THINKING DESIGNER

WRITER

IMAGE MAKER

WHO AM I?

See my thinking.

See my seeing.

Ian McEwan introduces a just-deceased character in Amsterdam with this brilliant description:

“Molly, restaurant critic, gorgeous wit and photographer, the daring gardener who had been loved by the Foreign Secretary and could still turn a perfect cartwheel at the age of forty-six.”

 

Shakespeare's Enobarbus gives this immortal description of Cleopatra:

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale

Her infinite variety. Other women cloy

The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry

Where most she satisfies; for vilest things

Become themselves in her, that the holy priests

Bless her when she is riggish.

 

Part of my work is describing the essence of companies. Some of it involves capturing the essence of a person, situation, pattern or story in photography and reworked image. And some involves arriving scientifically at an essential understanding of the dynamics of how enterprise works. As living, self-organising, processes. so that we can design, run and change them for better value and futures. On this website I will share some of the thinking and insights I am working with towards a re-imagination of enterprise, humanity and social futures. For example, I have used both McEwan's and Shakespeare's examples in teaching the technique of personas, one of the innovative tools I  designed so that agencies would be more relevant and companies could serve customers better.

 

In every ancient language, the word we now have for ideas started with meaning "seeing". To see was to think. Look out for posts on this. Meanwhile, the image below, taken in India in 2010, is a possible start to see my thinking and think my seeing.

This paper consists of an edited conversation I had with Dr Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake is a significant figure in the field of science. His radical theoretical and practical research is centred on morphic fields. This was initially focused on the means of organising biological form, but subsequently found to have widespread applicability. When Michael Faraday first applied the term ‘field’ to electricity in the 19th century, it was highly controversial. Since then, fields have become an essential feature of modern science, but have not generally been applied by business thinkers. Gravity, electricity, and magnetism are all best understood as fields, as are atoms (fields are fundamental to quantum mechanics). A field’s most general definition within science is ‘A region of activity’. However, as in the statements, “sales people in the field” or “scholars in a field”, there is an influential interaction between “the field” and the activities of the actors within it, which has been the subject of significant scientific work.

 

Sheldrake’s influential theory crosses over from physics into biology and from biology to the interaction of organisms and the role of extended and social mind. It deviates from the standard accounts in several ways, most notably in explaining the development of an organism as a whole. Sheldrake locates his work in the Organicist strand of science deriving from Alfred Lord Whitehead. It proposes explanations for coherence in physical, biological and social systems in terms of process, an idea with some interest for management given its orientation towards process. Sheldrake’s theory, its extensions, and the thousands of rigorous studies that support it, have been attracting interest as a means of understanding and managing enterprise habits, culture and brand as well as design and intention in the community life of the organization. Jenkinson’s introduction suggested potential themes of relevance to brand and C-suite leaders.

 

Water and money are the related themes of  Liquidity: Flowing Forms In Water and Money, the book of insight and images that I recently (2016) co-authored with Steve Briault.  In this image, above, I see the playfulness of children (see the paint on the little girl's brow), a coquettish hen representing the ecological future we need, and of course the civil and natural life-support of water, and the hardship and threat it poses today. I took the photograph in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in 2010, while working on a global Brand System project for IBM. IBM's strategic goals were for a Smarter Planet. What would be a smarter planet here? The fusion of multiple themes interests me. If you want to see more about the book and its images, follow the navigation link or click the book title.

WHY NEW THINKING IS NEEDED

 A couple of years ago, IBM asked me to help them with the global project.  Their research showed that senior executives (SVP, CEO) in major (Fortune 500) companies were experiencing difficulties worldwide.  The speed and scale of change and complexity had transformed the landscape of leadership. And execs are suffering. Look at the messes.

 

So IBM asked me to design a detailed concept programme of new executive education. Managers loved it.  It addressed the issue: MBAs and executives are often applying 20th century thinking to 21st-century problems. Hence the challenge. (Truly, much management science & practice is 17th/19th-century.  It is  Newtonian science and Darwinian logic.)  So IBM and I went in search of a faculty with the requisite multi-disciplinary capability in the very best business schools in the world!  Sadly, eventually, we had to give up the project.  New thinking is in short supply.

MORE TO SEE, MORE TO THINK

Good thinking is interdisciplinary & ecological. It  designs change that works and organisations that resiliently adapt. It is possible.

 

AJ

FLICKRIVER

© ANGUS JENKINSON, 2016. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Water and money are the related themes of  Liquidity: Flowing Forms In Water and Money, themes in this image and the book of insight and images that I recently (2016) co-authored with Steve Briault.  I hope you also see the playfulness of children (see the paint on the little girl's brow), and their working lives, a coquettish hen representing the ecological future we need, and of course both the civil and natural life-support of water and the hardship and threat scarcity poses today? I took the photograph in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in 2010, while working on a global Brand System project for IBM. IBM's strategic goals were for a Smarter Planet. What would be a smarter planet here? The fusion of multiple themes interests me. If you want to see more about the book and its images, go to the Liquidity page.