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Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

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Metadata

  • Author: Dan Hill
  • Full Title: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses
  • Category: #books

Highlights

  • Common to all of these stories — from violent, sometimes randomly directed explosions of civil unrest to carefully targeted peaceful protest — is this lack of faith in core systems. (Location 70)
  • strategic design, the focus of this essay, is focused on the systemic redesign of cultures of decision-making at the individual and institutional levels, and particularly as applied to what we can think of as the primary problems of the 21st century — healthcare, education, social services, the broader notion of the welfare state, climate change, sustainability and resilience, steady state economic development, fiscal policy, income equality and poverty, social mobility and equality, immigration and diversity, democratic representation and so on. (Location 115)
  • “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning”. (Location 126)
  • System failure occurred due to the lack of resilience built into systems of everyday life. The gap between policy and everyday life was suddenly very clear. The sociologist Richard Sennett might describe this as a brittle city. (Location 163)
  • Adrian Lahoud’s notion of “post-traumatic urbanism” is useful here, derived from cities such as Beirut where the availability of infrastructure and state of its fabric can change daily. There, a form of”‘network redundancy” exists through meeting everyday needs locally; everything — grocers, hairdressers, bakers, tailors, builders — is replicated in each neighbourhood, rather than centralised or aggregated into malls as a so-called developed city might. (Location 176)
  • That didn’t happen either. There is good failure and bad failure. The former is failure that enables a system to learn, becoming more resilient, more adept. The latter is exhibited within a non-learning system. Are these non-learning systems due to their fundamentally out-of-control characteristics, systems whose complexity has grown beyond our comprehension and capability? Or is it simply that policy is too dislocated from its realisation? (Location 193)
  • Our public services have been designed, operated and measured to within an inch of their lives. Every possible eventuality within a system, such as healthcare or education, say, will have been considered and catered for, at least in theory. (Location 203)
  • Design has too often been deployed at the low value end of the product spectrum, putting the lipstick on the pig. (Location 285)
  • this is necessary simply from the point of view of efficacy. “When something goes wrong, it can usually be traced back to the beginning, from the acceptance of false premises. Hence on the one hand the importance of questions, and on the other, of the resourcefulness of attitude that prompts them.” (Norman Potter, 1969) In terms of practice, design’s core value is in rapidly (Location 354)
  • prototype from which one learns a course of action, rather than having a preconceived idea of a solution. (Location 389)
  • In strategic design, synthesis suggests resolving into a course of action, whereas analysis suggests a presentation of data. Analysis tells you how things are, at least in theory, whereas synthesis suggests how things could be. (Location 400)
  • the persistent failure of policy-making is because of this preference for rational analysis and simplistic quantitative metrics, despite the evidence that “we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness”. (Location 404)
  • produce, to do, as a way of generating insight, of enacting and reorienting strategic intent, is a key differentiator to design in this context. “Through the action of designing we come to know the world in ways that we did not know it prior to designing. What is critical in design research is that the observing is intrinsically tied to designing. Without the designing happening there can be no meaningful observation.” (Richard Blythe) (Location 425)
  • The idea is not enough. In fact, the idea is the easy bit. Yet while it’s easy to put a PowerPoint together pointing out the virtues of timber construction, it doesn’t actually make it happen. Without the excuse of the building project, it’s unlikely the building codes would have been rewritten in the near future. (Location 541)
  • Lose track of a building project by focusing on the strategic layer too much, and nothing gets realised. Focus pull on the building layer and all you have is that: a building, with no strategic impact. So the MacGuffin is to be chosen and handled carefully. This is the practice of design stewardship. (Location 561)
  • Each strategic design project might ask: what is the MacGuffin here? What is the plot device that will drive the picture? What is the artefact that will motivate the various actors to create a richly rewarding experience for the audience, and enable strategic outcomes by also addressing the context? (Location 581)
  • Karsten Schmidt, the designer behind PostSpectacular, a London-based design agency, has suggested that contemporary design practice, primarily embedded within the social, cultural and technical relationships of the internet, means that we should “think of everything as a platform.” The platform’s core characteristics — including, but not limited to, being scalable, replicable, malleable, and user-centred — have proved to be extraordinarily successful so far. (Location 647)
  • “He encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between grand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings. For him no detail was small in its significance and he would be simultaneously questioning the headlines of our project together while he delved into its fine print.“ (Norman Foster, 2011) (Location 703)
  • The challenge is to draw platform thinking into other areas of public life, including built artefacts and physical services where appropriate, in order to unleash its associated systemic effects outside of digitally mediated environments or contexts. (Location 725)
