More design thoughts…

Design thinking is certainly about envisioning the future and imagining how to create more effective results in terms of products, services or systems.  The annual forecast issue from Monocle has the tag line of “Prescriptions for a Better 2010”.

The Monocle Manifesto of 10 ideas for a change agenda provide a diverse set of actions to improve how we experience the world.  Again — to re-iterate from yesterday’s blog — I don’t think these would have been my top 10 but it has been fun to think about these ideas in design thinking terms.  Here are ideas 6-10.


The general idea here is to focus efforts — especially in small towns where main streets are plagued by empty stores and empty sidewalks.  Monocle’s concept is:  “You simply create a new cluster by placing al the strong, existing tenants side by side and create a zone of density where retailers and consumers find strength in numbers and also comfort”  Oh if it were that easy to move owners and tenants around.  But with a design thinking lens, it does make sense for small towns to focus and think creatively about their communities; when the city mothers and fathers do make zoning decisions they will hopefully embrace  the idea of “compactness”.


This may not be the most practical idea in the world.  But their basic point is that business parks were built when many people were not thinking about a zero carbon economy.  They are located on the outskirts of towns and are generally isolated.  Monocle remarks: “staff are so miserable they allow them to have bean bag rooms and basketball hoops above waste-bins”.  The solution (from Monocle) — “parks should be parks and places of business should be close to transport hubs with everything a worker wants within easy walking distance.”  Here. Here.


“Community is what makes everything work.”   If you care about your community, your behaviour is so different than if you don’t care.  Monocle suggests that community service should be seen as an opportunity for every school-leaver.  Also healthy to learn the skills of working in a team.

Design thinking is about considering people and community at every stage of the process.  And it is very much about collaboration.  One of the challenges of being a designer is that our expertise is sometimes quite general — this makes use good collaborators because we recognize our need to speak the language of related disciplines and to have them on our team.  Yes — community does make everything work.


Monocle suggests that there should be an NGO to “blow the whistle on poor urban planning”.  The BUF (Better Urbanism Forum) “would employ a core management time to look after a global network of consultants who would monitor significant urban developments and re-imagine them when they look like they might derail.”  This had me so convinced that I googled BUF — but, unfortunately, it doesn’t yet exist.  Now here’s a great business opportunity.  Monocle even created a new word — BUF-fing.  They identify several cities that could use it. See


This is one of my favourite ones — because I think agree that it is a myth that you need academic qualifications to be a success in life.  Monocle’s point is that many people are “not cut out for pen pushing and book worming”.   They are promoting apprenticeship and its importance.  It is about making and doing.  More of us need to be engaged in caring deeply about what we make.  I almost wonder if all of us should be required to learn a trade or skill with our hands (if we can) in concert with our academic work.

10 diverse agendas for change — who will pick them up and act on them?

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