Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Merry Christmas 2011

by • December 24th, 2011

As we begin to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to the holidays that greet the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, I am writing to wish all my visitors and reader the warmest wishes for health, happiness, creativity, joy and love in these times.  Christmas has been a special […]

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Women and Leadership in Times of Complexity

by • December 5th, 2011

Women are no longer satisfied (nor should they be) with the roles assigned to them by men, but are shaping and crafting new ones for themselves and reclaiming and challenging outdated, sexist ones. As societies, we will (and do) need leaders and innovators who know how to manage complexity well and design solutions and women may be the first place to look because they are doing it already.

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What is Developmental Evaluation?

by • November 19th, 2011

Developmental evaluation (DE) is a problematic concept because it deals with a complex set of conditions and potential outcomes that differ from and challenge the orthodoxy in much of mainstream research and evaluation and makes it difficult to communicate. At a recent gathering of DE practitioners in Toronto, we were charged with coming up with […]

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Systems Thinking and the Design of Empathy

by • September 22nd, 2011

A developmental design approach means shifting and changing over time and designing things in a manner that adjust to the complexities associated with dynamic systems. It brings together complexity, systems, design and the detailed feedback mechanism that comes through developmental evaluation. Leadbeater’s grid helps add to this concept by giving a focus to the development, from one level of empathy to another and one systemic scale to another.

Through thinking in systems and acting through design, perhaps then we can create the kinds of services and organizations that respond to the challenges we face.

And designing for empathy will help us know when we’ve achieved it.

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Quid nunc cogitat? In search of a definition of design thinking

by • September 10th, 2011

Design thinking is a concept that has gained much purchase in the creative industries and beyond, but what does it mean and does it matter?  Determining an answer to this question might mean the difference between advancing it further or ending the concept’s use altogether. The Latin form of the question of “what is design […]

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Design Thinking and the Metaphors of Science

by • August 28th, 2011

Metaphors for design thinking provide us with a means of taking the messiness of the language, something discussed in previous posts, to a new place until we can find the language that is most appropriate. Until that time, science might offer one of the better means of conveying design, complexity and the creativity that comes when we apply them both to generating products and services.

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Design Thinking: Reflections on an Unconference

by • August 21st, 2011

From August 19-20th, dozens of design-oriented people from different backgrounds came together in Vancouver to meet and discuss the concept of design thinking: its meaning, its application, and its future. These are some reflections on what I took away from the two day event.  Design thinking is becoming a hot topic — or term — […]

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The Art of Complexity and Public Health

by • August 14th, 2011

In public health we use focus groups — which were initially designed to focus a research question, not serve as a means of research unto itself — to generalize from a group-think scenario to an entire community and then claim that we know them. Really? Is this beholding? Is this the kind of contemplative inquiry that makes sense for public health. Could we learn more from artists? Our methods certainly could (see art of public health), but perhaps the way of the artist is also something we could learn more from

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Design for Social Norms or Social Change?

by • August 6th, 2011

Just as we create path dependencies for one set of values, so too can we do the same for others and with other people. The focus on the outcomes of systems rather than their design is problematic if we want change. Starting with design and values at the outset, being conscious of who we invite in and how we engage them and by remaining contemplative about how these systems unfold and the emergent patterns that shape them, designers of all stripes may be better positioned to create social change rather than just for social norms.

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Innovation, Networks & Design

by • July 12th, 2011

The terms innovation, networks and design are becoming “hot”, although nothing compares to what could come from bringing these three ideas together. But what might that look like and what ought to be considered in moving these three ideas closer? Innovation is on the brain for business, health, and social services. Productivity, creativity and strategy […]

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