NPR has posted a great visualization of the US power grid. It shows the transmission grid, the mix of power sources in each state, locations of power stations and the densities of solar and wind power across the country. It makes the complexity of the power system and the challenge of replacing carbon based sources all too clear.
Archives For April 2009
I’ll be spending this week guest blogging for Fast Company. I am using it as an opportunity to dig into the participation economy ideas that I first posted about a few weeks ago. Indeed the first post is a redux of that original to introduce the topic to Fast Company readers. The next four posts will be new. I plan to explore metrics for a participation economy, transactions that support participation, health care reform and designing for participation. A few days after they appear over at FC I will also post them here.
It is finally time to announce the title and publication date for my book about design thinking.
It is called “Change By Design – how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation“. It will be published by Harper Collins under their Harper Business impression and is due for release late September 2009.
There is more detail at the book website and I will be adding more material as we get closer to the publication date.
Many of the responses and conversations on this blog have informed the book and I would like to offer an early thank you to all of those who have been so engaged in the debate over the last few months.
This doesn’t mean the end of this blog – far from it. I hope we can keep this conversation going and develop interesting new perspectives on the role of design and design thinking.
Nathan Shedroff has just written what is likely to become the sustainability manual for designers. Design Is The Problem is a thorough and informative survey of just about every aspect of sustainable design. It covers important frameworks, schools of thought and specific tools. It’s interspersed with good examples and case studies that reveal the complexity of the issue and that force the reader to engage with the topic rather than assume simple answers, which of course don’t exist. Design Is The Problem does not go into significant depth on each topic but it will give you a place to start on pretty much anything related to sustainability. Definitely an important book to have in your library.
Following the G20 summit this week, it seems as though we are in one of the most significant periods of new rule making we have seen for a long time. Our government leaders were promoting all kinds of new regulation to control hedge funds and banks. Similarly this year we expect to see new regulations emerging from the Copenhagen summit on carbon emissions. Here in the US, new rules are being proposed for health care, particularly around access, affordability and medical records.
Two of my colleagues at IDEO, Tatyana Mamut and Lionel Mori, have proposed that innovation, and particularly systemic innovation, is determined by a balance of three things – behavioral norms, tools and rules. As designers we tend to take rules and regulations as part of the existing constraints but in a time of rapid regulatory change I wonder whether there is a more active role for design thinking.
Take Formula 1 motor racing as an esoteric but illustrative example. This is a sport where the rules are often changed with little notice and the race teams invest millions of dollars in their response, attempting to gain tenths of a second in performance over their fellow competitors. Formula 1 is a kind of experimental hotbed where new rules are constantly tested. The intent of the rule makers is often to create a predictable reduction in performance so as to create safer or more competitive racing. What often happens however is that the ingenuity of engineers and designers combined with poorly written rules result in faster rather than slower cars. Design is testing the rules and innovation is the result.
What if design was used to test some of the rules our government leaders are proposing? Could we go through some experimental cycles using design and prototyping as a tool before final decisions are made about what rules to adopt? Might this help us avoid our tendency to create new rules and then walk away, under the assumption that our finance, health and global energy systems will now behave in the way we want them to?