Tag: Clarity not Simplicity

18
Jan

A Portrait of Marin Launches!

The Measure of America and Humantific team are delighted to announce the publication of the next chapter in the Measure of America Series: A Portrait of Marin.

This Social SenseMaking project was initiated and funded by the forward thinking Marin Community Foundation, the primary center for philanthropy in Marin County, California, and one of the largest community foundations in the United States.

Following the recently published Measure of America report, A Portrait of California, this report is focused on Marin County, located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Marin is known for its affluence and natural beauty, yet careful analysis reveals that the quality of life among different groups varies considerably. While some Marinites are enjoying extraordinarily high levels of well-being, others are experiencing levels of health, education, and living standards that are ranked lower than the worst-scoring state in the United States. Rankings are provided for the major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, native- and foreign-born residents, and Marin’s fifty-one census tracts for which there are reliable U.S Census data.

One goal of The Measure of America social sensemaking series is to surface and inform deeper understanding of complex societal issues that need to be addressed and constructively changed. For those interested in the subject: Social SenseMaking for ChangeMaking is about clarity not simplicity.

Key Findings:

There is a 13-year gap in life expectancy separating residents of Ross, who live 88 years, and residents of Hamilton in southern Novato, who only live 75 years.

While fewer than 30 percent of American adults have completed at least a four-year college degree, in Marin, over half have.

In Marin, as across the nation, the schools whose students have greater needs tend to get fewer dollars.

Though Marin’s planners have targeted employment in areas such as biotechnology and software as a way to stimulate the recovery and the county’s long-term growth, the lion’s share of job growth that has occurred over the last two decades in Marin is overwhelmingly at the other end of the scale: low-wage service employment.

Press:

A Portrait of Marin, First County-Level American Human Development Report
in Measure of America Series, Reveals Striking Disparities in Well-Being

San Francisco Chronicle

New ‘Portrait of Marin’ Report Explores Marin’s Income Inequality Gap
by Rob Rodgers | Marin Independent Journal

Gap Between Marin High/Low (Earners) Explored
by Chris Roberts | NBC Bay Area

Report Analyses County’s Racial, Economic Disparity
by Jason Walsh | Pacific Sun

For more information on The Measure of America, and to download a copy of the report, visit measureofamerica.org.

For more on the rising awareness of “The Great Divide” as the “defining issue of our time” see Acknowledging The Great Divide.

16
Jan

Making Sense of Industries

We love and respect the complex history of what has become the sensemaking profession today. Here are more example images from Humantific’s Isotype Institute Collection. These are from 1955.

The Vienna-based Isotype Institute team, active in the 1920s-1950s, is widely recognized as an early pioneer in the commercial application of visual sensemaking. They applied their unique skill-set to the explanation of many business subjects, in addition to their social subjects work. These “Isotype Charts” are part of a 16-diagram series that explains the chemistry, manufacture, and use of plastics, with an emphasis on their application in the building industries. They appeared in the 1955 book, entitled Plastics and Building.

Isotype Institute work was not always focused on driving towards changemaking. In examples like this one, their focus was on explaining existing conditions within industries—what we would call the “today” picture—without any particular reference or speculation about the “tomorrow” picture.

Today, Humantific would consider this to be part of the Yin (without the Yang) component of changemaking. Pictures of “today” are not only helpful in constructing collective understanding of existing conditions—they are also great jumping-off points for cocreating futures.

We might point out that Isotype Institute was not just making sense of data-sets and information. They were looking at, and deciphering, many complex phenomena taking place in the field of focus, much of it rather abstract—including processes, chemical compositions, and various applications. They were using skills which can be referred to as information design, but they were not just designers of information. They could make sense of any subject, regardless of its state. From the Humantific perspective, they were early professional sensemakers. Their professional sensemaking often informed and accelerated the everyday sensemaking of others operating in organizational settings and in the public realm.