  • idea of adaptive layers is drawn from Stewart Brand’s book How Buildings Learn (1994). Ironically, this book has had made little difference to architecture, where its anti-modernist invective was aimed, albeit with highly variable accuracy, but has been highly influential in internet-based platform thinking, interaction design and software development. (Location 744)
  • Fast Strategy, Mikko Kosonen and Yves Doz describe their notion of strategic agility in terms of possessing “an ongoing capability for real-time strategic sensitivity, quick collective commitments, and fast and strong resource redeployment”. Agility is a good word in this (Location 761)
  • areas of public service where the language and practice of prototyping and “fast layers” has to be developed with care. (Location 768)
  • This idea of fast and slow layers can then be used to frame the discussion of risk within a system, with some layers slower and careful, and others more agile, more exploratory. (Location 772)
  • User-centredness, another core value in contemporary design, can be layered across this system too, with exterior layers of the platform more participative than slower, more strategic “internal” layers. (Location 775)
  • Similarly, Steven Johnson relates how the potential of the “generative platform” is enabled through creating “a space where hunches and serendipitous collisions … and recycling can thrive. It is possible to create such a space in a walled garden. But you are far better off situating your platform in a commons.” (Johnson, 2010) (Location 794)
  • These words and concepts may offer some value: the MacGuffin provides motivation that drives strategic outcomes; the Trojan Horse contains the seeds of multiple strategic outcomes; the Platform elements enable those strategic outcomes to be diffused elsewhere, with prototyping of different layers ensuring its ongoing development. (Location 812)
  • This notion of dark matter suggests organisations, culture, and the structural relationships that bind them together as a form of material, almost. It gives a name to something otherwise amorphous, nebulous yet fundamental. (Location 830)
  • Dark matter is the substrate that produces. A particular BMW car is an outcome of the company’s corporate culture, the legislative frameworks it works within, the business models it creates, the wider cultural habits it senses and shapes, the trade relationships, logistics and supply networks that resource it, the particular design philosophies that underpin its performance and possibilities, the path dependencies in the history of northern Europe, and so on. This is all dark matter; the car is the matter it produces. (Location 840)
  • Strategic design often involves doing what the physicist Fritz Zwicky started doing in 1934 — looking for the “missing mass”, the material that must be inescapably there, that must be causing a particular outcome. This missing mass is the key to unlocking a better solution, a solution that sticks at the initial contact point, and then ripples out to produce systemic change. (Location 847)
  • The dark matter of strategic designers is organisational culture, policy environments, market mechanisms, legislation, finance models and other (Location 850)
  • incentives, governance structures, tradition and habits, local culture and national identity, the habitats, situations and events that decisions are produced within. (Location 851)
  • There are so many ideas produced every day, everywhere, that installations and prototypes are almost a necessary pressure valve, a way of getting things out of one’s mind. Yet such temporary interventions are often accompanied by claims as to wider significance; that an installation, say, can suggest a new way of doing, of living. Indeed it can, but it doesn’t actually make it happen. If it’s too easy to get an idea accepted, you’re probably doing it wrong. You’re probably not disturbing the dark matter enough. (Location 859)
    • Note: Important re the digital grounds
  • Westbury isn’t a designer, but his ability to perceive the “architecture of the problem” in Newcastle is a perspective shared with strategic design. (Location 921)
  • “It is the software of the city — which is often intangible, bewildering and complex — that defines their possibilities … Yet as hard as the software of the city is to conceptualise the consequences of changing it are very real. It is only the results that give it away. They are as evident and visible as the process that led to them is invisible.” (Marcus Westbury, 2010) (Location 926)
  • With strategic design in mind, however, systems thinking is a core skillset, a core requirement, given the propensity for systemic change. Those designers most familiar with systems — architects, urban designers, landscape designers, interaction designers, industrial designers, service designers etc — are perhaps best equipped to think strategically and systemically. (Location 931)
  • Designing the context of the work “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” (Eliel Saarinen) (Location 955)
  • The design planner and teacher Hugh Dubberly has suggested that “seeing patterns, making connections, and understanding relationships” are in fact the essence of design. Yet few designers would see that their design challenge is to understand, and often reorient, those relationships.10 (Location 963)
  • “It’s only after the explosion that everyone realized the shuttle’s complex technology should have been drawn with the Nasa bureaucracy inside of it in which they too would have to fly.” (Latour, 1996) As Bruno Latour suggests, products have their attendant bureaucracy embedded within them. It is this that enables them to plummet or soar. (Location 972)
  • creating a small research and development function internally, and designing it to have half the resources it actually needed to deliver prototypes — and so making it reliant on short-term partnerships with others — meant that the organisation had a way of spotting rapidly emerging opportunities, such as podcasting, while ensuring that this particular kind of intelligence was slowly transferred throughout the rest of the organisation. (Location 1001)
  • This was a form of design work conducted from deep inside an organisation; sometimes instinctive, sometimes tactical, sometimes strategic. (Location 1019)
