Tag: Beyond Service Design


Design Thinking Made Visible Project


For those interested in the subjects of Integrative Thinking, Organizational Transformation, Reinvention of Design, Constructing Inclusion, Thinking Diversity, Design 3.0, 4.0, Visual SenseMaking, Strategic CoCreation, Design Thinking, Innovation Harmonics:

Humantific has published the Design Thinking Made Visible Project as part of our virtual book series. It provides a glimpse into Humantific’s ongoing Integrative Thinking Research Initiative underway for ten years and models how design thinking has already been reinvented to better serve as enabler of organizational and societal transformation.

This chapter of research provides a window into Humantific’s Design Thinking Made Visible research in progress in collaboration with numerous universities around the world.

This research project was designed as a collective sensemaking exercise that could be undertaken in undergraduate or graduate schools by professors and students without any special design thinking or innovation process mastery training provided.

Shown here are actual design process drawings, made by 5 groups of students in 5 schools, as well as their class innovation profiles.

Participating Schools Shown in this book:

Domus Academy, Italy

Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark

National Institute for Design, India

University of Kassel, Germany

Regents Business School, UK

(Other schools are in progress)

Included in the book is a glimpse into how Humantific enables Integrative Thinking in organizations utilizing its Innovation Harmonics Framework.

Creating Innovation Harmonics in organizations begins with raising awareness that thinking differences exist. Making Thinking Visible represents one stream of Humantifc work.

Book Contents


What is Integrative Thinking?

What is Integrative Thinking Enabling?

Design Thinking Made Visible Project

Research Results

What the Research Shows

Integrative Thinking: In History

Included in the book:

What The Research Shows: 10 Key Findings:

Finding 1

This research predates and debunks the 2009 academic theory that thinking attributes (“reliability”, “validity”, etc) can be rigidly pre-assigned to individuals or teams based on discipline labels such as design, designer or business, business manager.

Finding 2

Some students in design schools have the same thinking preferences as some students in business schools and vice-versa.

Finding 3

Professors and students are generally unaware of how radically different design process approaches are from one person to another.

Finding 4

Many students of design/innovation are not accustomed to externalizing their thinking process.

Finding 5

For numerous students in this study, design thinking jumps off from a framed problem defined by a brief. Often there was no process activity upstream from the brief.

Finding 6

Design thinking processes often appear very different visually while similar fundamental steps can often be found within. Some steps appear universal, others situational.

Finding 7

Most design thinking processes seen here have assumptions embedded that outcomes will be product or service creation.

Finding 8

Most design thinking process models seen in this study contain no reference to behaviors.

Finding 9

This research makes visible why the orchestration of design innovation work remains complex and a key challenge for teams and organizations.

Finding 10

This research suggests that real tools and visually shareable results are extremely useful in moving understanding and dialogue regarding integrative thinking beyond stereotypical notions of design thinking and business thinking.

The Design Thinking Made Visible Project is intended to inform and inspire dialogue regarding the realities of Design Thinking and Integrative Thinking by Design already underway in organizations today.

To inquire about participating in Humantific’s Thinking Made Visible Research send an email to thinkingresearch (at) humantific (dot) com.


Humantific on Finnish Television



Humantific CoFounder, Garry K. VanPatter appeared on Finnish television after giving his keynote talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the very first Creative Economy & Beyond Conference in Helsinki last week. VanPatter spoke of the changing role of design in organizational and societal change beyond product and service creation a somewhat controversial subject in Finland where product design has a long history.


Visualization the Next Design Frontier

Information Architects - Web Trend Map

Fast Company signals that it is catching on to a significant change wave with its recent post “Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?” however the realm of Visual SenseMaking has already become much broader than making sense of information. SenseMaking itself is being transformed and it is this transformation that is at the heart of the design thinking revolution today.

In Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program for organizational leaders we are already teaching a five dimensional model of SenseMaking only one of which is making sense of information. Making sense of wicked problems and the human activities involved within requires much more than information visualization. This is where the real revolution is occurring, the changing role of Visual SensMaking in organizational and societal change making.

Hopefully in the next round Fast Company will get to the SenseMaking transformation story!

For more on this subject see:

Design 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 / The Rise of Visual SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Social SenseMaking on Facebook.

Understanding Social SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Visual SenseMaking Workshop Wraps

Social SenseMaking in Action / The Measure of America

Coming Soon: SenseMaker Dialogs / Rethinking the Boundaries of SenseMaking.

Registration for SenseMaker Dialogs is not yet open. If you would like to get on the preregistration list send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.


Humantific at IDSA in Miami

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter will give a keynote talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the 2009 IDSA International Conference upcoming in Miami on September 23-26.

About the conference:

“Our global economy is going through dramatic change. Design can be proactive and guide change. We can be a significant influence in creating new value. It has been said that the future is not something that happens…it is something that you make happen. Business is not asking for our help to drive new value, they are demanding it. In the 30s, design helped the economy out of the depression. We are finding ourselves at a moment of opportunity once again. Designers have the tools to create new value for reviving economies.