The output of Isotype Institute is immensely impressive and still highly influential today.

More on Isotype Institute

More on Otto Neurath, Gerd Antz & Maria Neurath

Note: For those interested in the finer points of Information Design history, we will point out three additional details:

1. Design was not a word that was used within Isotype Institute.

2. Isotype images were not made by individuals, but rather by a collaborative effort, within which the ‘Transformer” played a significant role—acting as Mediator, Organizer, Shaper between the information research and the graphic form.

3. Otto Neurath died in 1945, at the age of 63. Some see significant differences in images acredited to Isotype made after this date.

Image Source: Mactaggart, E. F. and H. H. Chambers. Plastic and Building. 1955. Diagrams designed by the Isotype Institute. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

Social Visual SenseMaking / InfoGraphics 1890

Humantific Teaching Visual SenseMaking

23
Dec

Occupy Reimagining Design Education

Humantific CoFounder, GK VanPatter was recently interviewed by Wycliffe Radum of Aalto University Design Factory in Finland.

Wycliffe Radum: In the first Future of Innovation [CEB] conference in Helsinki, in September 2009, you challenged Aalto University’s designers to reach into the realm of organizational innovation by designing strategies and systems rather than products and services. Two years have passed since the conference and you have visited Aalto University a few times during this period. Do you perceive that Aalto University has risen up to the challenge? Has there been a noticeable shift towards the desired organizational changes?

Garry K. VanPatter: “Hello Wycliffe: Happy to do this with you…Yes, I do well remember speaking at that Future of Innovation Conference in Helsinki. I met many terrific people there doing interesting work including some Alto leadership folks who were working on the university combine initiative at that time. It seemed then like an ambitious undertaking. I do recall that several Aalto leaders were interested in the NextDesign Geographies Framework of Design 1,2,3,4 in addition to what Humantific does……”Continue Reading..

16
Dec

Visual SenseMaking Glimpse Rocks!

Humantific CoFounder, Elizabeth Pastor taught a Visual SenseMaking Workshop at Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid on November 22. Open to the public and co-sponsored with IED’s Masters of Design and Innovation Program, this Glimpse session was designed to be a quick introduction to the subject of Humantific’s Visual SenseMaking. The session, which was sold out, focused on how it differs from other visual thinking approaches and techniques, and how it applies to real world creative problem solving. Through several lessons and exercises, the participants learned:

  • To develop their own toolkit to communicate ideas visually
  • Techniques to build your visual vocabulary and construct visual models
  • Basic frameworks for visual modeling applied to specific scenarios

Stay tuned for news about more Glimpse sessions in New York and San Francisco!

Interested in Future Workshops?
Humantific conducts cross-disciplinary innovation skill-building on an ongoing basis with organizations globally. If you would like to consider bringing Humantific to your organization to help with your innovation skill-building and strategic thinking for leaders, contact us: engage (at) humantific (dot) com

See more:
Humantific’s Visual SenseMaking Workshops
Humantific at the BBC
Humantific Strategy Session

02
Nov

Isotype Building Bridges

We are happy to share more historical sensemaking images from Humantific’s Isotype Collection. Active long before the “Big Data Era” arrived these Isotype examples are from 1943.

In early Isotype studio work, one can find many great examples of sensemaking acceleration techniques that are still in use today, including the comparison. Experts in presenting complex data-informed subjects clearly, the Isotype Institute team often used comparisons to help explain differences and similarities between groups, regions, and countries.

Reflecting a “simpler” time in history, Isotype work often (not always) involved two-party comparisons on select issues, as in this example. In this 1943 book, America and Britan, Only an Ocean Between, published in London for an English speaking audience, numerous aspects of the two countries are compared. In addition, a few 9-10 country comparisons are included in “18 Pictoral Charts Designed by Isotype Institute.” This human-centered approach to book creation, combining text, photographs, and diagrams, was referred to by the authors as “Reading Without Tears.”