  • You can’t design a transformative service without redesigning the organisation, and this could only realistically be done from within an organisation. (Location 1024)
  • You can only feel that from within it, by observing its effects on things, as dark matter. (Location 1026)
  • “The experience of Lincoln Center, with all its complexity, made me realize that I was already speaking in many tongues. The message is always the same but the emphasis is a bit different depending on who the audience is. Its true that I did a lecture that basically showed the same fifteen to twenty slides of Lincoln Center six times in repetition and each time I inflected the delivery of the description in a slightly different way. The same content but different nuance — it’s kind of a Rashomon lecture.” (Elizabeth Diller, Domus) (Location 1030)
  • design’s core value is in synthesising disparate views and articulating alternative ways of being. (Location 1053)
  • “It seems a bit obvious but the way that public services are organised inevitably influences the outcomes they achieve. Policymakers and managers are taking design decisions all the time, too often without realising it.” (Philip Colligan, 2011) (Location 1070)
  • “Our global system emerges as a result of each person, company and institution, with their common and distinctive histories, playing their own part in their own niche, and interacting together through biological, cultural and structural channels. The self-organisation reminds us that governments do not control their own economies. Nor does civil society. The corporate or financial sectors do not control the economies within which they operate. That they can destroy the economy should not be taken as evidence that they can control (Location 1099)
  • it.“ (David Korowicz, 2011) (Location 1103)
  • Some 70% of all activity on Wall Street is involved in automated high-frequency trading, algorithm-driven trades that are either trying to hide (disperse) or locate (aggregate) larger movements of trade. According to Slavin, the algorithms that drive, say, a Roomba vacuum cleaner robot are essentially not of humanity. “These are things that humans write, but can no longer read.” (Kevin Slavin, 2011) (Location 1107)
  • This is not an instrumental or engineering-led idea of design, in which altering the infrastructure, or plumbing, underpinning the current reality will at some point produce a different one. Instead, this is an idea of design as directly involved in the creation of culture (culture as a way of being, a pattern of living, after Raymond Williams, rather than simply cultural production and consumption). (Location 1117)
  • design thinking has been little more than a distraction, if not a dead end. (Location 1132)
  • “the designer’s stance” (after Paul Dourish), (Location 1159)
  • “You start by sketching, then you do a drawing, then you make a model, and then you go to reality — you go to the site — and then you go back to drawing. You build up a kind of circularity between drawing and making and then back again … This is very typical of the craftsman’s approach. You think and do at the same time. You draw and you make. Drawing … is revisited. You do it, you redo it, and you redo it again.” (Renzo Piano, 2008) (Location 1193)
  • While this had the benefit of being a succinct — and, it turns out, memorable — summary of the client’s requirements, it leaves the designer with quite a lot to do, in terms of translating that into the minutiae of information architecture, interaction design and so on. But as a designer, one quickly gets used to rapidly translating one short, oblique input into a series of possible outputs. (Location 1206)
  • the trainee architect drawing the same shape for hours until the essence of a line emerges — (Location 1217)
  • The clients exist, and as they are clients, their position remains unchallenged, despite their positioning, remit, stance, framing, governance, and political relationships being a potentially fundamental component of the architecture of the problem. This is where design thinking falls short of anything remotely radical. It’s where it is actually stuck in process improvement within a predetermined problem space, unable to manouevre into more interesting and useful areas. (Location 1228)
  • The workshop model, which is often the foot-in-the-door for consultancies in this field, is intrinsically flawed. The HDL Studio Model (Location 1272)
  • Looking at architecture’s perennial inability to find more flexible and productive business models is another story. But one simple way to take the business model problem off the table is to be embedded within an (Location 1305)
  • organisation. There is a strong tradition here, as well as numerous examples of this in practice. In industrial, interaction (Location 1307)
  • The ability to position design strategically will come more naturally to these environments, given the long-term engagement with the proposition inherently alien to the consultant model; the consultant model simply cannot allow that kind of time. (Location 1321)
  • Strategic design is predicated on exactly this positioning: inside not outside, long-term not short, the pig not the lipstick. (Location 1324)
  • Only from within can genuine contextual change occur. This is perhaps the deepest flaw in the “design thinking” consultancy model, and not something you hear the likes of McKinsey, KPMG, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers talking about much either. (Location 1350)
  • “Design is no longer concerned only with things. Increasingly, design is concerned with systems — and now systems of systems or ecologies. In a sense, these systems are alive. They grow and co-evolve. Designers and product managers cannot always control them. Instead, they must create conditions in which they can emerge and flourish. All this requires new thinking and new knowledge. It requires design practice to learn.” (Dubberly, 2011) (Location 1357)
  • Seeing like a system, and acting upon a system, means that traceability — clarifying one’s impact upon the system in detail — is complex, if not virtually impossible, given the systems in question. As we’ve seen, the architecture of projects in these spaces is more “small pieces, loosely joined”, in the words of David Weinberger, rather than tightly bounded projects with clear duration and accountability.14 (Location 1360)
