Fit and Function

Many issues faced in times of change is negotiating fit with function and how shifting one can transform the other.

The challenges of 2020 and beyond are as much a configuration problem as they are anything else.

Things don’t fit as they once did and they no longer function as they did because of how they fit.

Our fancy clothes don’t fit our work and life, they no longer function as a means to send the messages they once did.

Our offices don’t fit the work we do, they don’t function as places of productivity and gathering anymore.

Our homes aren’t places we retreat after a workday, rest and recharge, or a place where we host our friends and family, they function as a place of refuge, protection, entrepreneurship, learning and isolation, together.

Assessing Fit, Evaluating Function

Innovators and evaluators often look to the functions that something serves to determine whether or not it is having impact. Failure to function properly is what we’d call a design flaw. But what is often missed is the fit. Certain behaviours, services, and activities might have performed very well when the fit with the environment was tight, but fall apart when it is not. Consider things like inside dining in restaurants, in-person post-secondary teaching labs, live theatre and concerts, and house parties pre-COVID. All of them functioned very well at what they were intended to do, but as the fit changed, so did the function.

If we don’t assess how something fits within its context — which means understanding the context itself — then we will miss much about what the functions are and what they are expecting to achieve.

As an innovator and evaluator your job is to consider what the fit and function is of your creation at any moment. Only then will you know whether you are looking forward, backward or somewhere in the middle (and thus, what the chair above is all about).

Photo drawn from Keith Yamashita‘s presentation at The Great Wave conference, 2020.

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

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