Tackling Transformation

Having recently joined the Transforming Transformation Discussion Forum (hook up here) I have been lucky enough to listen in to some fantastic conversations from all over the world.

I joined the forum as a result of discovering Humantific: Humantific is a new breed of SenseMaking-based Transformation Consultancy. This article focuses on the work of the directors Garry K. VanPatter and Elizabeth Pastor.


This week I read Bruce Nussbuam's Transformation Conversation in Business Week. It is sparking off many debates across the blog world.

Jeff Howard comments:

"Transformation design as a discipline is being pioneered in the UK by Hilary Cottam from the Design Council and now at Participle, and to an extent by IDEO in the US. The Mayo Clinic's SPARC initiative is a great example of the power of transformation design."

Another comment tells us "transformation design" has been around for a while: see wiki.

I also read Jeff's lastest post on the subject @  Design For Service.

This 'buzz' encouraged me to get around to reading a paper I printed a while ago: RED Paper 02, Transformation Design, written by the Design Council.

Even though the website is a couple of years old, it summarises the Design Council's intiative RED. RED was set up in 2004 to tackle social and economic issues through design led innovation.


After reading the PDF, which is available on the site. I have spent the afternoon grappling with the subject. I would highly recommend the PDF to anyone who is interested.



I would like to highlight some points that got me thinking and asking questions: 

"There is a growing desire among designers, both young and old, to tackle society's most pressing problems."

"We are experiencing two important shifts: firstly, in where design skills are being applied, and secondly, in who is actually doing the designing."

The acknowledgment that "design is never done."

"Transformation designers are just as likely to find themselves shaping a job description as shaping a new product."

"Just as teachers are no longer the only people who help you learn, and doctors no longer the only people who can make you well, ...designers are no longer the only people who do design."

"Designers keen to work in this way are able to think systematically, apply design thinking in broader social, economic and political context, collaborate fruitfully with other disciplines, and champion a human centered design approach at the highest level."

So...who is doing transformation design that is not doing service design? and what is the difference? I'd like to learn more about individuals who label themselves as transformation designers. Interesting stuff...I think I need the evening to think more....