  • Recall that work was described more in terms of the non-linear, potentially aleatoric, real-time system of playing central midfield in a football team than the lean processes of the Toyota Production System. (Location 1371)
  • It’s just that the usual artefacts of consultancy — the research, the workshops, the reports — do not change the actors inside the organisation. (Location 1377)
  • Traditionally, the management consultant delves into dark matter. Traditionally, the design consultant delivers observable matter. (Location 1386)
  • The strategic designer moves between both, deploying observable matter to ensure that dark matter is addressed, and addressing dark matter to better deploy observable matter. (Location 1388)
  • Design, an integrative discipline, is well suited to hovering between things, understanding intersections and edges, assembling through synthesis rather (Location 1395)
  • than funneling through analysis. The HDL Studio experience suggests that sketches derived from synthesis can deliver policy-makers with forms of insight better suited to these complex systems. It short-circuits traditional analysis. (Location 1396)
  • Yet to genuinely perceive the various systems at play within decision-making — the architecture of the problem — design must be embedded within, and positioned strategically ie with a remit to reconceive and reframe strategic intent. (Location 1398)
  • Designers stumble around like strangers in a strange land when entering this terrain. We are not trained to address the world of policy and governance. Our universe starts with pixels, plastic, hemlines and loggia rather than white papers, sub-committees, argument maps and political capital. Yet there (Location 1442)
  • Increasing diversity is important because it can produce resilience. If we see the Finnish incarnation of the Nordic Model as a steady state system for some years, as per the diagram above, it also seems clear that a more diverse version of this system could produce “wobbles” in this straightened experience. Our thought is to ensure that these challenges are absorbed by a system that becomes more resilient as a result. The ecologist CS Holling wrote that “placing a system in a straitjacket of constancy can cause fragility to evolve”. Conversely, one of the more influential systems thinkers and educators, Donella H Meadows, described resilience as “a measure of a system’s ability to survive and persist within a variable environment”. (Location 1540)
  • An organisation with no organisation has no chance of developing inertia, after all. (Location 1634)
  • According to the Helsinki’s Food Culture Strategy project manager, Ville Relander, both of these “spikes” have enriched the city’s food culture no end. Yet Ravintolapäiva is limited in time (it exists for one day only) and the Camionette is limited in space (it exists in one place only). So the change is not systemic yet. (Location 1635)
  • We have to hover above the problem at this level of governance to engage with the city council’s regulations, organisation and positioning regarding street food. (Location 1662)
  • But understanding the cultures of decision-making takes time and sensitivity. It also takes something different to separate the figure from the ground, to jolt the system’s culture to describe itself. (Location 1665)
  • Although design is more commonly thought of at this smaller scale, and certainly easier to produce, strategic design involves ensuring the intervention is not an installation, but enables replicability and legibility, and so lasting system change. (Location 1668)
  • But tying prototypes to the idea of an augmented Nordic Model is still daunting. A portfolio of prototypes ensures that risk is spread across the different layers, moving at different paces, in constantly learning system. (Location 1676)
  • However, speaking at Cisco’s Public Services Summit in Oslo, December 2011, Manuel Castells described how most ICT-led interventions into healthcare or e-government had not produced the gains promised, because such programmes had not embarked on genuine reform (generally looking instead to enable efficiency gains, they had instead reduced quality of service, irresponsibly undermining the entire enterprise). He didn’t use these words, but such programmes had not considered the “dark matter” (he referred instead to Michel Foucault’s notion of “micro-powers”). A combination play of ICT culture, (Location 1694)
  • This is not the redesign of a nation state as such, although it’s worth reflecting that nation states are a creation, an artefact. The nation has always been a design project, articulated through boundaries, maps, flags and insignia. Instead, this is understanding the cultures of decision-making at play in Finland, and assessing how to constructively move them forwards. And so the larger project has a direction. This is a strategic design challenge. (Location 1703)
  • strategic design is oriented towards questioning the question, reframing if necessary. (Location 1710)
  • strategic design is predisposed to sketching and iterative prototyping as a learning mechanism, while engaging in stewardship to ensure that user-centredness and design intent is realised in delivery. (Location 1712)
  • strategic design’s embedded positioning enables the long-term view, a richer production process, and provides the authority to enact organisational or contextual change, while also using its production skills to create tangible prototypes and outcomes as a strategic act, generating learning and momentum through doing. (Location 1717)
  • Strategic design tries to ally pragmatism with imagination, deliver research through prototyping, enable learning from execution, pursue communication through tangible projects, and balance strategic intent and political capital with iterative action, systems thinking and user-centredness. (Location 1729)
  • We need to understand more about the various cultures of decision-making in play across the globe. We also need to believe that they can be improved through the strategic application of design. (Location 1755)

public: true

