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Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

IMPROVISATION IN THE CLOUD: DEVISED THEATRE IN SUPPORT OF PROBLEM-FINDING Irene J. Petrick and Phillip J. Ayoub College of Information Sciences and Technology The Pennsylvania State University Matthew J. Prindible KIT Digital Abstract: This chapter provides a conceptual framework for emergent design that is crucial in the cloud environment where the device, the customer relationships and the interactivity of that device with other devices creates the full user experience. The framework draws on improvisational thinking in devised theatre as a basis for incorporating storytelling and problem-finding into the designer’s work. The chapter concludes with an example and an assessment of the benefits and the challenges to using this framework. Keywords: improvisation, Cynefin model, environmental uncertainty, complexity, sensemaking

INTRODUCTION Over the last ten years, economic conditions have shifted the technology market from a place where consumers buy what business delivers to one where the successful business delivers what consumers will buy (Martin 2010). The shift, from enterprise prioritization to consumerization, has had a profound and disruptive effect on the way organizations approach their innovation processes. The shift has not only given consumers more influence in the design of new products, but the entire development ecosystem and delivery pathways have shifted the balance of power across the value chain. Established organizations (i.e., those with the most resources and the reigning incumbents) that saw creativity and design as in-house tasks are now facing this new environment. These organizations are left questioning their own design rationale and require new approaches to innovation – approaches that rethink the conversation between strategic thinking with creativity and design. It used to be that innovation was delivered via a stand alone device. Later these devices were bundled with services to increase the barrier to entry to include not only the device and its functionality, but some type of support services that deepened the customer relationship. Today, it is the device, the customer relationship, and the interactivity of that device with other devices that creates the full user experience. As devices become more intelligent, and with sensors everywhere, intelligence converges, and thus is born innovation in (and for) the cloud. This


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

innovation will result from interactive design which emphasizes how humans relate to each other, to the world and to the changing nature of technology and business (Kolko 2011). Effectively, the cloud separates the backend and frontend, yet never have these been more tightly coupled in delivering the user expereince. Established firms such as Intel and Microsoft, are now creating the backend (i.e. hardware and operating system), while holding less control of the software services to general developers, in what has become known as the “app model.” In such an environment, the rules of the game have shifted and established organizations must shift their thinking from a predictive state to an emergent state. In this chapter we argue that the cloud environment represents a changing design environment from one that is complicated to one that is highly complex. Instead of problem solving as might be the more traditional innovation pathway, complex environments require problem-finding approaches. This means a shift in the appropriate model of activity from senseanalyze-respond to a model of probe-sense-respond which for the established organizations looking to facilitate innovation, implies a shift in their current dominant logic. Being the backend player, they must shift their goals from problem-solving to problem-finding. We believe this means designers working in teams must embrace improvisational thinking that is best described by a devised theatre metaphor. This will enable such backend designers to anticpate some of the actions of frontend designers (who are out of their direct influence) as they co-create new emergent applications with users, thus enabling richer user experiences. This shift to a more “strategic” mindset must move hand-in-hand with creativity and design, where the rationale that underlie management and in-house design teams must come to the forefront in order to be able to rapidly and flexibly adjust to the emergent dynamics of the new complex ecosystem. Our proposed framework is aimed at supporting both strategic management and technology designers. For managers, it explains the importance of designers in the strategy space. For the designer, it provides a broader framework for understanding how design fits into strategy and business economics. The purpose here is for organizations to direct vs. adapt to emergent change (that has become the new norm). While often not the typical bedfellows, strategic intentionality and creativity and design go hand-in-hand, and it is linked through understanding rationale. This chapter provides a conceptual framework for emergent design. The framework is the result of over a decade working with industrial new product and service design teams that are dealing with the increasing complexity in their environments ranging from the high tech sector, aerospace, consumer products and medical devices. We begin this chapter by describing the way that environmental uncertainty presents design challenges. We then provide a framework for improvisational thinking in design, and extend this through an example of the way that this supports emergent behavior in the cloud. We conclude with the implications of adopting such a design rationale by identifying benefits and challenges.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

