Tag: Upstream Framing

27
Jul

Design Thinking Futures [Part 1]

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PART 1 of 2:

GK VanPatter in conversation with Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy: In one of your articles, MAKING SENSE OF: “Why Design Thinking Will Fail,” you classified design thinking into upstream and downstream design thinking. Can you clarify this taxonomy for our readers?

GK VanPatter: Yes certainly. We see a lot of articles online like the now infamous “Why Design Thinking Will Fail” post that you referred to. Our response, posted to LinkedIn contains a reference to the situation that I just referred to above. The impact of the methodology mess that now exists becomes clear in that article. (See link below.)

Regarding upstream and downstream, we created this distinction as one part of a larger taxonomy while researching and writing our recently published book Innovation Methods Mapping to convey important differences in methodologies. In the book, readers can see and make use of the entire taxonomy as a reusable analysis framework. Our goal in creating the analysis lens is not jargon-making but rather to introduce considerations and meaning not previously present.

The terms upstream and downstream relate to the assumed starting points of the methodology. Upstream means upstream from the “brief”, which is a framed or semi-framed challenge. In upstream contexts, one cannot and does not assume to know what the challenges actually might be. Part of the work is to create the interconnected constellation of challenges, often seen for the first time. The everyday context for upstream is complex organizations and societies where many types of challenges tend to exist. Why would anyone assume all challenges on the planet are product or service related? From our open innovation perspective that makes no sense at all.

Downstream is the brief business where much of the traditional design industries (and graduate design schools) have been focused for decades. Most often in downstream methods, the assumption is that the challenge to be addressed is pre-assumed to be related to product, service or experience design regardless of what the challenges actually might be.

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Both upstream and downstream methods are useful. The problems arise when downstream methods are force-fitted into upstream contexts. Today in a competitive marketplace, whether we all like it or not, many graduate design schools are, due to their slow adaptation over a decade, out pitching the quick-fix notion that down is up, that downstream methods are universal, that downstream methods are meta design. That is more about marketing than methodologies. This spin pitching has contributed, not to the making sense of the subject, but rather to the mountain of confusion that now exists and continues to grow. Ultimately that spin will likely undermine the credibility of those advocates, but hopefully not the subject and the interest in adaptive skills.

What we find is that the methodology related sensemaking that we do is welcomed by many and not appreciated by some who would prefer that these differences not be pointed out. Not everyone is going to be a fan of more clarity around the subject of design/design thinking. So be it.

See the entire Part 1 of the interview here:

22
Nov

Making Sense of Service Design

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Service Design Thinking: Confusion or Clarity?

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter has published another post in his popular ongoing “Making Sense Series.”

“Clarity or lack there-of is something that is often difficult to talk about in the design / design thinking community. Not everyone in the community of design communities is up for clarity. Lack of clarity often leads to a confused public. At the moment, mountains of confusion around the subject of design and design thinking exist publicly.”

“Contributing to the confusion we recently noted the UK Government’s launch of its “Design Principles”.

It is really none of our business but from a methods perspective, there seems to be some confused logic there.

Some enlightened person in the UK might ask:

Are these meant to be Digital Service Design Principles, Service Design Principles or Design Principles?

How did you get from “Design Principles” to “Don’t make assumptions” and “make things open” to “Service design starts with identifying user needs.”

Who said anything about presuming, predetermining that the challenges are service related?

This is an assumption often seen in service design logic.”

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Read the full post on LinkedIn here:

 

Related:

Making Sense of Design Thinking & Agile Method

Making Sense of “Why Design Thinking Will Fail.”

Building Strategic Innovation Lab Capabilities

Enabling Organizational Ambidexterity

19
Dec

Beyond Brainstorming

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What Humantific Clients Already Know…

Andy Warhol was once asked in an interview what he thought about Jasper Johns. Andy replied that he thought Jasper was great. The interviewer then asked why he thought so. Andy replied, “Because he makes great lunches.”

Well that’s kind of a good way to think about brainstorming too. Practitioners of team facilitation with years of experience can see value in brainstorming and like Andy’s perspective shift on Jasper, probably not from the direction that you might expect and certainly not for the reasons being endlessly debated in the mainstream media these days.

Here at Humantific we often ask ourselves; what’s the big deal about brainstorming? Other than driving attention to websites what’s the hullabaloo in the media all about? The topic seems to translate into a lot of dogs chasing tails when with a little more context, a little more insight, that energy could be better invested elsewhere.

