Why I love (and changed) the Five Rings Model

Organization design is tricky. Most organizations don’t even think about it – in pursuit of our day to day goals and tasks, a system simply emerges. We don’t often give organization design a lot of thought until we see a simple change we want to make and are baffled by how difficult it is for the change to take hold. Much ink is spilled about systems thinking and how we can use it to better Read more…

D+NL: Reading List

Part of the reason I’ve enjoyed this project so much is because it has given me the opportunity to re-read and read for the first time some deign classics that have been on my list for a while. I’ve organized this bibliography in a bit of an unorthodox way, but I hope that my readers will appreciate a grouping by subject matter rather than by alphabetization. If there is anything you’re interested in, shoot me Read more…

D+NL: 1.3 The effect of neoliberal values on late 20th century design practice.

The effect of neoliberal values on late 20th century design practice. To make the case that late 20th and early 21st century design rested on the same values as neoliberal economic and political policy, we must see whether there is a commonality in practice and theory between these two as contemporary movements. For a shift in design practice to coincide with the rise and decline of neoliberalism, we would expect to see initial ideas to Read more…

D+NL: 1.2: Neoliberalism challenges centralized structure.

“It was God’s prerogative to make a world suitable to His governance. Men govern a world already in being, and their controls may best be described as interventions and interferences, as interpositions and interruptions, in a process that as a whole transcends their power and their understanding… The actual situation…is the result of a moving equilibrium among a virtually infinite number of mutually dependent variables.” – Walter Lippman, The Good Society, 1938″ Scholars of Neoliberalism Read more…

D+NL: Conclusions and Reflections

Conclusions and reflections from my essay on Design and Neoliberalism. It is colloquial wisdom that the best way to understand oneself is to travel around the world. It was probably more spurned by insatiable wanderlust than philosophical quest that lead me to pack my bags and say goodbye to my pleasant Austin, Texas living in 2014, but the profound widening of my understanding of the world and it’s values systems has addicted me nonetheless. I Read more…

D+NL: Part III

If tools are shaped to their makers, it is clear that design thinking, design research, and other common western design practices have been shaped to fit the minds and group dynamics of western people. While simply importing useful tools is often society’s first steps, eventually tools evolve in their new environments to be more useful for their new hosts. How, then, would we expect design practice to evolve in an Eastern, embedded world? In this Read more…

D+NL: Part II

I must beg the pardon of my readers as this essay has been – up until this point – extremely US-Centric. I don’t seek to undermine the rich creative dialogue sustained across the world in the late 20th century. However, in addition to being the most representative of the “Neoliberal” ideals and history, the US stood alone at the end of this era in terms of political and economic dominance. If we have anything to Read more…

D+NL 2.1: The West

The Erosion of Neoliberal Ideas in the West “By some it is said that only the strong arm of government can protect men against the brutal oppression of their machines; by others that only the power of government can realize the beneficent promise of the machines. But all agree that in the recent progress of technology there is some kind of deep necessity which compels mankind to magnify the sovereignty of officials and to intensify Read more…

betel

Yangon, Myanmar. “Never turn down a cigarette unless you know what you’re doing.” – a friend that has spent more than 20 years in China. Some years ago I joined a photography club at my office – at lunch time, we would review each other’s photographs and those with a bit more experience would give advice. In a particular assignment, we were to go shoot portraits of strangers by simply walking up to them and Read more…

The End of Design

Ch 1: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot “the simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” – Robert Conquest From time to time, it is necessary to turn our attention to the processes of our organizations for some reflection. The core purpose of most organizations is to provide value – in one way or another – to the ecosystem that Read more…