COMPLEXITY AND THE DESIGN CHALLENGE Successful innovation blends strategy and action in a way that sets the firm’s product and/or service offerings apart from its competitors. To achieve this blend, firms must be able to sense changes to their external environment and make sense of these changes. Sense-making beyond the obvious often requires suspension of commonly held beliefs, known as an organization’s dominat logic or collective mental model. The Cynefin model (Kurtz and Snowden 2003, Snowden and Boone, 2007) identifies four different environmental sense-making states based on the existance of cause and effect relationships and their ability to inform decision making. This model is useful as it highlights differences between complicated and complex states. Additionally this model suggests that the environmental state is best addressed by different strategic approaches to action, including design and innovation. Table 1 summarizes the Cynefin model and links the environmental states to the design challenges presented therein. In this chapter we are particularly concerned with environments that have shifted or are shifting from a complicated state to a complex one, the shaded area of Table 1. Table 1.

Cynefin states and their design challenges

Cause & Effect Relationships


Sense-making Behavior

Design Activities


Simple Repeatable, perceivable and predictable, often in a linear sequence Best practices and standard operating procedures Sense-categorizerespond Structured techniques with predetermined practice Risk reduction through empirical analysis and sequential decision-making PC Upgrade

Complicated Separated over time and space and often known by only a small group of individuals Analytical/reductio nist thinking and scenario planning Sense-analyzerespond Learning organization and the adaptive enterprise Systems thinking with expert input for problem solving

Complex Only coherent in retrospect and not necesssarily repeatable

Chaotic Not perceivable

Pattern management and perspective filters Probe-senserespond Emergent behavior

Stability focused interventions and enactment tools Act-sense-respond

Expert and generalist input for problem finding

Not applicable



iPhone & iTunes

Courageous action

With respect to design, Simple environments favor sequential risk reduction and decisionmaking. A good example of a product in this category would be a PC upgrade, where the change


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

in one model to the next is incremental and aimed primarily at cost reduction. Feature changes are minimal upgrades. In Complicated environments uncertainty increases such that critical knowledge is possessed by a few individuals. Here experts using systems thinking can decompose the inherent risks and can then undertake problem solving. Conversation among experts is critical to overall success since system elements may be interrelated, but in predictable ways. An example of a product in this category would be the Netbook. At the time of its launch, the Netbook represented a smaller and less expensive form factor aimed at primarily the same tasks as the bulkier PC. The key challenges were the interrelationship between manufacturing changes and the need to shrink hardware components to fit into the smaller form factor at a cost competitive pricepoint. The Netbook required significant technology changes including the ATOM processor. In the Complex environment, feedforward mechanisms create a situation where the actions in one period influence the state under which future actions will be attempted. Here behavior is emergent, and sense making can only be done retrospectively. The expert is no longer able to predict relationships in sufficient detail to properly constrain action. Instead of problem solving, in complex environments the design challenge is problem finding. This often requires both expert and generalist input. An example of a product in this category is the iPad. iPad leveraged the existing infrastructure created for an earlier Apple product, the iPhone (we’ll come back to this in the next example). Here the device enabled user experience with its touch based interface, but many of the specific applications the user wanted were unknown at the time of the iPad launch. In point of fact, designers could not predict any but the most obvious tasks that would be accomplished on this device. iPad reflects the emergent behavior of users, particularly in areas such as media consumption, gaming and communication. Finally in the Chaotic environment, courageous action must be taken without a clear picture of the sources of the uncertainty, of any underlying relationships and without the benefit of comparison events. Pattern matching is not possible and experts have little to offer in terms of decisive action because past successes are not predictors of future success. In this environment, the visionary can only be identified in hindsight. One of the best examples of this is Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. This device brought together the power of a communication device with the connectivity of a computer in a mobile form. When eventually combined with the powerful iTunes delivery model, independent developers were able to offer their products – apps – to previously unreachable consumers. The iPhone revolutionized multiple dimensions of the product, services and ecosystem, the scope of which has been evident only in hindsight. Donald Sull (2009) notes that while uncertainty poses challenges, there is an upside to turbulence for those who can break their mental models of how the world works or the underlying causal factors. Others have argued that the greatest opportunities for innovation are at the “edge of chaos” (e.g. Brown & Eisenhardt 1997, 1998). We believe the cloud represents just such an edge at the present time. In the following section, we briefly summarize two aspects of improvisation – Jazz and devized theatre – and emphasize the way that improvisation can help designers in the Complicated and the Complex environments.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

