This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Incorporating Design Thinking into New Community Paradigms

It was back about six weeks ago that starting the online course Design Thinking Action Lab taught by Leticia Britos Cavagnarot through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University was mentioned in a couple of blog posts, New Community Paradigms Design Team at Design Thinking Action Lab and Learning more about What is Design Thinking?

Now the course is finishing up and the final assignment is to reflect on your experience with the design challenge and how you might apply the skills and mindsets of design thinking to your own work and interests.

In the early stages of the course they had us do some self-reflection about what we wanted to get out of the class and we then went on on to form Learning Squads. I started one named New Community Paradigms. For myself, the basis for both was this New Community Paradigms effort. It seems right then to return to this blog and have it be the platform for the final official review of the class. There will though be further explorations of what was taught in the class in future posts. There was too much for just one blog post.

My personal stated goal for the Design Thinking class was to see how it could be incorporated into a community-based direct deliberative democracy approach to community governance. Design thinking is an excursion into another previously unexplored arena, among those so far ventured into include ‘Livable Communities,’ ‘Placemaking,’ ‘Radical’ Community Engagement, and ‘Systems Thinking.’ Although I already had knowledge of Design Thinking and considered it as potentially being an important component of New Community Paradigms, this was the first time I had attempted a course on it.

I started at a reflection and formulation stage and I am still there but then I didn't expect the course to fit immediately and smoothly into my current efforts. I hoped that what I would learn could later be incorporated as both means by which I further developed those efforts and as its own end alone. That much as been achieved, now it is a matter of implementing it.

There was further self-reflection as to our individual approach to inquiry or the space of inquiry to be defined by three words, which for me due to an introverted and introspective personality type, were exploring, internalized, reflection. All happening within an environment encompassing space, people, and process dedicated to Design Thinking. There will be more reflection on these aspects with future blog posts.

With that as a basis, we began to explore a specific problem set or design challenge. I use the term problem set because it was crafted to encompass a wide and diverse set of issues within an important aspect of a great number of people’s lives, the transition from college to work. The focus, however, was on the process or the journey not the product or goal and not so much on asking the right questions but asking the questions the right way.

As was said in the Learning more about What is Design Thinking? post.

Now though, having learned more, I would say that design thinking goes beyond being micro-focused to drilling down into the community at a subatomic level of design by focusing on a specific individual. Design Thinking demonstrates that there is an important difference between designing for individuals as the average of a class or for a group of individuals and instead designing for one specific individual. The later is more aligned with a human-centered design or user-centered design perspective by emphasizing a deeper understanding of problems from the perspective of different stakeholders, not as a member of a class or a category, but as a unique individual. It can be applied in this way to the creation of innovative products, services and processes.
The purpose of addressing the problem set from the perspective of a unique stakeholder was to allow us to go through the Design Thinking process. The first phase was framing or defining the problem by establishing empathy with the ultimate stakeholder. The challenge could be examined through different lenses and stakeholders by talking to them and learning about their perspectives so that one discovered their unique problems that needed to be tackled. Government usually takes a one size, or more to the point our size, fits all approach. Government programs are usually designed to fit the needs of funders or overseers but very seldom is there a true focus on user needs. It has been a common philosophy of government that if you set the program resources up so as to keep those deemed undeserving out then the rest of the program will take care of itself.

I am not going to go into details of my particular project wanting to focus instead on the process but my interview was productive. However, I made the mistake of being too restrictive in selecting collected data to put on the final empathy map. I just needed a bigger map. More data or information would have helped to provide a clearer picture of the stakeholder for whom I was designing. The creating of this picture of the stakeholder reminded me largely of the Appreciative Inquiry approach. This is another yet known but unexplored arena to which more attention needs to be paid.

The next step was Ideate which for the assignment consisted of coming up with 50 ideas that could address the specific insight derived from the empathy and definition stage. Again, the focus was not on coming up with a single best fit answer but to generate an overabundance of ideas extending from the practical to the fantastical to the disruptive. Idea generation exercises included imagine addressing the challenge with a million dollars or if a 5 year old had to implement it. Again, this is not something in which most city halls would care to partake but then most city halls are not bastions of innovation. For my part, I was only able to come up with 35 ideas. Partially because I left it too late and got burnt out before the deadline but perhaps also because my empathy and framed or defined insight was too focused limiting the possibility of generating ideas. Perhaps not an issue if one comes up with a viable idea but as will be shown later the ideas I finally implemented had limitations.

