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Big Ideas Brought Into Practice
Joel Eden, @joeleden
Big Ideas Brought Into Practice
Systems Thinking and Unthinkable Thoughts
Joel Eden, @joeleden
Principle: Designers need better tools to see (Otherwise) Unthinkable Thoughts
(with a shout out to Bret Victor’s Inventing on Principle ideas)
Systems Thinking and Emergence as a lens to view:
-Distributed Cognition
-Pattern Languages
-Scenarios of use for emergent needs
-Lean Process as a complex adaptive system
Summary of Implications
Tools to think with
Systems Thinking and Emergence
The Flock emerges from the interactions of
birds each following a small set of rules.
There is no leader. The birds are following
evolved habits and behaviors.
Christoffer A Rasmussen (Rasmussen29892 at da.wikipedia)
http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/
Designing (modeling) emergence
Emergent Properties & Behaviors
http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/
A designer (modeler) cannot imagine
the emergent implications - they are
“unthinkable thoughts”
These are so difficult to see, that we
need things like Genetic Algorithms
to come up with potential solutions.
Note: There are other subsets of systems thinking (e.g.,
systems dynamics models), but I’m focusing on complex
adaptive systems here.
Interactions between entities
Let’s apply this to Thinking
From Birds → Humans (Users)
From Flocking → Human thinking
Distributed Cognition
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
“Mindfulness is just matter, nicely orchestrated” -Andy Clark
“Propagation of representational state across
representational media” - Edwin Hutchins
Cognitivist (the mind is the brain)
Cognition is carried out in the brain:
-Inputs from the external world
-Internal representation/model of world
-Internal processing/computation
-Output to the world (actions)
Distributed Cognition (beyond the brain)
Cognition is distributed across:
-Brain and external resources
-Space
-Time
Distributed Cognition - An Example
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Player 1 Player 2
Would you like to play a game?
Distributed Cognition - An Example
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Player 1 Player 2
Would you like to play a game?
5
4
7
2
6
Distributed Cognition - An Example
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Player 1 Player 2
Would you like to play a game?
5
4
7
2
6
8 1 6
3 5 7
4 9 2
How about an isomorphic game that
moves some of the cognition to the
external representation? (tic tac toe :)
Converted internal cognitive processing → Visual thinking (pre-attentive processing at ~200-300 msecs)
Distributed Cognition - An Example
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
Would you like to have an insight? How about an isomorphic chart that
moves some of the cognition to the
external representation?
http://www.perceptualedge.com (Stephen Few)http://www.perceptualedge.com (Stephen Few)
Cognition, the mind, thoughts
Body, external artifacts, pre-attentive vision, brain, time, other people
Distributed Cognition
(The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...)
Implications:
“Cognition” is now a material to
design with, not just for.
Knowledge is achieved over time,
not held statically.
-Mental Models are in many ways an
incorrect way to think about it:
→ Distributed Mental Models
-Consistency can be questioned
Let’s apply this to Design
From Birds → Patterns
From Flocking → Experience
Patterns “complete” each other
through the resolution of forces.
Design as a process of unfolding.
Similarities to self organizing
systems in systems thinking.
(Alexandrian) Pattern Languages
Pattern Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
PatternPattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
(Alexandrian) Pattern Languages
Implications:
Design choices (patterns) can have
emergent implications at the systemic
level that are unthinkable by designers
with today’s tools.
Distributed cognitive resources as
patterns.
Scales really well (e.g., Service Design).
Wholeness, The Quality Without a
Name (great design/experiences)
Patterns related by forces created and resolved
Let’s apply this to Scenarios / Needs
From Birds → Humans
From Flocking → Needs
Scenarios (for emergent needs)
Needs emerge from interactions in
context
Implications:
Empathy for a system?!
Even more reason to not just “ask the
user” what they need; they can’t know
many needs; they are unthinkable
thoughts to the individual human user.
Linear scenarios (text, storyboards), but
needs arise from nonlinear interactions.
People (goals), context (time, place, space), time
Scenarios (for emergent needs)
Mark just got back from a trip to
New York, and he wants to share
the photos he took on Facebook.
He looks opens the photo viewer,
and selects which photos he
wants to add to a list he creates
called “best pics.” He tags the
photos with the place...
photo
list
prints
edits→
Useful tool from Kim Goodwin’s book on goal directed design:
Read through scenario(s), drawing a graph of info objects.