A FRAMEWORK FOR IMPROVISATIONAL THINKING At its essence, improvisation, regardless of form, is based on call and response. It is this pattern that enables the interplay and communication between artists who, to an audience, create their product spontaneously. Though most commonly associated with jazz, the techniques of improvisation are also used in devised theatre. While the term improvisation can be used across many different contexts, each specific context has unique associated nuances. Table 2 summarizes the role of improvisational thinking in the Complicated and Complex environments which we describe in detail. Later in this section we present our framework for improvisational thinking where we delineate the benefits of each metaphor. From the perspective of designing for the cloud, we believe it more likely that designers will find value in the devised theatre metaphor. Table 2. Improvisational thinking in complicated and complex environments

Design metaphor Interaction mechanisms Process


Expertise of the individual

Complicated environment Jazz Assertion and openness Resolving tension in underlying structures and patterns The underlying structure is preserved, but the responsibility for the preservation shifts throughout the ensemble Technical and intuitive knowledge

Complex environment Devised Theatre Intuition, spontaneity, and accumulation of ideas Freezing to explore “in the moment� experiences to capture nuances of problems Without an end state in mind, create and explore elements of a theme

Lower barrier to entry enables wider participation

Unique elements of Jazz and Devised Theatre Any jazz ensemble can be broken down into its component instrumentalists. The success, or rather the ability of an ensemble to find its groove begins and, to a high degree, depends on each individual musician's ability to discover, cultivate, and master the technical skills of the instrument, and basic methods of improvisation (Berliner 1994). The bridge between individual talent and performing as a group begins with the technical skill known as ear-training. Eartraining is the ability of a musician to identify, synthesize, and react to complex musical constructs in real time. Recognizing chord progressions, the structural patterns (chorus and


