#CCK11 – The Bias in Frames are an Integral Part of Design, Innovation and Education

Serendipity drawns me back into the frames discussion, this time through Jon Kolko’s Magic of Design series on the Fast Company Design Blog.  This post also relates to an assertion that the arts are integral to the 21 Century economy.  Most people’s everyday work lives operate in something close to a scientific orientation, but we still need access to a more biased and creative orientation.  Integrating the arts into our social workspaces give us inspiration to add design thinking to this workspace and the process is explained through Jon Kolko’s Magic of Design.

I’ve previously discussed Jon’s first 2 posts on a process for innovation and providing work space to explore deviant ideas.  His last post in this series is about the importance of bringing frames, perspectives and biases to the design process.  The statement: “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time” is attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald.  To participate in design processes, the trick is to bring both diversity and this type of intelligence to your processes.  In this case, we can not ignore science as a way of driving our actions, but we also need creative innovation, and in some ways science and innovation are at opposing ends of a spectrum.  Sometimes we need to embrace our biases.  As Jon explains it:

For as a designer stands in front of a whiteboard in a war-room, surrounded by anecdotes, quotes, pictures, sketches, and working models — and searching for a new, innovative, and persuasive idea — she is relying on her ability to connect something in her own life with something in the data she’s gathered. She is purposefully applying a frame of bias to objective, empirical data, in order to produce something new.

This is called sensemaking.  . . . the interplay of action and interpretation rather than the influence of evaluation on choice.”  . . . all of this (design activity) is useless if the people doing the synthesis aren’t very interesting. Synthesis requires a team of varied and highly eclectic designers who are empowered to embrace their biased perspectives. . . . Groundbreaking design doesn’t come through statistical regression testing, metrics, and causality. It comes from the richness of a biased perspective on the world.

Here is the primary Issue: How do we hold the multiple perspective as important and shift between them on an everyday bases?  There is no place where this is more important than in education.  What kind of Environment can help us to function better in this way?

Designing and Supporting Participation Cultures (or the Management of any Social System)

I reread an article from Gerald Fischer this morning and wanted to get the gist of it into my management toolbox.

Designing and Supporting Participation Cultures

Gerald Fischer wrote the following ideas about the design of software systems, but it can readily apply to any social system or system of management.  Quoted and Adapted from Fischer, G. (2009). Rethinking Software Design in Participation Cultures, http://l3d.cs.colorado.edu/~gerhard/papers/ASE-journal.pdf

  • Embrace Users as Co-Designers
  • Provide a Common Platform to support sharing and the insight of others
  • Enable Legitimate Peripheral Participation
  • Share Control
  • Promote Mutual Learning and Support
  • Foster a Social Reward and Recognition Structure

Also a couple additional great insight from Dr. Fischer, in systems,

strike a balance in system design between automate and infomate.  I see this acting in two ways. Sometimes you want to collect information and at other times, supply information.  Sometimes you want to structure systems so that particular actions will happen, and sometimes you want to supply information that will allow the person to self-structure their actions.

All Systems (or social infrastructures) Evolve, intervene through a SER model: seed, evolve, reseed on a meta-design framework.

Meta-design [Fischer & Giaccardi, 2006] is a design methodology . . . that allow “owners of problems” to act as designers. A fundamental objective of meta-design is to create socio-technical environments [Mumford, 1987] that empower users to engage actively in the continuous development of systems rather than being restricted to the use of existing systems. Meta-design aims at defining and creating not only technical infrastructures for the software system but also social infrastructures in which users can participate actively as co- designers to shape and reshape the socio-technical systems through collaboration. (p.5-6.)

Even though Fischer is speaking of software design, it is really good design for all socio-technical systems and is also relevant to business management or any technical field based on the social sciences.  After all, what is management today other than the design and support of a participatory culture?