sports fan at race

The original catalyst for this project was a conversation which captured everyone’s attention during a workshop back in late October 2018. The workshop topic was ‘Who is doing digital integration well for humans’? Having already covered a lot of ground, the session was at a point where we felt we’d extracted all we were going to get from the collective brains in the room when one of the team threw Formula-E’s Fan Boost into the mix.

For all non-motorsport fans out there, Fan Boost is a mechanism by which formula-E fans can vote for their favourite driver. The driver with the most votes gets additional power during the race. Why you vote is up to you: Driving skills, general charisma, charity work or maybe they’re just hot! – the choice is yours. A brilliant example of human experience design based on a simple human insight; I want to feel involved in the sport I love.

Formula-E’s pioneering approach to human interaction at a physical and digital level fuelled the workshop for a further forty minutes until eventually the team’s ideation capability was spent. A catalyst had also been triggered.

If you spend a little time analysing how formula-E interacts with the world at large you can’t help but feel that they put the human fan at the centre of their world and then work outward repeatedly asking the same question; how do we make you (the human) feel part of what we are doing? If you compare this positive emotional response to those stimulated by discussions concerning Formula 1, Premier League football and governing bodies such as FIFA, motives and emotions arguably swing the other way. Where quite often the privileged few are at the centre and the ordinary fans are viewed simply as shirt sales on a spread sheet or incremental hot dog sales.

This got us thinking about the wider relationship between humans, sport and business. Where is this road heading? Is it a bleak, ‘Ready Player 1 / Blade runner 2049’ future where the ‘men in grey suits’ have sucked all the passion from our relationship with sport and siphoned off all the money into bulging Swiss bank accounts, or will humanity fight for sport and all that it should be to society? The jury is definitely out. However, as we now see the explosive expansion of e-sports and its adoption by big business, one thing is clear – things are about to accelerate, exponentially.

As a design business operating in the field of human experience design our day jobs are to explore the interaction points between businesses and humans, constantly looking for and then designing stronger experiences to bond these two worlds together. Sport has always provided a vehicle for business to connect with potential customers but as we enter the fourth industrial revolution, fuelled by technology, how will those connection points change?

I saw a quote last week from one of the leading thinkers in e-sports which said, ‘If you’re a CEO going into 2019 and e-sports is not on your radar you’re probably going to get fired’! Depending on which category you operate in this comment is probably not far from the truth.

Over the next four months we will explore the interaction points between humans, sport and business with the objective of curating a useful little stock pile of educational, inspirational, insightful and thought-provoking content around all things sport, humans and business.

During the last month alone, I have spoken with a diverse set of contributors ranging from members of the Vatican’s Sport for Humanity organisation and thought leaders in esports to LBGT groups fighting for equality in sport. It is already clear that this subject matter is front of mind for many.

As well as speaking with industry leaders from the world of sport and business we will also be hitting the streets and holding up a mirror to the subject by asking as many everyday humans as possible what they think and feel about the relationship between sport and business and how they see the evolution of this relationship over the coming years. What could it be? What should it be? What do they want it to be?

We have also commissioned independent writers who will be helping us to explore the wider interaction points between sport and humans including: the evolution of esports, sport and mental health, sport and technology, sport and LBGT rights, sport and the high street, sport and gender equality.

I will be kicking off the first of the articles over the coming days with a look at sport and religion. Did you know the Vatican brought together a group of the leading figures in sport in 2018 including the IOC, Arsenal football club and the NFL to name a few, to discuss sport and humanity? Well if you didn’t, I can tell you they published a fifty-page document on the subject last year which makes very interesting reading whether you are a believer or not. I will also be having a look at a Christian church initiative which brought them, and the world of mixed martial arts cage fighting together and inspired the 2014 film Fight Church. All part of human’s rich relationship tapestry with the world of sport.

Our approach to this project will be open source all the way so all content will be available for free downloads. We are trying to inspire thought, not collect email addresses.

We hope you will come along with us for the ride and get actively involved in the debate.

The Human Experience of Sport Team:
Green Room
Invested in Human Experience

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