May I have this dance?

An end of year message (solicited by the good people at WorldChanging), from every interaction designer’s favourite curmudgeonly spirit-of-Christmas-yet-to-come, John Thackara:

“We’re swamped by innovation, but starved of meaning. So what steps should we take, and in which order?

I believe the solution is to scout the world for situations where the question has already been addressed – whatever the question may be. The Danish theatre director Eugenio Barba describes this as “the dance of the big and the small”. We need to be global hunter-gatherers of models, processes, and ways of living that already exist.

In the same way that biomimicry learns from millions of years of natural evolution, we need to adapt lessons learned by other societies to our present, ultra-local needs.”

And showing that he can aphorise as well as Sterling:

“Where there are gaps, we can invent stuff. But let’s ease up on inventing for it’s own sake: it delivers as much smoke, as solutions.”

Wonderful stuff.

And timely – in the year where BusinessWeek became Ideo’s company brochure, and they seem to have taught everyone else to search-and-replace “design” with “innovation” in order to get into the boardrooms.

Design can be taking away, it can be doing less, it can be doing the-same-but-better. And better. And better.

Sometimes the inventions you need are already exist, but haven’t been honed or applied correctly. We went through a big design exercise this year with our business (and some great help – thanks Scott!) and came to similar conclusions.

The dance of the big and the small continues.

Happy new year.

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