Tag: Future of Design

04
Aug

Design Thinking Futures [Part 2]

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PART 2 of 2:

GK VanPatter in conversation with Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy: What is your advice to design students in order to help to prepare themselves for the future business challenges?

GK VanPatter: In speaking at various graduate schools what we suggest in general is to look forward not backward. It is great and useful to understand design history and appreciate various design heroes but understand that the marketplace is in forward motion. The arenas of design are changing. First and foremost think carefully about what scale of challenges you are most interested in. There are serious methodology and skill building implications because there is not just one design thinking.

If you want to work on logo and poster size challenges then a 100% invisible, intuitive process might be perfect for you and that arena. If you want to work in the context of organizational change-making or societal change-making where there is high complexity and many disciplines typically involved then more process skill is going to be required. Understand that the diverse worlds of design focused at different scales of challenges, with their various neighborhood heroes, all have their strongly held opinions regarding the process or lack thereof. That will never change. You have to decide which neighborhood, which arena makes the most sense for you to belong to.

nextD-design-thinking-workshop

To new generation folks, we also suggest thinking practically, realistically about which scale arena is growing and which is shrinking. Not often discussed in the graduate design schools is that some arenas are growing and some have already rapidly shrunk due to globalization. Some of your old design heroes might have practiced in a now greatly reduced in size arena.

Globalization has ravaged the fee structure of Design 1 and is on its way to doing the same with Design 2, product, service and experience creation. Thus Design 1 is a shrinking commoditized arena while Design 3 and 4 are growing arenas with vastly different fee structures. In part, this explains the movement in that direction by all the major design consultancies as well as the graduate business schools and their graduates.

The tricky part is those arenas also involve different skills and methods.

See the entire Part 2 of the interview here:

21
Dec

Methods Mapping Book Published

book_mockup_3The new Humantific book by GK VanPatter and Elizabeth Pastor: Innovation Methods Mapping / DeMystifying 80+ Years of Innovation Process Design has just been published!

Years in the works and long overdue we finally crossed the finish line on this one! Wooooo Hooooo!

Making sense of innovation process design is the subject of this new Humantific book.

Big thanks to all who contributed.

View the Preview here.

Buy the book on Amazon here.

24
May

Design For Care Published

We are delighted to see the NextD Complexity Ladder utilized in the just published book Design For Care, authored by Peter Jones PhD.

Always interested in the application of NextDesign, Design at Scale, Systemic Design, ie: design thinking in the context of large scale systems, Peter uses the NextD Complexity Ladder to set the context for the scale of challenges found in healthcare today.

With the NextD Complexity Ladder as an assessment backdrop Peter points out the still growing recognition that different kinds of design thinking skill are required to address different scales of challenges. We call this skill-to-scale.

Inspired by the NextDesign Geographies vision?

If you have a project in which you would like to use the NextD Complexity Ladder materials and logic feel free to write to us at kickitup at nextd dot org.

Related

When [Old Design Thinking] Love is Not Enough

Understanding Design 1,2,3,4
The Rise of Visual SenseMaking

SenseMaking is Rising

NextDesign Geographies

Occupy Reimagining Design

Join the ongoing NextD conversations on LinkedIn NextD Leadership Network.

19
Sep

How Design is Changing? Huh?

We were baffled by the recent Fast Company “infographic” depiction of “how design is changing”. Huh? Where has Fast Company been for the past ten years?

Not only does this “infographic” make no sense at all, the content is completly out to lunch. That is the emerging future of design? How could such a widely read publication be so amaturishy misinformed? This is the future of design from what vantage point?…in what context?

The future of design and design thinking that is already here is about 10 zillion miles beyond that little Fast Company picture.

This might be a good moment for Fast Company to step back from the infographic craze and do some deeper research, some deeper thinking on what goes into such pictures. Making everything into eye candy is not going to get the job done unless the job is simply to make eye candy.

Related:

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

NextD Reality Check

Occupy Reimagining Design

05
May

Thoughts on AIGA’s One Day For Design

Since a lot of what we do here at Humantific is upstream strategy cocreation with organizations as part of changemaking initiatives, we were somewhat puzzled to see how AIGA (formerly American Institute of Graphic Arts), a professional graphic design association seeking to reposition itself, undertook a one day Twitter event on April 13th entitled “One Day For Design” (1D4D). The session was promoted with intriguing prompters including “What if you had one day to alter the future of design”.

From a cocreation perspective we could not help but notice that the 1D4D event seemed to contain a veritable smorgasbord of large scale, highly complex, some might say conflicting framing messages. This entanglement seemed to be combined with additional mixed messages around what the dialogue type was intended to be. How the complexity of the subject to be addressed and the intended dialogue type connected to the technology platform chosen was of equal mystery.

Among the complex simultaneous topics posed by AIGA for the 1D4D session on Twitter were: “The meaning of design, The future of design, The meaning of professional design associations, and The future of professional design associations.”

