Book 52. Managers as Designers in the Public Services: Beyond Technomagic by David Wastell.
Another good and dense read for work. Lots of meaty sense. Gets to the point that digital service design, or whatever it is we're doing, isn't just out there, it's in here, it's us. We need to redesign the system of work.
"managers need to see their main business as the designers of the workplace, of the system of work, a role in which technology has a vital part to play, as the instrument of innovation."
"this means the design of systems made up of people, processes and technology in order to achieve the functions desired by the organisation in the service of its customers and clients. Put in more prosaic terms, it means finding the best way of organising the workplace."
I can see myself quoting this: "Hard work is required and authentic engagement; technology is too important to leave to others."
"Doing design well depends on our attitude to technology. A magical attitude will not do. Hard work is required and authentic engagement; technology is too important to leave to others. Brown & Hagel (2003) contend that the productivity paradox, the dissociation between investments in technology and actual benefits, reflects the failure of many organisations to use technology to innovate their business practices: “Companies that mechanically insert IT into their businesses… will only destroy IT’s economic value. Unfortunately, all too many companies do this” (p.2). Tellingly, those organisations which stand out in terms of the business value generated by IT are those which emphasise its innovative potential and have retained their in-house design capability, rather than relying on packed software or outsourcing."
"‘You can’t manage what you can’t model; understanding is all’"
"The Sciences of the Artificial, first published in 1966. Simon famously defines design as “courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones"
"A design attitude views each project as an opportunity to question basic assumptions, a resolve to leave the world a better place. Designers relish the lack of predetermined outcomes, the opportunity to go back to those assumptions that have become invisible and unnoticed, looking for the real thing we are trying to accomplish, unvarnished by years of organizational habit. A design attitude fosters a problem-solving process that remains liquid and open, celebrating path-creating ideas about new ways to use technology and new work processes"
"Twenty First Century Government is enabled by technology – policy is inspired by it, business change is delivered by it… Moreover modern governments with serious transformational intent see technology as a strategic asset and not just a tactical tool. So this strategy’s vision is about better using technology to deliver public services and policy outcomes that have an impact on citizens’ daily lives: through greater choice and personalisation, delivering better public services, such as health, education and pensions; benefiting communities by reducing burdens on front line staff…"
"Many years ago, the philosopher Karl Popper warned of the dangers of top-down design or “utopian engineering” as he called it, distinguished by “a dangerous dogmatic attachment to a blue-print”. It is the blue-print approach which is in the dock here, design as a noun, the conceit that there are pre-existing solutions which can be simply picked off the shelf and implemented. Popper’s antidote to dogma-driven design was the piecemeal approach, the execution of small scale experiments with continuous adjustments in which “we can make mistakes and learn from our mistakes”, i.e. designing as an open, form-giving process."
"alignment of three elements is vital for the creation of public value (the so-called “strategic triangle”): first, public value must be defined (i.e. strategic goals and outcomes); secondly, the “authorising environment” must be put in place to legitimise and sustain the necessary strategic action (i.e. the required coalition must be built of stakeholders from all sectors, including the community); and thirdly, operational capacity must be created, harnessing resources from outside as well as inside the organisation (again including the community)"
And this: resourcefulness is more crucial than resources.
"“resourcefulness is more crucial than resources – [using] whatever resources and repertoire one has to perform whatever task one faces” (p.346). Weick argues that bricolage is the quintessence of leadership: “the main function of any leader is to draw organisation out of the raw materials of life… fixing things on the spot through a creative vision of what is available and what might be done”"
Simple v complex - different arrangements
"They dub this the strategy of “complex organisations and simple jobs”. The second response takes the opposite tack, reducing control and coordination by the creation of self-contained units. Fragmented tasks are to be combined into larger wholes, thinking to be re-united with doing; in other words, a strategy of “simple organisations and complex jobs”."
"“if you truly want to understand something, try to change it!”"
"simply using technology to automate the status quo will not do."
"There is little sense that e-government is really seen as anything new or radical; it has seemingly been translated into… internet access to services. The service providers have a lot to gain from this defence, as they can escape the rigorous scrutiny that fundamental re-engineering might entail (Wastell, 2002)."
"A practicum is a setting designed for the task of learning a practice. In a context that approximates a practice world, students learn by doing… They learn by undertaking projects that simulate or simplify practice; or they take on real-world projects under close supervision. The practicum is a virtual world, relatively free of the pressures, distractions and risks of the real one (ibid., p.37)."
"I have observed that students must begin designing before they know what it means to do so. They quickly discover that their instructors cannot tell them what designing is, or that they cannot learn what their instructors mean until they have plunged into designing. Hence, in the early stages of the design studio, confusion and mystery reign. Yet in a few years or even months, some students begin to produce what they and their instructors regard as progress toward competent design. Coach and student finish each other’s sentences and speak elliptically in ways that mystify the uninitiated. (Schön, 1988, p.42)."