January 23, 2017

Discussion Session 1.23.2017 – The Transition Design Framework

How can you put the Transition Design framework into action in your everyday practice/career?

Discussion Leaders: Francis Carter, Michelina Campanella, Tammy Tarng and Eunjung Paik

 

43 Comments
  1. As a current web/graphic designer, my first thoughts are about how I don’t have a lot of control over the work I do. I asked myself, “could I incorporate the framework into the content somehow?” More often than not, that answer would be a “no.” My posters do not advertise my events. I can certainly tackle the issue of waste; make sure that there are only as many posters printed as needed and ensuring that those that do get printed end up in the recycle bin. I have also helped to bring recycling and composting to my office and actively encourage its use. It’s a start, but I hope to find ways in which I can be more impactful going forward.

    • Michelina Campanella January 23, 2017 at 11:50 pm Reply

      Great points Jesse! I think you’re right that taking initial initiatives around waste and recycling in your office is a place to start, but also feeling like that might not be impactful enough makes a lot of sense. In the case of posters, there may be an opportunity to look at the supply chain of how the posters are printed and distributed as a means of intervention. For example, printing on recycled materials to begin with, looking at the use of non-toxic dyes, or even suggesting creative uses of digital media to display them instead of printing all together. In other words, instead of just looking at how to better manage waste, can you think of ways to reduce waste in the first place and support more ecologically sound practices?

      • That’s great idea! While I don’t have control over much, I can look for companies that print in more environmentally friendly ways. Whether it be through non toxic inks as you mention, or ensuring that they are using recycled paper. I’m often asked what weight of paper I want something printed on. My inclination is to use the lightest type of paper possible, but I have to recognize that posters often need a thicker paper so they don’t bend and just simply look better. We can certainly look at using more digital media, but while that will definitely use less paper, it will be an added use of electricity, which often is generated by coal power plants. What might be interesting is if CMU and other universities/organizations could switch their poster displays from the “tack up your poster” to digital “submit your poster online” for communal digital displays found throughout campus. This would be an added energy component, but if handled properly from the top level down, hopefully an energy efficient solution could be found.

  2. What I really like about the Transition Design framework is that encourages you to scale your design thinking. It isn’t just about designing for say a person or space. If you apply your design vision through all levels of interaction (from a person to a family, to a home to your community and ultimately to cities) you have a better chance at creating a deep rooted impact or change. This helps me put a lot more thought to what I will be designing in the future – what kind of impact can my design bring in the long run.

    • I agree, Manjari — scaling thinking seems like such an important part of transition design. To approach a problem or issue with that level in mind, frameworks built on top of frameworks, can change so much of a designer’s process. It feels like first pressing pause on searching for the right answer and solution and try to go about asking the right questions first. I’m curious how this scale of thinking compares to sustainable thinking and social innovation areas.

  3. I’d like to echo what Jesse and Manjari have said. Before attending CMU, I had worked in advertising agencies as well as design firms and in both I worked on projects and campaigns with a very narrow focus or goal. Any thought past the life of the project or campaign was minimal. Particularly, when I worked with a health care client, the campaigns narrow focus often left no insight into the larger problem at hand. They saw advertising as a way to spend money and when it failed it to accomplish the goal, advertising was blamed for the failure, without a thought to the flaws existing throughout the whole system. After a few years working on projects similar to these, I decided to change courses and attend grad school. I recognized the narrow focus, but was yearning for the future focus. Much like what Manjari said, my aim is to take the framework of Transition Design and apply it to my personal life/design philosophies moving forward. I also hope to inject this thinking into teams that I work with my future career endeavors.

    • This is so interesting…it feels almost counterintuitive, that the communication tool a healthcare client — a company that is in conversation with such large, potentially wicked issues — uses would play such a defined, static role (and, as you said, leaving no insight into the problem at hand). It sounds like some areas of design that have such potential to reach different industries have found comfortable roles. It also makes me wonder how the advertising industry does/could play into the topics we’re studying, that maybe there could be terrain worth exploring for what advertising can be as opposed to its traditional, transactional role.

  4. Although I agree with the comments left here so far, I urge my peers to consider internal institutional problems in tandem with external societal problems. As someone coming into design from the nonprofit field, I have worked with many people who strive every day to create positive change in their communities. These professionals are intelligent and highly trained specialists in their areas of expertise, be it education, urban planning, social work, community outreach, etc. Although I believe Transition Design provides a useful framework for addressing the external problems that nonprofit professionals address, in particularly the focus on addressing problems both at a smaller and larger level, I think the larger contribution of Transition Design is in its potential application for internal problems. In my experience, the things that hold back nonprofits are internal: for instance, lack of communication among staff, bureaucracy, lack of funding, etc.. If we want to give power to the nonprofit professionals of the world, we need to empower them to address internal issues and organize themselves before trying to accomplish their external goals. Evoking change is a complex, messy, frustrating business. Transition Design acknowledges this and has created a framework for us to reframe these issues and create multi-level approaches to these problems. The “Posture and Mindset” module of the framework urges “openness and self-reflection”. This is so important to me as I reenter the nonprofit field: over the course of my career, I think I’ll be asking myself often how I can help my nonprofit peers to reflect on their practice, to identify what internal issues are holding them back from creating change, and to work with me to design solutions.

