Two weeks ago, Canadian Mathew Lincez spent an intense week with Team19, to introduce design research and applied foresight techniques. In this post, Mathew kindly shares some thoughts on leading design processes, working with students, and the potential in transformation rather than growth.



Who are you, where are you from and do you do in your professional life?


Hi, my name is Mathew Lincez and I’m from Toronto Canada. I practice design research and applied foresight. Over the past ten years i’ve been helping start-ups, innovation firms, global brands and organizations develop their capacity to anticipate and plan for change. This happens mostly at what I would call the “front end” of strategic planning, design and innovation processes.


Sometimes my job is to help our partners “scan the horizon” and learn about how behaviors within and across different markets / industries are changing, what is influencing this change, and what threats/opportunities are presenting themselves as a result – so they can think about, plan for – and design ways to stay relevant.


Other times the job has been about building research tools, processes and service offerings that help enhance/expand a firm’s capability. This often involves creating some form of tacit and/or explicit training regime.


A lot of my work also focuses on organizational storytelling and experience design. Here, I leverage insights from (internal/external) research to shape stories (scenarios) about the experiences we might have with a new product, service, application or brand and how a business might transform itself to deliver them.



How have you collaborated with Kaospilot?


Two things. Theory + Practice


First – I’m here to share my story, my background and experiences. How I started off as a graffiti artist; studied industrial design at OCADU and then shifted my focus towards research, strategy and consulting. I share the successes, failures, dilemmas and decisions i’ve made in between. Sharing my personal stories and feelings about the work (the what, why, where, how) etc is a great way for me to inspire/provoke discussions with the students about their own passions, choices and interests. This helps us get to know one another.


Second – I’m here to introduce design research and applied foresight techniques and to help the students gain a practical understanding about how to use these techniques as they develop and initiate research plans for their final projects. I try to link the use and application of these techniques with research planning and design – as well as a number of practical case studies / past projects where I’ve used them myself.


This year my collaborators and I introduced a short client project to cut their teeth on which was a great way to practice before diving into their own projects. After that – we spent two full days helping them get started with scoping and planning their research. During that time we provide as much direct feedback as possible about each individual project. I always try to help them think a bit beyond the core and do my best to introduce relevant subjects and useful resources – and to connect them with key people / experts from my network that can help them along the way.



How have you experienced your time at Kaospilot?


My experience with the KP’s is always amazing and exhausting. They are so engaged and critical (in a good way). They ask really good questions, and follow up questions, and then ask more questions! They care about what they are learning and what they will do next. I also love the diversity of interests and the desire to make an impact – either globally or locally in some way. Everything from product/service design and entrepreneurship to social innovation, process development and culture building. There is tremendous spectrum of ideas here – that all tie back to an ethos to do better for the world and others. This is special, and learning about all this is a big part of my experience.


This year I had the pleasure of collaborating with my two good friends Nicolas Arroyo and Rune Toldam. They are two KP’s from team 18 who now run their own consultancy called Bespoke in Copenhagen. Kick ass. We coordinated the production of a tools & methods “Cook Book” which was printed and delivered in support of our lectures and workshop. Having those guys on board to share their own personal stories and experiences using similar research techniques with the new team was invaluable and really helped to demonstrate the process. This collaboration was essentially an outcome from the previous year – in that we built a great relationship and continue to work together to this day. I also expect more of the same from this year – in terms of building and maintaining relationships with team 19 and collaborating further in what ever ways possible.


Overall, the big idea though, is to help expand their repertoire (skills/tools/techniques) and get them thinking in broader terms about what could be possible and why thinking systematically about the future (looking ahead) is critical to becoming more adaptive, ambidextrous and resilient. So hopefully they will take that forward into their careers and new business ventures.



What questions would you ask, as the most important for your self and your work?


My good friend Alexander Manu inspired me to ask what could be possible? What does this mean to me? And what else could this be? These types of questions help me think about the latent potential and significance of events, behaviours, new technologies and other emerging phenomenon. I try to remember this in my work and share it with others.
Also like many people – I’m really attuned to the idea of resilience and transformation rather than “growth”. Too many people are stuck thinking in the old growth paradigm and need to think about transformation and adaptation instead. So I like to raise questions that explore those concepts, if I can.



What inspires you in your work?


Learning and relationships. I’m curious, I love to learn and then have the chance to teach / share what i’ve discovered with others. Every project or partnership is another opportunity to learn about someone or something new and add that knowledge, experience and/or insight to the collective repertoire. I’m most inspired by that. I’m also inspired by clever acts of subversion, disruption and intervention that shake things up either in business contexts, on the street or online. We need more of that.



What inspiration would you offer to young, aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs that want to make a positive change in the world?


Become a Four Star Generalist. I try to reenforce the need to develop one’s language vocabulary and (identity) in a fractal sense. Learn as much as you can about different people, subjects, technical domains and cultures so you can work with and between them. As a leader you’ll need to speak many languages in order to connect and collaborate with others; to expand your imagination’s potential and strengthen your intuition. Keep adding layers. This will help you anticipate, initiate – facilitate.