Returning THINK presenter and Upworthy founding editor Sara Critchfield will co-host THINK 16 with innovation guru Scott Bales. Each has been pivotal in the cultural shift that melds technology and human experience:

An (Up)Worthy Perspective

“Those of us using big data are in danger of rapidly moving towards a monolithic understanding of decision-making in the workplace,” Sara Critchfield writes on her blog. “We’re setting up processes and systems that look at the numbers only and don’t leave the room needed to use the incredibly rich data set of our emotions.

“When your gut is tight or you’re incredibly sad, that’s not just a feeling; it’s information. Each one of us has thousands of years of evolutionary development inside of us that helps us to make accurate and life-saving decisions by synthesizing hundreds of data points in a split second. That’s a pretty advanced computer system if you ask me. And I have been intrigued about what we could gain in society if we were able to use this powerful computer in a more conscious and direct way at the workplace.”

Look no further than Upworthy for a successful example. By wedding buzzworthy stories with emotional punch, Upworthy became the fastest-growing media site in history – rocketing to 8.7 million unique visitors in its first six months and eventually to 8 million subscribers and 50 million views monthly. When she is not curating content for Upworthy, Critchfield works as a digital media strategist with an eye toward issues related to social justice and grassroots empowerment.

At THINK 16 Critchfield will dive into the dynamics of emotion + technology – and how the fusion of these two forces creates new forms of innovation and energy.

Human-Centered by Design

Scott Bales is more than an expert on the “untethered” consumer. His expertise in mobile technology and innovation – coupled with his work as chief mobile officer for digital bank Moven – give him a wealth of insights on the impact of mobile culture on financial services.

In his book Mobile Ready: Connecting with the Untethered Consumer, Bales argues that it isn’t changing technology that challenges us; it’s a changing culture. The context in which we all do business has radically shifted:

“To truly understand the mobile ecosystem’s intrinsic value – to embrace a certain mobile “zen,” if you will – you have to first accept that mobile technology is not the answer to your company’s mobile challenges,” Bales writes. “Instead, human behaviors and the needs that drive them are the gears that govern how mobile experiences work.”

Bales lives and breathes innovation. He runs Innovation Labs Asia, based in Singapore. He is a founding member of Next Bank; a mentor on Lean Startup; a board member for Care Pakistan; and an advisor with Fastcash, Our Better World and Apps 4 Good. He is also a global champion of human-centered innovation, working to help organizations listen to their customers in order to uncover meaningful opportunity in this digital age.

Together with a dynamic lineup of THINK speakers, Critchfield and Bales promise to dig deep into what it truly means to compete and win as “people helping people” in our rapid-fire, technology-driven culture.

See the THINK interview with Sara Critchfield on finding a new narrative for financial services.