As we have pointed out to our readers on this blog several times: In this innovation enabling industry; “It is widely recognized that brainstorming has not been considered a stand-alone creative methodology or technique since the late 1950s. No leading innovation consultancy that we know of [including Humantific] uses any version of brainstorming as a standalone method.”

In most practice-based innovation skill-building programs, including Humantific Academy, brainstorming in its various reinvented forms is considered introductory skill, boot camp level knowledge. Once organizational leaders are engaged in their innovation journey they rapidly see that serious innovation capacity building is like building a house. Saying brainstorming is ineffective is akin to saying a hammer doesn’t work to build a house. Clearly you are going to need more than a hammer! Yes indeed you will need to conceive of the house design before you start building and once under way you will need an arsenal of tools in your innovation toolbox not just a hammer. In addition to a great design and multiple tools, you need the deep knowledge of the house building process. No organizational leader that we work with today operates under the assumption that mastering brainstorming is going to get the innovation job done.

To build that innovation house will not only require a variety of tools, you will also need to know how to use them effectively. As a skilled cocreation facilitator, you should have many tools and know how and when to use them. Walking around as a hammer is not very effective. As an innovation leader what you want to have in your back pocket is more like a Swiss-army-knife.

For seasoned facilitation practitioners the key to extracting the value of brainstorming is to understand its ingredients, its DNA, the ‘what’s inside’ part and then know what is needed to reconfigure those elements in ways that bring to bear their full power. Experienced practitioners know how to get at the key ingredients and how to reformulate their value in the context of everyday work. This is “the great lunch” of brainstorming.

Years after brainstorming was created, Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes had already embarked on that reformulation road when they shifted towards a more powerful mash-up that included what we now refer to as root behaviors that operate inside an adaptable framework that is focused, not on ideation but rather moves from fuzzy front end through to implementation and today measurement. Osborn and Parnes recognized early on that much more than brainstorming was going to be required. Don’t miss that turn in the road.

Shift and build, shift and build more or less describes the continuous cycle of knowledge construction that has been occurring ever since. Many experts and non-experts have made contributions to that ever-evolving knowledge field at the center of this hybrid community of practice. If you miss all the shifting and building that has occurred it is unlikely that you will understand what’s needed and what’s possible today.

At this point, many additional tools, instruments, techniques, refinements and ways of working have been added or subtracted to that knowledge soup. Of course the hammer itself has also been redesigned many, many times and is today a shadow of its original self. For this reason, we don’t expend energy re-debating the effectiveness of the 1953 perspective as it has long ago been superseded.

From the early pioneering days of addressing relatively simple challenges to the current era of tackling highly complex fuzzy situations, integrating upstream framing and data/information visualization, there are two things that have remained constant. However you choose to slice and dice all of those many knowledge additions the principles of skills and behaviors remain key elements today.

It is mastery of root innovation behavior orchestration in the context of multiple disciplines that holds the possibility for organizations to create sustainable adaptive cultures today. Unless you are up for the long, painful route to house building, don’t miss that key ingredient.  Even if you seek to put your house on wheels or attach wings, a strong foundational platform is crucial to its success. In sustainable innovation culture construction everything builds from foundational root behaviors. It sounds easy. It’s the getting there that takes the real work.

If your organizations’ goal is to build capacity for proactive innovation, changemaking, adaptability, flexibility, fluxability, resilience, whatever you choose to call that, you will want to set your sights far beyond the capacity to simply generate ideas. Forward thinking leaders in every industry are busy on-boarding advanced innovation skills to the point where having them has already become an essential component in many next generation leadership programs. The truth is root behavior mastery is foundational to many advanced innovation skills. Mastering those behaviors individually and collectively represents an important step along the skills progression ladder, not the current end state of innovation capacity-building today.

Thanks again for the perspective shifts Mr. Warhol. Lets all have a great lunch on Andy today!

GK VanPatter & Janet Getto

Humantific’s 3 Universal Beyond Brainstorming Principles:

1. BrainFraming Preceeds BrainStorming

Unless you have undertaken some form of upstream framing with multiple participants there is a 75% chance that your brainstorm is being focused in the wrong direction, at the wrong altitude on the wrong problem. Before you begin, back-up and make sure you are pointing your brainstorm in the right direction. Conscious real-time participatory reframing is now possible. Understanding context of the challenge precedes getting to a strategic and meaningful launch point for ideation.

2. Everyday Innovation Trumps Brainstorming

Don’t wait for special occasion “brainstorming sessions” to skill your team from a behavioral perspective. Embed mastery of generative thinking as separate to evaluative thinking as one root behavior in your everyday innovation learning program. Do the work to understand that the behaviors appear in every meeting, in every organization, in every industry, in every country, everyday. Make an investment in understanding the dynamics of everyday innovation.