title: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses longtitle: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses author: Dan Hill url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2013-03-16 type: books tags:

Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

rw-book-cover

Metadata

  • Author: Dan Hill
  • Full Title: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses
  • Category: #books

Highlights

  • Common to all of these stories — from violent, sometimes randomly directed explosions of civil unrest to carefully targeted peaceful protest — is this lack of faith in core systems. (Location 70)
  • strategic design, the focus of this essay, is focused on the systemic redesign of cultures of decision-making at the individual and institutional levels, and particularly as applied to what we can think of as the primary problems of the 21st century — healthcare, education, social services, the broader notion of the welfare state, climate change, sustainability and resilience, steady state economic development, fiscal policy, income equality and poverty, social mobility and equality, immigration and diversity, democratic representation and so on. (Location 115)
  • “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning”. (Location 126)
  • System failure occurred due to the lack of resilience built into systems of everyday life. The gap between policy and everyday life was suddenly very clear. The sociologist Richard Sennett might describe this as a brittle city. (Location 163)
  • Adrian Lahoud’s notion of “post-traumatic urbanism” is useful here, derived from cities such as Beirut where the availability of infrastructure and state of its fabric can change daily. There, a form of”‘network redundancy” exists through meeting everyday needs locally; everything — grocers, hairdressers, bakers, tailors, builders — is replicated in each neighbourhood, rather than centralised or aggregated into malls as a so-called developed city might. (Location 176)
  • That didn’t happen either. There is good failure and bad failure. The former is failure that enables a system to learn, becoming more resilient, more adept. The latter is exhibited within a non-learning system. Are these non-learning systems due to their fundamentally out-of-control characteristics, systems whose complexity has grown beyond our comprehension and capability? Or is it simply that policy is too dislocated from its realisation? (Location 193)
  • Our public services have been designed, operated and measured to within an inch of their lives. Every possible eventuality within a system, such as healthcare or education, say, will have been considered and catered for, at least in theory. (Location 203)
  • Design has too often been deployed at the low value end of the product spectrum, putting the lipstick on the pig. (Location 285)
  • this is necessary simply from the point of view of efficacy. “When something goes wrong, it can usually be traced back to the beginning, from the acceptance of false premises. Hence on the one hand the importance of questions, and on the other, of the resourcefulness of attitude that prompts them.” (Norman Potter, 1969) In terms of practice, design’s core value is in rapidly (Location 354)
  • prototype from which one learns a course of action, rather than having a preconceived idea of a solution. (Location 389)
  • In strategic design, synthesis suggests resolving into a course of action, whereas analysis suggests a presentation of data. Analysis tells you how things are, at least in theory, whereas synthesis suggests how things could be. (Location 400)
  • the persistent failure of policy-making is because of this preference for rational analysis and simplistic quantitative metrics, despite the evidence that “we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness”. (Location 404)
  • produce, to do, as a way of generating insight, of enacting and reorienting strategic intent, is a key differentiator to design in this context. “Through the action of designing we come to know the world in ways that we did not know it prior to designing. What is critical in design research is that the observing is intrinsically tied to designing. Without the designing happening there can be no meaningful observation.” (Richard Blythe) (Location 425)
  • The idea is not enough. In fact, the idea is the easy bit. Yet while it’s easy to put a PowerPoint together pointing out the virtues of timber construction, it doesn’t actually make it happen. Without the excuse of the building project, it’s unlikely the building codes would have been rewritten in the near future. (Location 541)
  • Lose track of a building project by focusing on the strategic layer too much, and nothing gets realised. Focus pull on the building layer and all you have is that: a building, with no strategic impact. So the MacGuffin is to be chosen and handled carefully. This is the practice of design stewardship. (Location 561)
  • Each strategic design project might ask: what is the MacGuffin here? What is the plot device that will drive the picture? What is the artefact that will motivate the various actors to create a richly rewarding experience for the audience, and enable strategic outcomes by also addressing the context? (Location 581)
  • Karsten Schmidt, the designer behind PostSpectacular, a London-based design agency, has suggested that contemporary design practice, primarily embedded within the social, cultural and technical relationships of the internet, means that we should “think of everything as a platform.” The platform’s core characteristics — including, but not limited to, being scalable, replicable, malleable, and user-centred — have proved to be extraordinarily successful so far. (Location 647)
  • “He encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between grand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings. For him no detail was small in its significance and he would be simultaneously questioning the headlines of our project together while he delved into its fine print.“ (Norman Foster, 2011) (Location 703)
  • The challenge is to draw platform thinking into other areas of public life, including built artefacts and physical services where appropriate, in order to unleash its associated systemic effects outside of digitally mediated environments or contexts. (Location 725)