Project Infusion is a new format for IDSA’s International Conference, which will be held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel September 23-26. Both domestic and international attendees across diverse disciplines beyond the confines of the IDSA membership are invited to exchange ideas, opinions and insights. This is a project that we will contribute to mutually. We will enjoy its fruits together.

Fresh infusion of inspiration, knowledge and wisdom will fuel our creativity. This will be the process of steeping and soaking substance in order to extract new viewpoints. It will be an exchange of ideas that you will want to bring your boss to, or send your employees to. You will learn how to increase your bottom line and that of your business.

See more on the conference site.


The Power of Your Mind

In 1952, Alex Osborn wrote: “Exercise your imagination — the more creative you become, the more you will get out of life.”

With so much hype around innovation and creativity today, we find it useful to be aware at a deeper level of the history of innovation, applied creativity, creative problem solving and design thinking. There are many overlaps in the history that are quite amazing in retrospect.

Pictured here is a gem from the Humantific Collection. This terrific little booklet by Alex Osborn entitled The Power of Your Mind was published an astonishing 57 years ago in conjunction with his book Wake Up Your Mind also published in 1952.

In the historical publications one can see early acknowledgement of numerous challenges that many organizations and societies still grapple with today.

Like time capsules, the early publications on the subject of applied creativity reveal the optimism of the post-world war two era, a focus on encouraging imagination and the application of creativity in an American business context.

It’s not difficult to see that as early as the 1940’s thought leaders were trying to make the case that American business schools and schools in general get more serious about teaching and encouraging imagination and creative thinking. Evidently many educational institutions including the business schools did not listen to that message for a very long time.

Also revealed in the historical creative problem solving materials are the societal stereotypes of that era. In the early publications women were often depicted as housewives engaged in creative domestic work while men were often depicted as business oriented workers not making effective use of their imaginations.

“Many housewives work their imaginations more than their husbands do.”

Apart from the stereotypes that now seem comical, what is interesting to see is the view into a simpler world, the emphasis on idea finding in the context of product objects, and orientation towards engineering or science. Also fascinating to see is how little some of the problems around changing behaviors in the direction of innovation have changed since Alex Osborn, Sidney Parnes and others began writing about the subject decades ago.

Today organizational leaders face a vastly more complicated world in a state of constant change. Those engaged today in driving organizational change or innovation enabling understand that many organizations have built judgment dominated cultures and simultaneously wonder why no innovation is occurring. How to create more balanced, more innovative cultures remains among the top ten most encountered organizational business challenges even today:

Here is a small sample of Alex Osborn’s 1952 commentary on the subject:

“The thinking mind finds it easier to judge than to create. Nearly all of our education tends to develop our critical faculty. And our experience likewise builds up our judgment…The more we exercise our judgment, the less likely we are to exercise our imagination. By overuse of our judicial power we may even cramp our creative power.”

“Loss of imagination can be even more deplorable than loss of musculation… We can get along with less brawn in our later years but to surmount the obstacles which age piles in our paths we need more than seasoned judgment, we need well trained imagination.”

“When it comes to business, ideas are almost everything. Their value can often exceed that of any asset on any financial statement.”

Also in the early 1950 era materials one can see concern expressed that America was losing its creative edge, perhaps a timeless topic!

“There are many signs that Yankee ingenuity is on the wane — not because we are born with less creative talent, but because we no longer try hard enough to use the talent that is in us… Our softer living numbs our sense of enterprise and deadens our creative spirit.”

With the internet now enabling global interaction and with it built-in judgment functionality, we are interested in how present day and emerging technologies might serve to repair, balance and address several deeply rooted human innovation challenges that have existed for generations.

Being aware of the history of education and innovation helps us and our client partners think about such issues in a context beyond the flavor trend of the moment.

See also: How to Think Up!

Image Source: The Power of Your Mind, 1952, National Research Bureau, Chicago,   Humantific Collection, New York.



Visual SenseMaking Workshop Wraps

[slideshow=26]Humantific’s Visual SenseMaking Workshop wrapped up on Saturday at Pratt Institute in New York. Taught by CoFounder Elizabeth Pastor the workshop focused on Visual SenseMaking in the context of organizations. An enthusiastic group that included numerous graduates of NextD innovation workshops spent the day learning how to create their own visual thinking toolbox, unpack complexity and construct strategic stories.

Some Feedback from Participants:
“A great experience”
“On a scale of one to ten : 10”
“Extremely helpful”
“Helps me understand how to map patterns with diagrams”
“Most meaningful: Triggers diagramming words!”
“Everything was useful”
“Most meaningful: Mapping each other”
“Will help me work with my students to frame thesis problems”
“I begin to see how Humantific visualizes complex concepts”
“How can I get really good at this?”

The next Visual SenseMaking workshop will be in Barcelona later this summer.

If you would like to be notified about our future Visual SenseMaking workshops send an email to: programs (at) humantific (dot) com with workshops as the subject.

What is Visual SenseMaking?
Visual SenseMaking is the activity of making sense of ambiguous complex
situations through visual methods and tools including words, images,
drawings, diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. This involves not only visual thinking,
but creating visual ordering systems.