3. Practical Realizations Trump Media Slogans

Forget the endless sloganeering being generated in the media to attract readers. Stay grounded in real needs and practical realizations. Connect root behaviors directly into your already existing corporate values. If you have identified diversity and innovation as among your values you are half-way home. Now do the work to figure out how root behaviors are connected to these values. Doing such work represents a much smarter investment than reading yet another armchair experts blog post on “Let’s Kill Brainstorming”. Lets understand what trumps what and keep moving forward beyond individual techniques and towards inclusive innovation culture building.

Related:

Making Sense of Alex Osborn

Lost Stories Applied Creativity History

Teaching Complexity Navigation

22
Feb

Elizabeth Pastor teaching in Madrid!

Humantific CoFounder, Elizabeth Pastor is in Spain teaching Complexity Navigation this week! Elizabeth has become a faculty member at Istituto Europeo di Design (IEDin Madrid and now teaches there once a year in the Master of Design and Innovation Program.

From the IED website: “These…Master’s programs, conceived as research laboratories, prepare professionals to overcome the challenges of a global, interconnected market through the perspective of New Visions, New Leaders.

After seeing the impact last year when Elizabeth taught the basic skills of Humantific’s Complexity Navigation to one class of graduate students, the directors of the IED asked her to come back to teach all students in the program at the outset of the term as part of a new set of graduate level innovation skills.

Most of the skill-building that we do at Humantific is done in the context of business organizations, with organizational leaders. That full 3 level version of the Complexity Navigation Program combines skill-building in Strategic CoCreation, Design Research and Visual SenseMaking. We are finding that a new generation of leaders understands the usefulness of having hands-on Complexity Navigation skills in the context of a continuously changing world.

For more information regarding the Complexity Navigation Program send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.

27
Jan

Innovation Methods Mapping Coming Soon!

Two + years in the making, Humantific, in concert with OPEN Innovation Consortium will soon publish a new book: Innovation Methods Mapping / DeMystifying 80 Years of Innovation Process Design.

OVERVIEW

This workbook presents a new kind of methods analysis framework applied to 50 innovation process models spanning a period of 80+ years. Embedded in the framework is a new form of innovation process literacy, designed to enhance understanding of historical and current process models, as well as inform future process design.

PROJECT PURPOSE

This study has been created and shared for educational purposes.

This book is designed to fill what the consortium perceives to be a void in the field of innovation process knowledge.

As an OPEN Innovation Consortium initiative, the goal of this book project is to help move the art, science and design of innovation process modeling forward into the 21st century.

ABOUT OPEN INNOVATION CONSORTIUM

Open Innovation Consortium was founded in 2009 by a diverse group of seasoned co-creation professionals from numerous organizations operating in several countries. Our mission is to advocate, contribute to and inspire the ongoing evolution of innovation process design and innovation related tool-making in a continuously changing world.

PREVIEW EDITION BUZZ

”A masterful piece of work.”

Dr. SID PARNES & BEA PARNES
APPLIED CREATIVITY PIONEERS

“It seems every new decade sweeps in a new wave of design methods, the latest wave bringing design frameworks of scale and social complexity. The Innovation Methods Mapping is perhaps the first organized effort to demonstrate the relationships and patterns over the historical timeline. The work reveals the underlying inspirations connecting early creative processes to systems thinking to service and organizational design. The Mapping glues these together with a consistent design language that expresses the fundamental patterns in elegant simplicity. This design language enables the reader to select the right methods for complex situations or to develop consistent applications across methods. Few other resources – if any – give designers such an expressive capacity and understanding across methods.”

PETER JONES, PH.D.
FOUNDER,
REDESIGN

“This book opens up and incredibly clear and useful framework for exploring a fascinating world systematically. It helps you make sense of a rich treasure of creative work. Methods Mapping revealed for us new patterns that helped us connect our ways of working with similar methods and inspired us to venture in creating new ones. More than mapping, it is also a recombining machine for your own creativity processes.”

RAMON SANGÜESA, PH.D.
PARTNER,
COCREATING CULTURES

“This book serves one important purpose – it provides documented evidence that design thinking and innovation process can be framed and facilitated in multiple ways. At the same time the book is structured to help readers consider a great variety of frameworks through a template for comparison. The book will serve as an important reference resource for those involved in educating clients of design and innovation at the fuzzy front end.”