We noticed that 1D4D participants had wildly differing perspectives on session purpose and dialogue expectations. Some participants thought the purpose was to engage in “online global debate” focused on “the future of design.”

Others perceived intentions included:

“roundtable discussion”…“with every designer on Twitter.”

“dialogue between designers and the general public.”

“24-hour brainstorming on the future of design”

“allow creative folks to discuss current issues in design”

“get the pulse of the industry”

“a global conversation” “to alter the future of design.”

“[AIGA] expect[s] to better understand our role”

“explore ways [for AIGA] to better serve the needs of the design community.”

“bring designers and design followers together with leading minds in our profession”

“engage designers in a global conversation”

“exchange ideas, challenge viewpoints and push boundaries”

“an online, real-time think-tank”

“bring together a global community of designers and design enthusiasts.”

“evolve ideas, make connections and initiate change.”

Somehow others got the impression that “the ultimate goal” of 1D4D was:

“understanding how design could shape the future of the world”.

We love experiments but OMG what a confusing framing mix! There are at least half a dozen different dialogue mode types in that mix and more than a dozen different focus paths. That’s a lot of fuzzy complexity to hoist onto participants.

Maybe these designer types are from another planet and can digest multiple streams of giant-size fuzzy complexity while leaping tall buildings! It seemed more likely that 1D4D participants were going to be humans from planet earth. We could not help but wonder if anyone thought about the framing of this session from a human-centered perspective. Without that orientation the confusion of event dynamics can be as complicated as the subjects to be addressed. That cognitive double whammy tends to undermine and deplete participant energy.

All organizations face a continuously changing world and AIGA would be no exception. This could have been important strategic thinking work involving complex present and emerging future states, fuzzy challenges and opportunities. Apart from the romancing of social network technology, since when is Twitter geared up for such complex work?

Some of this framing implied outcomes other than casual chit-chat. Was it possible that 1D4D organizers did not understand the difference between a conversation, a debate, a roundtable, open dialogue and outcome oriented dialogue? Was it possible that 1D4D organizers did not understand the default dynamics of 100% emergence? We wondered what happened to the much-vaunted AIGA design process. It seemed to be completely absent.

We noticed that 1D4D participants were asked to imagine the future of something that AIGA leaders have presented no framing for in the present. How does that work? Was this event about the present and future of graphic design or something else?

We will gladly leave the post-session parsing of words used in the One Day for Design event to the analysis by others. We will happily leave commentary on how to improve the collaborative functionality of Twitter to our interaction oriented colleagues. With all due respect we leave AIGA members to sort out their own challenges as a still graphic design oriented professional association, struggling to reposition itself and expand into the broader strategic design community.

Our only concern is that it seems likely as a result of the AIGA Twitter event that considerable misunderstanding around what strategic design is and does, now seems to have been generated in the broader community outside of design. If the “meaning of design” was in fact tweaked by AIGA’s One Day for Design, it was not in a way that was particularly constructive, not in a way that relates to the many challenges and opportunities facing design. An unfortunate message seems to have been sent by 1D4D: that the design community of communities thinks change making cocreation and meaning making can be accomplished with sloganeering and soundbites. We assume that this meaning making was not AIGA’s intended message.

With all due respect to AIGA and its no doubt noble intentions:

Please don’t assume that AIGA represents the entire design community. It does not.

Please don’t assume that AIGA´s One Day for Design event on Twitter had anything to do with the present or future states of best design practice, methods, modes or consciousness outside of graphic design.

Please don’t assume that 1D4D has anything to do with how strategies are being cocreated today by organizational leaders interested in meaningful change making.

What was most interesting to us about One Day for Design was seen, not in the event itself, but rather in its aftermath. In the wave of post-event commentaries could be seen a thread of cocreation awareness connected to the not often talked about subject of emergence. It is becoming clear that there is rapidly rising awareness in several communities of practice including design, that fuzzy 100% emergent events are very time consuming for participants and typically problematic along what has already become a well-worn path (a subject onto itself).

Picture ahead: Multiply that 1D4D experience by 5 or 10 or 100 and at some point along the way, for some sooner, for others later, most will no doubt be ready for something, anything other than 100% emergence. That romance is rapidly dwindling. This is probably not so good news for those selling 100% emergence as a new collaboration holy grail.

As the number of professionals in various fields reach that realization it seems inevitable that much in the current mix will change. It is that rising awareness that will change not only how we work, but what we expect of our technologies, our organizations, our leaders and ultimately of ourselves.

Whether all of us like it or not, at the end of the day 1D4D represented one of many small defining moments in the slippery decline of 100% emergent events. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, unless you want to repeat those outcomes, it is already time to rethink the think and move on. In that moving on many design opportunities can be found.

07
Feb

Architecture / What’s Next?