Let’s apply this to Lean Design Process
From Birds → Hypotheses
From Flocking → Product planning
Lean Process as a complex adaptive system
Complex Adaptive Systems have been described as:
“Like walking through a maze that changes with each step.”
This is just like having a prioritized backlog of hypotheses that
may reorder based on what you learn from dealing with just
the most important (uncertain, etc) hypothesis.
The “plan” (and product) emerges as you validate hypotheses!
-The “Lean Pull” Eric Ries mentions in Lean Startup book.
Summary of Implications
Cognition can be thought of as a material to design with, not for!
(Distributed) Mental Models - knowledge and cognition are distributed well beyond
the brain.
Empathy for a “system” - what does it mean to take the perspective of the system?
Many ideas in the design space of possibilities (including maybe the best solution)
cannot be seen by designers with today’s tools! (unthinkable thoughts):
-Implications of the interactions of design choices (patterns).
-Potential design choices (patterns) you can’t think of, but can be shown.
-Need to shift from ego centered design practice to ego-less (requires humility)
Tools to think with
(to help see otherwise unthinkable thoughts)
We need models to play with!
Complicated
(efficiency gained over
manual effort)
Complex
(you can’t even comprehend
without newer tools)
(Otherwise) Unthinkable Thoughts
Cluster Analysis for Personas
Tools to think with
I did this manually, but imagine a tool with:
-Drag and drop participants onto behavioral attributes
-Facets to bring in and out participants / behavioral attributes
-See data/trends over time
-See together with market segments, etc
Tools to think with - Generative Design
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
Pattern
=+
Design
Possibilities
& Critiques
Imagine typing a scenario and seeing design ideas appear
as you type...or design critiques as you design.
Mark just got back from a trip to
New York, and he wants to share
the photos he took on Facebook.
He looks opens the photo viewer,
and selects which photos he
wants to add to a list he creates
called “best pics.” He tags the
photos with the place[].
photo
list
prints
edits
Prioritized Backlog
of Needs Generative Pattern Language
(model & algorithms, GAs, etc)
Thank you!
I’m here all week… :)

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Systems Thinking and Unthinkable Thoughts

  • 1. Big Ideas Brought Into Practice Joel Eden, @joeleden
  • 2. Big Ideas Brought Into Practice Systems Thinking and Unthinkable Thoughts Joel Eden, @joeleden
  • 3. Principle: Designers need better tools to see (Otherwise) Unthinkable Thoughts (with a shout out to Bret Victor’s Inventing on Principle ideas) Systems Thinking and Emergence as a lens to view: -Distributed Cognition -Pattern Languages -Scenarios of use for emergent needs -Lean Process as a complex adaptive system Summary of Implications Tools to think with
  • 4. Systems Thinking and Emergence The Flock emerges from the interactions of birds each following a small set of rules. There is no leader. The birds are following evolved habits and behaviors. Christoffer A Rasmussen (Rasmussen29892 at da.wikipedia) http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/
  • 5. Designing (modeling) emergence Emergent Properties & Behaviors http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/ A designer (modeler) cannot imagine the emergent implications - they are “unthinkable thoughts” These are so difficult to see, that we need things like Genetic Algorithms to come up with potential solutions. Note: There are other subsets of systems thinking (e.g., systems dynamics models), but I’m focusing on complex adaptive systems here. Interactions between entities
  • 6. Let’s apply this to Thinking From Birds → Humans (Users) From Flocking → Human thinking
  • 7. Distributed Cognition (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) “Mindfulness is just matter, nicely orchestrated” -Andy Clark “Propagation of representational state across representational media” - Edwin Hutchins Cognitivist (the mind is the brain) Cognition is carried out in the brain: -Inputs from the external world -Internal representation/model of world -Internal processing/computation -Output to the world (actions) Distributed Cognition (beyond the brain) Cognition is distributed across: -Brain and external resources -Space -Time
  • 8. Distributed Cognition - An Example (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Player 1 Player 2 Would you like to play a game?
