A short presentation I shared as a videoconference with Rosenfeld Media’s Enterprise Experience Community.
In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army War College created an acronym to describe the geopolitical situation following the Cold War: VUCA. It stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, four characteristics they saw as defining the multilateral post-Cold War world. The rise of information technologies — and the internet in particular — has radically transformed our political, economic, and social reality. We are all now living in a generalized state of VUCA. We see signs of it everywhere — including the enterprise.
Design can be a powerful organ for organizations dealing with VUCA. In this presentation, I give some reasons why. I also cover some reading materials that have led me to this line of thinking. I was gratified to see participants in the videoconference suggest other resources worth investigating if you’d like to delve into design’s more strategic value; I’ve added those recommendations into my reading list.
Books I referenced in my presentation:
- Designerly Ways of Knowing by Nigel Cross (My book notes)
- Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary by Dan Hill (My book notes.)
- Design Unbound: Designing for Emergence in a White Water World Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Ann Pendleton-Jullian and John Seely Brown
I also called out these recent Medium posts:
- Reflections on Business, Design, and Value by Andrea Mignolo
- The Future of Design: Computation and Complexity by Stephen Anderson
Other folks in the call suggested the following additional resources. (I’ve listed them here in the order in which they were suggested.)
- The Sciences of the Artificial by Herbert Simon
- The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger L. Martin
- Steward Brand’s pace layer model
- Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis by Jon Kolko
- Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis by Jon Kolko
- A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander
- Your Business Needs Design—But Design is Not Enough by Sascha Brossman
- Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity by Jennifer Garvey Berger
- Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders by Jennifer Garvey Berger
- Crossing the river by feeling the stones by Simon Wardley
- Decision-Making for Grownups by Liz Keogh
- Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework
- Ellen Lupton’s design diagram
- Design Thinking is Bullshit by Natasha Jen
- In Defense of Design Thinking, Which Is Terrible by Khoi Vinh
- Uday Gajendar’s exploratory look at design
- Upgrade Your Cargo Cult by David Chapman
- #ITSNOTABOUTYOU by Greg Nudelman
I have a lot of reading to do! I was familiar with some of these resources, but not all of them. That’s one of the upsides of sharing incipient ideas with a smart group of folks like the Enterprise Experience community: you get to hear from other folks who know more about other parts of the domain. I’ll be digging into these books, posts, and videos for sure!
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