owner would quickly pull the dog away. This design of a small birdhouse uses a method called analogy in feedback. Because people see real birdhouses in real life, they remind themselves to be cautious, dignified, and to value their behavior. When walking the dog and seeing a birdhouse, they should also remind themselves to be careful and not behave improperly, thus allowing people to maintain prudence.


There is also the example of a stuffed toy storage bag. This is a product from the United States because many families require children to tidy up their toys in their rooms, but children are unwilling to do so. Then the parents would buy a large bag, which is shaped like a stuffed toy, that is, the shape of a toy doll. The mother would say, "The stuffed toy is hungry. Please feed it." When the child hears this, they think it is fun and start stuffing things into its mouth one by one. When the child stuffs something into the mouth of the stuffed toy, the toy will even make a sound as if it is eating. You see, this is an analogy, comparing a large storage bag to an image of a stuffed toy that loves to eat. At this point, people know that they need to feed it, and the young owner has the responsibility to feed the stuffed toy. This is the use of the analogy method.


What is foresight? People have experiences and make inferences and judgments when they see certain things in life. By using this feeling of people, they can make some foresighted designs. For example, people in different places have different habits when going up and down stairs, whether they walk on the left or right is different. Even in Japan, Osaka and Tokyo are different. In Tokyo, people walk on the left, but in Osaka, like in China, people walk on the right. So when a person from Tokyo travels to Osaka, they often encounter situations where they bump into each other. How can we remind everyone whether we have agreed to walk on the left or right in our location? We can use footprints on the elevator. You only need to draw some footprints, and people will know that it is reminding us to go in this direction.


There are also many places where people do not know whether to push or pull the door. Sometimes it can be awkward not knowing whether to push or pull. Is there any design that can solve this problem? In addition to writing the word "push" or "pull," there are some interesting methods. For example, in the United States, many restaurants draw a scratch on the ground. They draw the scratches of the door being pushed or pulled, so when you see the scratch, you not only think it is fun but also know that it must be coming from that direction. These are all foresight methods in feedback. All of the above are physical stimuli.

But all physical cues must be accompanied by psychological cues, as the human psyche is the essence of mystical design. This can be further divided into individual psychology and social psychology. Let's first talk about the use of individual psychology. In individual psychology, the first thing to consider is the challenge mentality. For example, with the design of a basketball hoop on a trash can or a small basketball hoop attached to a storage basket, people at home like to throw things, not just children, but also adults. Sometimes at home, when I finish drinking a beverage, I compete with my child to see who can throw the bottle from a far distance into the basket. This is taking advantage of people's challenge mentality. Therefore, it is possible to create mystical designs by designing products that can trigger people's challenge mentality in public places.


There is also the psychology of not being able to tolerate inconsistency. The following is an example of a design that I really like. For example, if the folders in the office are messy and cannot be placed in order, what can be done to make the folders orderly? Many people in the past have used numbering, with small labels pasted on them with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. However, only the person with that number would pay attention to this, and others would still place them randomly. In fact, there is a very simple design that can solve this problem. Look at the picture below, draw a diagonal line on the spine of the folder, and the problem is solved. With this design, if people see that the line is not aligned or there is a gap, they will feel uncomfortable. Look at Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" (see the picture below), where there is a whole picture on the spine. If this whole picture is not correctly put together, those who crave rules and order will feel uncomfortable. Of course, I think I can tolerate it if the picture is not correctly put together because it looks complex, but this line is just great. If this line is not arranged as required, it will make people uncomfortable. This is a very interesting design that takes advantage of people's inability to tolerate inconsistency.





There is another psychological concept called negative expectation. What is negative expectation? It means that people always have the mentality of seeking benefits and avoiding harm, which is human nature. So, what is negative expectation? It means that you should be careful not to let bad things happen, because people always pay attention to danger. How can we use this mentality to design interesting things? For example, in Japan, when a car turns and encounters a dangerous place where it needs to slow down, they use paint to draw on both sides of the road, making it look like the road is narrower. This creates a visual illusion and makes drivers unsure if the road is actually wide enough to drive at normal speed. So they slow down just in case. There is also a device called the shoulder rumble strip which makes a buzzing sound when a car drives too close to the edge of the road, which can be found on the Fourth Ring Road in Beijing. The Japanese are really good at designing such small things.


