Donald Norman agrees!

I think that it’s time for a second new alliance between psychology and interaction design.

The evolution of the interaction as a social space needs new psychological points of view. The psychophysiologic, cognitive and behavioral points of view (part of the history of human computer interaction, from the beginning) are fundamental but not enough for the new variables, factors, dynamics and levels that emerge in social networks. The evolution of the mediated interaction as a social space is changing the user from just a behavioral and cognitive system in a more complex cognitive psychosocial and psychodynamic system.

During the event Meet the Media Guru in Milan, I asked Donald Norman an opinion about my point of view and this is his answer.

He agreed!

I think that these challenges and opportunities can’t be solved by anthropology that is too narrative as discipline. The alternative isn’t the reductionism but a balance between different psychological approaches.

The next day I talked with him about my PSIxD approach. Cross the fingers for me and stay tuned… ;)

Video by Roberto Bonzio (thanks)

A new Enterprise 2.0 approach: the principal phases (4/4)

From 1995 to 2005 knowledge management consultancy had the principal objectives of helping companies to create and share knowledge as a value to innovate internal process of the organization with the support of IT. Today it’s easy to know that triggering collective behaviors requires more than a good information technology, but for years many companies spent a lot of money and time in projects too much focused on technology. The results were expensive intranets and professional communities with lower adoption and use. Why did this happen?
Because for the companies it’s difficult to involve its internal culture as a group of people.
Enterprise 2.0 tries to be a solution using the web 2.0 social apps. In fact the 2.0 apps have implicit social incentives inside their structure and logic, which help the users to adopt technology and new collaborative practices. I call this effect indirect social adoption.
But the difficulties for the companies to involve their internal culture isn’t so easy to solve and something wrong appended in Enterprise 2.0 consultancy as well.

From 2006 until 2010 many consultancy companies of web design and interaction design reduced Enterprise 2.0 to a matter of design. The result was better usability, better software and user experience solutions, indirect social adoption but, frequently, some of the old problems of participation have remained. Why?
Because within companies there are strong and implicit dynamics that can influence the professional relationship with the consultants. The free choice of a user to be a part of a social network in Web 2.0 is profoundly different from a user-employer in an intranet that he must adopt. The problem is not design itself, that’s fundamental, but the reductionism of the approaches.

The companies need a methodology that can help them involve their organizational culture in the easiest and most basic. In fact the knowledge management objectives are the result of the practices of participation and collaboration both off line and online.

Why aren’t collaborative apps enough?

The Enterprise 2.0 strategy of using social apps to nudge collaborative behaviors is absolutely correct and I too use it with a psychological approach to interaction design. But it isn’t enough because the organizations aren’t just rational systems but groups of people with strong implicit dynamics. When there’s need to change some practices, processes, or responsibility the irrational subcurrent of the company can produce resistances. In other words, sometimes, the organization needs to help itself. It isn’t a scandal, these are normal dynamics in all complex groups such as companies. Consider, for example, how Chris Argyris describes the resistance in organizations (one of several). This in nothing new, it’s a classic problem. What’s new is the role of IT and design to help the company create a process of change management by an integrated approach.

  1. It’s necessary to create a professional role approved and endorsed by the client to make explicit the implicit dynamics of the organization (for example, passing from the typical IT or design professional relationship of service in a relationship of consultancy);
  2. Generally the challenge to nudge new behaviors in a company can’t be only a good work of social usability because the resistance to changing technology and collaboration habits are stronger in employee-users than web-users. So, it’s important to combine the user-test with an alliance with the group before building inside a community.

I synthesize the integration of change management and design in a simple diagram of change progression.

It represents the priority of levels that make possible new practices of collaboration and participation. The proportions of the diagram don’t necessarily correspond with the amount of time needed at each level.
Only when the client understand that the community are, first of all, expressions of the group of origin and then, only after this comprehension, there is the possibility to design a community that can give a good influence on the group in the organization, closing the loop.

A different approach

This method co-designs participation and collaboration, making new spaces of change management and incentive by organizational culture and psychology applied to interaction design.

