People are full of contradictions. Organizations are no different.

e.g. There is so much talk about innovation. But in my experience most organizations and people do not want to change. We fear change.

One of the few real reasons to change is imminent disaster. And we'll wait until the last possible moment before we act. But not changing continually will definitely bring about disaster sooner or later. We all know that. But still we fear change and the responsibilities that go along with it. So we just hope it will be later. But for many companies later is now.

So we try to manage change, control it. We want controlled change and controlled innovation. But this is a contradiction. Innovation is venturing into the unknown. Experimenting, letting things happen, observing. Control is the last thing you'll have or need. Adaptability is the key.

Innovation is (often) about stuff, hardware, products, speed, competition and is sometimes disconnected from reality. Adaptability is about behavior, evolution, life and being connected.

So my suggestion (and I'm thinking out loud): Let's stop talking and thinking in terms of innovation and let's start designing systems for adaptability.

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Comment by Rui Dias on March 30, 2010 at 12:10
Hi all...

I totally agree with your view Arne. We need adaptable systems design, because what we know today wont be the same tomorrow. I feel that this is the way to achive a natural design process that copes with our natural world "demands".
We know that we are part of the natural world. The natural world has 5 kingdoms (bacteria, fungues, alghes, plants and animals) ruled by the laws of physics and chemestry. And we know a lot of things we cant do. Burning down ancients forests, polluting water sources and the air for example.
Adaptability is a key issue in the future of design. In a complex world the most adaptable show higher resilience in the "ecosystem environment" and therefore are able sustain their own autopoesis through time (Maturana).
Jonh Wood´s Metadesign tools seems a great starting point to this chalange. "It is a superset of co-design methods for cultivating greater wisdom in the way we live."
Comment by David on March 25, 2010 at 19:15
Change has to happen from the inside out and the outside in - then from the top down and the bottom up.

This is why 80% of change projects, including innovation projects fail to deliver on the intended ROI. Can you imaging trying to manage that set of variables?

There is another way of looking at it though.....but you'll need to read my article in the forthcoming issue of the SDN Touchpoint journal to see how.
Comment by Gert Steens on March 16, 2010 at 16:51
Reminds me of Pip Coburn's book "The Change Function": change only occurs when the perceived pain of adoption is less than the perceived pain of the status quo . Make adoption agreeable through adaptability and it is more likely to win.
Comment by Taco de Nies on March 16, 2010 at 10:20
Very interesting postings gentlemen. One of the great things about design thinking is to think across boundaries. In design thinking and service design we aim to get a better understanding of behavior and implicit or explicit needs concepting new end 2 end experiences that add value and meaning/purpose. As mentioned in one of the post with respect to business&systems design one tends to realize a level of flexibility, designing this flexibility can be based on proven concepts for example (volberda, building flexible firms). This flexibility can be combined with embedding a culture and systems for continous improvement. Enterprise Engineering Concepts can provide a good framework from a more scientific approach. Still lacking the socio/cultural/cognitive element. Here is where I personally find some inspiration in the 'Business Spirituality School' (eg. Paul de Blot).

One should ask if adaptability is a required competence to cover the element of 'change-readiness and change behaviour'. Depending on the type of organisation ??? Adapting is reactive, responsive and trying to minimize the impact of external changes. Which could be my interpretation. Crucial to embedding design thinking or executing projects with elements of design thinking is how to work on the 'spirit' of an organisation that is required to realize true innovative service experiences and products to the market.

My experience is that people indeed find it difficult to change but are only unwilling out of fear, fear is personal, can be loss of ego and status, loss of job, loss of purpose. Fear is a strange emotion based on the mind playing tricks with unknown things. This is where design thinking and techniques are valuable as well to design new dreams, new purpose, new values that people can adhere too. Not about adapting but about involving, participation and adding value.

Triggered my thinking..thanks
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on February 22, 2010 at 8:39
@GK Thanks. Good stuff, you're a rich source of knowledge :-)
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on February 21, 2010 at 21:38
@Daniel, Thanks for that insight. And naturally it's not perfect. But the eye opening moment for me was seeing the "users" of machines, machines that are produced to produce other things, as part of the bigger system.
Comment by Daniel Christadoss on February 21, 2010 at 21:27
@Arne, Thanks..On the lighter side I would get strange looks from my engineering peers if I talked about empathy, Service Design, Design Thinking or User Experience during our Project Status Meetings. Many of them are still in Kaizen or Six Sigma world and wondering what DFSS is all about. I have been enriched mingling with Service Designers and I hope we can bring the Service Designers and Engineers together in Wenovski.
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on February 21, 2010 at 21:12
@Daniel great point.. and I think you are correct stating that engineering/manufacturing is a service and an unexplored area for Service Design Practitioners. Never thought of it quite this way. Thanks for that eye-opening moment :-))
Comment by Daniel Christadoss on February 21, 2010 at 20:31
@Arne. In engineering/manufacturing we are dealing with both internal & external customers. So a human centered approach is necessary to have a successful project. For example if we are building a system to produce a product we have to get the system reviewed at all stages by the internal users. The users are the system operators, quality control staff, maintenance technicians and line supervisors. The system has to be built for durability, reliability, ease of maintenance/operation, yield and utilization. Experience will tell us how to wade through user suggestions which may be frivolous.So in essence engineering/manufacturing is a service and an unexplored area for Service Design Practitioners and more dominated by engineers. The same way with the product. We have breakthrough products as well as incremental products. Here again the design of the product will generally follow a human centered approach. Successful companies do use it and those who do not fall by the way side. That is why companies like WL Gore remain and succeed in business.
Comment by ayana baltrip balagas on February 21, 2010 at 18:54
"I mean that you should start with people (e.g. ethnographic research) and build the system/ product/ service/ from there. Now it's usually done the other way around." Right! Then where does the need to inform others to the process come in? Is there a need to inform? Perhaps that's inherent to the process.


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