Value Innovation and Complexity aka design as synapses?


As a point of departure I believe that through design we can create meaningful futures and valuable innovations. I am also of the opinion that “progress per se does not make any sense, does not generate value and [most importantly] does not add any value. It only [maybe] generates new loops of consumption.
Value-innovation is different. Value-innovation is meaningful and valuable in a systemic perspective. This kind of innovation is good progress, innovation is good design.” (Giabardo, 2010, p. 50)

But, is it really like this? How do we define/recognize a systemic good, a systemic-value, in innovation?  How do we achieve it?

We are living in a time that is very different to that of my parents. A radical shift has occurred with the digitalization of our lives. Another one is happening with the transition toward a service-intensive knowledge economy. At the same time any interaction with services, products, the environment, and other beings contribute to generate and to feed the system with increasing complexity. This is as true for individuals as it is true for organizations, companies, and business actors. There are a myriad of sub- and super- domains that converge to influence which are impacted by innovation. Whatever we want to develop, and whatever already exists, does not sit in an isolated eco-system on its own. Everything is immersed in a system – a complex one.

Fritjof Capra (1996), among others, says that we have to address this through ‘systemic thinking’. He underlines how this “new” approach implies a focus shift from objects to processes and relations; from hierarchies to networks of relationships; and from objective knowledge to the contextual one.
Embracing this organic, systemic, approach we understand that the proprieties of the parts are strongly depending on how they are inter-connected and inter-acting and not exclusively on their individual specific characteristics and qualities. This is a crucial concept in the value-innovation definition.

I want to develop my doctoral research on value-innovation through this network/system-oriented lens. In fact I would like to understand the process and method that underlies the making of those new connections, the forces and principles that guide the choices. How do we ‘interact’ with and within complexity? How do we generate new forms of user-interactions through products and services as well as new platforms or new processes in a context characterized by complexity? [And, do we really have control?]
Designers, innovators, scholars, and value-innovation-oriented business could be network-agents within complexity. Can we think, in this context, of design as synapses?

Capra, F. (1996). The web of life: a new scientific understanding of living systems. New York: Anchor Books.
Giabardo, G. (2010). Weaving Knowledge To Develop and To Manage Meaningful Innovation. Making Sense Of the Future Through Design. Unpublished MBA Thesis, ISM International School of Management, Paris.

Comments are closed.