    • This is such an interesting lens in viewing change, Vic, and I really appreciate the articulation of turning the application internally. This makes me think of Terry’s lecture earlier this week on defining open and closed systems. If the nonprofit world could be seen as an open system, how would transition design fit into it? It does also make me wonder that, with the one of the biggest characteristics of transition design is in its aim at the wicked, grand scale problems, how the issues that hold back nonprofits could be addressed at their scale — meaning, meeting the problems where they are. I definitely agree with you that it’s worth looking at, and that the openness and self-reflection component of the framework can meet the nonprofit world with a lot of benefit. It sounds like it would open the space for honest conversations about addressing what can be fixed within before and/or while also looking forwards.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with you Vicky. I also feel that the Transition Design framework could provide value for addressing internal problems for a variety of parties. These parties could be from the non-profit world which you discussed or could even be in the form of a personal relationship or a large organization.

      Similar to your thoughts on non-profits, I also think a large amount of the impediments faced by organizations are internal. I know from my experiences and from what my friends have told me about their experiences, that most corporations have all sorts of problems and inefficiencies. These problems exist for a variety of reasons including a lack of open communication channels, mixed messaging from the upper levels of organization, a lack of autonomy, a desire to keep things the way they have always been, etc. Looking at these problems through a Transition Design lens could be a valuable experience for any organization confronted with a less than optimal situation.

      I also agree that “Evoking change is a complex, messy, frustrating situation.” While implementing the framework may not produce the most optimal outcome immediately, the framework provides a valuable fresh lens to look at these problems and will hopefully make it easier to reach a more optimal state in the future. While we might not be able to immediately put this into action, we should keep this in mind as we further our careers.

      • Vicky, Tammy, and Scott — I found it really interesting to hear your thoughts about the framework’s use internally and found that resonated with me as well. While I worked primarily at a small (for-profit) social enterprise, our clients were often large international development agencies. Both the small social enterprise I worked at, as well as the large international development agencies we worked for, seemed to suffer from similar internal issues. I agree that if employees were empowered to address internal issues in a long-term way, there would be a greater ability for organizations to more successfully meet their diverse goals. By providing a structure and shared language to help start such initiatives, I believe the transitional design framework could be a very useful tool in that context.

        Specifically, some internal issues I observed that I think the framework could be used to address include greater cross-departmental collaboration and a shift in focus from project management to project impact — similar to the issues you mentioned as well. Often the international development agencies we worked for worked hired us to execute specific deliverables on proposals that were written by people who did not have the expertise to execute the deliverables themselves. Because of this, timelines were almost always unnecessarily tight. This in turn constantly constrained our ability to design with intention and foresight — often we had to just make something work within whatever timeframe we were given. Sometimes the deadlines were as abitrary as the end of the fiscal year. Sometimes funding would dry up just because of a contract signed five years ago. These deadlines were completely external to the project itself, and the project’s potential impact. If the focus of the proposals had been on impact, instead of timeline, I believe they would be more successful. Perhaps if there was greater collaboration between people who wrote proposals and people who executed them, timeframes wouldn’t be as much of an issue either. I worked on dozens of projects and this ways always an issue we had to contend with. I think the framework could be used in this context to get buy-in for a new focus on project impact, rather than management, as well as the creation of new communication channels to foster the kind of collaboration necessary to make proposals more successful.

  5. I think in order to apply transition design, I somehow need to instrumentalize it or its impact as MacKenzie said, will be minimal to no. Although it is not included in the framework, I believe newly (probably not so new) marketed behavior change models such as Nir Eyal’s Hook model make the habitual transition easier to achieve at least on a human scale. So although it is a bit creepy, let’s think that all services on daily basis somehow follow somewhat a behavior change model like Eyal’s and make people change their lives in different ways but with small bits at a time. Since all interactions points of an individual urge to change (or force for change), they may work as a whole to change a person. Then through repetition by differents kinds of people, this may turn into a social norm to change the society, which may then urge decision-makers to rethink their decisions on drawing boundaries for the society. I believe transition design will make me think in this way more, at least unconsciously since I will probably always envision a future life for a someone or a society.

