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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Complexity and the Senseless Marketing of the Future

by • July 16th, 2012

Logarithmic spiral

Futurists take what we know now and project into the future ideas about things will be like years from today using the models that have worked consistently up to now. Those models applied to human systems are changing quickly making marketing the future based on them senseless and potentially dangerous. Earlier this past week a […]

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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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Drive out fear

by • May 28th, 2012

Reblogged from quantum shifting: Business leaders: when I use the word “culture”, do you screw up your face and say “Love and peace, man”?  I’m no aging hippie; in any case, I was born 10 years too late to be part of that movement.  Business culture is no wiffly-waffly discretionary add-on.  It’s central to effectiveness […]

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Have We Turned the Page on Social Science Research for Health?

by • May 15th, 2012

What will our health landscape look like without the ability to take what we know and translate it into action? Worse yet, what if we simply are unable to even know what to do because the research and evidence isn’t there in the first place to translate into anything? Without another turn towards something more positive, we are about to find out.

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The Wicked Problem of Wicked Problems

by • February 13th, 2012

At issue is that wicked problems are made more so by having both complex and non-complex elements working together, requiring a level of strategy development that is far more sophisticated than many first thought. Even a review of the better management texts using complexity give short shrift to the relationship between the complex, the simple and the complicated working simultaneously in environments and how we plan for that.

Until we recognize this complexity — no pun intended — in the way we plan, there is great risk of replicating the hype cycle when our sole use complexity-based models yield poor results of a different nature than the poor results we are seeing from traditional linear, reductionist thinking models applied to many of the problems we deem as wicked today.

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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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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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Social Networks: Beyond the Numbers

by • July 8th, 2011

Powerful social network research is as much about having a good statistician as it is an anthropologist and together, they need to have the story that comes from it, woven together by the users.

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