Disruption and Stability

How to design when we are massively disrupted and still left with this persistent feeling of sameness?

Contrast captures our attention and too much or too little is not helpful to us humans.

Yet, this is the situation much of the world finds itself in 2021. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reveal themselves in peculiar ways leaving many of wondering what’s next? The latest issue of the Censemaking Innovation Newsletter focuses on this very thing bringing together examples of strategies for dealing with stability and provoking (positive) disruption.

Here are some highlights from the many contradictions and possibilities found with disruption and stability for both ideas and how to work.

New Ideas & Brainstorming

Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation. Isaac Asimov knew this and spoke about how ideas form and spread in an era framed by post-war reconstruction and those same insights are just as valuable as they are today. This 1959 interview is striking because it could have been done today.

Brainstorming is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of generating new ideas. The reason is that it’s popular and easy to do — which is a way to say: be wary of it. That task of generating new thinking is made more difficult when working at a distance, which is why Miro pulled together 20 tips that it’s found helps with this challenging task.

For more tips on brainstorming, here is what the evidence suggests in a useful piece from the Harvard Business Review.

Coming Together, Working Apart

Designer and educator Jocelyn K. Glei started working at home, alone as a freelancer just ahead of the pandemic and the lessons that she’s learned about how to do it well (by doing some it badly) are ones that resonated with me, too. They follow good environmental and psychological design principles and can help create a little positive disruption in the overwhelming sameness of being isolated or separated working from home — now and moving forward.

Whether its online or face-to-face, humans gather all the time for all kinds of reasons. Priya Parker has made understanding and sharing the art and science of gathering her focus and has prepared a guide and newsletter to help you do it better. Like meetings, great gatherings happen by design.

And speaking of meetings, most people generally dislike them because they are badly designed. Innovation site Sifted has polled its readers and come up with a list of useful recommendations that they hope will ‘make meetings great again’. Great? Not sure, but if we must meet, we can try.

Thanks for reading. For more information on all of these and for getting future issues consider subscribing to the newsletter that comes out every two weeks as part of your coffee break.

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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