Heresies about Making New Things

Management thinking has been approaching a reformation, or at least the need for one has been recognised, for a few years now. Economics too has been disrupted by a new group of iconoclasts willing to smash up its old certainties.

But the fields of design, innovation, and strategy — the disciplines that shape the future of the products and organisations around us day to day — are still dominated by the old gatekeepers, the old principles, and buzzwords that now themselves seem to be tired.

This post is a very basic attempt to create a little part of the internet in which that isn’t true.

Just writing down the reality of making new things in 2020 can seem a provocative thing precisely because so much that is written about it is so theorised, so tied to what certain players want to sell, and so boring.

The reformation may be a way off.

It is time to start by stating some heretical truths.

This is a list that may get updated over time.

  1. Design thinking mostly involves too little of both
  2. Collaboration is not a soft skill, it's hard but you can get better at it
  3. Process is less important than the mix of people you get working on something
  4. Design your process to get the best out of the mix of people you actually get working on something.
  5. Data and Information are not the same thing (thanks to Scott Liddell/ scottmliddell on twitter for that one — and for recommending this book from James Gleick)
  6. Being excited about life is actually quite useful
  7. The user you have in your mind does not really exist, no one is audience, and it's ok to just talk about people sometimes otherwise we end up making the same mistakes economists did thinking everyone we design for is unlike anyone we know (as they go about finding ways to ‘meet their needs.’)
  8. The best facilitators unlock other people’s thinking when there isn't a workshop happening and don't do it with canvases and post-its
  9. When people say they “have lots of ideas, its just execution that’s the problem” then they don’t understand either ideas or execution
  10. Sometimes imposter syndrome is a signal you need to go learn some stuff
  11. Desk research is a preparation to do the real thing
  12. To get it right, make it harder; you can take the brief to mean splashing some paint on the ceiling of the church, or you can create the Sistine Chapel
  13. Methodology is more than a plan. Most of the time some smart person has already done all the design thinking/ agile/ lean/ devops stuff on this problem before. What can only you do now that means you might crack it?
  14. Sleep
  15. Some people work well in groups, some people don’t your icebreakers aren’t going to make a lot of difference
  16. To work out the future of something understand its history (and follow Brian Roemmelle in the meantime)
  17. Digital transformation is a thing consultancies sell, not that organisations actually do because that's called work
  18. All the people you hear on conference stages talking about change are there because people who don’t want to change like listening to them

Thats a start.

What did I miss?




As Seen on CCTV. Co-founder @ A network of the world’s most pioneering innovation studios working across strategy, design and tech

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Nick Sherrard

Nick Sherrard

As Seen on CCTV. Co-founder @ A network of the world’s most pioneering innovation studios working across strategy, design and tech

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