Book

Fit, Stick, Spread and Grow: facilitating and accelerating design innovation in a super-complex organisation

This is what I am working on. The first draft will be ready in October 2016. I am currently testing out the models and workshop activities.

The book is a practical guide, underpinned with an innovative philosophical perspective. It provides a powerful and far reaching framework for understanding the super-complex 21st Century world – now and as radically transformed by ever more sophisticated technologies – and for relocating our places within it. Tried and tested methods are described so as to enable the reader to “facilitate and accelerate design innovation” in their own organisations. However, we need to go far deeper so as to ensure that these new practices deliver enduring value. We need to understand and embrace designing as a collective way of life and an ever-evolving end in itself: practical, ethical, political and philosophical.

Participatory Design Thinking has promised to empower collaborations of diverse stake holders, so as to give voice to the marginalised and to refresh all kinds of organisation with new pipelines for inspiring innovation and facilitating the production, testing and implementation of design ideas. However, this has quite rightly been criticised for its socio-economic-political naïvety, especially in the face of super-complex conditions and the self-interested powers who only seek to profit from inequality and marginalisation.

I argue that there is still value in the Design Thinking cause, but only when combined with a radical philosophy of design and designing. Through this philosophy, human agency is re-concieved as design agency. Social organisation is reframed through the lens of design ethics. The concept of “learning” is clarified and revitalised as a set of distinct activities and affects within the operation of design agency. Learning organisations are shown to be designing organisations. And, it is argued, this must be driven by political activity that puts the creation, distribution, amplification and sustenance of design capability as its chief goal.

Here’s an article with some sample diagrams.

And some chapter titles:

  1. Intelligent life: the search for things that fit, stick, spread and grow.
    1. The book begins with a practical and philosophical exposition of the idea of design innovation as an evolutionary-adaptive process in search of designed assemblages that fit, stick, spread and grow.
    2. Superficially simple design innovations are examined to reveal their hidden complexities as assemblages of physical, social, cognitive, economic and intellectual phenomena.
    3. Designing is shown to be a special category of activity, undertaken at many different levels by more or less specialist intelligent agents, and yet always invoking a chaotic dimension that we recognise as creativity. Designing is contrasted with algorithmic problem solving through an exploration of the question: can “artificially intelligent” machines do design?
    4. A historical exploration illustrates how our modes of designing, the means through which we achieve fit, stick, spread and grow, have themselves evolved following different paths during human history, leading to designing as it is today.
    5. The concept of “learning” is explored in relation to designing, shown to be a “badly analysed composite”, and redistributed as a set of distinct concepts in relation to the process of  designing.
  2. Embrace the super-complexity, it’s more than just good for you.
  3. The organisation is the platform.
  4. Roles, strategies and tactics to facilitate and accelerate design innovation.