This week, Intelligent Management is delighted to begin a workshop with the Institute Without Boundaries in Toronto. Over the course of 9 months, a group of post-graduate students from diverse backgrounds will co-create an interdisciplinary design strategy under the guidance of a faculty of professional designers and architects. This year, the focus is on sustainable urban practices for the city of Dublin.
As Systems Thinkers who promote the Decalogue Methodology, what will we be sharing with these students? That the final product of our design effort should be a complete set of “injections” (solutions) to the conflict that clients are stuck in.
Who says our clients are in a conflict?
Thanks to the Thinking Process Tools created by Israeli physicist Eliyahu Goldratt, we now know that any situation of blockage or impasse can be analyzed, crafted and ultimately ‘solved’ using the powerful Conflict Cloud tool. If we need a design solution to something, then it means that there is a problem , or a blockage that needs to be resolved. Something is keeping us stuck in a situation that we know can be improved, if only we can figure out how to do it.
Starting from the symptoms or ‘Undesirable Effects’
When we map out a conflict with the Core Conflict Cloud, we acknowledge from a systemic perspective that everything is connected, and so we start by gathering all those elements of reality connected with the situation we are analyzing that currently cause us discomfort. These are the Undesirable Effects. We then crunch these down into one statement. The result is one, mega consolidated Undesirable Effect (UDE).The “consolidation” of these Undesirable Effects provides us with the starting point to build the Core Conflict.
The consolidated Undesirable Effect is the starting state of reality that we experience. This state of reality is in conflict with a ‘Desired Reality’. Each conflicting position protects a precise need. Both needs are equally important and both must be successfully addressed in order to achieve a goal which is common to both.
In order to paint from this conflict a picture of the Current Reality that we are experiencing, we need to understand what are the underlying mental models/assumptions we make.
These mental models/assumptions represent the cognitive constraint (what limits our ability to learn) of our Current Reality. By logically invalidating assumptions, mainly between D and D’, we remove the causes underpinning the conflict and “evaporate” the conflict.
The resulting set of invalidating statements are the solution to the conflict and we call them “injections”. These injections, once carried out effectively, allow the transition from the Current State of Reality to a Future, more desirable state of reality.
From cities to chairs
Whether we are designing a complete strategy for an organization, or an urban planning solution, or, for that matter, a chair, we can follow the same mental process to address undesirable effects and tackle the mental models that keep us stuck in a present reality so we can transition into a more desirable reality, free of our limiting assumptions. The Thinking Process tools, together with Goldratt’s revolutionary Critical Chain project management approach, allow us to create a precisely scheduled, realistic, actionable plan to accomplish the solution we have designed. The result will be a robust design that is free of negative implications, transparent and communicable, and that offers a clear improvement to a less than satisfactory current state of reality. In other words, a better future.