1 May 2014
Peter Bogaards
Peter Bogaards

At the INTERSECTION of design thinking and systems thinking

A trip report from a cross-disciplinary event

Last month, I attended an event on what hopefully will become a new community of knowledge and practice: strategic enterprise design. At INTERSECTION (Paris, 16-17 April 2014), the communities of experience design and enterprise architecture and design hooked up, each with their own views, opinions and insights on the enterprise of the future. The conference was a cross-disciplinary encounter of communities, previously hardly aware of each others existence. And as they say, ‘cool things happen at the edges’.

The backgrounder of the conference was the bookINTERSECTION: How enterprise design bridges the gap between business, technology, and people” by Milan Guenther (Morgan Kaufmann, 2013). Milan is a motivated and talented design consultant and partner with eda.c, a consultancy based in France and Germany. With his team of volunteers, Milan delivered an intimate, inspiring and fruitful event.

It was clear that Milan activated (mostly) his European network. Of the 76 attendees, there were designers and architects from France (36), Germany (12), Denmark (8), UK (4), the Netherlands (3), and Sweden (3).

To get a sense what the ‘raison d’être’ of the conference was, the introduction says the following:

The role of design in economy and society is shifting. We see disciplines such as service and interaction design moving beyond individual services and their digital components, to tackle experiences between enterprises and their audiences. Enterprises and entrepreneurship are everywhere, playing a vital role in our lives. They are ubiquitous in the mass of organizations of all sizes we are in touch with as consumers, employees, investors, or in other roles. This event is about designing the new enterprise, making it less awkward and more humane.”

An important common ground of experience designers and enterprise architects is the enterprise. As outlined in his book on strategic design and design strategy, the author sees the experience design community entering the realms of strategic thinking in organizations. With the significant value, relevance and role of design in enterprises, designers must now deal with issues, challenges and problems which are characteristics of large organizations, such as politics, power and scale. Not all experience designers seem willing or able to deal with these productively.

Traditionally, enterprises and IT have been the focus of business architects and system designers of large information systems. But because customers are getting more power, these architects and designers must look not only inside-out but also outside-in. They must focus not on business needs only, but on the needs, wants and dreams of customers as well. Experience designers and enterprise architects need to embrace the concept of AND, not OR. Business and design, organization and people.

Presentations by representatives of both communities addressed enterprise and creative challenges equally.

Examples of enterprise topics were the opening keynote “Social enterprise by design” (Dion Hinchcliffe, Adjuvi), “The experiential revolution: Designing an innovative model of enterprise growth” (Christophe Rebours, InProcess Group) and the closing keynote “Enterprise Design meets Enterprise Investment: How enterprises turn great ideas into outstanding results” (Chris Potts, Dominic Barrow).

Examples of creative topics were “Sex or marriage: Growing user experience into the organization” (Agnieszka Szóstek, Play Telecom), “Designing branded enterprise experiences” (Erik Roscam Abbing, Zilver Innovation) and “Design and co-innovation with SAP’s customers” (Marion Fröhlich, SAP).

All in all, the event was a great opportunity for conversations, learnings and connections among architects and designers thinking about the enterprise of the future. Discussed frequently but under-represented were the communities of service design, customer experience, and systemic design. I hope that at the next edition of INTERSECTION members of these communities will participate as well so this cross-disciplinary conversation can intensify and grow.

Videos of the INTERSECTION presentations

Further conversations in this emergent community can be found in the Enterprise Design group at LinkedIn and @intrsctncnf and #intersection14 on Twitter.

About the author

Peter Bogaards (a.k.a. @BogieZero) has been an online content curator avant-la-lettre in various UX-related fields for almost two decades, choosing what he thinks is interesting, relevant or remarkable to share. Peter works as a curator, editor and coach at Informaat.

Digital strategy (21), Events (26), User experience (53)