How put together social software, interaction design and change management without creating an overly consultancy and/or a simple sum of approaches?

The point for a convergence in the system between IT, organization, employes, communities and collaborative knowledge management objectives is Psychology. I know, it may sound a little strange, but it’s two aspects of psychology are now mainstream in daily professional life:

  • social networks expand our social dynamics
  • cognitive artifacts extend our cognitive processes

The psychosocial variables of collaboration are the links between the organization (as a group of people) and the community (as an alternate social space) to nudge behaviors.
This is the fundamental mind shift that make it possible to put it all together.
The community becomes the alternative space of work and socializing.
Social needs and dynamics become intrinsic incentives that can nudge collaborative behaviors.
The group of professionals in the organization can find in the community a digital space to change itself in more collaborative and efficient way. How? See for example, the process of social presence. The interfaces and the interaction human-machine-human are a cyberpsychological space where we can use new tools to promote and assist bottom-up change.

In my approach the objectives of an Enterprise 2.0 project is to nudge a co-evolution between group and community.

Thus, psychosocial variables are the point of union between organization, social platform and community.
I’m not an interaction designer but I help them to create participation and collaboration in the community. I do it by managing the resistance of the organization and making a stronger relationship between the psychological characteristics of the group. At the same time I’m not an engineer but I help IT consultancies to create a better convergence between the objectives of the client and the functional needs of the users.

The principal phases

The principal phases that generally characterize my approach are three:

  1. Minimal Change (the phases of Change Management)
  2. PSIxD (the phases of Research and Design the social platform)
  3. Co-evolution (starting and managing the community)

Minimal Change

Minimal, because the approach involves the smallest part of the organizational culture to be less invasive and as easy as possible. Change, because is the top-down phase of change management with the managers. This important moment is founded on a relation of consultancy with the client and not of service. Without this kind of endorsement is difficult to help the organization to work by itself.

– Preliminary analysis of past IT, Design and Culture –

In first analysis we find and divide the IT, Design and Cultural variables that caused the limits and problems of past intranet and community projects.
It’s very important to show the client the effect of the different levels on past projects. The results of this analysis help the client to understand the role and relevance of cultural variables and internal resistance that can be obstacles. At the same time it’s easier to define the specific necessity and role of each levels to build a better social platform and community.

– Objectives –
After the analysis there is the moment of rethinking the knowledge management and collaboration objectives in relation to the results. This is the moment to help the client select the minimum part of organizational culture that is necessary to change. The effect is double, both removing the obstacle (for example, the fear of writing an opinion in the community that blocks the production of contents) and adding an incentive (for example, the need to be a part of a group). These choices will influence the design, the communication and the community management strategy. The map of the minimal change will be a guide to make a community with more motivation because the incentives will not be delegated only to a generic social design but will be both an expression of the needs of the real group of origin and characteristic of that group.

– Legitimation –
Sometimes it is necessary to help the managers coordinate the different parts of the company and find endorsement from top management on the objectives and changes. Generally it’s easier to start with a prototype with a single professional community to reduce the possible problems with other components of the company.
A large number of Enterprise 2.0 projects failed because they didn’t find the right legitimation from the top and a gradual compromise with other parts. It’s fundamental to make a priority of clear strategical objectives.

PSIxD (Psychology applied to Interaction Design)

In this phase we have to create bridges between the future community and the social platform. The three levels, IT, design, culture (which the preliminary analysis investigated) are the levels between the community and the social platform.
Generally the end of the Minimal Change starts with the begging of the cultural level of research and design. In particular with the selection of the attractors.
I call attractors (as in complex systems) the implicit leaders that will be selcted as early adopter of the platform with the capacity to involve other users. This is a phase of research, engagement and change management at the same time, because the attractors don’t always correspond with the hierarchical structure of the company.

I use the model of the Relational Motivation to code the values and practices of the organization inside the process of design. It’s important to have models and tools to put in relation the original group and the future community. In fact community, first of all, will be expressions of the limitation and potentiality of the group.