  • 9. Distributed Cognition - An Example (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Player 1 Player 2 Would you like to play a game? 5 4 7 2 6
  • 10. Distributed Cognition - An Example (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Player 1 Player 2 Would you like to play a game? 5 4 7 2 6 8 1 6 3 5 7 4 9 2 How about an isomorphic game that moves some of the cognition to the external representation? (tic tac toe :) Converted internal cognitive processing → Visual thinking (pre-attentive processing at ~200-300 msecs)
  • 11. Distributed Cognition - An Example (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) Would you like to have an insight? How about an isomorphic chart that moves some of the cognition to the external representation? http://www.perceptualedge.com (Stephen Few)http://www.perceptualedge.com (Stephen Few)
  • 12. Cognition, the mind, thoughts Body, external artifacts, pre-attentive vision, brain, time, other people Distributed Cognition (The Extended Mind Hypothesis, Embodied Cognition, ...) Implications: “Cognition” is now a material to design with, not just for. Knowledge is achieved over time, not held statically. -Mental Models are in many ways an incorrect way to think about it: → Distributed Mental Models -Consistency can be questioned
  • 13. Let’s apply this to Design From Birds → Patterns From Flocking → Experience
  • 14. Patterns “complete” each other through the resolution of forces. Design as a process of unfolding. Similarities to self organizing systems in systems thinking. (Alexandrian) Pattern Languages Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern PatternPattern Pattern Pattern Pattern
  • 15. (Alexandrian) Pattern Languages Implications: Design choices (patterns) can have emergent implications at the systemic level that are unthinkable by designers with today’s tools. Distributed cognitive resources as patterns. Scales really well (e.g., Service Design). Wholeness, The Quality Without a Name (great design/experiences) Patterns related by forces created and resolved
  • 16. Let’s apply this to Scenarios / Needs From Birds → Humans From Flocking → Needs
  • 17. Scenarios (for emergent needs) Needs emerge from interactions in context Implications: Empathy for a system?! Even more reason to not just “ask the user” what they need; they can’t know many needs; they are unthinkable thoughts to the individual human user. Linear scenarios (text, storyboards), but needs arise from nonlinear interactions. People (goals), context (time, place, space), time
  • 18. Scenarios (for emergent needs) Mark just got back from a trip to New York, and he wants to share the photos he took on Facebook. He looks opens the photo viewer, and selects which photos he wants to add to a list he creates called “best pics.” He tags the photos with the place... photo list prints edits→ Useful tool from Kim Goodwin’s book on goal directed design: Read through scenario(s), drawing a graph of info objects.
  • 19. Let’s apply this to Lean Design Process From Birds → Hypotheses From Flocking → Product planning
  • 20. Lean Process as a complex adaptive system Complex Adaptive Systems have been described as: “Like walking through a maze that changes with each step.” This is just like having a prioritized backlog of hypotheses that may reorder based on what you learn from dealing with just the most important (uncertain, etc) hypothesis. The “plan” (and product) emerges as you validate hypotheses! -The “Lean Pull” Eric Ries mentions in Lean Startup book.
  • 21. Summary of Implications Cognition can be thought of as a material to design with, not for! (Distributed) Mental Models - knowledge and cognition are distributed well beyond the brain. Empathy for a “system” - what does it mean to take the perspective of the system? Many ideas in the design space of possibilities (including maybe the best solution) cannot be seen by designers with today’s tools! (unthinkable thoughts): -Implications of the interactions of design choices (patterns). -Potential design choices (patterns) you can’t think of, but can be shown. -Need to shift from ego centered design practice to ego-less (requires humility)
  • 22. Tools to think with (to help see otherwise unthinkable thoughts) We need models to play with! Complicated (efficiency gained over manual effort) Complex (you can’t even comprehend without newer tools) (Otherwise) Unthinkable Thoughts
  • 23. Cluster Analysis for Personas Tools to think with I did this manually, but imagine a tool with: -Drag and drop participants onto behavioral attributes -Facets to bring in and out participants / behavioral attributes -See data/trends over time -See together with market segments, etc
  • 24. Tools to think with - Generative Design Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern Pattern =+ Design Possibilities & Critiques Imagine typing a scenario and seeing design ideas appear as you type...or design critiques as you design. Mark just got back from a trip to New York, and he wants to share the photos he took on Facebook. He looks opens the photo viewer, and selects which photos he wants to add to a list he creates called “best pics.” He tags the photos with the place[]. photo list prints edits Prioritized Backlog of Needs Generative Pattern Language (model & algorithms, GAs, etc)
  • 25. Thank you! I’m here all week… :)