Once, a friend took me to play in the mountains of Mount Fuji, and while driving there, he suddenly said, "Open the car windows, and don't talk." Turn off the car's music, and drive at 60 miles per hour, the sound of the car wheels rubbing against the ground will play a song, which is the "Song of Mount Fuji". As long as you maintain a speed of 60 miles per hour, you can hear the song clearly. If you drive too slow or too fast, the song will be out of tune or inaudible. These are some clever designs.


There are also speed bumps that are used to slow down cars. They can be found in residential areas and are raised up from the ground. However, did you know that some vehicles should not go over speed bumps, such as ambulances? When an ambulance is driving on a road with speed bumps, it can be dangerous and uncomfortable, and the ambulance still needs to slow down. But on the same road, there are also regular cars that need to slow down. So, people invented flat speed bumps. They are painted on the road and look like they are raised, but they are actually flat. From a distance, drivers slow down because they think they are going over a raised speed bump. But because ambulances and fire trucks drive on this road all the time, they know that the speed bump is actually flat. This way, they can treat different types of vehicles differently and solve a complicated and difficult problem.


This includes the practice of printing the calories of food on packaging or menus in order to encourage people to eat less (since some people are trying to lose weight), but this method isn't very effective because people tend to ignore the numbers when they're hungry. However, making food blue or green can help with weight loss because it creates a negative association with food. This is because blue and green colors were associated with rotting and decay in our early ancestors' minds, so we instinctively avoid these colors in food. To take advantage of this psychological phenomenon, try making your meals blue and see how quickly you lose your appetite.


On the other hand, positive association is also important in design. People are more likely to be attracted to things that are fun, interesting, or exciting. For example, in a California school, there are two doors - one is a normal wooden gate and the other is a concrete pipe that leads into the school. Many children prefer to crawl through the pipe instead of using the gate because it's more fun. This design is similar to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where Alice falls down a rabbit hole and discovers a magical playground. This kind of design inspires people to explore and experiment.


This type of design takes advantage of people's positive expectations and encourages them to try new things. Imagine if we applied this design to our workplaces, dining areas, and exercise facilities - we could create spaces that people are more willing to use, interact with others, and talk to each other.

There is a psychological phenomenon called reward psychology, which means that you do something and get a reward. However, when using reward psychology, one should be careful not to cause a destructive effect, which is a valid reminder. Many parents like to communicate with their children by exchanging rewards: if you do something, I will reward you with something else. This kind of communication may actually lead to a decrease in the child's motivation for doing that thing. This effect is called the destructive effect. You originally wanted to help him more, but instead, you destroyed his mindset. Especially when we reward children, we often say: if you get good grades on the exam, I will give you a reward; as long as you don't play games for a certain number of days, I will reward you with something. These will all cause destructive effects. If you want to use reward psychology, it is best to use a lottery with randomness, just for fun. For example, when driving on a highway, there is a sign before entering the highway that says if your average speed when exiting the highway is close to our speed limit, such as an average speed of nearly 100km/h, then these people will have a chance to participate in the lottery. Some people have tried this, and as a result, drivers are more willing to control their speed at a speed close to 100km/h. This way, you can get a chance to participate in the lottery, and of course, you may not win, but it doesn't matter. This is using the psychology of rewards to make these people more willing to follow social rules.


There is another very interesting psychological phenomenon called self-affirmation psychology. This is a very useful psychology, and you will find that you can use it anywhere after listening to it. What is self-affirmation psychology? People are narcissistic, people like to look in the mirror, people like to see themselves, so when everyone is waiting for the elevator in the elevator hall and feels very impatient, just put a mirror there, and people will go to the mirror. Time will pass quickly, and the elevator will come in a moment. Also, the author has tried putting a mirror on their company's file cabinet and observed people's behavior. He found that the frequency of people coming to the file cabinet every day increased by 5.2 times compared to when there was no mirror. Just think about how many people want to get close to the mirror and take a look. The proportion of people taking files is also 2.5 times higher than usual. What inspiration does this bring us? I have now learned that in the future, if Fan Deng Reading (Fan Book APP) goes out to do activities, set up a consultation booth, or participate in exhibitions, we must put a mirror at the exhibition. When you put a mirror here, the flow of people attracted will be more than before because some people will want to come and take a look. As long as they take a look, they will feel embarrassed to just look at themselves in the mirror, so they will ask what this thing is and then make a purchase. This is using people's self-affirmation psychology. People love to see themselves, and people love to talk about themselves. When people talk about themselves, the nucleus accumbens in their brains light up. Talking about others will become less and less interesting, and after a while, they will say, "Let me talk about my own thing." The nucleus accumbens will immediately light up, so people are particularly narcissistic. These are some inspiring tips for designing a shikake project from a personal psychological perspective.

