Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Democracy Files

Most social systems are embedded in various ‘designs’ for societal governance (i.e. ‘cybernetics’ from a systemic perspective) or are the dominate governing system themselves in some cases. One form of governance that is still in the process of development is ‘democracy’. Although very old, it is still under construction, repair or reformation and we are still exploring what is possible and desirable of democracy. Although many, if not most, organizations are not democracies themselves they are often entangled with democratic governance systems. The ‘democracy files'  being developed collaboratively by a colleague and friend, Birger Sevaldson, is an example of using a ‘design’ stance and approach to something that can be said to be ‘important’, contrasted to something ‘urgent’, or merely ‘gainful’. 

When ‘looking’ (see graphic below) at how ‘design’ is used within organizations, for example, it is equally important to look ‘around’ to see how design externally effects organizations—to look at the environments and contexts within which social systems and organizations are embedded. Democracy is one of those critical cybernetic systems that many organizations are embedded in. A systemic design approach facilitates adaption to, or improvement in, this seminal design for human governance.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

We are here to create or design...?

Well-formed questions are of immense importance to human progress. The wealthy and successful often reach a point in life where it is important to begin to ask bigger questions than those that made them rich and powerful. Often the question is “how can I fix or help people?” Occasionally it is “how can I serve people?” Less often it is questions about the meaning of life and the purpose of human existence. An example of the latter is a recent article by a very successful Chinese nationalist, Kai-Fu Lee, educated at some of the best schools in the United States. He asks the question “why are we here?” His answer is that we are here to create. But the question remains vague. Create what?

Maybe the answer is we are here to design preferred futures?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Putting Design in its Place

This is a video of a recent presentation I did explaining the different approaches to design and designing nowadays:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Service vs Empathy

There has been an increased number of discussions about empathy on various platforms lately because of the increasing interest in human centered design and design thinking I suppose. I would like to introduce someone who dramatically changed my own understanding of the relationships between designers and those they 'serve' and those they 'empathize' with. Naomi Remen, a medical doctor, stated:
When you help, you see life as weak. 
When you fix, you see life as broken. 
When you serve, you see life as a whole. 
Rachel Naom Remen 
In The Service of Life 

Paraphrasing Remen: "When you fix or help people they feel that they are in your debt. When you serve them you treat them as equals—there is an exchange of equal value."
Design as a service is not empathy, nudging, coercion, manipulation...etc. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Spanish language edition of The Design Way coming soon

Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico City is publishing the Spanish language edition of the MIT Press book THE DESIGN WAY.