Friday, 16 January 2009

New year, new thinking and new questions

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays, where ever you were and whatever you were doing. I got to enjoy the festive season in one of the most awesome cities in the world- New York!

I know I have a post brewing somewhere on some things I came across in New York, and I am not sure if it was these things or a 10-day break from the research did me a whole lot of good, but last week I refreshed, focused and revised my research question. I have a bit of expanding to do for it, but for now, here is it:

Understanding the emerging roles of Designers
in the Dott 07 public design commission projects
and their broader relevance to development contexts.

It's a new year and new thinking and new questions have been cropping up elsewhere. I have been scanning the blogs today and picked up on a few things...

Transformation, not Innovation

On the last day of 2008, Bruce Nussbaum declared that "'Innovation' is dead. Herald the birth of 'Transformation' as the key concept for 2009." Of course this was not met without loads of skepticism, criticism and some support (see the comments Nussbaum's post provoked at the bottom of the page). To give you a summary, here's a key part of the post:

The concept of “Transformation” ... implies radical transformation of our systems—education, health-care, economic growth, transportation, defense, political representation. It puts the focus on people, designing networks and systems off their wants and needs. It relies on humanizing technology, not imposing technology on humans. It approaches uncertainties with a methodology that creates options for new situations and sorts through them for the best quickly.

Most of the comments question, is this just a new buzzword/branding for/to replace innovation? In 2006, RED published a paper titled, Transformation Design. It's approaching 3 years now and while I think the content of the publication is great, the phrase "Transformation Design" never really took off. Did it?

Three (big) questions for Service Design

Another thing I came across today was my friend, Qin's, blog post on three questions she's posing to the Service Design world. Here they are:

Question 1: How do we change our understanding of the design process in Service Innovation?

Qin speaks to the shift in the creation of tangible (ie. in traditional design) to less tangible outputs and outcomes. I very much like her comment, "The uniqueness of service design is that the design outcome is a living system that evolves over time as a result of rich human involvement." This certainly happened in Dott 07 too, but how much do Clients, and other stakeholders, value this? How can this be evaluated?

Question 2: What are the designer’s new roles while working with multiple stakeholders?

Qin says, explorers, negotiators, as members of a design profession and facilitators. I have a load more to add here, but more in regard to the Dott 07 projects (as you could probably tell with my revised research question above).

Question 3: How would design’s value be recognised and accepted by other disciplines in Service Knowledge?

Qin not only asks how would design's value be recognised by Clients and stakeholders, but also by other disciplines that design is increasingly intersecting with (on that note, keep posted for details on the next InterSections conference in the UK) and including education. This is a biggie.

Please post your comments on Qin's blog here.

The Creator Economy and Service Design

Finally, here's an radio interview with Futurist, Paul Saffo, on the Creator Economy. Not an economy of creatives, but the idea that we have gone through Producer and Consumer Economies (which was about making stuff and then lots of it), and we are now in the Creator Economy where the central actor is not a Producer or Consumer, but where the person does both activities in same act, for example a Google user who uses (the product or service) and also produces (brings together online information). Seems Saffo and the Creator Economy has been around for awhile. The BBC reported on it in 2007.

Anyway, I thought, this sounds a bit like what happens when people use a service. See Rafael Ramirez's paper, 'Value Co-Production: Intellectual Origins and Implications for Practice and Research'. Sorry can only provide an abstract for you here.


Qin said...

transformation design... the new buzz word, isn't it? It is a really interesting concept though, although it might be even more interdisciplinary than service design (my imagination!)

well, I actually just heard some very exciting conversations over this hot topic in the school... there might be some activities going on here in the freezing Dundee about 'Design and Transformation'! keep an eye, babe :)

Qin said...

ops... thanks for the comments and link to my questions. I really should spend a bit more time reading through ur posts on InterSections...shame that i missed that one!

also, the interview is very interesting. Keep good stuff coming girl :)