As in much of Isotype work, the underlying purpose was optimistic and constructive: to build a bridge; to help accelerate understanding between diverse humans with the hope that this might create a better world.

From the book’s Foreword, by John Winant, then American Ambassador to Great Britain:

“America and Britain are learning to know one another… Such mutual knowledge will be more than ever essential when the battle ends and the task of reconstruction lies before us…If this century is to be the century of the common man, the common man must be informed of the facts by every means in the power of the expert — by writing, by pictures, by charts. For only so can he form the judgements on which a durable and democratic international reconstruction depends. This book will, I am sure, help to bridge whatever ocean still flows between our two countries’ knowledge and understanding of each other.”

Isotype created the visual symbol language (“International Picture Language”) as well as the diagrams. Considering that computers did not exist then, it is clear that Isotype Institute created—by hand—a staggering amount of excellent-quality social sensemaking material during their time. Even with its imperfections, much of that work remains inspiring for many still today.

Image Source: Florence, L. Secor. America and Britain, Only An Ocean Between. 1943. Diagrams designed by the Isotype Institute. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

More on Isotype Institute 

GK VanPatter: What is SenseMaking?
[Speaking at SenseMaker Dialogs]

GK VanPatter: SenseMaking / The Karl Weick Question

CoCreation Missing No More: See: Markets for Giving Workshop

 

 

27
Oct

Measure of America wins IIID Award

Humantific is honored to receive the International Institute of Information Design Award 2011! The Measure of America Series was selected as the overall category winner in the area of Social Affairs. This project has helped policymakers shape crucial policy and fiscal decisions, and we are extremely proud of the positive, tangible impact this project has had on communities across the nation. We thank our brilliant Measure of America authors Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis and their team, and congratulations to the Humantific team!

See our work on the IIID Award Website

03
Oct

ReAppreciating Otto Neurath

At Humantific, we have tremendous respect for the work of the early Social SenseMaking pioneers—among them, the central figures of Isotype Institute: Otto Neurath (1882-1945), Gerd Arntz (1900-1988) and Marie Neurath (1898-1986).

In the Humantific Collection, we have numerous Isotype (International Picture Language System) artifacts. We will share some of the lesser-known example diagrams here, in this inspiration archive.

Based initially in Vienna, what the relatively small Isotype group was able to accomplish in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s remains a towering achievement in the practice of what we know today as Social SenseMaking.

At Humantific, we are interested in the Before, During, and After-Isotype eras, acknowledging that what we do today has many similarities, and as many differences.

Neurath, in particular, was deeply interested in contributing to the creation of a better, more unified world (“Words Divide, Pictures Unite”) and had specific notions regarding how that might best be accomplished.

Perhaps due to the orientations of its founders, Isotype Institute work tended to be strong on making sense of complex, data-driven content, while the participatory change-making process (cocreation process) component that we know today to be so important was essentially missing. Today we are more aware that making sense of the data is not in itself going to change the world. Hands-on participatory cocreation leadership is needed in orchestration with visualization.

Regardless of its imperfections, Isotype remains an important historical inspiration for many practicing SenseMakers, including the UnderstandingLab team at Humantific.

Stay tuned for more inspiring, early SenseMaking examples from the Humantific Collection.

Image Source: Central Bureau Voor de Statistiek 1944-1946: Statistisch Zakboek by Uitgeversmaatschappij W. De Haan N.V. Utrecht. 1947. Diagrams designed by the Isotype Institute. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

More on Isotype Institute 

More on Otto Neurath

More on Gerd Antz

More on Maria Neurath

GK VanPatter: What is SenseMaking?

