Weeknotes Weeks 91-94

First and foremost, we want to wish everyone a happy new year. 2011. 2011!

We ended the year with a bit of chaos. We're putting the finishing touches on our work plans for the next phase of strategic design at Sitra and Helsinki Design Lab. It has taken longer then expected, but it finally seems as though the end is in sight.

Brasilia is a stunning capital designed as an automotive-utopia.
Brasilia is a stunning capital designed as an automotive-utopia.

Just before Christmas Marco was off to Moscow, while I was in Brazil to present our work at the Foresight International Seminar hosted by CGEE, a Sitra-like organization in the Brazilian context. I was presenting to a group with various backgrounds in foresight, forecasting, and futures. Not being terribly familiar with that discourse, it was interesting for me personally to learn some new things—OK, a lot of new things—as well as to see some new opportunities for the strategic design approach we've been developing at Sitra.

The conversation touched on many similar points: how do you measure ambiguous efforts? How do you convince people to invest upfront in work that will pay big dividends later? And whereas many of the foresight presentations were incredibly rigorous in their application of quantitative methods to back up their assertions, as a group we struggled with the question of balance between rigor and speed.

One question I took away from the event is whether strategic design, and specifically the HDL studio model, can achieve this balance between rigor and speed. As we look out across the vast expanse of 2011 and think about the work we will do this year, one of our goals is to test the studio model in different contexts. We begin in a couple weeks with an experiment in Umeå at the Institute of Design. Details from that in a few weeks.