Social Usability is the models and the tools that help Interaction Design to integrated psychosocial dynamics. Look, for example, at the Social Usability Checklist. Variables such as R.I.C.E. (Relations, Identity, Communication and Emergence of groups) are the principal psychological dynamics that influence the behaviors of user in a social network. There’s a interesting scientific literature about it that can help us to go out of a generic design approach.
Playful interaction is the strategic use of playful components to improve adoption and diffusion of the platform and collaborative practices. For example the strategy of releasing apps and functions could be put in relation with how the user use the platform. Gamification isn’t something very new, but it’s absolutely an important way to incentivize.

Functional Needs and Daily Flow are the phases necessary for selecting technology and services. The logic is to put the user in the center of design, in other word, it’s the functional side of User Centered Design. If we don’t consider the professional operational needs, the information overload and other cognitive and technical variables, we could have big problems with adoption.

This integrated approach to design makes explicit many variables that generally (for low competencies, limited approach or resistance) can be lost or can create unpreventable problems in the phases of adoption and diffusion.
At the same, this approach, makes possible a multifactorial design from the interface’s variables to the dynamics of the group. You can see a synthesis of this model of PSIxD here.


As you can see in the last diagram, after the phase of PSIxD there are the four process (or we can call them dynamics) that I introduced in the third post. Why? Because they are the dynamics that influence the experience and behaviors of the user in the community.
With the title co-evolution I want to indicate the community’s levels of evolution. In synthesis, after the phases of adoption and diffusion the community enters into the first level where it isn’t just an expression of the group of origin but influence it. The process of co-evolution is the last objective of an Enterprise 2.0 project. It’s a circular influence between community and group, that helps the organization to control the behavioral evolution of users and make the necessary changes to be more efficiency, in a collaborative way.
There are many components in this phase (communication campaign, community management, weak signals, Social Network Analysis) to nudge and manage the community’s levels from adoption to co-evolution, so I’ll dedicate a specific later post to these.

With this fourth post I finish the introduction to my Enterprise 2.0 approach. The objective was to give a the general view of all competencies, levels. In future posts I’ll go more deeply into it, to describe some specific tools, process and phases.

A new Enterprise 2.0 approach: the principal processes with a differential value (3/4)

In this third post I’m going to explain the principal processes that express the differential value of my approach.

In general, if we consider no integrations with an external network (for example, social CRM, ecc.), the main objectives of an Enterprise 2.0 project are knowledge management objectives with a strong social component:

Open and relational behaviors (social base of a learning organization)
– Participation
– Collaboration
– Knowledge sharing
– Belonging

Individual practices of efficiency (motivation and engagement)
– Contents production
– Contents quality

Collective practices of efficiency (complex system intelligence)
– Collective problem solving
– Collective error checking

Auto-organization (implicit knowledge and dynamics)
– Emergence of skills
– Emergence of leadership
– Bottom-up feedback

To nudge a determined behavior it’s necessary:

a) build a social space (Social Usability) inside the organization. Today, with the correct approach, we can use apps and communities as a easier and safer way to create a social place for a culture of collaboration. It’s necessary to have a model of organization and group as an orientation point. For example, the learning organization or the open source community or the community of practice, ecc.;

b) persuasive design of apps and networks that combine intrinsic incentives (Relational Motivations), with triggers.

Social Space + Persuasive Design


Social Usability + Relational Motivations

To build a community is to trigger a complex system, to build a group with its rules, codes, values, practices (see the continuum explained in the first post). So, from the first moment, an Enterprise 2.0 project is also a Change Management consultancy. In the next post I’ll explain the role of minimal change of the organizational culture that is necessary to trigger the behaviors of the users.

So, how to achieve these objectives?

I’m asking you to do a continuous mental shift between complementary levels and opposite concepts (see Edgar Morin), to be dialogic, a double logic. It become a hybrid approach between the community of users and the group of professionals, between professionals and persons, between cognitive interaction and social interaction both with knowledge management objectives. Let’s see the principal processes.

