Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

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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How Serious Are We About Learning?

by • July 26th, 2012

When journalist and book author Daniel Pink tweeted the above image the other day it provoked thinking about what real learning means and what it takes to achieve it. We produce enormous amounts of knowledge, yet struggle to put it into use, but we also teach much and learn little because the systems we’ve designed […]

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Designing a Social Innovation Wonderwall

by • July 22nd, 2012

Wonder octopus

Paying attention to the social, technological, economic and environmental stresses and challenges we face isn’t always conducive to positive thinking and sometimes its useful to look at where problems are being addressed rather than created. Where to go for such inspiration is question is where this post begins.  And all the roads that lead you […]

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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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Wet and Dry Design for Social Innovation

by • May 28th, 2012

Create systems that are too bounded (dry) and we risk sucking the moisture from the human elements (the wet) that make real social innovation happen. Our challenge is finding the right balance between the controlled, stable environments that these new technologies afford and the self-organized, emergent and innovative environments needed to implement and scale our initiatives more effectively.

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Turning Thinking Talk to Action Walk (and a Trip to the Moon)

by • April 16th, 2012

We got the moon and back three times in the span of ten years from the call to action from President Kennedy. An entire country rallied around a very simple and challenging task of putting humans on the moon.

Could the time be now for us to do the same with social innovation for health?

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Disruption by Design

by • March 13th, 2012

If we are to expect that the fields most connected to social action and the promotion of wellbeing are to contribute to our betterment in the future, they need to change. Disruptive design for programs, services and the ways we fund such things is what is necessary if these fields are to have benefit beyond themselves. Long past are the days when doing good was something that belonged to those with a title (e.g., doctor, health promoter, social worker) or that what we called ourselves (e.g., teacher) meant we did something else unequivocally (e.g., educate). Now we are all teachers, all health promoters, all designers, and all entrepreneurs if we want to be. Some will be better than others and some will be more effective than others, but by disrupting these ideas we can design a better future.

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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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