Richard Buchanan COINs and Design Keynote Speach

Richard Buchanan was a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Design School before leaving for the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western. He’s a personal hero of mine, and one of the few people moving design into spaces that were previously owned by business and management. He recently gave a keynote talk at COINs and you should definitely check it out on livestream here.

The general gist of the talk informed the audience of the true nature of design, design thinking, and how it’s going to make it’s way into management.

One thing Dick does well and does often, probably because of his philosophy background, is define terms. Having taken a few classes with him, I have found a new appreciation for definitions. So I just wanted to note a few he said during the talk and what they mean.

System

All that has and will happen

This was to say that no one can understand a full system. No one can understand the full extent of an organization, an industry, even a pencil, because as he put it “only God knows that”. The implication of this statement is one that made me choose Service Design. Service Design and Interaction Design are experience driven, designing an organization is not. When you help shape a group of people, no one, not even yourself, will ever feel the product that you made. People don’t feel systems, they feel their paths through those systems.

Product

Anything made by man

It’s time to stop thinking design is about posters and toasters. Anything that is made by a human is a product of design. It’s time to expand our understand of what it means to make something, and the mental processes which govern that process.

Interaction Design

How people relate to others through the mediation of products.

Interaction design is NOT about computers. It’s about people. Also, the reason I’ve been slowly removing myself from Service Design, is that this definition places Service Design is a subset of Interaction Design, and honestly, I think that design is fragmented enough as it is. Someone once described the difference between Interaction Design and Interactive Design to me, and I wanted to shoot off my face at how inane the distinctions made were. Dick uses a division of design disciplines called the Four Orders of Design borrowed from Richard McKeon’s previous division which I’m sure I’ll talk about later.

Entrepreneurship

Inventing an idea and developing it in innovation that brings benefit to an organization and the people served by an organization

This ladies and gentlemen is what Dick thinks Design will become in 10 years. Design will transition to Design Entrepreneurship as a way of bridging the gap between design an management. It will shuck off all the old baggage of the term “design” and take on a whole new skepticism of individuality and ego and competitiveness as we move into the next decade. It makes sense. Entrepreneurs come up with ideas, build business models around them, make shit happen. That’s what I do now, only everything thinks I should be sticking to my wireframes.

Skeptical Dialectic

I think this deserves a whole post on it’s own.

Almost forgot

Check out the transcript and mp3’s Jeff Howard put together over at Designing for Service