1. Social Presence
The relation between community and group in a physical organization space can be the first advantage to know and to use.
The Social Presence is a process that expresses the extension of our social dynamics in a mediated interaction. In other words, when you feel that there is continuity between your social life in physical place and also in digital place that is the product of the Social Presence.

In an Enterprise 2.0 I use the Social Presence as an opportunity in two ways:
sandbox (incentiving the change): the community become the place to test now opportunity and gradual change in the culture of the organization;

example 1- it’s easier to resolve the hierarchical resistances of the company if you propose to select implicit leaders as attractors of a complex system to engage users inside the community

example 2- use the community as an extra space from bureaucracy to manage knowledge in bottom-up logic

alternative space (reduce the anxiety of changing): the Social Presence in the network creates not only a continuity but also a difference between the community users and the group of professionals in the organization, this duplicity could be used to protect the balance of organization during the strategic changes of the culture in the community:

example 1- the plan put in place to legitimate the implicit leaders inside the community lives in a context that helps to express the underlying dynamics, allowing to manage them with social network analysis and the explicitation of behaviors online

example 2- in a network you can decide constraints and possibilities

2. Indirect social adoption
In my opinion the principal advantage of Enterprise 2.0 is that by designing and managing the IT not only as a cognitive artifact but as a social and psychological artifact too you can have:

Less processes: and less consultancy companies to nudge adoption and learning behaviors, because the user experience on the interface of collaborative apps, of a network becomes a place where there is a concrete convergence of cognitive and social processes in the users. The economy of processes isn’t only about the convergence of adoption and learning but also about the interaction with the technology and the collaborative interaction with the colleagues.

example 1- building a channel of communication with a limit of letters like twitter is, in the same time a channel of communication, a setting that nudge the adoption due to its simplicity and the learning of brief style of communication, learning to use this kind of app is in the same time the implicit creation of a practices more efficient of communication

More persuasive channels: with the persuasive level of the design we have a more opportunity to persuade constructive behaviors of professional as users.

example 1- putting in the center of user experience in a social network the profile of the users produces the relevance of the people on the information, the community on the hierarchic flow and priority of information

3. Alliance between person and professional
Generally the companies don’t consider the person part of their employees but only the professional part. But we know that when a professional is working don’t finish to be a person, so the traditional organization culture crate by itself, by an implicit way a unknown land of knowledge, relations, conflict, motivations, ecc.. The vantage is to make an alliance between professional and person.

How to do that? By intrinsic motivations. In fact the intrinsic motivations are:

– the best kind of incentives that nudge the persons to do, because extrinsic incentives produce different behaviors less strong and persistent (don’t forget the extrinsic tend to eliminate intrinsic);
– the principal kind of motivations that nudge collaborative behaviors that are the bases of many knowledge management practices.

example 1- use, motivated by the design and  internal communication campaign, the needs of the users to express themselves and their competence in intranet that generally is a place of only a top-down information, communication, formation inside a cultural ecosystem of a organization too much rigid

To do this alliance is necessary a internal campaign of communication and influence the design too.

There is a relation between professional and person with the explicit and an implicit organization (see Knowledge Management and Organizational Psychology). It’s important to remember this relations because the implicit organization could influence not only the users, the employees but the consultants too. I’ll talk about it in the next post.

4. Virality
We can have some users, some employees that adopt and learn new technology and good practices but how they can influence their colleagues, their friends in the network, to do the same?

Leadership is fundamental to influence the others persons. It’s important in two temporal phases:
starting phase of the community, to trigger the complex system, to reach the critical mass;
– during the cycle of evolution of the community the leaders are the capacity ti improve or stop collective behavior.

The subject of leadership can be not only individual users, persons but groups too that they move as an entity.

example 1- put a limit to the possibility to enter in a group could be an incentive for other users to find the opportunity to enter doing behaviors the are strategic for the network

How can leadership influence others?
By bottom-up legitimation that increase reputation.

example 1- design the apps in a way that show explicitly the best behaviors and stop implicitly the wrong
example 2- it’s important manage the needs of competition that are powerful but with a fragile balance like the “dark side of the Force”

So it’s important to design implicit processes that help the emerging of leadership and manage this dynamic.

