Design and recession II ~ Abaster

18 November 2008

Design and recession II

Some very interesting discussions on design thinking over on Tim Brown's blog (IDEO) and in particular on a nascent approach to innovation called restorative innovation. This was an output of a recent conference in Dubai that Brown and other design luminaries such as Bruce Nussbaum (blog BusinessWeek), and Alice Rawsthorn, IHT, attended. The term restorative innovation is an interesting one, and I'm pasting here my comment on Brown's blog entry on the issue:

A restorative is something that an individual would take to make them stronger, to bring them back from ill-health, etc. Restorative thinking is about going back to some point of stability, balance or equilibrium and taking another look, another think. It is, in a manner of speaking, a mental regrouping, so as to allow for time to think anew. Restorative innovation is getting back to a known point and looking at the challenge(s) with a fresh eye, considering new facets, data, perspectives, etc. The known point is important as it has to be one at which one can breathe and reflect - a point of relative stability. I suppose that the analogy in today’s world would be a “getting back” to the basics, or fundamentals, those elements that most can agree upon. Specifically, and in terms of the ongoing financial crisis, it might be getting back to good conservative banking practices and refocusing the banking industry on being a cornerstone of community.

Following up on the earlier entry on design and recession, the idea of seeking a point of balance and stability so that future innovation has a solid foundation upon which it can thrive, whether it be in services, products or systems, seems entirely apropos in an environment in which nations are reeling from financial wizardry run amok. Restorative innovation (or whatever one might call it) could well be the ticket for design in times such as these. It never hurts to get back to the fundamentals.