GK VanPatter: SenseMaking / The Karl Weick Question

CoCreation Missing No More: See: Markets for Giving Workshop

The OTHER Design Thinking

 

26
Sep

Humantific Teaches in Madrid

Humantific Teaches in Madrid:
IED’s Masters of Design and Innovation Program

Elizabeth Pastor, partner and co-founder of Humantific, taught at the European Institute of Design Madrid this summer. She held a one week workshop on innovation and visual sensemaking at the Masters of Design and Innovation program, the most advanced level of education at the European Institute of Design Madrid.

The program was a success and the school’s director, Dario Assante, has asked Elizabeth to further the collaboration with the program and participate in future years. The skills and tools that were taught in the workshop are part of from Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program and provided a solid structure and guidance for masters students who are given a fuzzy challenge to untangle and innovate on, during their one year program. She will be participating in the beginning of the program next year to provide the tools early on in the student’s journey through complexity.

See some student feedback:

“I found the whole process extremely interesting. Beginning with a fuzzy idea and ending with a concrete solution was fun and done in a structured process. Also the innovation profile was enlightening and on a personal level it was eye opening.”

“Visual modeling does help a lot to present/clarify the ideas not only to your audience, but most importantly, to your own self!!”

“I learned good techniques to work in teams, understood the importance of ‘No judging’, and the good results that the concepts of ‘diverging’ and ‘converging’ give.”

“I think this way of problem solving improves the relationship between people as much as the work itself.”

“We are more used to thinking in thoughts or words although our work is very visual. Thinking visually adds the most necessary element.”

“After this course, I want to be an Information Designer!”

“I like the structure, the dynamics, and the efficiency of solving problems this way. I am going to apply this to my projects in school and at work!”

“Elizabeth was great!! Clear, professional, communicative, inspiring… great facilitator and educator!”

More about the workshop and program from IED’s Website:

 

SenseMaking, Humanizing Organizations

IED Master Madrid launchs the new Masters of Design and Innovation

11
Aug

NextD Workshops: That’s a Wrap!

Our congratulations goes out to all attendees of this year’s NextD WorkshopONE, TWO & THREE. Participants from around the globe (6 countries in total) came together for 4 days of intensive facilitation training in New York City. It was an incredible few days for all involved, our special thanks to Humantific Strategylab leaders Elizabeth Pastor and Janet Getto for helping us turn our fuzzy problems into action!

Interested in Future Workshops?

Conducting NextD Workshops is only one of many work streams at Humantific. We are doing workshop based cross-disciplinary innovation skill-building on an ongoing basis with organizations in numerous countries. If you would like to consider bringing Humantific in to your organization to help with your innovation skill-building, innovation strategy creation, strategic thinking for leaders, feel free to let us know. Send email to: engage (at) humantific (dot) com

27
Jun

Thinking Made Visible Research

We are delighted to see so much interest in Humantific’s Integrative Thinking Research Initiative. Much to our surprise viewers of the Design Thinking Made Visible Project story have exceeded 15,000.

Posted for public viewing the research outcome included these findings:

Integrative Thinking Research: 10 Key Findings:

Finding 1
This research predates and debunks the widely publicized 2009 academic theory that thinking attributes (reliability & validity) can be rigidly pre-assigned to individuals or teams based on discipline labels such as design, designer or business, business manager. (This is a nice way of saying this was already known prior to 2009.)

Finding 2
Some students of 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, other 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 sharable results are extremely useful in moving understanding of Integrative Thinking beyond stereotypical notions of design thinking and business thinking.

You can see these findings on pages 119-129 inside the Design Thinking Made Visible Project.

For “What is Integrative Thinking” see page 13-29
For “Humantific’s Innovation Harmonics” see page 18-29
For “Integrative Thinking in History” see page 131-135

Humantific has numerous streams of Thinking Made Visible Research in progress. Not all Humantific research is public. We often work with business leaders seeking to create private internal research projects focused on better understanding various aspects of their organizations “Innovation Brain”.

If your business organization or school would like to participate in one of our public or private streams of Thinking Made Visible Research send an email to thinkingresearch (at) humantific (dot) com.