That which you should control

There are things you can control and those you shouldn’t. There are things in a design setting that are in flux and those that are fixed. For this last round of position diagrams in Chris Risdon’s Theory of Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship class, I attempt to parse out these concepts in relation to where creativity and strategy intersect.

Nigel Cross, in his essay Discovering Design Ability,¬†talks about the importance of creativity and intuition and how the missing ingredient is the designers’ input – that which he calls the ‘ordering principle’. Others refer to this as the ‘design magic’. Another tenant of his argument which I find compelling is how closely the problems and solutions are interwoven. Both can change dynamically, but are tied. We can decide as designers that the solution a client is asking for is answering the wrong question and in turn, design around the proverbial starting point as opposed to an ending one.

In the essay Strategic Intent published by Gary Hamel and K.C. Pralahad, the authors discuss lots of smart ways to arrange a successful team dynamic. They unravel the magic of “motivating people by communicating the value of the target, leaving room for individual and team contribution, sustaining enthusiasm by providing new operational definitions…and using intent consistently to guide resource allocations”. This falls under the ‘not up for debate’ and ‘fixed’ part of the whole in my mind.

In the diagram below, I’ve attempted to show the relationship between operational procedures, the in-flux states of problem and solution and the four standing pillars of any design equation: this ‘team enthusiasm’, constraints, strategic intent, and the ‘ordering principle’.

In a business setting, it would be natural to first think about controlling the amount of staff time and resources spent. In a design world, while those things need to be managed efficiently, it’s not where we look first.

This is my recipe for attacking design situations with a balance of creativity and strategy, both necessary parts of the concoction.