From the 50 or 35 ideas, 3 were chosen as most practical, most disruptive and favorite, and from those 2 were selected for the next stage of the assignment Prototype and Test. The fundamental idea I took from this stage was of failing forward, and I should add fast. This concept of prototyping or pretotyping to fail more efficiently, effortless or at far lower costs is further explained by Alberto Savoia, Google's Innovation Agitator and Engineering Director, through his "The Pretotyping Manifesto" presented to the Stanford Graduate School of Business in January of 2012.

At this stage, we were to build inexpensive, make that cheap throwaway models of what we were proposing as solutions or approaches to the insights through the ideas that we had generated. This is an approach followed by many innovative companies in the private sector but still seems inexplicable to most in city hall. In my experience, management was not even comfortable with an iterative process concerning the creation of something, wanting instead a final finished product without mistakes to be presented to the city council and public. This meant that once a course of action was decided upon early in the process that everything was done to justify that decision including selling it to the public. The notion that an idea should be allowed to fail and then try another one was inconceivable because it would mean that upper management or the city council had been wrong about something.

There was also a significant error in application with my own two prototypes, one an online platform similar to LinkedIn but dedicated to the stakeholder’s industry and the second being on online management training program similar to a combination between the Sim games and Second Life. The prototype format was a mock up of computer screens for both ideas by which I mean a series of text boxes with appropriate sounding titles and associated notes.

Both were well received by others in peer review for what they were designed to do but I realized after having gone through the process that they came up short regarding actually addressing the stakeholder’s immediate problem. They might have if they had already been built and partaking in the building of them could have potentially helped the stakeholder but the stakeholder did not see it that way. Wanting instead to depend upon their own set of skills despite any obstacles that may or may not arise. In actual field testing this would have meant putting my solution aside and looking for another by coming up with more ideas or revisiting the empathy and frame or define phases.

My idea could then be evaluated for implementation at a later stage, that however would have meant broadening the stakeholders who likely would have had other concerns. One of the artificial aspects of the class is that every project was able to see, at least virtually, the light of day. In a community setting, with large, diverse groups and competing interests, perhaps nothing gets done. From a community perspective, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be necessary and proper for other elements of civil society to step in to address certain challenges.

I already listed the difficulties that government and other more bureaucratic institutions might have in implementing Design Thinking processes. There could also be potential stumbling blocks concerning community activists doing it if there isn’t a set discipline to walk the fine line between stifling creativity and becoming too attached to an idea that isn’t going anywhere. If Design Thinking could be implemented in a community setting that could then become a needed skill by community development workers in the public and private sectors.

In this particular academic case though this is the end of the process, reflecting on what could have been done different and how it could be applied to our own specific interests. I believe that this process could be applied in a larger community setting although most of us were only able to work on projects on our own.  If we had worked together in groups, which seems to be more the norm for on-the-ground groups, there would have been far more ideas and many of our own ideas would have had quick but well deserved deaths early on in the process but the focus would be on the lesson not on the failure. The six person Design Thinking teams is, I have to presume, optimal but in a community setting, particularly one with an established direct deliberative democratic approach to community governance, would then be evaluated for how it fit with the community’s vision and principles and further for how well it worked. Actual Stanford students have actual Stanford professors to do this with them. The final point that needs to be made is that when this balance of creativity and practical and useful outcomes is maintained the results of Design Thinking can be impressive as the upcoming PBS documentary Extreme by Design will demonstrate when it is aired in its entirety in December of this year. Future blog posts will likely feature snippets of the documentary.

The course will remain open providing the opportunity for further inquiry and reflection how Design Thinking can be incorporated into New Community Paradigms. Areas of interest in which I see Design Thinking being applied are Participatory Budgeting and more generally in addressing wicked complexity challenges by breaking them down into more addressable chunks.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Complexity as Cradle for Creativity and Innovation

This is the third post concerning a 2013 HBR Article Why Managers Haven't Embraced Complexity by Richard Straub on addressing complexity as discussed in the Harvard Business Review LinkedIn group.

