Luke Wroblewski, at Functioning Form, has written a brief-but-important comparison of different concepts of strategy and innovation, based in part on recent analyses of the role of creativity and design by Tim Brown, Roger Martin and Richard Florida.
Wroblewski compares the "Business" Approach to strategy and innovation to the "Design" approach. Here are a few key examples:
“Business” Approach “Design” Approach Completed Completion of strategy phase marks the start of product development phase. Never: continually evolving with customers. Tools used to communicate strategic vision Spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks. Prototypes, films, and scenarios. Described through Words (often open to interpretation). Pictorial representations and direct experiences with prototypes.
The full list is clearly aimed at those who think about design from a customer-product perspective, but I think it can be abstracted into a comparison of linear vs. complex approaches to a variety of worldchanging issues. Replace "customers" with "citizens," for example, and think about this as a prism for understanding political processes. Or replace "customers" with "species" for a model of understanding ecosystems.
Taking a different angle, Wroblewski's list makes me wonder if there's a third column that needs to be added. If the "Business" approach is past its expiration date, and the "Design" approach is ascendent, what kind of approach is waiting in the wings? My first pass at what that might be is in the extended entry.
|Problem Solving Approach||Evolutionary. In constant state of changing form to meet changing conditions.|
|Validation through||How customers change: observation of new capacities.|
|Informed by||Topsight and measurement of of customer impact upon broader environment.|
|Completed||Processes aren't completed, but can "fork" into multiple customized and contextualized iterations.|
|Focused on||An understanding of customer motivations and external/"environmental" pressures.|
|Tools used to communicate strategic vision||Weblogs, discussion forums, wikis.|
|Described through||Words (subject to revision and reinterpretation), multiple media presentations, simulations.|
|Team members||Overlapping, collaborative and distributed.|
|Work patterns||Fuzzy boundaries between "work" and "learning."|
|Reward structure||Recognition outside of peer group for useful/inspiring solutions.|