If in one hand the leadership puts in the center of viral processes the person, the user, in the other hand there is an intrinsic virality of some contents. This could append in two ways:
– content as a symbol of beliefs, mental models, implicit dynamics, subconscious complexes (individual or collective);
– content that produce a strong emotional impact like several viral videos on youtube.

If the leadership is generally more relevant in the design level of persuasion the contents are relevant in internal communication campaign. In the virality process is important to use social network analysis to check what’s going on in the network.

In the next post I’m going to show the principal operative phases of consulting.

A new Enterprise 2.0 approach: Frequent setup errors (2/4)

In the first post I introduced the principal levels and variables characterizing an Enterprise 2.0 project.
From my integrated point of view we can identify four frequent setup errors present in several Enterprise 2.0 approaches.

It’s not the Web
The design point of view of a web interface or of a famous social network is only a part of knowlewdge nessesary in an Enterprise 2.0 project. The point is to understand the psychosocial, motivational and persuasive mechanisms under the success of an app or a project. If you don’t consider these levels and variables:

  • you lose the opportunity to have major probabilities that the target behaviours will be performed by the users
  • you risk to not understand what is going on in the network and losing the social dynamics in the network instead to managed them

The users in a company don’t make a free choice when they adopt a new app and collaborative practies, like what happens in the open web. So it’s necessary a strategy of engagement.

Objectives and the ecosystem of a network in a company are different from a social network in the web. This means different users, differents behaviours, different incentives, different strategies from the web.


In the last fifteen years many companies had thought that is enough to have a good IT, a good technology, to achieve several knowledge management objectives. But opening a channel isn’t enough to make people participate. In fact, the knowledge management processes and practices have a relational origin in the organizational culture. With a technocentric point of view, IT only extends the cognitive processes inside the knowledge management processes of the organisation. So, the risk is to have the potentiated capacity of communication, collaboration but not used or partially used.

You have to work both on technology and organisational culture at the same time.

Only top-down
When consultants or designers talk about top-down processes in a social network or intranet, generally they mean the hierarchic direction, from the top to the bottom of contents, information organisation and the strategy of governance of the community. But top-down can be also the motivational strategy and the typology of incentives. It’s fundamental moving from estrinsic to intrinsic motivations because intrinsic incentives are the best to nudge collaborative behaviours. If you want active users, don’t use only a TV or bingo incentive metaphor that makes them passive.

It’s not a matter of faith in the bottom-up organisation. The logic between top-down and bottom-up is inclusive, not esclusive. The point is to understand that auto-organizations of behaviours and informations (meme) is related to more engagement of the user and the evolution of the community.

The knowledge management objectives are a challenge to the decisional capacity and coordination of several parts of a big company. An Enterprise 2.0 project could create hierarchic and conflictual resistence inside the structure of the organization. The complexity is also present in the different competences required to understand and manage all the different levels. Generally this situation produce the request that a partial approach can be “magical” enough, or that the company need only a design solution because they have clear the strategic point of view. Unfortunatly the difficulty to deal this complex and multilevel scenario produced a big loss of time and money for the many companies.

Don’t worry, it’s normal. It’s physilogically difficult for a big company organised an important internal coordination for a transversal project as a project of Enterprise 2.0. It’s also normal that there is always someone ready to collude with this partial request.

The correct way is that from the first moment an Enterprise 2.0 project is Change Management and is fundamental to not collude with this partial request, but help the company to coordinate and understand itself to produce solid start point.

In the next post I’ll introduce the main processes of my approach to Enterprise 2.0.

A new Enterprise 2.0 approach: fundamentals and competences (1/4)

This is the first of a four post introduction to a new approach to the Enterprise 2.0 concept.