The first look Complexity Addressed From On High taking its perspective from the air was limited because it was too abstract and conceptual in its approach. The perspective of the second post, Categorizing, Controlling, Conquering Complexity as Chaos (Wrong Choice) was from behind the barricades of day to day, under fire, management but again was limited because it failed to realize both the inescapable reality of complexity and the creative potential of complexity. So some synthesis of these two perspectives or a third alternative would seem to be warranted.

One alternative perspective on complexity, besides the one previously provided by the Economist Intelligence Unit (pdf), was provided by past HBR articles including Embracing Complexity An Interview with Michael J. Mauboussin by Tim Sullivan and Learning to Live with Complexity by Gökçe Sargut and Rita Gunther McGrath. Both of these HBR articles from 2011 helped to set the framework for the question asked by Richard Straub. Their perspectives did embrace complexity.

These articles moved away from a more traditional organization-as-machine approach to one that was more organic and less top down hierarchical in managing institutions, particularly ones that dealt with complex environments. The question considered by this blog in the previous Categorizing, Controlling, Conquering Complexity as Chaos (Wrong Choice) post was the same as Richard Straub's, why some managers had failed to learn the lessons put forward by Mauboussin, Sargut and McGrath. The answer is that they chose to do so, presumably because embracing complexity was not seen as being in their self-interest.

It is also suspected to be the same reason why the current common form of local community governance, with city council, mayor and city manager in some format, has so often become increasingly unable to function effectively in meeting the needs of the community. The problem is that most people don’t recognize this, can’t imagine anything being different or even the possibility of changing anything.

As mentioned before on this blog, the need to revisit a previously presented concept and revise it so it becomes clearer arises from time to time. This happened after having nearly completed the first draft of this post concerning an idea initially stated in the New Community Paradigms Thinking Requires Systems Thinking post that government institutions address the complex challenges facing communities by developing complicated processes.

What may be a more precisely stated concept is that government institutions use complicated processes to address the challenges arising from complex environments. There is the community, which is a complex entity, and the larger environment in which it exists, which is also complex, and then there is the government institution, which is at best complicated but in a fashion designed to meet the needs of the community within its larger environment. Any change to the complex environment, which is difficult to predict and even more difficult to control, would create a corresponding change in the challenges facing the community to which the government institution’s complicated organizational process must then adapt.

There are private sector companies that succeed in doing this. They reconfigure to move along with their target audience, not only changing when they do but also anticipating changes in their users’ environment. These companies are feeding off of the complexity arising from their two way interaction with their customers to create new innovative solutions.

Public Sector organizations though, particularly at a local level, are often not able to do this as well. Instead, reacting to protect their status they end up imposing unseen additional layers of complicated or closed processes that are essentially subconscious from an organizational perspective that in time become culturally implicit. It is a means of maintaining power by becoming entrenched as a system both operationally and culturally. This is why so many local city halls or other public sector organizations prefer the more traditional organization as machine approach in which complexity is seen as chaos and why community engagement in some communities remains stuck at the bottom rungs of Arnstein’s Ladder.

Taking the complexity as chaos approach, many managers endeavor to control or conquer it using Occam's razor, the principle of parsimony as their first principle. The more organic approach to management espoused by the HBR articles recognizes that this does work for linear processes in a world constricted by smaller budgets and shorter deadlines for a time. Real community building, however, which is becoming as much a requirement for consumer businesses as for governance of our communities, is not a linear process.

Still keeping with Occam’s razor, while it may be true that the solution with the fewest assumptions could be the most viable this is not absolute. It certainly does not mean that the first such solution will always be the most optimal especially when the needs of a large group of people must be considered. An Online Stanford University course on creativity demonstrated that the resonance and viability of a solution of the first order or iteration usually turned out to be less optimal than that of a third or fourth order solution. A similar Stanford course on Design Thinking emphasizes creating an over abundance of solutions, even imaginary ones, to arrive at the most effective and optimal. Depending unquestioningly upon the simplest first solution only because it has the fewest assumptions may not go deep enough into a situation and the environment in which it occurs to create the best or most innovative approach to the challenge.