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

verses) of the music, and the improvised musical ideas submitted by other members of the ensemble is an evolutionary skill. In a chapter titled "The More Ways You Have of Thinking," author Paul Berliner (1994) demonstrates how over time, jazz musicians learn to extract (by both listening and playing) patterns and structures from existing music that are used to formulate new improvised, musical ideas. "[Improvisers'] theoretical (technical) and aural (intuitive) knowledge constantly inform one another," (Berliner 1994, p. 146). As this new knowledge is synthesized and abstracted, new tools for the musician to use for improvisation are created. Arguably the most important skill developed collectively by the ensemble is the ability to create and resolve tension throughout a performance. Paul Rinzler (2008) argues and presents supporting evidence that new ideas emerge as the product of creating and resolving various tensions within the group and performance. One particular contradiction that creates tension is the coexistence of assertion and openness. Within the confines of the inherent musical structure, each musician is free to contribute their own relevant musical ideas (assertion), but, at the same time, must consider the current state of the musical environment constructed by the other members (openness). "Each musician must simultaneously and fully process information going in both directions," (Rinzler 2008, p. 110). In describing the interaction between a bass player and a drummer, for example, Berliner notes that as one explores his musical freedom, the other has to be restricted some-what. The underlying structure of the piece must be preserved, though the responsibility of its preservation can shift throughout the ensemble (Berliner 1994, p. 353). The resolution of tension and the creation of new musical ideas depends on the ability of each musician to accept exactly what every other musician contributes and use that contribution to complete the performance. "Once something has been contributed musically, it is impossible to take back," notes Rinzler. "The rest of the group has to deal with any individual's contribution� (Rinzler 1994, p. 37). It is the response, derived from intimate musical knowledge, awareness of a surprising amount of structure and rules, and the ability to create and resolve tensions, to an initial call that gives jazz its unique aesthetic. Devising describes a process by which a theatrical product or script is developed not by writers, but rather created by a group using a series of highly collaborative and improvisational methods. [Within devising,] "there is a freedom of possibilities for all those involved to discover; an emphasis on a way of working that supports intuition, spontaneity, and an accumulation of ideas� (Oddey 1996, p. 1). One unique difference to devised theatre is that, in contrast to jazz improvisation, it is not crucial for each participant to be highly skilled or even classically trained. This lower barrier to entry enables a much wider variety of participants and, consequently, a much wider array of potential results. The process of devising typically begins by establishing a theme to explore, called a "seed." The seed acts as a way to initially organize, but not determine or limit thoughts and actions. A devising group can choose to build on the seed in a variety of ways; in fact, it is widely accepted that the process of devising is itself improvisational (Milling and Heddon, 2005). Developing and exploring personas (sometimes called masking), improvisational narrative, games, contact-based improvisation, and even choreography are several ways of exploring a theme and building on the seed.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

Transient, but strong leadership plays an interesting role as members can take turns pushing the group in new directions. In a recent demonstration of a type of devised theatre, participatory theatre-in-education (Oddey 1996), the initial establishment of leadership suspended judgement and allowed the proper space to explore ideas without consequences. Tensions, similar to the tensions created during jazz improvisation can be created in a number of fashions. In the same recent demonstration, "freezing" was used to explore tensions created in scenarios. Each group was tasked with acting out a particular scenario based on the theme. A leader was assigned to yell "Freeze!" at any given moment and the actors were to hold their positions. Frozen in time and place, participants were asked to describe the mental, physical, and emotional tensions they were experiencing. While each method used in devised theatre is unique in its execution, there is a consistent underlying principle within each method — inquiry. While devising, the goal is not to arrive at an end state, but rather to continue creating and exploring new elements to the theme. As the exploration of the theme continues, a pattern of repetition and revision emerges (similar to jazz's call and response). As the process is repeated, it is expected that new, previously unapparent and perhaps invisible elements to the theme will emerge, be discovered, and be used for the final product. Devised theatre is a highly emergent process. However, unlike the underlying structure and patterns that are present throughout an entire jazz production, devised theatre's minimalist structure is formed around the introduction of seeds, starting points or ideas, from which the final product emerges. Sensing, Sense-making and Problem-finding While the prior section outlined two forms of improvisation, we have found that the complex, emergent nature of designing for the cloud is better served by the devised theatre metaphor. In this section, we present a framework for the early stages of innovation and design which uses devised theatre to explore underlying assumptions of the dominant logic, or in design terms, what could be called the design rationale. The more successful a company is, the more likely its employees are to favor a dominant logic (Prahalad 2004) that includes assumptions about the end user, the business model, the value chain and about the relative role of technology push versus market pull in assessing opportunities. Govindarajan and Trimble (2012) go so far as to argue that it is this dominant logic that has sustained companies in the past but that is endangering future sustainability as the needs of far flung customers distributed in global markets increasingly diverge from traditional developed country-based customers. The cloud takes the Govindarajan and Trimble argument to new heights. Anticipating the “right� features to bundle into products and services is getting more challenging since anytime, anywhere access means that users in Detroit, Dublin and Delhi could conceivably want similar features. Moreover, with the widely distributed and long tail nature of app developments, designers are further challenged as users mix and match features and services that might once have been offered as a suite.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