To start, I’m going to show you the basic concepts and the fundamental conditions you need to understand the specific variables, the levels and the competencies of a E2.0 project.

The specific points of view of my approach are two:

1. PSIxD: the integration of psychological and social levels in the cognitive artefacts
2. Hybrid: the transdisciplinary convergence of competences necessary to analyse and design in complex scenarios

– PSIxD is the acronim of Psychology applied to Interaction Design, a field I’m working on since several years ago, check for example the syntesis of the methodology I created with Davide Casali.

PSIxD is an important differentiation point from a big part of Enterprise 2.0 approaches that you can find around the world. It’s an expression of the changing of users and the co-evolution between human and cognitive artefacts. It’s a scientific and serious modality to analyse the impact of that darwinian natural selection of technologies, apps and practices that is the web and the mobile. We had seen to much speculations on Web 2.0. What are in synthesis the concepts you have to know?

  • the cognitive artefacts extend the cognitive processes
  • the social networks expand the social dynamics

So, in other words, the interaction is even more a virtual space, a middle ground where you can represent and manipulate mental, social and motivational dynamics of users. In an Enterprise 2.0 scenario PSIxD is a methodology of Persuasive Design that improves the probability to nudge the user to take or break several behaviours.

– Hybrid is the mix of competence, theories and tools you need to approach all levels present in Enterprise 2.0 project.
Too many models of Enterprise 2.0 are too limited on a few competences and points of view.

The competence have to be transdisciplinary because the object of consult and design is a complex system.

We have two principal objects, users and organization.

The user in a social network is on a continuum between a complex system and a psychological and social system.
In the first case the user is a node, expression of nonlinear dynamics of a complex net, in the second case the network is the expression of specific psychological and social caratteristics of the user. So, to analyse and design we need these competences:

  • Social Network Analysis
  • PSIxD (User Centered Design approach is implicit in IxD)

The organisation is on a similar continuum, so in one hand we have the organisation as complex, autopoietic system and in the other hand we have the organisation as a psychosocial group of persons. So as competences we need:

  • Management of complexity (Change Mangement from a complex system point of view)
  • Psychology of organisations

You can see in this image the hybrid competencies that are necessery to manage a Enterprise 2.0 project.

In the next post I’ll talk about the most frequentily mistakes in Enterprise 2.0.

UX Conference 2010

Yesterday, it was a beautiful day in Lugano, at the UX Conference 2010.
It’s a conference of and for designers, with some companies interested in UXD.
Luca Mascaro, owner of Sketchin is the father of this event. Luca gives vitality to the UXD in Switzerland and north Italy with this conference and the UXMagazine.
These kind of meeting moments are important to open the mind to the new scenarios in such a fast professional field.

These were the slides of my speech.

New Ibridazioni

As you can see, Ibridazioni changes again.

It isn’t only the minimalist graphic (thanks Foll) but the language too. This change is an expression of the evolution of the contents, my points of view, models and experiences.

In the next weeks I’ll finish all the changes and adjustments and as soon as possible I’ll post some news about my model of psychology applied to interaction design, stay tuned.

BCI, a little psychodinamic question of user experience

The Emotiv device is a famous brain-computer interface. Recently the co-founder of the Emotiv Systems, Tan Le, showed the potentiality of her prototype at the TED.

I want to do a little question about the user experience of this kind of interface.
For example, moving objects with a touch screen, like the iphone, has a great affordance, because our natural interaction with the material world pass through movement and manipulation objects.

So, try to imagine the level of affordance if we just think a movement.
If in a touch screen we are in a user experience of interaction like manipulating a material object, with a brain-computer interfaces the experience is closer to move an arm.

The cognitive and psychodynamic effect on the users are not trivial.

There is a strong relation between emotions, motivations, desires and action.
If your presence in action (see the embodied cognition theory) can be in the same time material and digital, how could it change the relations between imagination and perception?

