Experiment, please

Two people building metaphorical models in Lego

In year 2000 I stumbled upon David Gauntlett’s exploration of creative methods applied to sociology and media studies. Gauntlett is currently a Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Westminster. Back then he was teaching at Leeds University in Northern England.

I was instantly captured by his inspiring attitude to mixing a variety of research methodologies, even when they did not seem ‘proper’ or sufficiently academic. As long as it strengthened the research process and his objective of connecting better with the people being studied, he seemed to be fairly open to basically applying anything to improve the understanding of a phenomenon, context or human interaction.

Be bold

It took me several years to realise that this kind of ‘mix it and then just do it’ actually takes some guts to carry out. Since year 2000 I have worked in public and private sector in Norway. My impression is that generally speaking, there is little degree of acceptance to experimenting with status quo in the majority of the organisations I have come across. I believe lots of human capital (or people’s motivational drives at work, if you like) goes to waste due to this.

I don’t get it.

Sharing with a purpose

I composed my first post on this blog in March 2008.  That first post was titled Visualise your problem and people will get your point. It was based upon a YouTube video by Gauntlett. I was thrilled by his practice of sharing good stuff online. I was surprised that few people understood the enormous potential of going online, co-producing or making your thoughts available to others.

During almost eight years after having finalised my MA degree in the UK in year 2000 I had barely come across people like Gauntlett within the sectors I had been part of. People generally seemed sceptic or anxious to share anything online that was not a properly finished product. That drove me crazy. So I started writing my own blog in order to see if I was capable of producing content over a certain amount of time and grow.

It is up to others to decide if I have managed to produce anything of joy, depth or relevance. Nonetheless, I’m sticking to people like David Gauntlett who provides me with enlightening input on how to let go of control and start experimenting in everyday life, both at work and at home.

Design thinking

In 2011 I joined a design company in Oslo, Norway: Halogen. It is a design company populated mainly by designers and a mix of other people like myself. I am trained within social anthropology, sociology, and strategic HR. I was drawn towards Halogen because the company enjoy solving problems, making things work, inspiring customers, and delivering relevant and smooth services and products to our customers’ end users.

Normally that is not a straight forward thing to do. Still, after having joined forces with designers I have found a better context for experimenting. Designers experiment by default. In particular I enjoy the following philosophy:

  • lots of different eyes: engage different people’s views on a problem
  • look at the service or product from the customer’s point of view (they are your best witnesses)
  • think with your hands: make something quickly – a model, drawing, photo, etc. Simply something tangible to represent your idea.

These bullet points are stolen with pride from IDEO, another design company. The Economist has explained the IDEO method more in detail. They call it design thinking. Gauntlett calls his way of working for ‘creative explorations’.

I believe they are both right as long as they enable others to talk about themselves, move forward and create impact, pride, and development.

The end

I’m writing every now and then at the corporate blog of my current employer Halogen: Kjøkkenfesten. Experimentation to be continued. Thanks for now.

Experiment, please

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