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February 25, 2008

Orange design revolution

A serious-looking book arrives from the Said Business School at Oxford University. Its title is "Designing for Services: Proceedings from the Exploratory Project on Designing for Services in Science and Technology-based Enterprises". Not a thrilling title, it's true, but I recognise many of the names on the contents page and so take the book with me to Newcastle's excellent HeiHei restaurant as my dinner-time reading. Bad move. I could not figure out what the book was about until, on page 27, I read that its focus is "the relationships between resources and capabilites that are used to operationalize the strategic intent of the organization" and (on page 35) "the shift from linear moments of truth to dynamic networks of value constellations". Feeling not much enlightened, my spirits revived when I saw the words "designs's role is a journey that has just begun - as we articulate graphically in Figure 9" - only to encounter a chart that, being printed in white on a violent orange background, was illegible. Lacking a Crime Scene Investigation crew to help me decipher their meaning, I skip the rest of the orange pages - but I plough on otherwise to the bitter end, on page 64. Here I discover that the book is the outcome of work by 31 professors and researchers, 10 'enterprise participants', 16 designers, a principal investigator and two co-investigators, a research manager, four research assistants, a research accountant, three editors, three scribers, a visual designer, a six-person web team, a ten person film team, two av people, a logo person, and a probes pack person.

I'm sorry guys, but I can't say I learned a single new thing from reading this book. Does this mean I'm never going to be a professor of design management innovation, still less a tenured navigator of value constellations? Dang.

My grief is tempered by the memory of HeiHei's spicy hot poached de-boned seabass, which was sublime.

Posted by John Thackara at February 25, 2008 09:22 PM


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