A second principle of complexity as chaos approach is that the authority of wielding Occam’s razor should be given to only a few supposedly visionary leaders with a cadre of obedient keeping-in-line managers behind them. This is very much in keeping with an autocratic city manager style of community management found in many communities. This is the management-as-machine Maginot line of defense against complexity, uncertain conditions and risks all of which left unchecked could mean chaos. An organic approach to addressing complexity asks whether these factors are really interrelated on a causal basis or merely correlated, therefore requiring a different approach?

Uncertainty and risk are undoubtedly a part of the business landscape, and therefore also for the public sector, even though we too often pretend that they are not, but they are not the same as complexity. Instead they arise because of a lack of knowledge concerning a complex situation or environment. Any resulting gap in relevant information could be a problem and could create a chaotic situation but complexity in reality exists at the edge of chaos providing a potential means of change. (This does not mean that omniscient powers will eliminate complexity or make it precisely predictable.)

Complexity is admittedly difficult to manage because it is difficult to see the myriad of interrelationships within the environment or ecosystem that makes complexity a reality from any specific singular perspective. Individual managers, using complicated processes which includes systems of bureaucratic management, may be able to know specific components in a defined span of control or over a defined period of time.

It is impossible though for anyone to know the total information of a substantially complex system. The complexity as chaos approach wrongly assumes that the uppermost levels of an organization are unilaterally able to dictate the organization’s response to complexity. The organic approach asks whether it is actually necessary for any individual manager, at any level, to always know the entire system or is it the system that needs to 'know' the entire system? This means far less top down control and a far greater need for trust which makes some very uncomfortable.

This brings up other differences in approaches between restricted complicated systems and systems adopting practices that are more coherent regarding complexity. With a complicated process the cumulation of different managerial perspectives happens more in the aggregate over time with top management then making decisions about taking a specific approach usually after the fact, while with an organic approach to complexity there is often some form of synthesis between the community and its environment to which the organization adapts more in line with real time with managers facilitating the process.

A third principle of complexity as chaos is that complexity is seen as not having any potential value either for the institution or for the individual manager except in its removal. Individual managers taking a complexity as chaos approach are incentivized to only propose safe known solutions or predetermined approaches in addressing complexity to avoid career suicide. Office politics then becomes a more important game than competition on the field, a situation that can be made all the worse in the public sector arena where the presumed leadership can be based on political gamesmanship.

The truth according to the more organic managerial approach is that complexity properly addressed through innovation, particularly disruptive innovation, can add tremendous value. It is a source of creativity and innovation in an advanced economy. The more traditional’ approach, particularly in the public sector, provides no real path towards innovation in any sense of the word as even forms of sustaining innovation can be hampered and more disruptive forms of innovation have little chance of occurring.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Categorizing, Controlling, Conquering Complexity as Chaos (Wrong Choice)

The last post, Complexity Addressed From On High, took an abstract and conceptual look at complexity based on an extensive discussion in Harvard Business Review LinkedIn group concerning a 2013 HBR Article Why managers haven’t embraced complexity? by Richard Straub, on the role of managers in addressing complexity.

Abstract and conceptual because nobody deals with complexity in an idealistic, worldview manner where all the parts, connections and total information of a system are fully known and understood. Complexity is not faced from the air; it is faced from behind the barricades.

Paradoxically and perhaps ironically, dealing with complexity is becoming more complex, increasing through globalization, the competition for resources, along with the proliferation of new ideas on the Internet, among other factors. So we have become much better and also faster at increasing complexity than we are at embracing it.

The LinkedIn discussion went beyond academic considerations and dealt with the actual working world views of numerous working professionals about complexity. The precise question posed by the group discussion though was, “Why haven’t managers embraced complexity.” In many cases, it is because they don’t see it as their job to embrace it; their job is to control or conquer it.

Categorizing complexity

Humans interacting with the world and nature, including interacting among themselves, gives rise to complex systems. Nature’s systems and much of what naturally evolves from man’s interaction is what was termed coherent complexity in the Complexity Addressed From On High post. Coherent complexity has a simple face to it and works seamlessly.

Nature, having neither ego nor compassion, can transition from dinosaurs to mammals, abandoning a system that stopped working because of massive environmental change, imposing a new system that quickly flourishes without hesitation. Man attempts to harness these coherent complex systems by layering artificially devised systems over them.

Traditional management frameworks and methodologies are based largely on "machine" analogies" taking a reductionist approach to complexity.