  • idea of adaptive layers is drawn from Stewart Brand’s book How Buildings Learn (1994). Ironically, this book has had made little difference to architecture, where its anti-modernist invective was aimed, albeit with highly variable accuracy, but has been highly influential in internet-based platform thinking, interaction design and software development. (Location 744)
  • Fast Strategy, Mikko Kosonen and Yves Doz describe their notion of strategic agility in terms of possessing “an ongoing capability for real-time strategic sensitivity, quick collective commitments, and fast and strong resource redeployment”. Agility is a good word in this (Location 761)
  • areas of public service where the language and practice of prototyping and “fast layers” has to be developed with care. (Location 768)
  • This idea of fast and slow layers can then be used to frame the discussion of risk within a system, with some layers slower and careful, and others more agile, more exploratory. (Location 772)
  • User-centredness, another core value in contemporary design, can be layered across this system too, with exterior layers of the platform more participative than slower, more strategic “internal” layers. (Location 775)
  • Similarly, Steven Johnson relates how the potential of the “generative platform” is enabled through creating “a space where hunches and serendipitous collisions … and recycling can thrive. It is possible to create such a space in a walled garden. But you are far better off situating your platform in a commons.” (Johnson, 2010) (Location 794)
  • These words and concepts may offer some value: the MacGuffin provides motivation that drives strategic outcomes; the Trojan Horse contains the seeds of multiple strategic outcomes; the Platform elements enable those strategic outcomes to be diffused elsewhere, with prototyping of different layers ensuring its ongoing development. (Location 812)
  • This notion of dark matter suggests organisations, culture, and the structural relationships that bind them together as a form of material, almost. It gives a name to something otherwise amorphous, nebulous yet fundamental. (Location 830)
  • Dark matter is the substrate that produces. A particular BMW car is an outcome of the company’s corporate culture, the legislative frameworks it works within, the business models it creates, the wider cultural habits it senses and shapes, the trade relationships, logistics and supply networks that resource it, the particular design philosophies that underpin its performance and possibilities, the path dependencies in the history of northern Europe, and so on. This is all dark matter; the car is the matter it produces. (Location 840)
  • Strategic design often involves doing what the physicist Fritz Zwicky started doing in 1934 — looking for the “missing mass”, the material that must be inescapably there, that must be causing a particular outcome. This missing mass is the key to unlocking a better solution, a solution that sticks at the initial contact point, and then ripples out to produce systemic change. (Location 847)
  • The dark matter of strategic designers is organisational culture, policy environments, market mechanisms, legislation, finance models and other (Location 850)
  • incentives, governance structures, tradition and habits, local culture and national identity, the habitats, situations and events that decisions are produced within. (Location 851)
  • There are so many ideas produced every day, everywhere, that installations and prototypes are almost a necessary pressure valve, a way of getting things out of one’s mind. Yet such temporary interventions are often accompanied by claims as to wider significance; that an installation, say, can suggest a new way of doing, of living. Indeed it can, but it doesn’t actually make it happen. If it’s too easy to get an idea accepted, you’re probably doing it wrong. You’re probably not disturbing the dark matter enough. (Location 859)
    • Note: Important re the digital grounds
  • Westbury isn’t a designer, but his ability to perceive the “architecture of the problem” in Newcastle is a perspective shared with strategic design. (Location 921)
  • “It is the software of the city — which is often intangible, bewildering and complex — that defines their possibilities … Yet as hard as the software of the city is to conceptualise the consequences of changing it are very real. It is only the results that give it away. They are as evident and visible as the process that led to them is invisible.” (Marcus Westbury, 2010) (Location 926)
  • With strategic design in mind, however, systems thinking is a core skillset, a core requirement, given the propensity for systemic change. Those designers most familiar with systems — architects, urban designers, landscape designers, interaction designers, industrial designers, service designers etc — are perhaps best equipped to think strategically and systemically. (Location 931)
  • Designing the context of the work “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” (Eliel Saarinen) (Location 955)
  • The design planner and teacher Hugh Dubberly has suggested that “seeing patterns, making connections, and understanding relationships” are in fact the essence of design. Yet few designers would see that their design challenge is to understand, and often reorient, those relationships.10 (Location 963)
  • “It’s only after the explosion that everyone realized the shuttle’s complex technology should have been drawn with the Nasa bureaucracy inside of it in which they too would have to fly.” (Latour, 1996) As Bruno Latour suggests, products have their attendant bureaucracy embedded within them. It is this that enables them to plummet or soar. (Location 972)
  • creating a small research and development function internally, and designing it to have half the resources it actually needed to deliver prototypes — and so making it reliant on short-term partnerships with others — meant that the organisation had a way of spotting rapidly emerging opportunities, such as podcasting, while ensuring that this particular kind of intelligence was slowly transferred throughout the rest of the organisation. (Location 1001)
  • This was a form of design work conducted from deep inside an organisation; sometimes instinctive, sometimes tactical, sometimes strategic. (Location 1019)