Ibridi e la ricerca della via di mezzo tra conoscere e fare

Il famoso Clay Shirky, di cui vi suggerisco il testo “Uno per uno, tutti per tutti” (tradotto dal buon Federico) ci spiega il concetto di surplus cognitivo (titolo del suo nuovo libro) come potete vedere in questo suo ultimo speech al TED. Ennesima conferma sull’importanza degli incentivi intrinseci come dinamica motivazionale alla base dei comportamenti bottom-up in rete. Bene, ulteriore supporto a favore della mia prospettiva. Però l’impressione è che Shirky citi troppo spesso la generosità per sedurre e parli di masse in modo troppo ampio. Molti dei concetti e riflessioni che esprime sono condivisibili ma il suo stile sembra ogni tanto scivolare nell’ideologico.

Vi devo avvertire che potreste trovare la logia del post un pò meno lineare del solito ma ho preferito riportare parte del flusso di associazioni che, dal video di Shirky, mi hanno portato verso una riflessione più ampia sui professionisti ibridi, per esprimere non solo nei contenuti ma anche con la forma il divenire di una riflessione aperta in cui vorrei coinvolgervi.

Ho grande rispetto per Shirky, che ritengo fuor di dubbio bravo, devo però onestamente dire che sono in generale un pò stanco di questi punti di vista descrittivi, narrativi come anche, all’opposto, di quelli solo tecnici, verticali. Io come molti altri che si occupiamo in modo non convenzionale, di web, social networking, IxD, Ux, virtuale, interazione mediata, enterprise 2.0, ecc. siamo frequentemente impegnati nella sfida operativa di unire competenze verticali e orizzontali quando non facciamo solo ricerca eo la vogliamo applicare. Ma anche l’inverso, quando come consulenti eo imprenditori vogliamo utilizzare, per essere innovativi e competitivi, conoscenze di ricerca ed esperti d’alto livello. Per di più molte delle tematiche e sfide più importanti necessitano di soluzioni, competenze e team transdisciplinari quindi la complessità fa molto presto ad esplodere.

Per esempio, quando un network muta in luogo sociale dove gli utenti diventano “persone” che esprimono e co-costruiscono con gli altri la loro identità e presenza non bastano le sole competenze tecnologiche, di design, di architettura della informazione e nemmeno quelle di usabilità. Quali competenze, modelli, strumenti operativi usare e spesso “creare” per analizzare e progettare intorno ad utenti diventati ormai sistemi psicologici e sociali, in un artefatto non più solo cognitivo ma anche motivazionale, simbolico, sociale, ecc.? Questo è uno scenario complesso, ibrido non solo da capire, descrivere, rappresentare, ma anche in cui operare, applicare, scegliere, anticipare, investire.

Quindi va benissimo seguire quello che dice Shirky o le interessanti descrizioni di Danah Boyd ma se poi dalle riflessioni, dalle descrizioni, bisogna far nascere un progetto, delle prassi, degli strumenti operativi, una strategia ci vuole anche altro. Non sto criticando in generale necessità di avere punti di vista ampi, descrittivi, che aiutino a farsi un quadro di complessi scenari nuovi e in divenire ma fenomeni come il web e come certa ict (che stanno cambiando profondamente e a grande velocità la nostra quotidianità personale e professionale) necessitano di persone capaci di essere tanto teorici, quanto pratici, scienziati, quanto imprenditori, designer quanto ricercatori. Lo richiede proprio la complessità, la transdisciplinarietà e velocità del cambiamento.

Credo che il design come disciplina pratica che deve muoversi tra tanti saperi sia oggi potenzialmente molto fertile come prassi, punti di vista, talenti ma deve avere il coraggio e la capacità di saper integrare competenze più complesse, scientifiche e non accontentarsi di spiluccare qui e la o di nascondersi dietro i soliti guru. Sicuramente il design deve stare attento a non farsi intrappolare da discutibili determinismi di certe prospettive scientifico sperimentali che pensano di poter ingabbiare la realtà in un modello (vedi i limiti di certa psicologia sperimentale nella HCI). Ma il determinismo di certi contesti scientifici non può essere l’alibi per molti designer di non cercare un dialogo con saperi scientifici più dialogici e sensibili alla complessità dei fenomeni.