UDAY DANDAVATE
CO-FOUNDER AND CEO,
SONICRIM

“Innovation Methods Mapping provides a long-overdue guide to the diversity of methods and methodologies developed spanning more than 80 years in the related but often disjointed fields of creative problem solving and design. The collation of 50 distinct innovative thinking methods is reason enough to read this book. However, the unique contribution of this study is the multi-perspective analytical framework that enables comparative analysis of innovation methods. Itself an embodiment of the principles of information design, the analytical framework displays a rich ten-dimensional visualization of each method, enabling the reader to rapidly make sense of the purpose, scope, strengths, and limitations of each method. This allows the reader to move beyond the superficial similarities and differences in the way different innovation methods are visually depicted, to appreciate more fundamental differences in values, roles, weight of effort, and embedded assumptions. The subsequent analysis yields important insights for both the practical application of innovation methods as well as the future of design thinking and innovation.”

ALEX J. RYAN PH.D.
ASSOCIATE, BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON
CENTER FOR THE APPLICATION OF DESIGN

“This well documented and insightful collection of innovation processes fills a gap in the body of knowledge around the innovation discipline. It is a homage to all those involved in having shaped this practice, but also as a tool to enlighten many future practitioners. Knowing where we come from allows us to understand where we should be heading towards.”

LUIS ARNAL
MANAGING PARTNER,
INSITUM

“What a fantastic and successful effort in bringing together the many-fold strands that form our understanding of innovation today…A must-have for anyone who wants to make sense of the dispersed, disparate, and ever-growing landscape of innovation ”

DR. BETTINA VON STAMM
DIRECTOR & CATALYST,
INNOVATION LEADERSHIP FORUM

“Innovation Methods Mapping is a valuable companion for the creative, design or process expert as well as the prospective client or stakeholder community for innovation methods. This beautifully designed, easy-to-read book demonstrates both the common core of activities that are essential to any innovation or design process, as well as the great diversity of methods available to practitioners. Most importantly, the authors recognize that there is simply no “one size fits all” silver bullet, enabling the reader to consider which methods are most appropriate for their specific needs and context. A welcome addition to the innovator’s bookshelf, and also an important first step in rethinking design and innovation themselves for our hyper complex, 21st century global challenges.”

DR. ROBIN WOOD
PRESIDENT,
THE RENAISSANCE2 FOUNDATION

WHY THIS STUDY IS DIFFERENT:

Includes original process drawings rather than redrawn depictions.

Includes 10 part analysis framework to help others look at process models in new ways.

Analysis framework is based in real world practice experience not academic theories.

Presents a view across multiple fields of knowledge.

Spans an 80+ year period.

Unpacks and defuzzes graphic depictions of innovation process.

Introduces next era innovation process analytics such as Language Mode, Roles, Starting Points, Values and Behavior considerations.

Presents 10 views that are key to moving beyond superficial understanding of innovation process construction.

Is focused on de-mystifying innovation process landscape
rather than promoting one process over another.

Includes Terminology Analysis.

Includes Innovation Balance/Emphasis Analysis

Presents 25 Key Findings.

Includes summary of Design Implications.

Presents possibility of combining knowledge from various fields.

Is part of an ongoing stream of innovation research.

Intends to be inclusive.

PREORDING THE BOOK

If you would like to express early interest in purchasing this soon to be published book feel free to send an email to: programs (at) humantific (dot) com with Methods Mapping Book as the subject.

To receive information on other Humantific projects, events and initiatives feel free to subscribe to Humantific Quarterly.

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..

27
Jun

Markets for Giving Workshop

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Humantific has been working with LiquidNet for Good and Global Giving to codesign a three day Markets for Giving strategic cocreation workshop that was codelivered June 23-25 at Liquidnet corporate headquarters in New York.

Multinational workshop participants included thought leaders from numerous philanthropic organizations. In addition, Humantific provided the strategy cocreation methologies, the visual sensemaking and the hands-on process facilitation for this important event.

Working accross mutiple disciplines and organizations the participants were able to come together to cocreate a unified future philanthropic eco system visual model. Navigating through significant complexity the group was able to create unified challenge maps that became go-forward roadmaps for this important on-going initiative.

Helping diverse groups tackle complex social innovation challenges including infrastructure creation is exciting and meaningful work for the Humantific team. These are projects that we love to pitch in on and help out.

Participating organizations included:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Hewlett Foundation

Network for Good

Conexion Columbia

Help Argentina

Give Well

New Philanthropy Capital

Keystone Accountability

Hope Consulting

Great Non Profits

GuideStar

Mission Fish

Betterplace

Acumen Fund

Donors Choose

Charity Navigator

Net4kids

Root Cause

Social Actions

Nexii

Jumo

Sea Change Capital Partners