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|Aerial Image of MIT during WWII from Lamelson Center for Invention and Innovation|
|Mapping the Stakeholders in Post-Conflict Reconstruction of Future Wars as a Field of Lightbulbs|
|500 volunteers "move a mountain" 10 cm with spades, art performance by Francis Alys|
|Trying to explain my day job to the American Geographical Society at Geo2050. November 2015.|
- No Ego. Any given person cannot be central or necessary to the operation of the entity or its continuation. If you design an entity according to the objectives, emotions, and expectations of one or two people - including yourself- then it will fail to succeed over time because it will forever be limited by the constraints that you alone carry or will carry. You can be a stakeholder in your own work but it should not be about or for you. It should not be designed to serve you (especially if this is to be a profitable business). For successful startups, this is often phrased in an epic mission statement... but it doesn't have to be so bold. It simply must serve others more than it serves yourself. If it cannot be justified as such, then it is not likely a worthwhile pursuit.
- Build Psychological Scaffolding. The components of the entity exist as a suspension - not a mixture -so that the tensions are just as critical to the success as the harmonies. For example, if building a business, you cannot expect everyone to get along, so your odds of success improve if the business is designed to leverage hostilities between people. You cannot expect to like all your employees. You cannot expect to always be pleased by performance or to hire excellent people. So what is the plan? You can rotate through a constant stream of people, but nothing will grow from this except your own frustration. To build something, you must expect have a range of personalities and capabilities, and many will conflict so build for that conflict, not to avoid it. Certainly there are times you need to ditch people, but typically, as long as they are reliable enough to show up, you can design the work in relation to their strengths and ask little of their weaknesses while leveraging the internal conflicts into new opportunities for the organization.
- Resources are Flux. You cannot plan to rely upon any given resource pools, but must draw from finite resources that shift as distributions, compiled from diverse locations, and all resources have expiration dates. If you design and build an entity to rely upon a specific person, idea, model, or finance strategy, and these variables are orchestrated to come together with the expectation of a particular timing, you might succeed once or twice but then it will fail. Don't bother with that. You are wasting resources. It is at least a great place to start as people are forever the greatest resource. According to "Lean Startup" you should design your product for a specific person with a specific problem - and I agree - that sensibility must drive the initial design. But people change, and you should expect that user to change as your solution is introduced, so you need to design for change over time, and not just for clients but also for investors, partners, and employees.
- Embrace Suffering. Do not build an entity with the intention that "all will come together and it will be great." Instead, design and build it for the bad times. Imagine the worst possible scenario - what and who do you want by your side to manage that bad time? .If you created pathways for people to manage projects in different ways, to embrace different communication styles, and to maximize agility then you will be in a better position (see psychological scaffolding). But more importantly, seize the pain - its only temporary when it happens but those are the most important moments. Ben Horowitz likes to talk about "CEOs in times of war and peace." The times of war - budget cuts, lost contracts, massive layoffs - are profound human experiences and it is those moments that define the future of the organization. Build to suffer.
- Generative Action-Thoughts Win. Often a new risky idea is proposed and someone (sadly the boss) will shut down these new ideas, usually because they fail to understand one of the above principals. Many people also want to talk about a given idea or possibility for a long period of time. A better tactic - always - is to support a very small and rapid physical experiment on that idea. A pencil drawing on a piece of paper, a quick survey on the street, or a couple phone calls will typically pull in new information and ways of thinking about the problem. Physical things and processes change the conversation and stupid ideas become radical insights. Always veer toward physical things - not ideas.
|Post-Industrial Detroit. Photo: Sutika Sipus 2013.|
The city has a population slightly above 701,000 people. With an average of 2.75 people per household, 36% of the Population lives below "poverty level" meaning that approximately 90,000 households (out of 254,000) have an income only between $15,000 and $19,000 per year. And 35% of the land is vacant, so that means average distribution would show every square mile of property containing at least one family below poverty level. The takeaway is that no matter where you stand in Detroit, you will see someone struggling to survive. Of course distributions are never even, and smaller groups tend to control the bulk of the wealth, leaving a much bleaker landscape.
There is also an excess of political infighting among council members. The city has a new charter. It can't afford to pay the retirement packages to former employees. They current Mayor, Dave Bing, said he has had enough and is stepping down. The previous Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, is in federal court for a slew of abuses.
So now what?
There is the option for a massive top-down overhaul of the city, but how often are city planners and governments capable of jumpstarting cities from crisis? Afghanistan and Iraq are direct evidence that all of the expertise on the matter is severely limited, and even if a Marshal-plan amount of money were available, it doesn't mean it will solve the problem.
In many ways, filing for bankruptcy was an excellent move so that the city can focus on paying out the billions of dollars on bonds it owes. But this single action won't alone solve the problem. Creative solutions are in high demand.
|A Pathway to Ownership for IDPs can Change Mogadishu Forever. Image: Sutika Sipus 2013.|
|Think Different - Live Different in Mogadishu. Image: Sutika Sipus 2013.|
|Change is Possible in Mogadishu. Image: Sutika Sipus 2013.|
|Design is an experimental process to question and remix the obvious|
|Concept Development within Product Design Methodology|
|The power of design can also undermine real analysis|
|Design Tip #1 for all the Design-Thinking Innovation folks: When pasting an image onto a monitor, |
include an offset darkened reflection for that professional touch [Pic by Mitch].
|Tip #2: Always include filigrees|
to come across as hip but refined.
|Tip #3: Always include helvetica in your photoshop images, |
ideally contrasted with a font no one can read [Pic by Mitch]
|Tip #4: Use QR Codes all the time|
since no one uses them outside of Asia
|Ikea as Humanitarian and Urban Planner?|
|Ikea's Town Plan, London UK|