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Showing posts from 2019

The Many, Many Faces of Design

Narratives are finally emerging that make the case for discernment (see below) rather than negation by assumption or assertion which is too often the case. This is a healthy trend. For example see Donald Norman's focus on the term 'product design': Forwarded Message ----- From:  Don Norman < > To:  " " < > Sent:  Sunday, December 15, 2019, 01:31:56 PM MST Subject:  Product Design means too many different things to be a useful description There is product design, and then there is product design. The request for lists o product design courses is understandable, but not only not useful, but it is not nearly specific enough. A financial product is very different from a medical one, which is different than a bridge, or building, or automobile. These are different than kitchen appliances. Engineering design courses tend to focus on, guess what, engineering aspects.

Design Mind - slides from presentation

U. Montana Innovation Factory presentation

Design is a term growing in frequency of use in public and private discourse for good reasons although the term is used to designate a diversity of activities that may or may not have anything in common with one another. Students, academics and the public are asking with some insistence; “what the hell is design?” This presentation will initiate a conversation that begins to answer that question.  Innovation factory presentation

Ranjan's history of NID

I recently reviewed a time line of the history of NID (India’s National Institute of Design) developed by my friend and colleague, Prof. M P Ranjan.  It is a wonderful history of the many forms of design that have unfolded not only at NID but in many places around the world as well. In particular it is a marvelous story of the development of NID as a leading design institute that serves both India and the world.  At the time of his untimely death Ranjan was working with me to see if there was a concept/term in Sanskrit that described the relationship between those who were served by those who served them. In my work with C. West Churchman, the term ‘client’ was often used to describe such a relationship—which was unsatisfactory to both of us. It sounded too legalistic and did not capture the ‘conspiracy’ (i.e. breathing together) of the intimate relationship bet

Russel Ackoff videos

Russel Ackoff was interested in both systems and design.  The Deming Cooperative Ackoff Videos Through the cooperation of Bill Bellows, John Pourdehnad and the Ackoff family, we are pleased to offer these videos for your viewing.
The recently held Russell L. Ackoff Centennial Celebration at Thomas Jefferson University was a great reminder of how valuable and durable Russ's ideas have proven to be. As was said at the celebration, he did not suffer fools and did not hand out compliments lightly which reminded me of one a the great moments in my professional life. Russ congratulated me on an article I had written: From:  Harold Nelson <>  Date:  April 6, 2006 10:56:33 AM MDT To:  Russell Ackoff < >  Subject:  Thanks  Dear Russ; Thanks for your note. I appreciate comments on my work, especially positive ones. Hope you are staying well. I will not be at the ISSS meeting this year but hope our paths cross again at some point.  Regards  Harold  -------------- Forwarded Message: -------------­From: To: nelsongroup@worldnet.att.netSubject: Your 1994 article on DesignDate: Wed, 5 Apr 2006 19:21:31 +0000  Dear Dr. Nelson:  I a

The Promise of Systemic Designing

Chapter just published:  The Promise of Systemic Designing: Giving Form to Water  Learning, Design, and Technology pp 1-50 |  Cite as Harold G. Nelson (1) Email author ( )  1. Computer Science, University of Montana, , Missoula, USA  Abstract The world is understood to be more complex and dynamic than previously thought. Design is understood to be a deeper mystery than previously assumed. Design creates reality. Humans have engaged in design activities – designing – from the beginning of history, but little is known of its true nature or full potential. Familiar approaches to design and design education no longer match the real-world necessities and expectations of modern societies. Everything is connected, and it is difficult, or it seems often impossible, to determine what course of action is prudent when designing within such complexity. Systemic design is an emergent means for creating desired change that takes a broader stance and deeper approa

Breadth AND Depth – The Interactive Space for Leadership

There are ongoing discussions about the value of generalists versus specialists . The discussions are long running, only occasionally morphing into discussions championing people who are both competent generalists and able specialists —what businesses calls ‘T’ people. However the discussions quickly self-correct back to the debate between the value of generalization versus specialization. ‘T’ people display competency in both breadth and depth of knowledge and skills—but interest in them primarily remains academic. You don’t actually see many advertisements and hiring campaigns for people with ‘T’ skills but the rhetoric declaiming the value of combining such skills remains popular.  ‘T’ people have been occasional objects of interest in government and the military, but nothing serious enough to actually cause changes to be made to accommodate them. Agencies and military branches remain primarily committed to siloed organizational designs. Structured differentiation and spec

STRATCOM Commander's Design Team 19 slide deck