From a social psychology perspective, the first theory related to social psychology is called the "perception of being seen." Do you know why cars have two headlights instead of one? Why not just have one like trains? The radiator in the middle of the car, why is it designed with a grid-like pattern? Actually, from the perspective of industrial design, this is because they want to make the front of the car look like a human face. The benefit of making the car's face look like a human face is that it is easier for people to see and pay attention to, which can increase safety. The eyes are very important for this, for example, if there is a place selling vegetables where the prices are not high enough to warrant hiring a dedicated cashier, they might just put a hat out and allow people to put money in and take the vegetables they want. Some people will put money in automatically, but others might not and even take the vegetables without paying, which can cause a problem. However, if you simply draw a pair of eyes on the wall next to the hat (not real eyes, just a drawing), the proportion of people who will put money in will increase significantly.


Here, it's not actually necessary to install a camera, as it would cost a lot of money, but just by drawing a pair of eyes, people will feel like they are being watched, and will behave more honestly. People are more likely to constrain themselves when they feel like they are being watched. Therefore, the preventive effect of a camera is much greater than its actual recording effect, and even if a lot of cameras are broken, they can still have an effect. Especially when you go abroad, you will see signs everywhere that say "there's a camera here" or "there's a camera there." Why do they mark the cameras everywhere? They are afraid that you won't see the cameras, so they have to tell you that they are there. As long as you know there's a camera there, it's enough, even if the camera isn't actually turned on. Once your sense of being seen is activated, you will behave more cautiously.


The second theory is about social norms. The design of a bird's nest is a typical example of design that uses social norms to create pressure. The footprints on the escalator let you know which direction to stand and which direction to give way to others, and this is the effect of social norms.


The next psychological theory is called "social proof." When a street singer is singing, they will have a guitar case in front of them. Psychology experts have studied this, and they found that if you put coins in the guitar case first, then most people will put coins in. If you see that there are more bills in the case, you will be more likely to put bills in. Therefore, you need to find a good balance of how many coins and bills to put in to get a larger return. This is called the "fund effect," which is also a term in sociology. If someone has already put something in, then I will also be willing to put something in. The hardest thing is when there is nothing in the hat. If you just put an empty hat there, most people won't put any money in, they might even think the hat was just dropped there. It's important to first put something in the hat to set an example and get the "fund" started.

Here, I will contribute a mystery design to everyone, which utilizes the social proof in social psychology. There is a snack in Xi'an called Hu La Tang. In the morning, you will find many shops selling Hu La Tang in Xi'an. Some of the shops that sell Hu La Tang are especially good at doing business. What is their method? Later, I discovered their secret, which is to support the big pot of Hu La Tang at the entrance. As long as two people come to queue up to buy Hu La Tang, a queue will form at the door. If there are three to five people, the queue will be even longer. So sometimes when you go there and see it, you think this shop is doing well and the food must be good, so you go there to queue up. In fact, the reason is because its pot is at the entrance. This is the application of social proof.


This also includes the window display design in Japan, which is also an application of social proof. Because the annual window replacement in Japan is a big event, they will design the window display very seriously and have a window display award. How can you make more people want to take photos and stand in front of your window display? The Umeda main store of Hankyu Department Store in Japan added a platform in front of their very beautiful window display, just like an award platform. As long as you put this platform here, people understand that they are welcome to take photos. You don't need to say "please take photos", just put it there and people will come to take photos. This is a typical case of using social proof to build social psychological incentives.


With so many incentives, personal psychological incentives and social psychological incentives, the source of design is to combine incentives. Every design is a combination of multiple incentives, which is the combination of physical and psychological incentives. So how do you come up with a mystery design?


The first trick is to observe the world with a child's eyes. When we are used to everything in life, adults tend to treat the world with one method, and adults no longer want to change. But children are different. Children often find many interesting things in life, and the way children use something is completely different from adults. For example, when a child collects a toy, he will say, "Eat, I'll feed you." He thinks this is to feed it. This may inspire you to rethink the storage of this thing. This is the first trick, observing the behavior of children.


