with Sacha McNeil
Guillaume has never been one to shy away from the new and unknown. From an early age he knew he wanted to explore the world and experience different cultures and he saw business as a perfect platform to do that.
This drove him to make his choice to study at EM Normandie Business School, allowing him to move between the French and UK campus and graduate with a BA (Hons) in Marketing from both the EM Normandie Business School and Leeds University.
In true Guillaume style, he took the road less travelled and found a job in banking in China - when the country was still an emerging economy opening up to the world. The culture shock was huge but this didn’t deter Guillaume who lapped up the opportunity to learn about the different financing needs across industries.
After such a high paced lifestyle, Guillaume spent some down time in Australia before heading back to Europe where he got his first taste of working in a hedge fund startup environment. This piqued Guillaume’s interest in innovation and agile thinking which has been a key theme for him ever since.
But after a long stint working in investment management in London, Guillaume was ready for another move - this time to New Zealand. He came for personal reasons, leaping across the world to be with his kids, but has also bridged a gap between his asset management career and social entrepreneurship. Guillaume founded Fund a Future in 2019 after completing his Master of Technological Futures with Tech Futures Lab and hasn’t looked back. His mission? To make New Zealanders the most generous country in the world. And there’s no doubt that he won’t stop until he’s achieved this.
How often have you given to a charity and not given it another thought - both while you’re doing it, because you know it will help another person out, and also afterward, when the end of year tax period rolls around?
Not many Kiwis are aware or know how to claim the 33% tax rebate available on donations of $5 or more. Each year, as a consequence of all the good hearted charity donations made, there’s up to $250 million of available tax rebates sitting idle in the government’s ledger. That’s a lot of money doing nothing.
Guillaume knew this and wanted to find a solution that would help create more of an impact for both donors and charities. He wanted to help people do good, better. So he created Fund a Future.
Put simply, Fund a Future takes care of keeping track of your donations, claiming back any rebates on those donations and either refunds you or funnels that rebate back to the charities of your choice. It’s a win-win.
If you’d like to find out more about how to get involved, either as a charity or a donor - visit fundafuture.co.nz.
TECH FUTURES LAB BLOG ARTICLE
Failure fuels creative problem solving
“I guess the risk is, what if everything goes right? Yes you're comforted that you were right. But you haven't actually learned anything, just that you're very smart and can do things right the first time, which is great. But in the process, you can do better by going wrong. I learn when I fail”
Guillaume Dehan, Master of Technological Futures graduate and founder of social enterprise fintech Fund a Future.
Traditional education pushes individuals to get the answer right as fast as possible. And business, with its mandate to maximise the space between what is spent and what is earnt, puts pressure on getting things right the first time. All this adds up to a risk adverse environment, where failure is deemed to be wrong. But what if we turn that frown upside down to see failure in a different light?
Enter human-centered design: a method or process that is fundamentally about answering a need, by using empathy, an holistic view and iteration.
Human-centered design is not new and is part of the wider evolution of design thinking that first sprung in the 1960s as ‘design science’, a term coined by the innovator and inventor Buckminster Fuller. For more on the history of design thinking, this article is a good read.
Human-centered design is exactly what you think it might be - putting humans, and their needs, at the centre of any design, be it for a product or a service.
Design is not only in the marketing department
Where it gets a little more complex is that true human-centred design is a whole of business approach - asking that you build products or services that include a human component in every interaction a customer has with the company but also that the development and design is not done in siloed business and technology departments.
The ‘customer’ (and there will often be many different personas to consider) is who everyone in the business starts with. This empathetic focus changes the way the people inside the business operate - from engineers to accountants, front line and up to executive leadership teams. Because when you know who you’re designing for, it gives so much more purpose to what you do.
Always remember who it's for
But know this, it’s not a one and done type of approach - its a strategy that encourages constant iteration, feedback loops and rapid prototyping. You have to get comfortable with failure, but as Guillaume Dehan puts it in his quote above, getting things wrong gives you the opportunity to learn. And from failure, creativity will spring.
To achieve a more fluid approach to design that doesn’t shy away from testing and learning, existing operational processes need to be decoupled from the design process. Because ‘how we do it now’ can place constraints on creative thinking - those set boundaries you have to design within, that idea of ‘feasibility’ within the known.
And it’s in the unknown that opportunity lies.
At Tech Futures Lab, we explore human-centered design as one of the tools or methods available to support the innovation process on the Master of Technological Futures. It opens up ideas yet keeps focus on the problem you’re trying to solve.
Innovation Advisor at Tech Futures Lab and design thinking advocate Taurean Butler believes that because human centered design supports creative problem solving, it ultimately leads to better outcomes. “Design is a way to solve systems and challenges. Human-centered design makes sure you’re thinking about that person who is navigating their way through the system your product or service is a part of”.
Do it for the right reasons
For smaller more nimble companies, implementing a human centric design philosophy is easier. But for larger companies, it can take time, because it takes a huge mindset shift and trust in the process.
Human centered design may free you from existing procedures and operational limitations but it also has to be free of immediate business priorities. The approach says to business: deprioritise what you’re trying to achieve - incremental sales, year on year growth, shareholder returns - and instead focus on what your customers are wanting to achieve.
Because if you get that part right, the goals of the business will be met.
Maybe even exceeded.
Listen to Guillaume's story and how a move across the world was what helped his purpose fall into place.