Great analysis of design thinking. I'm grateful to learn from you!

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Thank you for this thoughtful piece.

I had one frustration with it that you might be able to help me clear up.

At one point you are making the argument for creative design thinking, in opposition to incremental change. Then in the next paragraph you seem to be describing creative design in practice by using the analogy of experimental changes in direction while navigating.

My frustration is that the navigation analogy seems to me rooted in the concept of incremental change. What is the concept of incremental change you are arguing against if not a way of saying making small experimental adjustments in course. You seem to me to be arguing both for and against the same strategy.

So I experienced some dissonance at the use of an incremental change analogy to expand on an argument against incremental change. Can you help me see what I'm missing? I'm trying to grasp the principles you are arguing for and the dissonance over the analogy is making it hard for me to put your principles together coherently in my mind.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts here!

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Todd. You got it right. It’s an intellectual corner I’ve backed myself into a lot over the years. Let me be wonky here and we can follow up in more depth one on one—I’m chip@charleshauss..info by the way

I’ve been working for paradigm shifts in peacebuilding nad beyond since I read Thomas Kuhn as un undergrad in the 1960s. They are massive shifts in the ways we look at the world and do things. At the same time, Steven Johnson (see his substack and his early books on adjacent possible) that they only happen through a series of cumulating incremental changes, the end result of which is not incremental.

PuThat’s the wonky and not very satisfying answer. In practice, I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference since when we do locally based work, in particular, their goals are almost always by definition incremental. Our challenge is make it “add up to peace” as Peter and Diana’s book that I mentioned get at. They don’t have the answer either.

Thanks for making me think. It’s actually stuff I’m working on now for a book I’m finishing on this stuff and in the work a lot of the folks I’m working with are doing.

Would love to pursue this more.

Thanks again.

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I'm inclined to agree, it probably doesn't make much practical difference, it's likely my own need to try to simplify design thinking too far that is tripping me up. I do like the idea that increments add up to non-incremental change, that seems like a helpful reconciliation for the moment. Sometimes "more is different" as the symmetry breaking argument goes.

I'm a consultant focused on bringing people, technology, and practices together to help the people think and work more collaboratively, so I typically work at a much more local scale than your writings talk about. But they concept of being able to scale out collaborative thinking to try to make inroads into difficult or even wicked social problems fascinates and compels me. I'm very interested in reading or hearing more of your thinking. I was already following Steven Johnson, but the Beyond Intractability site was new to me and I'm digging into that now. A lot of good resources there.

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