The second trick is to observe the behavior of users. You need to observe the behavior of users more and immerse yourself in it. When you can observe many unconscious behaviors of users, you can find the point of mystery design. I personally think that a great product of mystery design is the selfie stick. Have you noticed that this is a great product? Why? You can see that many people stretch their hands as long as possible to take pictures, and then they try to stretch their arms. Those with short arms simply cannot complete a group selfie. But with the selfie stick, we don't need to chat with others, we can take selfies by ourselves. This is a great insight.

It includes Times Square in New York, where you'll find large screens everywhere. The screens compete with each other for viewers, and the challenge is to make people want to watch their own screen. There is a method that is particularly effective and clever, and I happen to have been to the place where it is implemented. On Times Square, there is a huge staircase where tourists can rest. As people climb up the steps to take a break, they can look out at a large screen (see below).





What's unique about this screen is that it takes advantage of people's love for themselves. In between multiple advertisements, the screen suddenly shows a shot of the people sitting on the staircase in the center of the screen. Since this is where the tourists are most concentrated, the screen plays a few ads, and then suddenly pops up a shot of the people sitting on the staircase. If someone sees their face appear on the screen, they will take a photo and be thrilled to see themselves on the big screen in Times Square. But the shot is fleeting, so people have to keep their eyes glued to the screen and wait for the next appearance. This screen's ads have a much higher chance of being seen than other screens, all thanks to this clever design that takes advantage of people's behavior.


Observing people's behavior is the key to finding such design solutions. By watching where people walk, sit, and rest, you can figure out how to make their experience better. For example, when Walt Disney was building a new park, they didn't know how to design the paths. Disney simply opened the park and waited two weeks to see where people walked the most. This allowed them to create the most efficient path, since people tend to take shortcuts. By observing how people walk, sit, and rest, you can find these kinds of solutions.


The Australian tourism bureau and a Japanese designer came up with a design that also takes advantage of people's behavior. Have you ever been to a place like the Great Barrier Reef or Niagara Falls where you had to choose between taking a photo of yourself or the beautiful scenery? The Japanese designer proposed a solution called "GIGA Selfie." They take over 600 high-definition photos and stitch them together into a panorama, with the clearest image being of you in the center. Then, the photo is zoomed out to show the macroscopic landscape, but as you zoom in, you can see the two small people in the photo very clearly. This technique allows you to get a clear photo of both yourself and the scenery. When this design was implemented on the Australian tourism website, the number of Japanese tourists increased by 118%. This clever design solved people's dilemma and allowed them to have both a clear photo of themselves and the beautiful scenery.





In Palo Alto, the author observed a very interesting design. Have you ever noticed that in places where there are many children, such as elementary or middle schools, children do not walk properly in the corridors, but instead run? If two children collide with each other in a sharp turn, the child will get injured. Many children, because they are still young, can easily suffer from fractures with just one collision, and this can be a troublesome matter. Palo Alto is an educational holy land, and education is done very well there. The design that Palo Alto has made is to add a handrail at every corner, so that when you turn here, you must stop and go around a bend, which will make your field of vision wider, and you will not collide with someone coming from the opposite direction. These small designs come from observation of behavior.


Then there is another method, which is to list and combine design elements. Of course, you can study many relevant cases, and you don't have to pursue originality in every design. If someone has a birdhouse, you can use a temple on the land; if someone has a cement pipe, you can paint it into a rabbit hole, and it doesn't matter. The author also said that if we get inspired, we can borrow similar ideas, find different elements to combine and innovate, and we will have the opportunity to create something of our own.


Here is a method that everyone can practice, called "innovation of any two elements". I have talked about this method before (in "Stanford University's Most Popular Creative Course"). This is a training for children and creative people. For example, if you want to transform a trash can, you can randomly combine any word with this trash can: trash can and alarm clock, can you think of a functional design that combines a trash can and an alarm clock? Like what is mentioned in this book, combining a trash can with fishing line, if this is a trash can in a fishing club, you can let it have a relationship with fishing line; a trash can and a collection, how can you make the trash can have a feeling of being worth collecting; a trash can and air, how can a trash can be combined with air, for example, when something is thrown into the trash can, it will get fuller and rounder, indicating that the trash can is full, which is also good because sometimes we can't see whether the trash can is full or not; a trash can and a lottery, for example, after you throw the trash in, the trash can can draw out a card with a lucky message on it, so you can check your fortune today; a trash can and a loophole, there is a feeling of leakage when the trash is thrown in. In short, combining any two elements together, these constraints are helpful for us to be creative.


