198: Adam Gamwell—How to Redesign Your Life Using Design Thinking

Hear how to reinvent your future in the midst of crisis

At the height (or depth) of the COVID-19 crisis, we thought it might be valuable to have an anthropologist share with you his perspective on how we might imagine the changes that are going to follow this major economic disruption, especially since we too are anthropologists. We had Adam Gamwell on our podcast back in September 2017 which you can listen to here, and it was natural to want him back now. As you listen, you’ll hear how anthropologists are very good at stepping back and observing the changes and adaptations people are making to the crisis. You will enjoy this podcast, as insightful as it is timely. Listen and learn!

Adam-GladwellCreating stories to explain the pandemic to ourselves

While some pundits are already claiming to know what we will do as we come out of this crisis, Adam and I both know from our own experience as futurists and as anthropologists that predicting the future is maybe an art, but rarely a science, much less correct. It is just another clever story that we humans create when we want certainty in a period of uncertainty. These are times when we are re-writing our own personal story so we can make sense out of the disruptions. The fictions are typically ones where we are the heroes, the others are the barbarians, and we win. I hope we, all of us, are winners. 

But rather than imagining the unknown and unfamiliar, we can watch and listen to how people attempt to redesign their lives. That is the best “certainty” of all the imagined ones. And that is how people create their realities when the ones they had before are no longer the reality of the present. As I do interviews for our podcast, I love the stories people are sharing with us about how they are capturing the new, and leveraging their talent, their skills and their imaginations to re-invent their own present and future. Join in our conversation and learn from our journey. 

More about Adam Gamwell 

Dr. Adam Gamwell is a Design Anthropologist, helping people build products, services and systems that solve the challenges they face. Recognizing how complex it is to align human needs, business goals and cultural technologies, Adam uses his skills in anthropology, human centered design and user experience to help clients uncover human and cultural insights, generate tactical empathy, and implement impact-oriented solutions. 

Adam is also a co-founder of Missing Link Studios, a research and design collaborative which uses design thinking and the social sciences to create strategy and meaningful experiences for businesses and organizations. In addition, he teaches design-centered courses in the greater Boston area on topics such as digital cultures and media design. 

You can contact Adam on LinkedIn, Twitter and his website.

A sample of Adam’s current projects: 

  • This Anthro Life Podcast: a conversational interview show exploring humanity’s creative potential through culture, design and technology
  • Scene + Heard: a designer biography show for the Lesley University College of Art and Design  
  • CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the American Anthropological Association
  • Faxina: a Portuguese language narrative podcast exploring the lives of Brazilian migrant house cleaners living and working in the United States 

To learn more about how anthropology can help you “see” with fresh eyes:

Additional resources