On innovation


Today, just a tip on two insightful essays, part of a three-part series by Jon Kolko.

What caught my eye:

  • Most critical in the design process is to formalize the process of translating data and research into knowledge, meaning (design synthesis).

  • Get out of the laptop: handle research pieces physically, instead of looking at files (quicker and more immersive for the designer).
  • Build a model: looking at the data and talking about the data doesn’t count.
  • A playful office culture doesn’t mean toys all over the place: it only reinforces the view of designer as magician.
  • Provide a runway to explore deviant ideas (no innovation without exploring the atypical).
  • Support and encourage flow and autonomous decision-making: no need to “socialize” every decision.

The author is quite lucid and thoughtful so I wanted to share some of my favorite excerpts:

“The physical limitation of the laptop (the size), combined with the digital limitations of the software (the organizational schema), dramatically limits our ability to understand the research in totality. Externalize the data through a process of spatialization.”

“Because these [models] are thinking tools, tools for synthesis, there’s only one wrong way to do this: not doing it at all. Looking at the data and talking about the data doesn’t count. If it isn’t modeled, written, drawn, and otherwise solidified in an artifact, it never happened.”

“A playful culture will provide a runway for those with deviant ideas to explore and refine the ideas — even when those ideas conflict with the vision of leadership.”

“Flow is literally the awake-dreaming state of mind that occurs when a designer is able to move through the space of a problem, holding many design “moves” in the mind at once, and suspending self-criticism while retaining idea-based judgment. To state the obvious, this takes time — blocks of undisturbed time. Conference calls, meetings, check-ins, standups, email threads, bug-lists, IMs, and other distractions can make it literally impossible to enter this flow-like state.”

“If someone’s making decisions during a flow-like state, they aren’t checking in with the team, and they aren’t waiting for consensus before moving forward. Simply, they are empowered to act autonomously — rejecting the increasing trend towards “socialization” of every decision made during the development of a product, system or service.”

The last essay is probably coming out next week on Fast Co. Design.

Post image inspired by a print by Jon Armstrong


Posted by on February 29, 2012 with no comments yet

Leave a comment