Our principal, Cameron Norman, recently joined Keita Demming for a Disruptive Conversation as part of his ongoing podcast series. Listen in and learn about how mindfulness, design, psychology, and paying attention to our change efforts can improve what we do and how effective we are with what we do.
The theme for this year’s annual Cameron Norman, to bring greater understanding and dialogue between what is created and how its value and impact is assessed. Speaking on the need for this focus, Gargani adds:
“Everything we evaluate is designed. Every evaluation we conduct is designed. Every report, graph, or figure we present is designed. In our profession, design and evaluation are woven together to support the same purpose—making the world a better place. This is the inspiration for the 2016 theme: Evaluation + Design. In 2016, we will be diving into this concept looking specifically at three areas—program design, evaluation design, and information design” – AEA President, John Gargani.
Sheila Robinson, an evaluator who also runs the AEA’s amazing AEA365 daily blog on evaluation research and practice, recently wrote on the need to create a culture of evaluation within an organization for it to be successful.
Together, the idea of bringing together design and a culture for letting design flourish with evaluation is compelling and something we’ve encouraged in our client work.
It’s one thing to argue for design as a competitive advantage and evaluation as a means for building, sustaining and enhancing performance, but it’s far more difficult to build cultures that nourish and sustain both good design and evaluation. Yet, it is the integration of design and evaluation that is the key to innovation and doing it sustainably.
If you’re interested in learning more about this and the issues associated with design and evaluation, consider attending the upcoming conference in Atlanta and following the AEA365 blog (and this one) in the months building up to this event. And for more information on how to build a culture of evaluation and design in your work, contact us at: info @ cense.ca.
Our principal, Dr. Cameron Norman, was recently interviewed for University Affairs magazine on the topic of design thinking. Speaking with journalist Tim Johnson, Dr. Norman discussed what design and designers offer those seeking to tackle complex, thorny problems.
[Dr Norman] notes that designers, especially product designers, are typically experts in conceptualizing problems and solving them– ideal skills for tackling a wide range of issues, from building a better kitchen table to mapping out the plans on a large building. “The field of design is the discipline of innovation,” he says. “[Design thinking] is about taking these methods, tools and ideas, and applying them in other areas.”
The concept of design thinking is something that’s quite new within the academic world and Johnson’s article highlights some of the academic work that is taking place in universities and beyond to understand the role that design thinking can play in tackling complex, even wicked problems.
What presents challenges and opportunities for academia is that problems and design thinking require, by necessity, collaboration and interdisciplinary contributions:
Proponents of DT posit that, with its emphasis on teamwork and its problem-based approach, design thinking is particularly well-suited to solving “wicked problems” – those big, ill-defined, complex, multi-faceted issues that don’t have a clear solution. U of T’s Dr. Norman points to climate change as an example. “There’s no climate change discipline,” he says. “We need everyone from scientists to citizens to politicians. And within universities, you have geography and sociology and biology – you name it – there’s somebody who can play a role.”
However, it’s the approach to the problems itself that also changes the perspective as noted by Greg Van Alstyne from OCAD University’s sLab:
[Design thinking] focuses on collective goals and places a premium on sustainability, community, culture and the empowerment of people, says Greg Van Alstyne, director of research and co-founder of the Strategic Innovation Lab, or sLab, at OCAD University. “It means you go about your problem-solving in a more holistic way. We can say ‘human-centered,’ but it’s actually ‘life-centered,’
By taking a systems perspective on the problem, the problem solvers and the solutions, design thinking is opening up new opportunities for academia and business alike. Indeed, the future of both institutions might be designed quite differently as design thinking moves between them, through them and from the outside to the mainstream.