  6. I felt that in the architectural practice, the first two components are being addressed well in the contemporary era. There are lots of effort been put in creating a vision for the future, whether that future is within five years or five hundred years. Utopian architecture is a constant theme in architectural education, and so does sustainable architecture, resilient architecture, etc. Many theories have emerged as well in order to achieve those vision for transition, such as incremental design, kit-of-parts design, temporal design, etc. However, the third component of the project is really lacking in the architectural design process: there is minimum communication between the architect and the end user about the differences in values, knowledge, culture and many other things. And as a result, a lack of understanding and appreciation is presented from both groups, and the design sometimes ended to be a failure. This happens a lot in social housing projects.

  7. MacKenzie, I like your point about applying the framework to your personal life. I really think there’s no better way to start than applying this framework to examine my daily life – in the decisions I make. I think of it as way to sort of ‘prototype’ this alternate reality.

    If I can reflect on lifestyle choices I make and map out how it ultimately impacts the environment (read: how am I, as a human being on this planet, perpetuating climate change) it would: 1) help bridge the gap between my decisions and their consequences and 2) pave the way for conscious decisions to make adjustments. I think the impact of exercises like this in my personal life could really shape the way I approach professional challenges as a designer too.

  8. I think framework is my beginning to structural understanding about transition design. To be honest, I have no idea how to put transition design in my everyday practice right now. As a person from computer science background, it is natural for me to divide big problem into solvable smaller ones and then try apply solutions to them. I had seen many documentaries about global crisis before trying to further dig out the root cause and in the end most of time it will mention something about start by yourself (and hopefully it initiate the change). I refused to buy certain kind of products but it is hard to persuade people not buying it when food grown by international enterprise is more expensive. I try to take my own bag to grocery store and the staff still put my things into plastic bag by default if I don’t take my own bag out quick enough. To think of it as a system level problem, any personal effort seems to be hopeless. What you do does not matters anyway.

    By using the elements in framework (though we have not get into them yet), it could be helpful to think through even daily problem. To vision the future, I could decide my direction toward it. To know about the theory of change, we probably could search for the best leveraging point to shift the system. I guess understanding each elements could have positive feedback to other and eventually understand more about what is transition design practice.

    • Jeffery – I agree with you, it is hard to apply a framework to your daily life if you do not have a firm grasp on it. Transition Design is a new way of thinking and acting in the world, it is a developing framework but offers us, at least, an initial way of thinking about the earth and our individual, collective & systemic affect on it. We have all just been exposed to the conceptual framework and it will take time for it to “sink in”. From the examples you’ve provided, I feel you are already thinking and acting through the framework, you are thinking critically about consumption and acting with foresight in your day-to-day activities. These two modes align with the Posture & Mindset pillar of the framework.

      I see the pillars as providing a basis for scaffolding new habits and actions – new ways of being in the world. Change takes time and it is not take top-down or bottom-up, but both. I don’t believe there is one best leveraging point to shifting the system, but a network of best practices that collective will begin to shit systems toward desirable futures for earth and all its flora / fauna.

      • Like Jeffrey, I feel it will become more clear to me with time how I can go about adding the Transition Design framework to my professional life. I think thus far in my career I’ve felt frustrated that the hard work I was doing (at nonprofits and elsewhere) felt like a tiny drop in the bucket in terms of the vastness of the problem.

        I will carry this framework with me as I figure out which small drop-in-the-bucket actions to take, both personally and professionally. Every decision we make, about what to buy, what mode of transportation to use, or how we dispose of our trash, has a larger implication than we realize. Yes, we can compost and bring reuseable bags to the store (both of which I’ve been obnoxiously dedicated to), but is that where our energy is best spent? Or could I spend the equivalent amount of energy and time on calling legislators and organizing movements for curbside compost and recycling programs? Or even larger, work to change regulations so that biodegradable waste cannot be put in landfills at all? What I want to consider, going forward, is which level of effort will bring about maximum leverage for system change.

        I hope that as we go further along in the semester I’ll develop a better sense of where best to make change happen.

        • I resonate a lot with the questioning surrounding where our energy is best spent. So many of our ‘drop-in-the-bucket’ efforts are outweighed by our own use of air+ground travel and the shipping costs for everything that we consume.

          I get the sense that it might require some species of totalitarianism to enforce the transition of social- and behavioral-space to true sustainability. I can’t see how billions of modern consumers will all change their behavior without some centralized body coordinating incentives, possessing the means to shift ingrained infrastructure. Yet I remain skeptical that these changes will occur before profoundly uncomfortable events such as resource wars, massive drought, and civilizational upheaval.

          As for my own practice/career (which is as of yet nonexistent), I already see myself striving to operate with the utmost efficiency. I’m willing to bring myself to mild discomfort wherever possible (such as not using internal lighting in my apartment, instead illuminating my path with my pocket computer’s flashlight) to dampen my effect on my environs. I also strive to reduce my reliance on inherently wasteful agricultural practices through my ingestion of modern, forward-thinking alternative nutrition sources.