  • You can’t design a transformative service without redesigning the organisation, and this could only realistically be done from within an organisation. (Location 1024)
  • You can only feel that from within it, by observing its effects on things, as dark matter. (Location 1026)
  • “The experience of Lincoln Center, with all its complexity, made me realize that I was already speaking in many tongues. The message is always the same but the emphasis is a bit different depending on who the audience is. Its true that I did a lecture that basically showed the same fifteen to twenty slides of Lincoln Center six times in repetition and each time I inflected the delivery of the description in a slightly different way. The same content but different nuance — it’s kind of a Rashomon lecture.” (Elizabeth Diller, Domus) (Location 1030)
  • design’s core value is in synthesising disparate views and articulating alternative ways of being. (Location 1053)
  • “It seems a bit obvious but the way that public services are organised inevitably influences the outcomes they achieve. Policymakers and managers are taking design decisions all the time, too often without realising it.” (Philip Colligan, 2011) (Location 1070)
  • “Our global system emerges as a result of each person, company and institution, with their common and distinctive histories, playing their own part in their own niche, and interacting together through biological, cultural and structural channels. The self-organisation reminds us that governments do not control their own economies. Nor does civil society. The corporate or financial sectors do not control the economies within which they operate. That they can destroy the economy should not be taken as evidence that they can control (Location 1099)
  • it.“ (David Korowicz, 2011) (Location 1103)
  • Some 70% of all activity on Wall Street is involved in automated high-frequency trading, algorithm-driven trades that are either trying to hide (disperse) or locate (aggregate) larger movements of trade. According to Slavin, the algorithms that drive, say, a Roomba vacuum cleaner robot are essentially not of humanity. “These are things that humans write, but can no longer read.” (Kevin Slavin, 2011) (Location 1107)
  • This is not an instrumental or engineering-led idea of design, in which altering the infrastructure, or plumbing, underpinning the current reality will at some point produce a different one. Instead, this is an idea of design as directly involved in the creation of culture (culture as a way of being, a pattern of living, after Raymond Williams, rather than simply cultural production and consumption). (Location 1117)
  • design thinking has been little more than a distraction, if not a dead end. (Location 1132)
  • “the designer’s stance” (after Paul Dourish), (Location 1159)
  • “You start by sketching, then you do a drawing, then you make a model, and then you go to reality — you go to the site — and then you go back to drawing. You build up a kind of circularity between drawing and making and then back again … This is very typical of the craftsman’s approach. You think and do at the same time. You draw and you make. Drawing … is revisited. You do it, you redo it, and you redo it again.” (Renzo Piano, 2008) (Location 1193)
  • While this had the benefit of being a succinct — and, it turns out, memorable — summary of the client’s requirements, it leaves the designer with quite a lot to do, in terms of translating that into the minutiae of information architecture, interaction design and so on. But as a designer, one quickly gets used to rapidly translating one short, oblique input into a series of possible outputs. (Location 1206)
  • the trainee architect drawing the same shape for hours until the essence of a line emerges — (Location 1217)
  • The clients exist, and as they are clients, their position remains unchallenged, despite their positioning, remit, stance, framing, governance, and political relationships being a potentially fundamental component of the architecture of the problem. This is where design thinking falls short of anything remotely radical. It’s where it is actually stuck in process improvement within a predetermined problem space, unable to manouevre into more interesting and useful areas. (Location 1228)
  • The workshop model, which is often the foot-in-the-door for consultancies in this field, is intrinsically flawed. The HDL Studio Model (Location 1272)
  • Looking at architecture’s perennial inability to find more flexible and productive business models is another story. But one simple way to take the business model problem off the table is to be embedded within an (Location 1305)
  • organisation. There is a strong tradition here, as well as numerous examples of this in practice. In industrial, interaction (Location 1307)
  • The ability to position design strategically will come more naturally to these environments, given the long-term engagement with the proposition inherently alien to the consultant model; the consultant model simply cannot allow that kind of time. (Location 1321)
  • Strategic design is predicated on exactly this positioning: inside not outside, long-term not short, the pig not the lipstick. (Location 1324)
  • Only from within can genuine contextual change occur. This is perhaps the deepest flaw in the “design thinking” consultancy model, and not something you hear the likes of McKinsey, KPMG, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers talking about much either. (Location 1350)
  • “Design is no longer concerned only with things. Increasingly, design is concerned with systems — and now systems of systems or ecologies. In a sense, these systems are alive. They grow and co-evolve. Designers and product managers cannot always control them. Instead, they must create conditions in which they can emerge and flourish. All this requires new thinking and new knowledge. It requires design practice to learn.” (Dubberly, 2011) (Location 1357)
  • Seeing like a system, and acting upon a system, means that traceability — clarifying one’s impact upon the system in detail — is complex, if not virtually impossible, given the systems in question. As we’ve seen, the architecture of projects in these spaces is more “small pieces, loosely joined”, in the words of David Weinberger, rather than tightly bounded projects with clear duration and accountability.14 (Location 1360)
