fast company

We design un-pictureable things

Would you believe that the humble post - it note is causing quite a debate over at Fast Company. James Hunt is adamant they should be thrown out of the designers toolkit.

"It's time to put that ubiquitous design photo of the Post-it to rest. Give it a break. Retire it."

Now I think this is a little extreme but it did get me thinking. Post-it notes seem to go hand in hand with the service design process and I photograph post-its ALOT! But something Snook have become conscious of lately is the amount of  websites and portfolios that showcase a random image of a wall of post its. What does this tell us? Well, not very much to be honest because we can't see what is on the post-its.

"Post-its are visually arresting and like rolled-up sleeves, glasses on the table next to an open fountain pen, beautiful people on cell phones , architectural plans and cups of coffee on a conference room table they are visual shorthand for "hard work is being done here, we're busy innovating!"

I like the response from one reader - "I suppose next you'll be warning us that those who sketch in moleskines lack creativity". He is right, everyone has to find the tools that work for them and the way they like to do things.

How to tangibly capture what we are designing is a challenge service designers face.  So I suppose the lesson here is always look at a picture through someone else's eyes - what does it tell me? what do you learn from look at it? what impression does it give?

"Designers themselves are producing increasingly immaterial--and un-pictureable--things.Whereas designers used to make buildings and interiors and posters and toasters, they now are just as likely to be designing services, systems, platforms, and protocols."

The picture of the post it note was drawn by the fabulous Gill Wildman during a session about Douceurs.

What is the best use of post-it notes you have seen in a service design context?

Systems Thinking v. Design Thinking

Fast Company's Fred Collopy writes about Lessons learned - Why the Failure of Systems Thinking Should Inform the Future of Design Thinking. Last month I read about Systems Thinking and spent an afternoon talking and asking questions about it.


Design and "design thinking" is gaining recognition as an important integrative concept in management practice and education. But it will fail to have a lasting impact, unless we learn from the mistakes of earlier, related ideas. For instance, "system thinking", which shares many of the conceptual foundations of "design thinking", promised to be a powerful guide to management practice, but it has never achieved the success its proponents hoped for. If systems thinking had been successful in gaining a foothold in management education over the last half of the 20th century, there would be no manage by designing movement, or calls for integrative or design thinking.

Callopy argues that Systems Thinking never really captured the imagination of business leaders. And we must learn from its mistakes. He proposes we learn and subscribe to a theory or system of thought that is based on ideas from design and managers and policy makers will become designers of a sort particularly suited to their circumstances.

Design Thinking...What is that?

Mark Dziersk from Fast Company describes design thinking as: the methodology commonly referred to as design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results. 3213311540_b218be055b_o

This is best explanation of Design Thinking I have read.

Dziersk breaks it down into four parts:

  • Define the problem
  • Create and consider many options
  • Refine selected directions
  • Repeat ( optional )
  • Pick the winner, execute

"Defining the problem via design thinking requires the suspension of judgment in defining the problem statement. What we say can be very different to what we mean. The right words are important. It's not "design a chair", it's…"create a way to suspend a person". The goal of the definition stage is to target the right problem to solve, and then to frame the problem in a way that invites creative solutions."

Question; How many designers will it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer; Why a light bulb?


Fast Company asks "What is Ethonomics?" "The end of the modern financial system as we know it has cleared the way for an era of ethical economics, or "Ethonomics." We live in a world that's resource-constrained but ingenuity-rich. So an upstart generation of entrepreneurs--and innovators within the world's biggest companies--are founding businesses that are good for the world as well as the bottom line. They are practicing social change through urban revitalization, sustainable agriculture, green IT, alternative energy and online community-powered investing.

Red Painted Arrow on Concrete

Any business that claims to be truly sustainable and innovative should be increasingly efficient with energy and natural resources, transparent and accountable, and good on balance for people and other living things.

Ethonomics is a hybrid of technology, design, and social responsibility, and at Fast Company we believe it is the future of business."

I am curious...please share any links or info you have on this new found term!

A social business

Hilary Cottam, co-founder of Partciple talks to Fast Company about using design to crack the world's problems. "Design is only ever one tool in the mix, but it brings something very special...disregard design's traditional bounds and apply it to social and political problems."


The misson of this inspirational work is to to crack the intractable social issues of our time.