Ubiquity and Differentiation

One outcome of productizing design processes and deliverables is that those are taught in university courses, MOOCs and other immersive environments to non–designers.

This leads to a ubiquity of design jargon across new industries, and by new agents (business leaders, managers, software developers)

The less discussed concern is differentiation. If the process is productize (universalized) why would a prospect decide to work with one studio over another? (To be fair I am viewing this with an 80/20 resolution)

Seth Godin likes to call this kind of lack of differentiation (intention–less client work) as leading to the race to the bottom. Who is a believable person who can give me this thing for the lowest cost possible?

In and of itself I think that educating the market on how to be more empathetic and agile in thinking is not a bad thing at all. The real question is what now?

Are we just left as Design Thinking TA’s for our clients? At what point do we feel the urgency (and agency) to write new modals that make stronger use of the contexts involved (ours, our clients, and the environment today).

If we accept that our practice is who we are–and not what we do–then it is obvious that we must move forward, building on what our clients know, switching from efficient agility to effective liminality.

Mary Catherine Bateson on Away

I previously shared Bateson’s comments on the psychology of epistemology. In a recent Harvard Bookstore panel (celebrating the release of Possible Minds) she made a compelling point on the use of the word ‘away’ as a logical construct which limits empathy, and forces a localized vantage point.

↳ https://edgecast.fireside.fm/531?t=410

The Value of Everything

Until the mid-nineteenth century, too, almost all economists assumed that in order to understand the prices of goods and services it was first necessary to have an objective theory of value, a theory tied to the conditions in which those goods and services were produced, including the time needed to produce them, the quality of the labour employed; and the determinants of ‘value’ actually shaped the price of goods and services. Then, this thinking began to go into reverse. Many economists came to believe that the value of things was determined by the price paid on the ‘market’–or, in other words, what the consumer was prepared to pay.

All of a sudden, value was in the eye of the beholder. Any goods or services being sold at an agreed market price were by definition value-creating.


The Value of Everything, Mariana Mazzucato