Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Re-direct to System Design

After reading an article on service design from Live|Work a company that specializes in service design and thinking I am drawn back to the idea because it poses to overturn processes that are unsustainable in design. (see article Live|Work here) As a follow up from my last post changing point of view or approach to a design problem will significantly alter the interventions iterating from you sketch pad. If you are thinking of designing from a users perspective service thinking only extends this further and may help to justify ideas you have direction and creation of new communications. The most significant is the idea of sustainability and what that means for design. In the article, the writer uses the natural metaphor of the water cycle that is a closed loop on a large scale. The process of how water is used and returned to the system varies but does so continuously. If we think of design in these terms we would consider the brochure after the information is consumed immediately impacting the process we typically think about as graphic designers. In a more contemporary scenario we design and develop for web products or services but do we consider the energy that is being used by the electronic devices we are using to access information? How can you modify consumers energy use in the products and services you buy to offset the energy used to make the purchase of those products and services? Sustainability is a difficult variable to integrate into the design process but its impact on thinking about design solutions is immediate and complex. I often ask my students a question that is intended to be difficult for them to answer but one that was posed by my old school friend Rosan Chow. "How do you design a (fill in the blank) with kindness as a central criteria"? It is difficult for a number of reasons but it is often the first time my students have thought of a project in those terms. It forces them to think about the design from a position outside their own, kindness to whom, to what, how is kindness understood? These are the tenants of service thinking and should be encouraged from all our students. I am encouraged by our university to recognize students involvement with social learning and am rewarded by my own efforts to engage students in these ideas but they must extend beyond the classroom and be embraced by business leaders who are interested in real innovation. I believe there are a great many people capable of thinking in these ways but are stifled by tradition and old models that are entrenched by years of integration and investment. It will take a great deal of power and motivation to reconsider these approaches but proving their worth on smaller projects that have high performance and efficiency may encourage growth and an effort to adopt service thinking. My next few posts will discuss a case of service thinking.