Whether in the private or in the public sector, addressing complexity can mean breaking down a ‘system’ created for a specific purpose within a larger environment’, into smaller, separate components, then delegating work assignments to those having the proper skill sets with control imposed from the top down in a hierarchal manner. This applies whether the system is a business within a new market environment or a government institution within a new sector of public service. As was asserted in the New Community Paradigms Thinking Requires Systems Thinking post:
Government institutions address the complex challenges facing communities by developing complicated processes. Initially, this makes sense as it provides a means of breaking up a complex challenge into manageable steps, providing the means of creating an algorithmic approach, and allocating resources.

It stops working though when the complexities of the larger system, in which the institution exists, outstrips the capacity of the locally created complicated system. It is made worse if the institutionally created complicated system develops its own inherent hinderances, as a means of ensuring its own survival, making it even more complicated and no longer for the benefit of those it was designed to serve.
These man-made systems can begin with a degree of coherence but natural coherent systems inevitably evolve and man made systems inevitably become less coherent and fall apart (see John Gall). Unfortunately, man is less capable of making a seamless transition and attempts to grasp on to what is no longer working. Trying all the harder to control the system even though it is dying under its own weight.

Controlling complexity

'Traditional' management can convey the idea that complexity is a separate and extraneous aspect of the system or environment which only needs to be controlled or removed like sludge from an engine. A large component of management today, at least as represented by the comments generated by the LinkedIn discussion, sees the role of management in dealing with complexity being one of imposing constraints on the system to minimize value erosion or both minimizing value erosion and ensuring value enhancement by deftly handling the various forces pulling in different and invariably opposite directions.

Middle management’s purpose then is to see that the ship does not leak on its journey. The innovation of any value added aspects is to be done by others, elsewhere, the leaders at the top it is the job, not of managers but of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, engineers, policy makers, thought leaders, philosophers and other assorted nerds.

Traditional management attempts to put complexity in a black box to be viewed through dashboards, serving as crystal balls, and consultants, serving as soothsayers, by the heads of the organization.

Complexity as chaos

Some managers seem to view complexity as being defined by uncertainty, confusion or even as ‘moral chaos’. Some see the ability of the organization in addressing complexity as being more a matter of leadership qualities rather than managerial capabilities. To embrace complexity, top managers have to first become leaders in an autocratic sense which means that they need to have to have an army of unquestioning followers.

The inability of an organization to address complexity is seen as being based on fear, by those in charge not willing to take a bull-by-the-horns approach or on a perceived lack of cognitive ability which can only be addressed by a take charge. visionary leader.

Conquering complexity

Addressing complexity then becomes a responsibility of certain individuals serving as leaders and top management, assigned control in private companies or in government support by a cadre of experts, rather than by a system or an organization as a whole.

Individual middle and lower managers are seen as being unable to address complexity without upper management oversight. Middle Managers manage their area of responsibility by minimizing complexity to get their job done. The appearance of complexity suggests that the manager in question is either not geared, trained or expected to manage complexity.

Complexity from this vantage point does not need to be embraced, instead it can be over powered by use of Occam's razor, the principle of parsimony. In a world of smaller budgets and shorter deadlines managers are credited with believing that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be the one to be selected.

The assumption is made that if managers are restricted to implementing policy, have no independent role in addressing complexity and are left to simply implementing the organization’s policy that top management simply has to hold it’s line management accountable to impose the desired change.

Complexity is not seen as having any potential value either for the institution or for the individual manager. Business and politics are a matter of competition like a game. The need to address complexity, from this perspective, only arises if your competition is doing so to some advantage. If so, then it is arguably only a matter of quickly catching up.

For the individual manager it can politically be a matter of career suicide to address complexity without first having a known solution or predetermined approach. This is all the more probable in a system that has started to become incoherent and begins developing internal hindrances to cover up the fact that it is no longer in synch with its larger, truly complex environment. At that point, office politics can become more prevalent as managers jockey to maintain their position on a floundering ship.

The inclusion of an excess of politics into a system will likely only increase the level of complexity, or more accurately complications, without contributing any corresponding enhancement of value.

