Thrilled to bits to be starting as a fellow with Code For Australia (Vic) next month. Yay.
Thinking I could change a culture. I mean, c’mon. In a place with hundreds, then thousands, of people all in a working system. The arrogance in this is staggering and I deserved every smashing I got.
To summarise a few of the points I’ve made above, some of the common mistakes I see are:
- Not including stakeholders in early problem-framing conversations
- Not including a broader team in fieldwork and analysis
- Delivering research framed as “how to change the product” rather than “what we learned about people” and “how to act on what we learned to impact the product”
- Researchers not having visibility into subsequent decisions
- Failing to deliver a range of types of research conclusions
I often hear colleagues, in the midst of needing a design or business decision, ask “what does the data tell us to do?” The real answer: not much.
Systems thinking isn’t new—though it may be unfamiliar to many designers. It’s a mode of analysis that’s been around for decades. But it has newfound relevance for today’s everything-is-networked, Big Data world. Systems thinking is a mind-set—a way of seeing and talking about reality that recognizes the interrelatedness of things. System thinking sees collections of interdependent components as a set of relationships and consequences that are at least as important as the individual components themselves. It emphasizes the emergent properties of the whole that neither arise directly, nor are predictable, from the properties of the parts …
I think the trick is to analyze systems with an eye toward finding leverage points—the second key concept in systems thinking. Rather than attempt to design a wholly new, perfect solution, oftentimes it’s better to find areas where an incremental change will lead to significant renovation in the system. The smallest nudge for the biggest effect.
Interesting piece. I’ve been thinking about this tension more and more over the past couple of years (the thing (where designers usually concentrate effort) & then the system in which the thing exists (generally out of bounds, except for a little bit of market analysis and user context, maybe)), but didn’t have the language around it to think it through in a structured way.