We enjoyed reading the most recent issue of Architect magazine (“The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects”) entitled What’s Next?: Architecture in an age of Transformation. We recognized that many of the challenges raised in the feature article have existed in the architecture industry for many years. Since this edition of Architect magazine strives to be about organizational and industry “transformation”, we wanted to point out that there might be some process confusion embedded in “What’s Next”.

Recognizing that “What’s Next” is full of good intentions, lets not get what the magazine is successfully doing confused with the questions it raises. From a transformation methods perspective we would like to point out that the challenge of: How might a provocative magazine issue be created ? is quite different from: How might you reinvent your practice ? and How might you reinvent your industry ?. The well-meaning contributors appear to know more about the former and less about the later.

While the methodology of provocations is a useful approach to magazine article making, it is not robust enough, precise enough or scalable enough for use in addressing the latter transformation challenges. In other words, provocation is the right tool for creating entertaining magazines and the wrong method for organizational transformation. Transforming organizations and industries requires a different set of cocreation methods and skills.

Popular in academic circles, the provocations approach intermixes facts, challenges and possible solutions. In the “What’s Next” edition one can see them intertwined throughout.

While there has been no consensus (outside the magazines advisory team) on what the facts are or what the challenges are in the architecture industry, a partial picture is never-the-less created. Even with the best of intentions, the picture represented by the five central provocations in the “What’s Next” edition may or may not reflect what the key challenge areas actually are in practice and in industry.

While we were struck by the numerous insightful provocations in Bruce Mau’s “You Can Do Better” contribution to the edition it would be safe to say that the days are gone when simply complaining about complaining is enough to drive meaningful change. In the context of organizational transformation the act of “provoking” is recognized as the relatively easy lift.

Provocations tend to generate heat rather than clarity. The provocations approach typically yields more provocations, a lot of coffee chat conversations and not much forward change motion. If driving to coffee chat is your goal then provocation might be a methodology worth considering.

In the online feedback over at Architect magazines web site, one can see what happens when the wrong problems have been defined, solutions to problems that don’t exist proposed and little buy-in has occurred.

Since transformation is the subject of the edition the overall picture being created by using provocations as an approach tends to reinforce the misperception that getting to the future in organizational contexts is argument and provocation based. It seems likely that readers come away with the misperception that this is what organizational and or industry transformation looks like and feels like. In our experience transformation need not look and feel like a magazine hit-job.

The reality is organizational transformation is messy and often complex. It is quite common that the challenges present even in small organizations vastly supersede five problem areas. To undertake this kind of work one has to get ready for navigating upstream from the terrain of tidy framed briefs where many fuzzy complex challenges exist in parallel.

Perhaps ironically this is the operational terrain that Mr. Mau seemed to be referring to in his “You Can Do Better” commentary to the “What’s Next” readers: get prepared for a place where architects are willing and able to engage, not in building creation challenges alone, but rather in addressing challenges requiring no preconceived outcomes. Mr. Mau insightfully invites readers to rethink the DNA of architecture skill not the DNA of building creation. Unfortunately what is missing from “What’s Next” is the acknowledgement that getting to that terrain and operating there clearly involves more transformation skills than provocation.

While there is nothing particularly new in Mr. Mau’s message of reorientation and reskilling, the difficult and probably more meaningful truth is that much of the graduate architecture education community including high profile institutions like Harvard Graduate Design School have for more than ten years consistently missed the globalization driven message to prepare their students for working upstream from briefs. Many graduate design schools have been tone deaf to the need for this form of strategic change. In other disciplines that message was heard years ago loud and clear. As a result when it comes to leading cross-disciplinary cocreation upstream from briefs the realm of architecture is now playing catch-up. Today, much of the most current upstream cross-disciplinary cocreation knowledge exists outside of the architecture profession.

Perhaps unintentionally the “What’s Next” magazine edition brings one unasked and unanswered key question into clear view, and that is: How will the professional association of AIA provide relevant value to its members going forward in this time of great change? If we can acknowledge that the days are already gone when it is enough for a professional association to sponsor a magazine provoking “dialogue” as its contribution to industry transformation, what then is AIA’s plan for helping its membership make sense of and navigate the realities of what’s next?

With the spirit of constructing change making in mind we would like to table a capabilities challenge to American Institute of Architects as an association. Beyond provocative conversation stimulation you might want to consider creating a change making institute capacity inside AIA that in some form is capable of offering meaningful transformation help to its membership. If there is serious appetite for such an ecosystem Humantific would be happy to help AIA create such an initiative.

Perhaps this time next year will bring more to AIA membership than yet another “What’s Next” provocation.

Further Reading:

Join the NextDesign Leadership Network on LinkedIn

Into the Immeasurable: Understanding the New Umbau School of Architecture

GK VanPatter in conversation with William Tate. NextD Journal 2005

Human-Centered Innovation: Understanding the IIT Institute of Design
GK VanPatter in conversation with Patrick Whitney. NextD Journal 2004