The traditional management approach of quick results within narrowly defined scopes of responsibility within even more bounded limits of control may allow results to be achieved in the near terms but can also mean overlooking hidden complexities that ultimately have a significant bearing on the institution and on the environment in which it exists. One outcome being that ethical values can sometimes take a back seat to seeking expedient monetary value, another being that the man made organizational system becomes irrelevant. The issue often with upper management is that it has limited insight to the problems occurring at the point of relevant interactions, which problematically means that the organization as a whole has very limited insight.

There is though an alternative view, even though the ‘from on high’ perspective on complexity provided by the previous post was ostensibly impractical, it is still true. Complexity cannot be ignored or deferred and it should not be seen as an ominous dark cloud sucking creativity and life out of everything. It should not even be seen as a problem but as an opportunity. We need to develop new paradigms concerning complexity to address the wicked problems facing our communities.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Learning more about What is Design Thinking?

A couple of posts ago in New Community Paradigms Design Team at Design Thinking Action Lab more was written about the online course on Design Thinking Action Lab taught by Leticia Britos Cavagnaro that I started to participate in through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (aka dschool). That post focused on the Learning Squad that I was endeavoring to create. The New Community Paradigms Learning Squad ended up with five total members, all from California. We have been at it for some time now and have begun working as individuals in terms of class credit but in support of each other on the first phase of the class project.

First though, what is design thinking? Design thinking is a creative means or methodology used in defining and solving problems, particularly complex or wicked problems from the perspective of human-centered design, also called user-centered design.

Design thinking is different from what we may normally think of as design, which is a matter of using a specific set of skills, such as graphic design, in the crafting of products and services.

Design thinkers, do not have to be designers in the usual sense, but instead can come from a broad range of disciplines and through training acquire a 'design mindset'. Then bringing together their different experiences and perspectives, they collaborate in learning to apply a process of design that combines both creative and analytical thinking to defining and solving significant, complex and wicked problems.

I thought that there might be some possible relationship to systems thinking which I am also learning more about. Both have a collaborative basis. Systems thinking arguably works on a more macro level which is understandable since systems thinking looks at systems as a whole. A more micro-focused means of collaboration has also been seen as being needed and a possible choice that has been considered is design thinking.

Now though, having learned more, I would say that design thinking goes beyond being micro-focused to drilling down into the community at a subatomic level of design by focusing on a specific individual. Design Thinking demonstrates that there is an important difference between designing for individuals as the average of a class or for a group of individuals and instead designing for one specific individual. The later is more aligned with a human-centered design or user-centered design perspective by emphasizing a deeper understanding of problems from the perspective of different stakeholders, not as a member of a class or a category, but as a unique individual. It can be applied in this way to the creation of innovative products, services and processes.

Design thinking is also more concrete in its application than I perceive systems thinking, which can be pretty conceptual. While design Thinking can make extensive use of prototyping, which can be done through virtual modeling, this is always only a step in the process taking a secondary role to empathizing with the stakeholder. Overall, design thinking is a far more in the field, hands on approach.

What New Community Paradigms wants to strive for is to go beyond bringing individuals to serve as members of a design team and incorporate design thinking into a communal setting so that it could be used as needed by a community.

However, no matter how viable design thinking is as a means of addressing challenges, it makes no matter at a community level if we cannot get enough of the right members of the community into the same room. So learning about design thinking is only a first step. There is also a need to determine a way to incorporated into a community based setting.

Design thinking can help even with this particular challenge by assisting with the designing of flexible workspace, connecting different people and devising a common process of creative and innovative problem solving.

There will undoubtably be challenges in creating a platform for meaningful, self-directed community engagement that is inclusive of a variety of perspectives and even different agendas. Usually we get engaged at the behest of someone else for a specific project, cause or event like an election. This new path would not only require a ‘design mindset’ but a different type of ‘community mindset’. Connections would not only have to be based only on past shared history or similar experiences but on a shared community outlook or common purpose as well.

New Community Paradigms not only seeks to change what we are doing in local community governance but also how we are doing it. Networking is likely going to be an essential component with small groups networking into increasingly larger ones but still keeping their own identity based on a social trust different from the political quid pro quo of current local government politics.

At this early point in the class another working premise is that design thinking could help communities navigate the maze inherent with complex ‘wicked’ challenges. One related question raised by the class forum is ‘How comfortable are you with uncertainty?’ Will consider examining that question in light of the complexity question in a future post.

Past Posts