Power: archetype diagram

Our second assignment for Theory in Q4 was about power. We had 5 reading (listed at the bottom of this post) that talked about power dynamics relating to work, culture, and our roles within.  Our assignment was to create an artifact to illustrate our thinking on the topic.

I started by abstracting ideas from the readings based on different roles: those holding on to power, those empowering others, those giving up their power. For each of the readings, I wrote my take-away for each role.

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If you try to hold onto your own power

  • work goes slower, is inefficient
  • you fall into routine and become irrelevant
  • you’re putting shit in the world that only serves your personal gain
  • you work in an echo chamber and have to convince everyone you’re right
  • you can kill a culture

If you empower others

  • work is more efficient
  • you have to continue innovating and not fall into routine
  • your work is more meaningful in people’s lives (but also harder)
  • creative abrasion (more people, more ideas) leads to stronger ideas
  • respect people by giving them more opportunity or visibility because you’re there

If you give into the demands of those in power

  • work is boring and stifling
  • you’re part of the capitalist routine. can’t be innovative.
  • you’re just using something the way it was designed
  • someone else will make all the decisions
  • you let your culture die

Creative abrasion from Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education
Dunne, Martin was pretty inspiring to me in this project. The idea is that hearing more opinions, even challenging ones, can make arguments stronger and can lead to better performance. Diversity, in other words. It’s easy to fall in line with people who are like you: who think like you, look like you. It’s easy in another way to parrot people around us to fit in. It’s pretty vulnerable to dissent to those around you, or admit that you might be wrong.  If we’re open to it, positive change can come from considering opinions that oppose your beliefs.

People who are “different–” like, say.. women– haven’t always had the opportunity or the agency to voice their beliefs publicly and be taken seriously. The internet has opened up lines of communication, creating safe spaces for those seen as minorities in our society to talk freely about their lives. It’s wonderful that people have those spaces to speak, but these voices are getting very loud in closed off rooms. The echo chamber of social media keeps us all in bubbles, where we think real change is happening because all the people around us are talking at the same change, but the larger conversation is much slower to adapt.

In comes Bubblr: a [fictional] tool to break out of your social media bubble by finding people that you’re connected to in some way (industry, location, etc) but that are ideologically different.


I looked at archetypes of people I see as having an incentive to use social media actively and why. Then, I created a diagram to represent how they would disseminate information differently with Bubblr. For example, an activist might use Bubblr to strengthen her narrative and find allies who might just have been turned off by the language of her message before. A marketer might use Bubblr to find new markets. While “marketing” can have a predatory connotation, people can really benefit from products and services. If a marketer is listening back to what people are saying, they may be able to make a impact on people’s lives in a  more direct and meaningful way.

The real impact in this model is with the Passerby:Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.14.59 AM

These are average social media users who are being engaged with by active Bubblr users who are commenting, following, or liking what they’re saying. Just having that interaction will cause people to look at their new followers profiles, and maybe think about what they have to say.

I am aware that this is a pretty sunny take on what can happen when people with opposing ideologies come together. Conflicts can have pretty dramatic consequences. They can also teach us a lot. If we’re just carrying on our path, being agreeable, we might be squandering our potential for change. We shouldn’t let what is working for others be the default, because it reinforces their power and undermines our own.



Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education
Dunne, Martin

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Schumpeter Revisited
John Hagedoorn

Designing for Democracy at Work: Introduction and Chapter 11
Pelle Ehn

Jon Kolko

Urban Design and Architecture in the Service of Colonialism in Morocco
Assia Lamzah