At the heart of the problem is the need for a deep understanding of the user, their needs and the context in which these needs will be fulfilled. Designers must set aside common assumptions and often misconceptions. For example, when considering context, assuming that the developing world will progress along similar lines as more developed economies have in the past ignores a critical point: while the infrastructure in developing countries may be lacking or absent in many cases, in those cases where infrastructure exists, it is often cutting edge (Govindarajan and Trimble 2012). Thus defining the user experience does not necessarily conform to our expectations when designers take a systems view. In our framework for bringing improvisational thinking into design, we address the strategic front end of the innovation process. We target three primary outcomes with this model: (1) making explicit the choices that are made in the front end of the design process by identifying underlying assumptions; (2) changing the conversation around the design space by putting the user into context; and (3) refining the designer’s understanding of the problem(s) faced by those users in their contexts. It is only when these three objectives are accomplished that designers can truly conceive of elegant designs that delight the user. Our framework uses a sensing, sense-making and problem finding approach in three stages (See Figure 1). In the first stage, sensing, designers, marketers, and others within the company look externally to their company to identify trends that will shape the design space over time. In our experiences, we are pushing teams to look out to 2020 for these trends. Not all trends, however, are equally relevant to all companies or even to all design teams within a company. Instead, these trends need to be filtered through strategic priorities. In stage 2, the team takes a critical look at the trends and their implications, resulting in a smaller set of trends, which we call informed trends. These informed trends become the building blocks of the final stage, problem finding. In this third stage, design teams begin to consider alternative scenarios when two or more trends are combined. Ideally the team is seeking the set of trends that present the “Perfect Storm” opportunity – a unique future state that if achieved will accord competitive advantage to the company while simultaneously constraining other companies’ options. We have learned that it is imperative to push design teams to consider alternative plausible future scenarios before considering specific design tradeoffs. Our experience suggests that teams often do not spend adequate time considering these alternative views of the future, instead settling on the most obvious, or in the worst case, the scenario of the future that most closely resembles their dominant logic. In our sessions with teams, we often select two trends from the prioritized list and then encourage the team to select one or two more to think about. This helps reduce the favoritism toward trends that support the dominant logic. We have learned that it is imperative to push design teams to consider alternative plausible future scenarios before considering specific design tradeoffs. Our experience suggests that teams often do not spend adequate time considering these alternative views of the future, instead settling on the most obvious, or in the worst case, the scenario of the future that most closely resembles their dominant logic. In our sessions with teams, we often select two trends from the prioritized list and then encourage the team to select one or two more to think about. This helps reduce the favoritism toward trends that support the dominant logic.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

Figure 1. Exploring the rationale of improvisational thinking in design

Here is where improvisational thinking is critical. Once the team has described their future state, the tendency is to rush to problem solving and solution development. In fact, the most common approach is to reach into the company’s technology competencies and begin crafting a solution. But there is a critical step we have found that many teams miss – problem finding. To fully achieve this objective, we encourage the team to tell stories about the experiences that the user will have in that future state. As these stories evolve, problems emerge. Storytelling also helps deflect the dominant logic as the team members often have to go beyond their personal experience and the known success factors of past activities. Our framework breaks down the problem finding activity into two streams that can be differentiated by the strategic intent of the company. There are two primary strategic intents that drive design teams: (1) identifying technology gaps to drive R&D investments, mergers, and acquisitions, and ecosystem partner development; and (2) identifying critical problems that suggest new product, service or business model opportunities. While both of these strategic intents often result in the investment in technology, they tend to have differences that are critical to this discussion. In point of fact, identifying technology gaps reflects a complicated environment, while identifying new products, services and business models is more akin to a complex environment as discussed earlier. Teams in search of technology gaps tend to be populated with experts who have deep knowledge around core company strengths. These experts each possess a piece to a complicated puzzle and it is in their working together that unique solutions ultimately emerge. Unfortunately,


