Design for Movement

Innovation requires learning to design for the changes around us. This involves not treating moving things as if they’re still.

Even if we are standing still, movement is all around us. Whether it’s the seasons, the weather, business cycles or more, we are surrounded by change. Change might be the only true constant.

However, our view of change requires a reframe.

Change is too often seen as something that is done from a still or ‘standing position’ toward another ‘thing’ at a standing position.

Still and moving

A few years ago I wrote about the example of wood (as in trees) as an example of why we need to pay attention to what is moving and what is not. It’s the difference between how we treat a living tree and a piece of furniture crafted from that tree.

Increasingly we are operating from a highly dynamic state and seeking to have influence in an environment that is also in a highly dynamic state. This means two moving parts that have to come together. Among the best analogies can be found in sports where two teammates need to coordinate and synchronize their actions in order to make something happen.

Soccer players are often kicking their ball while running to a teammate who is running (maybe in another direction). Or a quarterback is fleeing from a linebacker and throwing to a receiver who is looking to outrun a defensive back.

Training for movement

The essence of this post is to inspire consideration of a few key questions about change: are we training ourselves for change that is adept at reflecting changing conditions? Are we looking to change things for the present or are we developing our change models for the future?

  • Are we designing change for the conditions of today or tomorrow? (Why? – because most likely whatever we do today will produce change in the future, yet often we take today as constant. We treat it as still, not moving).
  • Do we know what tomorrow looks like? Are we spending the resources on paying attention to our environment — the social, political, environmental, economic, and technological — to know what that change space might look like?
  • What else is changing? We might look to launch a new product or service, but our competitors might be doing the exact same thing.

To prepare for this future, we can do a few things. Firstly, getting the right kind of data about what’s happening above is key. Next, develop and envision scenarios to run through these possibilities in a simulation or experiment focusing on the near-term.

Link these strategically and build in the kind of real-time data collection and feedback (be reflective in our practice). This kind of habits — of mind and practice — will generate new habits of perception. These perceptual differences — like those found with the high-diving board problem where initial expectations and reality are mixed up — are the kinds of things that prevent us from making the change we seek.

This is what training for movement means and how we can better prepare for change as we go and change for changing conditions.

Photos by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash . Thanks for sharing your art, Ahmad.

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