          I’ve absorbed many positive visions for transition, especially those of Buckminster Fuller, which have certainly molded my outlook and continue to influence which writers/thinkers I follow. My studies have led me to theories of change that I am fascinated by and inform my intellectual pursuits.

          I’m continuing to sculpt myself into a person who can operate towards radically transformative technologies such as true artificial intelligences and modern dynamic media that will help us represent our problem-spaces to ourselves.

    • I assume every one in this class feels the same way as a beginner of the concept of Transition Design. I agree with Francis, we do not have a clear direction to take so far as a designer to shift the system, I somewhat feel myself as a blindness not knowing how the future society might look like and not knowing if it’s even possible to make sustainable society by applying Transition Design framework, but acknowledging the seriousness of wicked problems and necessity/potentiality of Transition Design would be a critical first step that we can take.

      As Theora mentioned, I also really hope that this nascent process helps us to have better understanding into this world where systems need to be shifted. I am not sure this transition theories, at the end, could create new paradigm for this world (which I think is necessary, but also think is too huge to solve within our capabilities), but I am hoping that this step will create the Butterfly Effect as we go further through this semester.

  9. One of the most important things I learned from Transition Design is that I begin to question myself, “If I can’t figure it out, is it because my thinking is wrong at the beginning?” Just like the shift from geocentric model to heliocentric model or from author-centered translation to reader-centered translation, a totally new way of perceiving may bring fundamental change and a breakthrough.

    Because this framework is grassroots-based, so I think it needs to be understandable for everyone. This framework is dynamic and open, so maybe people can customize it according to their situation. For me, vision means a blueprint for future, I can make a 5-year plan, a 10 year-plan and adjust them at any time; theory of change can be my knowledge base, I will try to organize the knowledge/ideas I’m interested in and try to find relations in interdisciplinary fields; for mindset and posture, I am always open and excited about emergent possibilities; for new ways of designing, can I take them as the ways to achieve my vision? In the process of being a better me, an important thing to remember is a social responsibility. Because I am a world citizen.

    Before I entering CMU, I was in a project called Shanghai Project organized by Shanghai Himalayas Museum. This long-term project brings root researchers from different disciplines, countries, and cultures together to lead the discussion about the sustainable future of 22nd century. We held an exhibition for the phase 1 and trained citizens from different age groups and occupations to be docents for visitors so as strengthen the community communication. It’s so nice to see people in different places all over the world begin the envision a sustainable future simultaneously and try to find new lifestyles.

    • Building on what Minrui said about how “this is a grassroots-based framework”, it makes me wonder…is it really? It seems like the framework has been worked on from and inside the academic sphere. I see value in having this framework spread outside academia, but how is it currently having? The Transition Towns is a good example of a grassroots initiative, but that’s a precedent to the framework, it has informed how the framework was built. So my question would be, how can we distribute this framework outside of academia and people directly involved in academia. I know there is going to be some spreading of the framework by alumni in their respective professional fields, but how are we trying to reach those who don’t have access to CMU or those who are beyond any academic sphere–those who are actually leading grassroots initiatives?

      Is it through local community groups? And how do we build a network with these community groups where the framework can be spread out? Is this something worth thinking about or is this a framework that has been created to only reside in academia?

      • I do agree with Silvia in that the framework is really limited to within academia. I do believe that it would be great if the framework can spread beyond the academic sphere. I think the world as a whole would benefit from having this awareness and to Nehal’s point, it could be as simple as a conversation catalyst. Personally, it is disheartening when I feel powerless, like Jeffery and Theora mentioned, because whatever personally decision I make appear so minuscule next to the vastness of the problem. But if more people, beyond the academic sphere, become aware and begin to talk about the framework and how they use it for their personal decisions, then people are more likely to see that these seemingly lonely, isolated drop-in-the-bucket in combination actually produces a larger splash.

        And besides personally decisions, I would also love it if the framework progresses into the professional realm so that it would be easier to make better professional decisions. I think it is even more difficult in this realm because of the lack of control I have over larger decision making. It might be too much to expect right now for companies to drop everything and always make decisions based on this framework, but I do now see that I personally can play a part in this. If I measure everything I do at work to the framework then naturally, the work I produce at work will be that much more informed. And my company will be that much more likely to make better decisions.

      • I also agree with Silvia’s point on limitation of framework. If Maybe that’s one of the reason why it is difficult to apply the framework to my personal and professional life. As many of you mentioned, my approach to the wicked problem in daily life seems so inconspicuous, I almost feel discouraged. One of the key thing about wicked problems is they simply can’t be solved. They can be tamed, or they can be approached, but they’re too difficult to solve. It doesn’t mean that there can’t be a solution, like Nehal mentioned, the solution itself causes other repercussion. However, as Margaret Mead said, we should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. As a designer, I hope I can apply the framework of Transition Design into my life/design belief. In that way, I might be able to answer the question that Denis brought up, “What can I do today, in this moment, that will help?”

  10. I spend a lot of time thinking about this question in my professional life. I’m attending CMU part-time while I continue to work in policy implementation for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. When I joined the district 6 years ago I had no experience working in a large bureaucratic institution and came at a time when the district was pioneering some pretty radical reforms/policies through policy that were politically challenging. My job was (and continues to be) to serve as a sort of liaison between district leadership, who created these policies or implement state or federal policies, and teachers and school leaders who have to change daily practices as a result. It’s a lot of facilitation, meetings, refining processes, etc. As we’re learning in class, it’s complicated stuff, but I’m hoping to learn better strategies that will help me navigate and advocate more successfully in this system–how to frame problems on longer timelines (when there’s not really a desire to do so), how to arrive at a shared vision with a diverse group of stakeholders etc. I’m also eager to get different perspectives on my work, since you all have such a breadth of experience and I spend most work days in the deep silo of the “T”.

  11. I came across this Atlantic article: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/01/teens-drugs-iceland/513668/ and it immediately made me wonder about its relation to framework.

    The article explores the effectiveness of Iceland topping the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016, and the percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7% (and those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to 3%). What follows is the trademarking and implementation of behavioral addiction, and how in Iceland, the relationship between people and the state has allowed an effective national program; it was described in the article as “a social movement.”

    There were a lot of moving components to this change to happen, but I thought it was an interesting read about an effective change. Compared to the language we’re currently learning, it makes me wonder what can be adopted and what, in the story, was more situational/contextual.

  12. For me, the most profound aspects of the transition design framework is training people to think with a long-term lens—envisioning a future state and being more mindful of the long-term consequences—and embracing new postures / mindsets. It’s exciting and liberating to think that we may not necessarily be tied into the infrastructures that society imposes on us—that there is a better way of being, and that if we work collectively, that vision is attainable.

    At the same time, what I struggle with (as Silvia mentioned), is that outside of academia, such “radical” and alternative viewpoints aren’t generally well-received. As anyone who has been employed probably knows, we don’t always have the luxury in our jobs to adhere to (let alone promote) our personal principles / ethics, and that compromises are made on a daily basis just to appease our bosses and keep our jobs. As Jesse mentioned, oftentimes our locus of control in our work is too limited to make the impact that we wish to. (If we wanted to get really philosophical, we could ask, ‘are we even free, then?’ The poem “On Freedom” by Gibran makes the argument that we are not, but that it is our own mindsets that enslave us.) On a broad scale (think politicians today), those small compromises—though seemingly necessary and unavoidable in the short-term—could be potentially dangerous and harmful and can even lead to corruption in the long-term.

    So to answer the question of implementing the Transition Design Framework in my everyday practice/career, for me that means: 1) be more conscious of the long-term impact of my actions so as not to contribute further to wicked problems we face today, and 2) find a way to structure my life and career in such a way that I can be free to act in ‘transitional’ terms and still function within a society that is quite forcefully contrary to these ideas.

  13. When I focus on wicked problems, I tend to feel discouraged. It’s difficult to change the world. Although, I do know that it starts with me. So maybe for now, I am viewing the Transition Design Framework as a ripple effect that starts with me. I will start with changes on myself, which will impact those around me, which will impact the larger communities/town/cities, then the nation, then the world. I can continue to be “optimistically grumpy” which Cameron told us was to be unsatisfied with the current situation while being optimistic about the future and the transition into a more sustainable future.

    For a more specific example: I came from the technology field, where the trend is to create the latest app or add more features. If I return, I’d like to push conversations about new features by questioning their consequences. Perhaps I can even direct attention to other issues and build things to solve them. Do we just want something or do we actually need it?

    As I dig deeper into what Transition Design is, I have to admit that I don’t quite know how I can put the Transition Design framework into action in my everyday practice/career. I know that the Transition Design framework has four areas: (1) Vision for Transition, (2) Theories of Change, (3) Mindset & Posture and (4) New Ways of Designing.

    I’d like to dive deeper into (1) Vision for Transition. We learned that “Dunne and Raby (2013) argue that visioning creates spaces for discussion and debate about alternative futures and new ways of being. It requires us to suspend disbelief and forget how things are now and wonder about how things could be.”

    To be honest, it has been really hard for me to “forget how things are now” and focus on my “everyday practice/career” when my heart is heavy every time I read the news, especially today concerning the ban on certain countries’ Muslims entering the US. The Transition Design framework brings things and people together. It is collaborative. It centers around “openness, mindfulness, self-reflection, a willingness to collaborate, and ‘optimistic grumpiness.’” I think these things are important. But conflicts of interests, politics, and power structures currently exist and won’t go away anytime soon. What can I do today, in this moment, that will help? I’d like to start a discussion.

    • I agree with many of you. I’m not sure exactly how to apply the Transition Design framework in my career, however, I believe this will become clearer with time. I do see the value in designers thinking critically about their posture and mindset, even if we feel the impact is minimal right now.

      The Transition Design framework invites designers to move between high-level systems thinking and the more detailed/technical aspects of our work. I believe this is important because as designers, it can be easy to get caught up in the details of our craft and forget about the larger landscape that our work is embedded in. Especially towards the end of last year, we saw what happens when we put their heads down and do the work without considering the consequences/impact (we make it easy for people to share false information etc.).

      To Silvia’s point, I wonder how we this framework can reach people outside of academia and encourage other designers (and even non-designers) to take a critical approach to their posture and mindset, as well. I believe this change can start with each one of us, but I’m interested in exploring other avenues.

    • I don’t know what to do at the moment but I hope things will be better soon. I share your sympathy and sadness. In my mind, things which Denise discusses above, add weight to the “Mindset & Posture” area of transition design framework. I think listening patiently, understanding transdisciplinarity and embracing indigenous knowledge is a good place for me to start to shift my values. I believe such can foster cooperation over competition and enable us to respect other cultures deeply. To me, the transition is not constant but ever-changing, meaning I should be perpetually reflective to my surroundings and actions. I should be mindful before reaching for that next stack of post-its because even though it’s recyclable, the embodied energy involved in the process of recycling is not renewable, at least not yet.

  14. For me, transition design framework sets a tone for a more formalized futuristic thinking. Having worked in the urban design practice, I have come across various complexities involved while designing for masses and I experienced that not all the problems can be offered a solution without causing other repercussions. Just as when I thought that the problems at this scale were handful, the transition design framework pushes limits far beyond that. Thinking about the “coming seven generations” and forming visions, theories, temperaments and new design methods to build sustainable societies seems meaningful but, my dilemma (just as Jesse, MacKenzie and Hajira’s) is where to begin? The practices out there lean most towards money-making, unthoughtful replications of global trends, ignorance of local context etc. My concern with upper-level strategic planning has been that majority of the decisions are in the hands of politicians, bureaucrats and stakeholders, while designers play a small role in facilitation of the designs. With such an attitude, it gets difficult to start a conversation that demands thoughtfulness and extra efforts, leave along bringing about change. The framework shows mutual interdependency of the different aspects, but, I feel that a leverage point as a conversation starter can take the process much further in action.

  15. Echoing the sentiments of many people above, I currently have very few concrete ideas about how to put the Transition Design Framework to use in my personal and professional life. I think at this time the most important thing I can work on, as others have said, is the “mindset and posture” of myself. The more I begin to think of problems in terms of flexible and systemic solution frameworks, perhaps the more clear concrete paths of action may become. Tackling the larger issues seems a bit out of my reach at this moment, although by the end of the semester I hope that outlook has altered.

    Like Vicky, having worked in the non-profit world, I have witnessed infrastructures mired in egos, greed, and a profound resistance to change. Like Denise has expressed, that, coupled with the never ending stream of depressing world events, tends to leave me discouraged as to the difference I, as an individual, can actually make. I hope, as we continue to tackle “wicked problems” in class, the thoroughly entrenched pessimism that has so far followed me will abate even just a little, so as to spur me to some sort of action – whatever that may be.

  16. When I began thinking about the transition design framework, I immediately thought that the best way to implement this in my own life is to begin to consider the long-range consequences of everything I do, from bottled water, to driving, to buying used items, to renting out rooms in my home. Terry’s assertion that the posture/worldview portion of the framework is important is well-taken because embodying the worldview and practice of transition design is the first step to implementing the entire framework more systemically.

    But beyond simply understanding the consequences of my actions on a micro-level, I’m not sure how else I would implement the framework in my own life. The far-reaching goals of the transition design framework, in my view, do not lend themselves well to single actors in space. While I believe you can change your worldview and posture to be more closely aligned with the developing framework, I don’t think you can simply apply this entire framework to an individual. The framework is too large for that. We could apply the worldview and posture portion of the framework to individuals, but it misses the point when viewed as a whole.

    What is not immediately clear to me is how we are supposed to apply this framework without reducing problems into their constituent parts. Transition Design proposes rejecting reductionism and embracing systems level change, but the current framework seems to be at odds with itself, at once advocating individual posture and worldview, while also facilitating systems level, long-range change. So my question is: how do we facilitate long-range systems level change in a framework that simultaneously rejects and advocates reducing problems into smaller parts?

  17. When I began thinking about the transition design framework, I immediately thought that the best way to implement this in my own life is to begin to consider the long-range consequences of everything I do, from bottled water, to driving, to buying used items, to renting out rooms in my home. Terry’s assertion that the posture/worldview portion of the framework is important is well-taken because embodying the worldview and practice of transition design is the first step to implementing the entire framework more systemically.

    But beyond simply understanding the consequences of my actions on a micro-level, I’m not sure how else I would implement the framework in my own life. The far-reaching goals of the transition design framework, in my view, do not lend themselves well to single actors in space. While I believe you can change your worldview and posture to be more closely aligned with the developing framework, I don’t think you can simply apply this entire framework to an individual. The framework is too large for that. We could apply the worldview and posture portion of the framework to individuals, but it misses the point when viewed as a whole.

    What is not immediately clear to me is how we are supposed to apply this framework without reducing problems into their constituent parts. Transition Design proposes rejecting reductionism and embracing systems level change, but the current framework seems to be at odds with itself, at once advocating individual posture and worldview, while also facilitating systems level, long-range change. So my question is: how do we facilitate long-range systems level change in a framework that simultaneously rejects and advocates reducing problems into smaller parts?

  18. While I was replying to other’s opinion, I saw the possibility/potentiality of Transition Design framework which stresses out the importance of the collaboration with different fields and experiences. Also, I personally think that the Transition Design theory could be closely related to “the human behavior change”. (Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbEKAwCoCKw) In my view, the approach in this video is more like inducing a short term behavior change by creating fun design, but obviously it shows the possibility of changing people’s behaviors in a virtuous way. Either to design a new system or to redesign/improve current system, there’s a need for us to understand the basic human behavior which implies how current system works, how people conceive it and behave upon it, and how we can frame the problems.

    Differences in framing the problem creates a space where we can discuss on fruitful ideas just like the purpose of Speculative Design, which allows us to imagine possible futures. Thus, I think this course itself is a great space to experiment Transition Design theory, with MA/MDes/MPS students who have different cultural/academical/work experiences respectively.

  19. While I understand the importance of design in various aspects of life and also designing keeping the future in mind, I am not convinced yet of Transition design’s immediate importance to me. I would agree with anyone thinking that this is narrow thinking in some way, but I believe a lot of people out there are doing some of the things without even thinking about Transition design. Will take some convincing before I agree Transition design is as it is made to be.
    I would encourage people here to question what we are told. If transition design was optional, would you have still taken it up? I can hear many of us saying No! Why not? Do you think its not as important as something else for you right now? Putting down what we really think might just be more helpful than talking about Transition design as the best thing here, and not giving a damn about it in our lives. I push us to think if we would practice what we preach, especially some of us against the existing money-making systems and how transition design changes that thinking and things like that, will we really not accept an offer for a large tech company? And maybe work on things detrimental to the society? I really like some of the comments that talk about applying it to our daily lives. And thumbs up to the ones that are questioning the use of the framework itself.
    #lottolearn

  20. I completely agree with many of the opinions stated above. I feel Transition Design is such a broad topic to grasp and more over to implement that it leads to multiple opinions and ways to be perceived. I feel that any kind of implementation of the framework be it for professional life, for internal systems or for various systems to collaborate would lead to a good impact on the society. The beauty of the framework seems to be in the fact that it’s transdisciplinary and is scalable. So even if we start using it in our professional lives for a start and then change the scale our thinking for applying it to system level issues, the framework will support it. When I think of all the problems of the world, I see a tangled mess of different colors of yarn with lot of knots which seems impossible to sort out. To detangle such a web we need multiple hands, working individually on different colors but the hands also need to collaborate to sort out the knots or perhaps make new ones to manage the task at hand. Currently, I feel overwhelmed with the transition design framework and hence plan to apply the “mindset and posture” to my professional life first. Overtime, as I start understanding the framework better I want to share my knowledge with others as we need all hands on board.

  21. Currently I understand the essence of transition design to involve simultaneous coordinated action across many levels of scale. In my own life as a design consultant, I think that means bringing to the attention of my client systems level dynamics which create the situation in which they find themselves embedded.

    The concern I have is that global capitalism is a massive force which opposes and disrupts the kind of system level coordination that we need to accomplish. I’m excited to learn about how we are going to resist and dismantle these forces.

  22. Just as the Transition Design framework is emergent in its nature – outcomes are unknown, not predictable and emerge over time- I believe the Transition Design framework will emerge over time as part of my everyday practice, and at various levels of scale. There may be opportunities to work on a design problem from soup-to-nuts, mapping out the complexity of a problem set, finding points of leverage in that system, and developing a (temporary) solution to nudge the system. However, I expect that those type of opportunities will be the exception rather than the rule. At least in my practice immediately after CMU, I will likely be working on small nodes of a complex system. In this context, I believe the Transition Design framework will allow me to contextualize potential actions and impacts in a more holistic way.

    As an MA student transitioning into the design world, the mindset and posture aspects of the Transition Design framework have particular resonance, as this whole year feels like an evolution of my mindset and posture towards my work and personal life. I hope that the exploration and acknowledgment of my mindset and posture continue as part of my every day practice.

    Lastly, I wrote in my application essay to CMU that I hoped “to build and develop an ecosystem of local/neighborhood-based businesses and community services that promote and foster interactions between neighbors, ultimately growing vibrant, engaged communities”, and I think the transition design framework may ultimately help me figure out how to do just that at a local and globally connected scale.

  23. Before talking about how to apply transition design principles into my daily work, first, I want to share some observations about the internet industry. There is no deny that most cyber products have short life spans, even the ones which once were big successes.

    12 years later after launching QQ, which was once the most popular social network product in China, Tencent produced another social cyber product– Wechat. Within a very short period, Wechat surpassed QQ and became the most popular social application in China. This phenomenon is very interesting that the cellphone applications of this two products are pretty similar to each other but belong to different divisions of Tencent. So why couldn’t QQ evolve into Wechat itself? Why are internet products always replaced by others? Why is it so hard for cyber products to continuously meet users’ needs since they are trying so hard to improve themselves day by day?

    From my point of view, it is because almost all of these products are only focused on short-term goals. The dimensions that they use to measure the development of a product is wrong, so how could they ever head to a right direction? Stimulation is transitory. Without consistently studying and doing research about users’ real demands as well as reframing key problems, no products could ever achieve long-term success.

  24. I think Transition Design Framework provide pretty actionable guideline theorically, particulary in designing for system-level change. It is still hard for me to conceive how every design practice can embrace the framework and get to that level of change. althogu this idea bases on my limited experience,I guess this difficulty comes from the lack of opportunities in real-world projects where designers exert their knowledge and ability for such level of change.

    I have been courious about a similar question how can I take action and make impact for more desireable world as a “designer.” To do so, I worked at an educational NGO as a volunteer designer which provide after-school education for students from lower income famileis. I was in charge of designing poster, brochure, and textbooks. I primarily assumed that working in good-will organization could be a good way to address the question. As time went by, however, I started to be skeptical about the belief. It seemed impossible the wicked vicious cycle between poverty and education cannot be fixed only by aiding the organization.

    Transition Desing Framework suggests that direct intervention in system is necessary. But I am a designe not a teacher, the ministery of education, or a law maker. There are few govenrmental project trying to incorporate desinger’s experties. There are very rare, and I don’t know else where such opportunities are given to designers.

  25. I think Transition Design Framework provide pretty actionable guideline theoretically, particularly in designing for system-level change. It is still hard for me to conceive how every design practice can embrace the framework and get to that level of change. although this idea bases on my limited experience,I guess this difficulty comes from the lack of opportunities in real-world projects where designers exert their knowledge and ability for such level of change.

    I have been curious about a similar question how can I take action and make impact for more desirable world as a “designer.” To do so, I worked at an educational NGO as a volunteer designer which provide after-school education for students from lower income familes. I was in charge of designing poster, brochure, and textbooks. I primarily assumed that working in good-will organization could be a good way to address the question. As time went by, however, I started to be skeptical about the belief. It seemed impossible the wicked vicious cycle between poverty and education cannot be fixed only by aiding the organization.

    Transition Design Framework suggests that direct intervention in system is necessary. But I am a design not a teacher, the ministry of education, or a law maker. There are few governmental project trying to incorporate designer’s expertie. There are very rare, and I don’t know else where such opportunities are given to designers.

  26. Manya Krishnaswamy May 3, 2017 at 6:53 pm Reply

    Looking back, I think I started off with the perspective that in order for me to create change in the world, I need to first embody those changes in my own life; only then can I scale my efforts up to influence the people around me and then wider society. I think there’s still merit in this approach.

    However, from what I’ve learnt in this class, there is a need to work on multiple scales simultaneously. So, I can work on creating change in my life and my close knit community but it needs to be complemented by bigger systems level efforts for it to really have an impact. Practically speaking, I think this approach relies heavily on strategy partnerships in both private and public sector, especially with organizations working on similar, synergistic projects. I think Transition Design provides an interesting framework for people/organizations looking to scale their impact –both on a systems level and on the individual level. I also see its potential to unearth some radically new ideas even for those who are not doing traditional social change / transition design-type work.

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