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

if the experts don’t go through the storytelling phase, their solutions reflect what is possible, not necessarily what is needed. In this sense, using the Jazz metaphor in design provides a framework for discussion, interaction, and expected roles. This lessens the reliance on any single individual or discipline, and encourages the discussions to balance the whimsical with the possible. Technology solution development in response to technology gaps that emerge in problem finding, ties strategic intent to action, thus more tightly coupling strategy and design. On the other hand, teams that are driven by the imperative to grow new businesses through new products, services or business models are often populated by a more diverse set of participants, drawing from technology experts, market experts, finance and other critical areas. Here the Devised Theatre approach provides a framework for storytelling that is user centered, but that evolves through inputs that cannot be anticipated at the start. Moreover discussions are emergent, not necessarily convergent. In these problem-finding sessions, the balance between whimsy and physical possibilities is less at the heart of the discussion. Instead the team is seeking truly new ground. In our experience this new ground often requires a new business model and a different ecosystem than the one in which the company currently participates. The relative importance of one discipline over another depends on the problems that are identified and leadership of the discussion is fluid. We have found that just as “seeds” in devised theatre help the story to develop, carefully placed questions by a facilitator help the team continue to move forward, avoiding those rat hole discussions that abruptly go nowhere.

AN EXAMPLE OF IMPROVISATION IN THE CLOUD This example is drawn from our work with an Intel Corporation business unit focused on automotive technologies that has been using devised theatre and storytelling as a problemfinding method. The team was charged with identifing new products and/or services that would facilitiate future experiences in the driving environment. At the outset, the team determined that a technology push solution would not necessarily anticipate the myriad of experiences drivers might be seeking. They also recognized that a multifaceted solution might require new ecosystem partners to achieve. In addition, the team determined that envisioning the platform only as a physical device ignored the cloud based solutions that might extend these devises such as application software, services, and access to real time data. Here is a clear case of the challenge of backend development in light of unpredictable front end partners and uses – the cloud at its best, and its most challenging. In early meetings, the team invited participants from other areas within the company to help it identify trends that might influence user choices out into the year 2020. Once this team had a full list of trends – and the underlying assumptions that were made in creating them – they were asked to prioritize the trends. A final downselect of trends was assigned to smaller groups on this team by a facilitator with the expressed instructions, “Take these two assigned trends, and choose up to two more trends from the list to consider alternative scenarios of the future.” Here the facilitator planted a “seed” that the group could use to begin exploring. To focus the discussions even further, the group was asked to tell a story about this future and to identify the


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

problems from the user perspective. It wasn’t until the groups were charged with storytelling and problem finding that truly out of the box thinking emerged. Designers transitioned their discussion away from “My experience says that …” or “In the past we solved this by …” [problem-solving] to discussions about what the future looked like, what experiences would be needed and what problems would be experienced [problem-finding]. Using this framework, discussions centered around user frustrations with increasing traffic congestion, user overload of information and other sensory stimulation in the vehicle, and user desires to have a more productive or relaxing driving experience. Without going into the competitive details of potential opportunities explored and expanded upon, the results of this exercise include previously unanticipated geographies, with widely different potential go-tomarket strategies. As of this writing, the team is still exploring its options. The senior leader on this team summarizes the benefits of this process with the following: “[The framework] provided a process that brings order to our chaos. [It] helped bring a diversity of ideas into our group so that we didn’t get caught up in our own way of thinking. Some of the trends that have been identified are starting to show up in the way that we communicate our vision [to the rest of the company].” CONCLUSION Experts have been taught through formal education and experience to anticipate future events based on past events, and to predict future relationships based on past causal factors. As the operating environment becomes more fluid and uncertain, such expertise can be a constraining factor rather than a benefit. Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2003) have suggest that the new frontier of innovation experience will shift the focus from products and services to the user experience which will evolve through the convergence of multiple industries working in a networked world. We have used the conceptual framework presented here to help teams anticipate what types of conversations they are having at various portions of the design process. A colleague at Proctor and Gamble often comments that there are three questions in the innovation space: (1) questions about opportunities – what are all the things we might do? (2) questions about possibilities – what are all the things we could do? and (3) questions about action – what will we do? All too often teams jump to the question about action before carefully considering the first two questions. This rush to action only reinforces the dominant logic and puts teams at a considerable disadvantage. One of the most important benefits in the proposed framework is that it helps teams focus their discussions in a sequential way, enabling them keep on topic and to table tangential discussions to the appropriate time. We have found that discussions are more focused and more productive. In addition, forcing teams to explicitly articulate their strategic imperatives, tends to help them in filtering trends later on and in ultimately down selecting from among the problems identified to those that are most relevant, given strategic intent. Overall, we have found that teams that use this framework are better able to articulate the needs of the end user and to translate these needs into metrics that can be measured over time. This improves communication between team members and between the team and others in their


