Mexican Designers Have Some Polite Suggestions For Trump

Innovation tips for a president who’s woefully lacking in imagination

Mexican Designers Have Some Polite Suggestions For Trump
[Photo: John Moore/Getty Images]

Your president shared a host of lousy plans this week: barring immigrants, building walls, taxing imports–the list goes on. It made the employees of our innovation consultancy INSITUM feel down, scared, stressed, and uncertain. So to make ourselves feel better, we channeled that negative energy into ideas and ran a one-hour brainstorming session to help your president. He seems so lost in his new job!


Here’s what we–a group of designers, behavioral economists, and strategists–came up with:

The First Idea Is Always The Worst Idea
Trump is trying to solve a wicked problem–reducing migration to the United States–by using the most obvious and uncreative solutions in the vein of “Want to attract buyers? Reduce the price.” The opposite of the proven principles of innovation. Any designer knows that effective problem-solving starts with discarding your first (most obvious) ideas and working hard to understand what the real problem is. Businesspeople (such as the Donald) have a hard time understanding this. Overcoming this bias is the first step toward innovation.

Take Time To Unearth The Best Ideas
Design thinking requires a divergent process, and this takes patience, intelligence, and effort—something that your president seems to lack. The process requires generating lots of ideas, then selecting the most attractive ones. Knead those ideas, iterate, and slowly the most genius ideas will come out of it. This is a collaborative process that requires different points of view and an indispensable element: time. We don´t think he is familiar with any of that. He is going from “I have an idea” to “let’s launch it.” Any CEO would be fired if he did this.

Embrace User-Centered Design
Solutions to wicked problems need to be user-centered. The kind of solutions he is proposing and trying to execute, such as building a wall, encourage the very behaviors he is trying to avoid. His solutions are not considering the needs, behaviors, and perceptions of people—either in the U.S. or Mexico. Does he know that frontier has more holes than Swiss cheese? Does he know any illegal alien could just fly to Canada and cross the U.S. northern border? If migrants want to cross to the U.S., no wall will stop them (fortunately fewer and fewer people are crossing illegally everyday).

Instead, we have a number of user-centered solutions that would make up for that big expense of a wall:

  1. Create jobs in Mexico and South America, so migrants would fly back home (believe me the only reason they are in the U.S. is money—anybody would rather be in their country of origin).
  2. Create a neutral zone in the middle of both countries and develop prisons to keep the bad guys from the U.S. and Mexico there—at least they would learn a different language and come out better prepared!
  3. Design a program to employ U.S. citizens in Mexico. If jobs are going to Mexico, then let’s trade! I am sure U.S. citizens would love to stay a few years in sunny Mexico working in high-paying jobs and having low expenses (this is already happening).

The best way to influence people is to convince them, to nudge them, to help them make better decisions, to argue better. This is proven to be the best way to influence people. Words, not war.