the firm as conversation between business, technology and culture
Originally uploaded by IC Pod.
Modelling a firm or organisation as a series of conversations between three attractors is a useful way of understanding its social nature:
B= the business attractor; "what do we want to be known for?", are we meeting our quarterly targets?, How do we expand? How do we attract new staff? etc.
T= technology attractor: What technologies, tools and techniques have we got at our disposal? Can we create new things to do stuff? etc.
C= culture attractor; Its how we do things around here; Culture of course is a very complex emergent property - the amount of designing we do depends on the depth to which it (designing) is embedded in the culture and so Design is actually a metaphor for our culture. Look around you how do the artefacts and environment reflect espoused values and underlying assumptions about the culture of the group/firm/organisation you are in?
The conversations we have ,of course, reflect both the culture we operate in and the group to which we belong and we tend to feel most comfortable when we can drag the conversation back to our "groupspeak".
People in each of the attractors can have a different agenda:
Those who tend to "B" approach things from the Point of View (pov) of Viability- will it make money? will it grow the business? will it reduce costs?
"T" people are interested in Feasibility: Will it work? Is it reliable?
"C (D)" people will want to know if its desirable to them or to the their customers. What desirable means will depend on the design thinking that goes on and whether they are driven by hubris art one end of the scale and consumer understanding at the other.
To minimise the desire to darg the conversation to their corner requires tools for reframing:
A collaborative TC conversation will be focused on "i" interaction: How does the external shape and features-the packaging- affect the consumers?
A collaborative CB conversation is about "b"- the brand. Does the product/service fit with our image and our aims? Will we confuse our consumers?
A collaborative BT conversation is about "s" the system. If we do this product does it move us along the path to robust profitable growth? Help us reduce costs? Give us uniqueness, however fleeting?
Three way conversations will combine "b" and s" to embrace the role "R" of the product... does it develop our brand credentials? does it play to or consolidate our technological strengths? does the consumer appreciate the enhanced interaction?
They will embrace "i" and "b" to cover the look and feel "l & f". Does using the product feel like we are interacting with a Ford Ka or a Porsche, Lynx or Dove, Apple or Dell? Do we feel good about it?
They also embrace "i" and "s" to give "I" Implementation. When we combine the system and interaction features do we end up with an iPod+iTunes+ITMS that is great to use or a WIFI+Starbucks+T-mobile that is a pig?
O is the sweetspot, where creative conversations and effective actions are focussed on delivering impressive customer/consumer/user experiences that make them smile and come back for more.
Essentially O is about recognising opportunity from the consumer's pov and mitigating the risk in delivering that great experience through your goods and services. This as about creative dialogue between the right people at the right time around the right prototype... I'll expand on this shortly.