  • Recall that work was described more in terms of the non-linear, potentially aleatoric, real-time system of playing central midfield in a football team than the lean processes of the Toyota Production System. (Location 1371)
  • It’s just that the usual artefacts of consultancy — the research, the workshops, the reports — do not change the actors inside the organisation. (Location 1377)
  • Traditionally, the management consultant delves into dark matter. Traditionally, the design consultant delivers observable matter. (Location 1386)
  • The strategic designer moves between both, deploying observable matter to ensure that dark matter is addressed, and addressing dark matter to better deploy observable matter. (Location 1388)
  • Design, an integrative discipline, is well suited to hovering between things, understanding intersections and edges, assembling through synthesis rather (Location 1395)
  • than funneling through analysis. The HDL Studio experience suggests that sketches derived from synthesis can deliver policy-makers with forms of insight better suited to these complex systems. It short-circuits traditional analysis. (Location 1396)
  • Yet to genuinely perceive the various systems at play within decision-making — the architecture of the problem — design must be embedded within, and positioned strategically ie with a remit to reconceive and reframe strategic intent. (Location 1398)
  • Designers stumble around like strangers in a strange land when entering this terrain. We are not trained to address the world of policy and governance. Our universe starts with pixels, plastic, hemlines and loggia rather than white papers, sub-committees, argument maps and political capital. Yet there (Location 1442)
  • Increasing diversity is important because it can produce resilience. If we see the Finnish incarnation of the Nordic Model as a steady state system for some years, as per the diagram above, it also seems clear that a more diverse version of this system could produce “wobbles” in this straightened experience. Our thought is to ensure that these challenges are absorbed by a system that becomes more resilient as a result. The ecologist CS Holling wrote that “placing a system in a straitjacket of constancy can cause fragility to evolve”. Conversely, one of the more influential systems thinkers and educators, Donella H Meadows, described resilience as “a measure of a system’s ability to survive and persist within a variable environment”. (Location 1540)
  • An organisation with no organisation has no chance of developing inertia, after all. (Location 1634)
  • According to the Helsinki’s Food Culture Strategy project manager, Ville Relander, both of these “spikes” have enriched the city’s food culture no end. Yet Ravintolapäiva is limited in time (it exists for one day only) and the Camionette is limited in space (it exists in one place only). So the change is not systemic yet. (Location 1635)
  • We have to hover above the problem at this level of governance to engage with the city council’s regulations, organisation and positioning regarding street food. (Location 1662)
  • But understanding the cultures of decision-making takes time and sensitivity. It also takes something different to separate the figure from the ground, to jolt the system’s culture to describe itself. (Location 1665)
  • Although design is more commonly thought of at this smaller scale, and certainly easier to produce, strategic design involves ensuring the intervention is not an installation, but enables replicability and legibility, and so lasting system change. (Location 1668)
  • But tying prototypes to the idea of an augmented Nordic Model is still daunting. A portfolio of prototypes ensures that risk is spread across the different layers, moving at different paces, in constantly learning system. (Location 1676)
  • However, speaking at Cisco’s Public Services Summit in Oslo, December 2011, Manuel Castells described how most ICT-led interventions into healthcare or e-government had not produced the gains promised, because such programmes had not embarked on genuine reform (generally looking instead to enable efficiency gains, they had instead reduced quality of service, irresponsibly undermining the entire enterprise). He didn’t use these words, but such programmes had not considered the “dark matter” (he referred instead to Michel Foucault’s notion of “micro-powers”). A combination play of ICT culture, (Location 1694)
  • This is not the redesign of a nation state as such, although it’s worth reflecting that nation states are a creation, an artefact. The nation has always been a design project, articulated through boundaries, maps, flags and insignia. Instead, this is understanding the cultures of decision-making at play in Finland, and assessing how to constructively move them forwards. And so the larger project has a direction. This is a strategic design challenge. (Location 1703)
  • strategic design is oriented towards questioning the question, reframing if necessary. (Location 1710)
  • strategic design is predisposed to sketching and iterative prototyping as a learning mechanism, while engaging in stewardship to ensure that user-centredness and design intent is realised in delivery. (Location 1712)
  • strategic design’s embedded positioning enables the long-term view, a richer production process, and provides the authority to enact organisational or contextual change, while also using its production skills to create tangible prototypes and outcomes as a strategic act, generating learning and momentum through doing. (Location 1717)
  • Strategic design tries to ally pragmatism with imagination, deliver research through prototyping, enable learning from execution, pursue communication through tangible projects, and balance strategic intent and political capital with iterative action, systems thinking and user-centredness. (Location 1729)
  • We need to understand more about the various cultures of decision-making in play across the globe. We also need to believe that they can be improved through the strategic application of design. (Location 1755)