Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

The Mindful Socially Innovative Organization

by • October 16th, 2012

In complex systems there is a lot to pay attention to. Mindfulness and contemplative inquiry built into the organization can be a way to deal with complexity and help detect the weak signals that will make it thrive and be resilient in the face of challenges. Most human-centred social ventures spend much of their time […]

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Design Thinking: Thinkers, Science and Practice

by • September 6th, 2012

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin

 If to think and be aware of those thoughts (to think about thinking) is a defining feature of what it means to be human, why is it such a challenge to think about types of thinking? An answer to that question might help explain why design thinking is so difficult to translate into action and […]

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The Ideology of Scaling Social Innovations

by • August 24th, 2012

Box scaling

Without best evidence (which is almost always lacking in social innovation by its very nature), setting performance targets related to scale a priori is foolish. For innovators themselves, equally foolish is not gathering the kind of information about the systems they are operating in to know if they are the human or the ant and whether a shower is on the way.

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The Forward Orientation Problem With Complexity

by • June 26th, 2012

These approaches combine inward reflection — reflective practice — with an openness to the data that comes in around them without imposing an order on it a priori. The orientation is to the data and the lessons that come from it rather than its directionality or imposing values on what the data might mean at the start. It means slowing down, contemplating things, and acting on reflection not reacting based on protocol. This is a fundamental shift for many of our activities, but may be the most necessary thing we can focus on if we are to have any hope of understanding, dealing with, and adapting to complexity.
All the methods and tools at our disposal will not help if we cannot change our mindset and orientation — even in the temporary — to this reality when looking at complexity in our work.

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Evaluation and Design For Changing Conditions

by • June 5th, 2012

If we are serious about addressing the social, political, health and environmental challenges posed to us in this age of global complexity we need to launch from these start points into something more sophisticated that brings these areas further together. The cross training of designers and evaluators and innovators of all stripes is a next step. So, too, is building the scholarship and research base for this emergent field of inquiry and practice. Better theories, evidence and examples will make it easier for all of us to lift the many boats needed to traverse these seas.

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Social Media and Health: Leaders(hip) and Followers(hip)

by • May 18th, 2012

Systems thinking, design thinking, developmental evaluation, creativity, networks and innovation: these are the keywords for health in the coming years. They are as author Eric Topol calls the dawning of the creative destruction of medicine. The public is already using social media for health and now the time has come for health (care, promotion and protection) systems to get on board and make the changes necessary to join them.

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The PR Problem for Design, Evaluation,and Complexity

by • January 30th, 2012

The same might be true of design, evaluation and complexity if we let it. It’s not a surprise that these three concepts are intimately tied together, as those training to apply design thinking and strategic foresight learn. Perhaps its time to start giving these ideas away, but to do so we first need to rehab their image and apply some design thinking and brand development strategy to all three ideas. As practitioners in any or all of these fields, giving away what we do by educating, reinforcing, and ensuring that the work we do is of the highest quality is a way to lead by example. None of us is likely to change things by ourselves, but together we can do wonders.

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Common Sense, Complexity and Leadership

by • January 23rd, 2012

By recognizing that common sense is less than common and is certainly not consistent, program designers, developers, evaluators and other professionals will be better positioned to provide true leadership that addresses challenges and complexity rather than adds to the complexity and creates more problems.

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The Complexity of Planning and Design in Social Innovation

by • January 7th, 2012

Both developmental design and evaluation work together to provide data required to allow program planners to constantly adapt their offerings to meet changing conditions, thus avoiding the problem of having outcomes becoming decoupled from program activities and working with complexity rather than against it. For example, developmental evaluation can determine what are the key attractors shaping program activities while developmental design can work with those attractors to amplify them or dampen them depending on the level of beneficial coherence they offer a program. In two joined processes we can acknowledge complexity while creating more realistic and responsive plans.

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A Call to Evaluation Bloggers: Building A Better KT System

by • December 9th, 2011

Are you an evaluator and do you blog? If so, the American Evaluation Association wants to hear from you. This CENSEMaking post features an appeal to those who evaluate, blog and want to share their tips and tricks for helping create a better, stronger KT system.  Build a better moustrap and the world will beat […]

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