While the skill of Visual SenseMaking can be broadly applied to many life
situations on planet earth, in Humantific workshops we focus on Visual SenseMaking in the context of organizations, organizational situations, systems, processes,
challenges, opportunities, etc.

Is Humantific Visual SenseMaking different?
Yes! The Visual SenseMaking that we teach is not about drawing conversations.
We overlay an adaptable problem solving logic that makes for a much more
robust toolkit applicable to serious business challenges of all types. This
workshop takes you inside the world of Visual SenseMaking at Humantific.
Previously only offered as part of our extensive Complexity Navigation Program,
this new one-day stand-alone session is geared for business leaders who seek
to get started on the road to becoming a Visual SenseMaker. 


WorkshopONE Summer Session Wraps

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Continuing the NextD summer cocreation sharing program that has been offered every summer since 2005 the OPEN session of NextD WorkshopONE wrapped up on Saturday July 26, 2008. A diverse, energetic group of participants from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Spain, and the US attended a full day of cross-disciplinary skill building led by the NextD / Humantific team. Thanks again to Martha Stewart OmniMedia for hosting us!

This session was specially crafted for the design community in that we talked about and modeled Design 3.0, 4.0 cross-disciplinary transformation methods. If you would like to attend the next WorkshopONE session in the US or in Europe send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.


Beyond Sustainability / Meta CoCreation

Humantific CoFounders Elizabeth Pastor and GK VanPatter were invited to lead two hours of cross-disciplinary cocreation skill-building exercises with all participants attending the OverLap 2008 Conference in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Overlap is ambitiously advertised by its creators as “an annual, peer-to-peer gathering for those working at the center of emerging theory, methods and practices of innovation.” We found Overlap to be not exactly that (wink, wink), but we had a great day none-the-less.

It was wonderful to see such strong interest in learning more about cross-disciplinary meta cocreation methods even though some Overlappers were obviously determined to remain stuck in individual intutition based approaches. Change is difficult even for some “working at the center of emerging…methods”..:-)

In addition to teaching cross-disciplinary meta cocreation, Humantific brought a central message to OverLap that is often found to be missing from most sustainablity themed books & events: Sustainability is content not process. Sustainability is not a methodology. It is a problem type. Without scalable meta cocreation process skills in the room most sustainablity events turn into very entertaining but not very useful circular conversations. Sustainability is but one of many important problem types that exist in a continously changing world.

Humantific believes that the present sustainability movement suffers from a content / process disconnect. Those driving sustainability conversations often have significant content knowledge but lack practical, robust meta cocreation process skills.

Presently meta cocreation process knowledge represents the flip-side of the sustainability movement but this is finally starting to change. As the sustainability movement begins to move beyond problem finding (pointing out problems) and into the more complex terrain of  action, cross-disciplinary cocreation process mastery becomes much more important. Unless you are ready to settle for cat fight dynamics, anytime you have multiple stakeholders involved in highly complex problems significant cocreation skills are going to be needed. For more than ten years Humantific team has been working that realization. We have already learned alot!

What was particularily hilarious was to see the same few loud cantankerous voices so strenuously objecting to externalized visible cocreation process at OverLap 08 rushing 180 degrees afterwards to create innovation methods and tools oriented projects! Funny stuff goes on!

Unless you are just starting out and have no codified innovation knowledge, we could not recommend to any of our friends the unfortunately competitive harvesting phenomenon known as Overlap.


ReReThinking Design Thinking

Towards Adaptable Inquiry / Transforming That Sustainability Thing

CoCreation is Rising

NextD Reality Check

NextDesign Geographies / Understanding Design 1,2,3,4

To learn more about Humantific Academy and CoCreation Skill-Building send an email to workshops (at) humantific (dot) com


Humantific in TIME Magazine

Since we fly under the media radar most of the time Humantific was delighted to be featured in the Global Business section of TIME magazine’s May 2008 issue. Time’s Tiffany Starples came to visit us and after wrote entitled Different by Design stating “A new breed of consultant is using the tools of design to solve business problems creatively.”

The article focused on long standing Humantific client, Surgeon Daniel Palestrant, CEO of Sermo and the visual strategic story that he utilized to raise $40 million for his venture.

“Instead of bringing in a conventional consultant to help him, Palestrant visited a loft in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. Humantific made sense of Palestrant’s fuzzy ideas and turned them into huge, glossy posters with icons representing how the parts of his business fit together. Diagrams in hand, Palestrant went to venture-capital funds and returned with $40 million in start-up money. That kind of response is generating more and more heat in the emerging field of transformation design–a hybrid of business consulting and industrial design. Firms like Humantific, whose founders are designers, apply the same process used in designing sleek MP3 players and ergonomic teakettles to unwieldy intangibles like cell-phone promotions and hospital organization, transforming their effectiveness. Along the way, the field is creating some unusual teamwork between designers and business people.”

Sermo became one of the first wildly successful professional social networking platforms. Sermo is now a practicing community of 65,000 physicians who exchange clinical insights, observations, and review cases in real time — all the time.

Physicians can join the Sermo network here.