Category Archives: ideas

Hopes and Dreams: An experiment in crowd sourced scenario planning

Please take 5 minutes to contribute to (and test out) a (very) early beta release of my second prototype system as part of my PhD at MIT: HOPES AND DREAMS: The Future of Public Service Click on the link above to share your thoughts and fears, hopes and ideas about the future of public services […]

A DJ is not a conductor: Different design skills for different levels of complexity

Different levels of design complexity Peter Jones (@redesign) recently posted an excellent, considered conversation about different levels of design engagement, drawing on Richard Buchanan’s “Wicked Problems in Design” and GK VanPatter’s “four orders” of what we’re “designing for”. He links to a great (long) interview with GH VanPatter (of the NextDesign Leadership Institute), from which […]

What next for scenario planning?

How are online tools and social media transforming the practice of scenario planning? Recently I have been interviewing a variety of high profile futurists and  up-and-coming strategists on how online approaches are transforming scenario planning and futures work. Although the questions have been largely open ended, conducted in person, over the phone and by email, […]

Resilient, durable, or agile? Which metaphor for the future?

Much talk is made about resiliency as a social strategy in the face of uncertainty.  But is this the right metaphor for the 21st century? Resilient Resiliency is an often used term in climate, ecology and social sciences, taken to denote a sense of flexibility or endurance.  The dictionary defines resilience as the ability “to recoil or spring […]

Strategy without tactics, tactics without strategy

A few people have been hitting this blog recently from the Google search “learning how to go from tactics to strategy“. This reminds me of my favourite Sun Tzu quote, which has come up in a few conversations recently and our anonymous Google friends may find of some use: Strategy without tactics is the slowest […]

The coming boom and bust of design thinking

There is tremendous excitement right now about “design thinking” (see Helen Walters’ review of the best design thinking books of 2009, for example).  Battered by economic failure, public uncertainty and the failure of traditional forms of leadership and management, many are gazing hopefully towards design thinking as a new management wonderdrug that will help them […]

Learning from children: strategy, tactics and games in times of rapid change

Are there lessons from how children learn that might help us adults, and the organisations we run, learn from turbulent environments and how to make better decisions in times of change? I have a 13 month old boy (pictured above, around 9 months old) and,  like all children, he is constantly learning and experimenting.  As […]

On design and the use of abductive reasoning

Lately the notion of “abductive reasoning” has been cropping up in a few conversations I’ve seen around knowledge management and governance.  Credit seems to go to Dave Snowden for introducing the idea to the KM community (in this post).  A lot of subsequent credit has since been given to people like Tim Brown (IDEO) for […]

Why the use of best practice can be dangerous and misleading

Best practices are a ridiculous way of learning about the world because their rote application is similar to sympathetic magic.  It’s like building a model of something, building a doll that has a likeness of something else, and hoping that the effects will transfer. Reproducing similar types of interventions in a different contexts is dangerous […]