Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Do Relationships Scale?

by • October 31st, 2011

Meaning is something that requires attention to create and use and the more variables competing for attention in your life, the less meaningful things might be. If this is the case, can we design programs and initiatives that scale up from small to big? Or do we need to reframe the way we see scaling to something akin to a network, whereby there are a lot of small nodes connected together? Networking nodes seems to be a way to go big and go small.

If so, what does this mean for designing systems that scale?

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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? ┬áDetermining 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 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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Social Media and the Limits to Growth

by • July 4th, 2011

Social media provides a virtual firehose of content that surpasses anything we’ve had access to before. But is this sea of content becoming too much to manage and what does this mean for knowledge-driven enterprises as the barriers to content creation drop almost as low as they are for consumption? I added some new friends […]

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Innovation and Academic Science

by • July 1st, 2011

Universities haven’t survived hundreds of years by being risky, they have because they were safe (in spite of the occasional radical shift here and there). With complex social problems and the challenges posed by things like cancer, something risky is needed. Academics just aren’t positioned to embrace this risk unless the system changes — with them helping drive that change — to support innovation and not just talk about it.

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The Complexity Challenge

by • June 30th, 2011

Addressing the challenge of complexity is, ironically or perhaps appropriately, complex. But the challenge of dealing with the negative outcomes resulting from overly simple approaches to dealing with complexity will ultimately be far more so.

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Developmental Thinking and Evaluation

by • June 20th, 2011

The “core competencies” for DE already include qualities like people skills, knowledge of complexity, and communication skills (in addition to fundamental skills in evaluation methods and process implementation), but now we are adding additional ones. Motivation, behaviour change, program planning and design are all reasonable skills that would assist an evaluator in doing this work. Nice in theory, but how about in practice? Can we reasonably expect that there are enough people out there with these skills to do it well? Or is this a call for more of a team-science (or rather, team evaluation) approach to evaluation?

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Boundaries: The Food Example

by • June 8th, 2011

Identifying boundaries and setting them in moving forward with modeling and planning is a critical step in systems thinking practice so much so that it may be time to consider seeing boundaries as a core skill or competency for work in complex systems.

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