Tag: ReRethinking Design

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.

12
May

NextDesign Leadership Network

As part of spring cleaning, NextDesign Leadership Institute has converted the Transforming Transformation discussion list on LinkedIn since 2007, to NextDesign Leadership Network. The focus of the open discussion list will remain on NextD’s original root subject: next design leadership.

You can join the conversations here:

http://tinyurl.com/6xypmu6

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

09
Jul

Elizabeth interviewed by DDI

DDIinterview_EPastor

After speaking at Icograda’s Straight to Business Conference in Madrid (www.icogradadesignweekmadrid.org), Elizabeth was interviewed on her practice at Humantific by DDI, Spain’s National Organization for the Development of Design and Innovation.

See the full article: http://www.ddi.es/DDI_Web/vistas/contenido_entrevista.aspx?id=72

02
Dec

GK VanPatter at Swinburne University

Now viewable in virtual book form: The presentation made by GK VanPatter on November 22, 2009 at the Swinburne Design Thinking Conference in Melbourne, Australia and on November 25 at Swinburne University School of Design.

Learn more about Humantific SenseMaking/ChangeMaking initiatives here:

You can join NextD / ReReThinking Design on Facebook here:

You can join Transforming Transformation on Facebook here:

Direct all questions to programs (at) humantific (dot) com

30
Sep

GK VanPatter at Swinburne University

IMG_1602

Humantific Co-Founder, GK VanPatter will attend the ReThinking Design Education Conference being organized by Dr Ken Friedman, Dean of the School of Design at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia on November 21-22.

Sixty thought leaders have been invited to discuss opportunities and possible futures for graduate design education. Dr. Friedman is leading the charge at Swinburne to create a new 21st century design school.

VanPatter will also give a talk on SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the School of Design on Nov 25 at Swinburne University.

16
Aug

ReThinking Design in Helsinki


Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter will give a ReRethinking Design talk at the Design is Changing Workshop being organized by Creative Industries Finland, Ministry of Employment & the Economy Finland, Ministry of Education Finland and Design Forum Finland on September 7th in Helsinki as part of the
Creative Economy & Beyond Conference and Helsinki Design Week.

Industry and Government leaders in many countries around the world are trying to understand the changing role of design as well as the challenges and opportunities that their design communities represent. Finland and Denmark are among the most active in supporting their design communities and making connections to innovation.

As cofounders of Humantific and NextDesign Leadership Institute, VanPatter and Pastor are often invited to participate in such gatherings to share learnings gained since they proactively launched the NextD ReRethinking Design initiative in 2002. They became pioneers in the ReReThinking Design movement, the Next Design movement that is now widespread, extremely activated and often competitive.

Session Organizers:

Creative Industries Finland

Design Forum Finland

Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Ministry of Education Finland

You can join NextD: ReRethinking Design on Facebook.

To inquire about Humantific speaking at your event write to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.

08
Jun

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.