For example, for the Sailbook app (Fan Deng Reading), when we do offline activities in the future, such as going to exhibitions and giving speeches, we can combine reading with another element. Reading and cars, reading and houses, reading and health, reading and food, we can combine various elements together and make many interesting and shikake designs.


Finally, when checking whether your design is good or not, there is an Osborne checklist (Osborne Check List Method) which is a method that is taught in most creative classes. There are nine questions in total, which help you further think about whether your idea is good or not:


1. Is there another use for it?

2. Is there something similar?

3. Can you modify it and try it out?

4. What if you expand it?

5. What if you shrink it?

6. Are there other alternatives?

7. Can you swap it and try it out?

8. Try the opposite method?

9. Try combining them together?


Don't underestimate these nine questions. The reason why they can form a widely circulated form of testing is because if you don't have creativity or design in your mind, these nine questions may not mean much to you. You might wonder what's the point of these questions if you try them backwards or forwards. However, if you are immersed in innovation and constantly thinking about an idea, these nine questions may be enlightening and instantly make you feel enlightened. Can you try changing it up, reversing it, making it bigger, making it smaller...The reason why these nine questions are raised is that most creative changes are in these nine directions: changing an element, finding an analogy, reversing the order, changing the size...This can bring many possibilities and changes. This is what we call the process of brainstorming for mystical design.


The author ends with Maslow's quote: "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" What does this mean? It means that once we have a fixed tool, we tend to use it to solve problems, but the existence of mystical design is to free us from this hammer-like thinking. We can look for a more diverse range of tools. We don't need to always confront the world with a lot of effort, trying to impose our will on others. Instead, we should find ways to solve problems with a gentle touch. He gave an example, although flawed. He said that the United States spent a lot of money on a space pen that could write fluently under zero gravity. Later, someone laughed at them, saying that the Russians just used a pencil, which was not affected by gravity and could be written with ease. This problem may make people think that Americans are stupid, but in fact, they used pencils before, but they found that if the pencil broke, its lead might become a safety hazard in zero gravity conditions. So the Americans abandoned the use of pencils and developed a space pen. Of course, this is a story for later.


In short, he wants to illustrate with this story that there may be many clever ways to solve problems that we overlook, and we should approach them with a relaxed and playful attitude, using the perspective of mystical design. There is already a mystical design laboratory in a university in Osaka (where they created a new major). This laboratory holds an exhibition every year, and the author says that he particularly likes two new designs created by the students. Do you know the "Mouth of Truth" in the movie "Roman Holiday"? The "Mouth of Truth" is a famous attraction in Rome, Italy. It is said that if someone tells a lie and puts their hand in it, their hand will be bitten off. In the movie, Gregory Peck takes Audrey Hepburn to play with the "Mouth of Truth", which is the happiest scene in the whole movie. Japanese university students also made a rough "Mouth of Truth", which is a poorly designed lion's head on the wall with a hole in its mouth. Many students found it interesting and curious, and wondered if it would really bite their hand off, which sparked their curiosity and desire to explore. When they put their hand in it, disinfectant spray came out, and they could wash their hands. This is a very interesting little design, which makes disinfecting hands more fun.

There was another design called "Human Fishing". In their exhibition, students from different grades participated and noticed that there were many fishing rods hanging from the 4th floor, room 407, when viewed from the courtyard. Each fishing rod had a capsule attached to it, and on the capsule was written "Fishing for People", meaning that the students in that room were fishing for people. This small design of many fishing rods hanging in the corridor attracted most of the exhibition visitors with the capsules at the bottom. Everyone was curious and wanted to know what it felt like to be "caught", so they went to room 407 to see how it was done. This was a design created by university students.


If we can add a little humor, imagination, and a touch of playfulness to our lives, and then reorganize the elements we face, we may make our lives more interesting, relaxed, and efficient. Why am I talking about this book? Because this book is really relaxing and not as heavy as previous books that are hard to learn. This book tells us that life may not always be difficult, and with a little creativity and humor, our lives can become more interesting and efficient.


I hope that everyone can apply the concept of shikake design to every aspect of their lives. At home, as a mother or father, we can invent many fun designs to make our family happier; at work, can our human resources, finance, and administrative staff work together to come up with ways to make everyone's work less boring and more interesting; and in society, can the managers and administrators think of some interesting designs to make everyone feel less like they are being forced to do something every day. All of these things stem from having a happy, joyful, and observant heart.

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