Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tools to build a new tomorrow

The world is full of designers. People who get paid to engage their brains and hearts to take concepts, understand their parameters, imagine possibilities, and translate them from mind to paper or screen.

Design is part of the basic package of what we, as human beings, do. It's a key part of how we make stuff happen in the world. From music, to buildings, to cars, to kitchenware, to urban planning, to making a sandwich, it's what we do.

Except when we don't.

Probably around 1/3 of the clients I currently work with are paid to design. I love walking into the workspaces of designers. It causes you to ponder about the measure of the people who create stuff there.

One observation I've made in the last 4 years is that many of the people we work with excel at making 'hard stuff' - landscapes etc. But a qualification in design doesn't necessarily mean you design strong processes - or as I heard one designer call 'the soft infrastructure'.

My contention - and I've said it often in recent times - is that what a lot of designers don't design well are conversations that help us achieve outcomes. A friend who is an industrial designer insists otherwise. He says design tools are the designer's working tools, so of course they bring design processes to their exchanges; they cannot do otherwise.

With the greatest respect, I cannot agree. My contention is not universally true - we get to work with some wonderful exceptions - but the trend is plain enough.

Yes, they know the language of project management. Yes, they can navigate council through the D.A and C.C. phases. But this is different to designing the conversations requisite to good outcomes that preserve intent, and utilise the best of each party for the good of the project's end users and owners.

Our passion is in finding the right questions that would help to drive the process forward while keeping the voice of intent alive.

Most often these are the exchanges that don't make the official register. They are the 'between the gaps' conversations, the links between silos.

We need to harness those gaps for the good of the project. And to do that we need a set of good conversational tools to carry us forward. This is a key part of a toolkit for tomorrow.

No comments: