Systems Thinking and Digital Transformation

Happy Mid-October! Grad school is in full-swing and we are in the midst of systems thinking. From my macro-level New Economies class, I’ve been thinking about systems thinking and resilience. We studied Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ideas of Antifragility this week and my team is discussing how the idea of preparing for randomness/unexpected events is essential to be designed into the system.

So thus lies the dichotomy: do we align more with our systems? When do we break from our processes (systems) when faced in random events? If we keep breaking from the system, we don’t have a system and every situation becomes unique, custom. But if we adhere too much to our systems, our systems become fragile and unable to adapt to changes. We need a resilient system that can adapt.

Let’s look at this in terms of design, design thinking, and technology in legacy systems. Design thinking is a hot buzzword that companies like right now. Consultants are brought in to drive innovation and change as outsiders. But after this digital innovation system, what happens when the consultants leave? Legacy organizations may revert to their “systems” -or what has worked for the last 100 years. Is the “digital transformation” ever effective? Are the changes sustainable? What effects sustainable digital change?

Digital transformation isn’t just cool new Macs or ping pong tables. It’s a mindset, and a framework that’s socialized across stakeholders and C-level decision makers. That’s why digital transformation is so difficult to implement in legacy systems –things have worked so well so long, why change them?   

But these same stakeholders also often have children or family at the Generation Z (or whatever you’d like to identify them as) and see these changes at a micro level. Personal lives are affected by the acceptance of iphones at the dinner table, or snapping a picture of your meal. So digital transformation is understood as a need, a driver. But how do we move this from a micro level to the macro level?

My question is: How do we scale systems effectively?

Behance Live Stream: Interaction Design Day 1 (9/25/18)

Adobe invited Sharon and I to the Behance NYC offices to prototype inclusive design from 9/25-9/27. It was both of our first times on LIVE …we were a little scared, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Here’s a link to the live replay of Day 1: https://www.behance.net/live/videos/1575

For our Live Stream, we both wanted engage our audience to participate and help us identify areas we should work on. User research at it’s finest! User data could help validate or prove wrong our hypotheses. We kicked it old school…prototyping with stickies, paper, but also digital sketching.

Our brilliant paper sticky method!

Our brilliant paper sticky method!

Audience feedback was great! From our paper ideas, we showed them on screen and polled the audience to vote for the idea they liked best. The audience voted (yes, your vote matters!) and we prototyped 2 live screens from user feedback.

Here are a few icons I created in the ideation phase.:

We decided on the top left corner icon, which visually communicated “anonymity”

We decided on the top left corner icon, which visually communicated “anonymity”

To see our screens and user feedback, check out the live stream for Day 1: https://www.behance.net/live/videos/1575

Negotiation, Shared Economy, and Design's Role in New Economies

From my Parsons classes and readings, I have been thinking about design at a higher level: within teams, a firm, and at the economic (theoretical) level.

In Managing Creative Teams, we discussed Negotiation and Managing Difficult Conversations. Strategies were discussed in figuring out the other party’s interest and best alternatives in aligning interests.

The class discussion analyzed the role of designers in consultancies/agencies, companies, and startups. The class validated ideas that the UX-er in a large company often played the role of Product Manager and designers could only be “true designers” in a consultancy/agency model.

In Sustainable Business Models, I analyzed the linear model and our movement towards a more circular economy, where resources are shared. If you think about the Shared Economy, Rent the Runway is a business model that circulates clothing, saves resources, AND profits. A win on all ESG (Economic, Social, and Governance) pillars.

I looked at the supply chain of a LC4 Le Corbusier chair. Furniture is not that circular because it is constantly being thrown out when New Yorkers move.   But I do see LC4 and Eames chairs pop up at consignment stores, so perhaps certain types of collectibles are circular. Consider the vintage economy.

I looked at the supply chain of a LC4 Le Corbusier chair. Furniture is not that circular because it is constantly being thrown out when New Yorkers move.

But I do see LC4 and Eames chairs pop up at consignment stores, so perhaps certain types of collectibles are circular. Consider the vintage economy.

From the New Economies course, we studied the idea of Redefining Capitalism. I really liked this perspective because capitalism is often cast as evil/profiteering, but reframing capitalism in terms of ways to find solutions is a way designers can work for positive change (hey sustainability!).

We looked at technology and how it may have brought up more problems, despite finding solutions. How are problems weighed? What problems are considered more important? Something like climate change is a big problem but how to go about addressing these problems?

My take: (1) Capitalism drives (2) Industry, which innovates through (3) Techology where (4) ideas are created and (5) converge (come together) to (6) eventually find solutions.  If there are no solutions, as designers, we iterate, iterate, iterate.

My take: (1) Capitalism drives (2) Industry, which innovates through (3) Techology where (4) ideas are created and (5) converge (come together) to (6) eventually find solutions.

If there are no solutions, as designers, we iterate, iterate, iterate.

Week 1: MS Strategic Design + Management @ Parsons

Just started my part-time MS of Strategic Design and Management at Parsons this week. It's been a bit hectic figuring my schedule because my Thursday section was cancelled, but I think I've landed on a final schedule!

Here are the classes I am taking for my Fall semester:

Managing Creative Teams
I'm really interested in this course because it's directly related to what I'm doing right now. Our Week 1-2 readings involve Lean UX and Getting to Yes. The projects seem to involve service design and I'm excited to form and meet my team because I'll be able to practice skills I will hopefully be able to take to working with project teams in the future.

Sustainable Business Models
This is a higher-level class that focuses on the firm-level. During my first class, we had a roundtable discussing the ideas of sustainability and how there is a tension between being able to last and adapting through changes. This is a toughie because older companies tend to have legacy systems that are resistant to change...so is the solution to work with younger companies or tech companies that embrace innovation?

SD + M New Economies
New Economies embraces strategic design at a macro level --the economy. During the first class, we looked at a nonprofit's business model and whether it would work in a corrupt country. We considered systems and how design might be able to play a role in effecting a change...whether a small change can make a big change. Or whether big changes can effect wide-scale behavioral changes.

There's been a lot of reading this week and I feel that I'm learning a lot of economics and theory. I was a women's studies major, so my background about econ basically involves friends who wanted to be econ professors. My program is a creative business Masters Degree, so I get the best of business chops in design school.

 

40 Girls Who Code: Facilitation Workshop

"There will be 40 girls. We'll split into 4 groups of 10."

Those words struck fear and excitement in me. Earlier this month, I'd volunteered to help run a design thinking workshop for Girls Who Code. In this workshop, I'd help facilitate a design activity with 3 other female designers. The high school girls were split into teams of 10 and we each had to help them solve a prompt.

Our prompt was: How can we create a mentoring app for Maria (our persona), a high school girl who wants to be a policewoman, to get advice?

The girls in the team I worked with came up with brainstormed ideas in paper sketches separately. They identified the strong sketchers, and combined their ideas into a master paper prototype.

IMG_8616.JPG

Some ideas I found really interesting were links to Quora, Podcasts, and other resources to create a library for advice.

My best takeaway from this workshop was from my team themselves. One of the louder voices on the team stepped aside to give one of the quieter girls with many great ideas the chance to present. This was a great example of women supporting women, and a real example of true leadership!