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

company and beyond. However, just as frameworks have benefits so, too, do they have challenges (See Table 3). Table 3. The Benefits and Challenges of the Improvisational Framework

Benefits Increases diversity by involving more people in the design discussion Storytelling captures in narrative form the relationship between assumptions and design choices Improves communication between team members and between the team and the larger organization Metrics are consistent with a UX perspective

Challenges Discussion intensive meetings expand the timeframe for the front end of innovation Does not conform to deductive models of business economics Developing a cohesive story is time intensive and often suggests additional fact finding needs UX metrics are difficult to translate into ROI

The primary challenge to using this framework is the time required to develop the trends and to refine the stories around them. Teams spend more time in the early stage innovation development, often requiring two-three multi-day meetings; extensive follow-up fact finding is often required between these meetings. While we believe that this is time well spent, in a fast paced environment where results are expected quickly, it is often a difficult tradeoff. In addition, the UX metrics that are so necessary to support design choices are often difficult to translate into the more traditional return on investment (ROI) or other economically derived metrics. Teams choosing to adopt this framework should be advised that the larger organization often pushes back because of the tension between their dominant logic and this design framework. Forewarned is forarmed.

REFERENCES Berliner, P. (1994). Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Brown, S. L., & Eisenhardt, K. (1997). The art of continuous change: Linking complexity theory and time-paced evolution in relentless shifting organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(1), 1-34. Brown, S. L., & Eisenhardt, K. (1998). Competing on the edge: Strategy as structured chaos. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Govindarajan, V., & Trimble, C. (2012). Reverse Innovation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press. Kolko, J. (2011). Thoughts on Interaction Design, Second Edition. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufman Publishers. Kurtz, C.F., & Snowden, D.J. (2003). The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world. IBM Systems Journal, 42(3), 462-483 Martin, R. (2010). The age of customer capitalism, Harvard Business Review, January-February, 48-65. Milling, J., & Heddon, D. (2005). Devising Performance. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Prahalad, C.K. (2004). The blinders of dominant logic. Long Range Planning, 37, 171-179.


Chapter to appear in Creativity and Rationale, an upcoming book edited by Jack Carroll

Prahalad, C.K., & Ramaswamy, V. (2003). The new frontier of experience innovation. Sloan Management Review, Summer, 12-18. Oddey, A. (1996). Devising Theatre: A Practical and Theoretical Handbook. London, UK: Routledge. Rinzler, P. E. (2008). The Contradictions of Jazz. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. Snowden, D. F. & Boone, M.E. (2007). A leader’s framework for decision making. Harvard Business Review, November, 69-76. Sull, D. (2009). The Upside of Turbulence. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.


Devised Theatre in Support of Problem-finding  

This chapter provides a conceptual framework for emergent design that is crucial in the cloud environment where the device, the customer rel...

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