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Play a game with me for a moment.

Think about a person. They might be anyone. Even you.

For the purposes of this game, let’s picture this person as an individual, existing on a uniform plane in otherwise empty space. (Imagine they don’t need a breathable atmosphere in this game)

Now, let’s imagine this person walking at a constant speed of 1.3 m per second in a straight line. Over 5 years they’ll cover over 200,000 km. And be quite tired.

Assuming our imaginary person has aged over that time, their physical body will have changed. Let’s imagine that we…

Think about a stone you pick up from the bank of a fast flowing river.

Perhaps granite. Tumbled matte by the forces of water and other things it repeatedly rubs up against.

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The shape is an expression of the relationship between its internal structure and the forces of its environment.

If we hit this stone with a hammer and it fractures along some internal fault line, is it now two stones?

A philosopher like Daniel Dennet might say so, particularly from the perspective of his physical & design stances.

A designer with cognitive interests, like Donald Norman, would probably agree with respect to the perceived affordances of the stones.

A systems thinker like Donella Meadows would remind us…

Adventures into the practical abyss, and back again.

Ten years ago I started two big projects. This is the story of one of them, my PhD. I wrote this for anyone contemplating something similar.

“In the varied topography of professional practice, there is a high ground overlooking a swamp…”
— Donald Schön

Let me tell you a story the tale of how I grokked my PhD.

Grok is coined as an untranslatable Martian concept & word in Heinlein’s 1961 science fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, and has since worked its way into geek and counterculture. …

When we start a project with someone, we make a promise to them that we will go from A to B… and, when we get to B we’ll have something to show for it.

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We can talk all we like about the middle bit – that meandering path that leads through ambiguity, to some new sense of understanding – but it’s not until they’ve experienced it that a client or stakeholder will understand what you meant when you said:

You may feel uncomfortable at times. This is completely normal, and also quite challenging.

The more quickly we can complete a single circuit of Promise – WTF – Deliver, the better.

There’s a moment when things get a little strained. Adrenaline wakes the fluttering bugs down below, eye contact becomes difficult, words fail someone and the pause … extends. Time to pack up and go home, there’s nothing here for you.

That moment is the when the door reveals itself.

Like dreaming that extra room in your childhood home, a door appears in what, moments before, was a solid wall.

Like some piece of science fiction filming trickery, there’s now a threshold to knowing in your view.

The door can be ajar, sometimes locked and often jammed. Whatever the state you find it in, finding it is the first challenge.

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When shifting an argument, reframe one element at a time.

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Google Ngram for “reframe

The reframe is a common design move for helping people see an old problem with new eyes.

A reframe is only useful if it helps people to see things differently. Changing multiple elements simultaneously is often confusing and counterproductive.

*I’m pretty sure someone already said this — only more elegantly… so why name this law? Well, if it’s good enough for Bill Buxton
+ I’ve just finished The Martian, so I’m feeling kinda punchy :)

The studio is a sacred space for designers. Taking it online — like we’re doing with the MDF— means we need to get serious about what we mean when we say “studio”.

We decided to build a set of principles for the MDF studio. Something that all the faculty agree to, and that all the students sign up to, so that there’s a standard of minimum viable behaviour that everyone can expect. It can also be a jumping off point to the canon that we want to situate our work within.

Principles are a great format to do this: aspirational…

Workshops are important in future oriented design practice. We often need to get people (stakeholders, clients, users, colleagues) together in the one place and thrash things out.

Running a design workshop (well) is a key skill for any design leader.

Here’s a fun workshop warm-up technique, that’s a great ice-breaker, while also showing you how your participants will respond to different kinds of challenges.

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Design Thinging: Origami Warm-Up

Ingredients

  • Origami Paper
    doesn’t have to be super special, but don’t try do this without square coloured, lightweight stock
  • Some Origami Instructions
    the more ambiguous the better (more on this later)

you can often get these together in a kit from craft stores

Method

Set the stage: have your instructions in fixed locations so that people need to share them — you want to encourage…

How do you discuss creative strategy?
More importantly, how do you do this creatively?

Creative Victoria has some interesting thoughts on how we should approach the future of Victoria’s creative industries in their Getting Creative about Victoria’s Future discussion paper.

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Getting Creative about Victoria’s Future — a discussion paper published last week by Creative Victoria

It’s great to see design enjoying a place at the table alongside the Arts and other cultural industries, but I think this paper misses an important aspect of what design brings to situations.

Design innovations referenced in the report — like the cochlear implant, polymer banknotes, and Keep-Cup — are fantastic design cases, and they’re all things.

Good design makes great things. Great design makes great…

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!”

— Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Lewis Carroll

Pattern

Waiting now… waiting. 5:30, 5:29, 5:28, the readout blinked. Not long. Breve sat watching the ocean, the slick wetsuited surfers, and the waves. Sets, that was their name; what the surfers waiting for her to let them in to the club called them anyway. She always found it strange how much spiritual significance was attached to the act of catching a wave, that joy of finding an equilibrium between order and chaos, surfing an unstable line to the end. …

Jeremy Yuille

Principal @WeAreMeld Melbourne. Designer, coach, learner, seeker, musician

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