Sul versante ricerca invece c’è un parte di ricercatori, sempre nei campi web, ict, ecc. chiusi nel far paper per far paper. Ora, che sia chiaro, i paper sono strumenti fondamentali, imprescindibili della ricerca (in certi campi l’unico prodotto finale possibile) ma spesso da mezzi diventano fini e questo è un peccato oltre che a volte un vero ostacolo alla innovazione.

Non voglio proporre un integralismo dei professionisti ibridi, sono importanti i professionisti iperspecializzati, il punto è che sempre più spesso non basta più. Una volta era sufficiente una buona pianificazione, una struttura gerarchica, una serie di incentivi estrinseci, di vincoli e una catena di montaggio di tante specializzazioni. Oggi la società della conoscenza riattualizza la sfida della complessità e certe logiche a compartimenti stagni possono voler dire perdita di denaro e opportunità nel business, perdita di conoscenza e scoperte in certi settori della ricerca.

Per esempio, se pensiamo al nuovo settore consulenziale dell’enterprise 2.0, cambia il rapporto col cliente perché cambia quello che si sta offrendo. Non è “solo” tecnologia eo design ma è una lenta, progressiva, controllata sandbox per l’evoluzione della cultura organizzativa. Grande opportunità che però richiede che si sappia relazionarsi col cliente secondo alcune logiche del change management e della psicologia delle organizzazioni, non “solo” saper offrire software e design.

Capite che il salto di complessità che porta certa tecnologia nella cultura, nelle prassi, necessita di un salto di paradigma non di semplici aggiustamenti.

Chi mi segue da un po’ sa che questo creare ponti tra discipline e ambiti diversi, unito alla ricerca di equilibrio tra conoscere e fare le metto in pratica nella consulenza, nella modellizzazione con Davide e nella ricerca. Il senso di questo post è di apertura della questione, apertura al confronto in quanto il profondo cambiamento in atto tocca il modo di vivere e lavorare di tanti professionisti, team e contesti dove innovare è una necessità.

Sono benvenute riflessioni e segnalazioni di chi avverte (in azienda, consulenza, design, ricerca) la necessità di affrontare la sfida della società della conoscenza in equilibrio tra discipline diverse, tra il conoscere e il fare.

Un esempio di prassi per innovare by Adaptive Path

Chi lavora in contesti dove la competizione è caratterizzata da una costante necessità di innovare non smette mai di trovare nuove idee ma anche di migliorare le prassi per far emergere ed elaborare le idee stesse. E’ un circolo virtuoso, in quanto il focus non è solo sulla produzione di idee che possono avere un valore ma sulle prassi di produzione stessa. Un punto di vista “meta” che rappresenta spesso il differenziale tra chi innova e chi insegue l’innovazione. Questa è una tra le varie cartine tornasole per fotografare le capacità di una cultura organizzativa di evolvere e innovare.

Detto questo sul blog di Adaptive Path ho trovato questo post e il relativo video che riporto di seguito. E’ un ottimo esempio di prassi per la fissazione, elaborazione e revisione di idee di valore. Si può esempre migliorare ma la scelta dei termini (che sono anche immagini, simboli, metafore che aiutano la riflessione) e il minimalismo del processo (che deve essere breve, leggero per ritagliarsi uno spazio tra le mille priorità e impellenze quotidiane di una vita professionale) lo rendono un ottimo esempio.

Queste le tre fasi della prassi:

  1. Spark (scintilla) rappresenta perfettamente l’idea come luce esplosiva piccola ma che può essere innesco di un sistema complesso più ampio, un effetto a catena.
  2. Fire come dare forma e sostanza alla scintilla in modo tale che da semplice idea diventi un agente materiale nel mondo anche solo per esempio con un post.
  3. Impact è il primo loop, la prima chiusura del cerchio, il primo filtro, il primo feedback per capire se l’idea era fertile o il modo in cui è stata materializzata e comunicata, base per un successivo loop.