Posts tagged “system”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Delta-Northwest Merger’s Long and Complex Path [] – [While there's humor at the banality of decisions, the successfully merged experience worships the God who lives in the details.] Airlines have specific working rules, flying procedures, maintenance schedules and computer programs. And all have their own cultures…Pilots at Delta used to ring the cabin bell four times as they began their final approach, while those at Northwest rang it twice. The food catering operations of both airlines had 8,000 pages of one-line codes describing everything from soda orders to the price of strawberries. Each airline had different codes and paid different prices. Delta used to cut its limes in 10 slices while Northwest cut them 16 ways. The lime debate was even mentioned at a meeting attended by the chief executive, who was told it saved Northwest about $500,000 a year. In the end, Delta stuck with its 10 slices. But the airline also realized that it had been loading more limes on its flights than it needed. So it is now carrying fewer limes.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Pop-up dining takes residency atop major European landmarks [Springwise] – [Very inventive, experiential PR effort by Electrolux; seems ripped straight off the whiteboard of an ideation session.] The Cube is an aluminum-clad 140 square meter dining area including a 50 square meter terrace, soon to be based in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels. The highly portable restaurant — which can be transported by helicopter — plans to move from this Brussels base to a different European City every four to twelve weeks. Each location is selected to offer the 18 diners within The Cube a unique panoramic view of the surrounding area, whilst creating an eye catching new addition to the cityscape for onlookers on the outside. Lunches are available from EUR 150 and dinners from EUR 200, including wine and champagne. During dinner, the head chef — selected from the local area for a short residency in The Cube — takes center stage, with the Electrolux kitchen fully on show.
  • [from steve_portigal] New MFA in Products of Design [School of Visual Arts] – [I'm stoked for this new program and looking forward to my guest lecture spot] More and more we are recognizing that designed artifacts all live within dynamic systems, and that the creators and users of these artifacts must negotiate their value, purpose, and impact in an ever-changing world. We also recognize the limits of seeing designed objects as simply things; designers, who create multiples of their outputs, aren’t actually in the artifact business at all—they’re in the consequence business. And if we consider consequences first, above materiality or ergonomics or aesthetics, we are more likely to arrive at design offerings that are purposeful, thoughtful, sustainable, and wondrous. It is from this perspective that the Products of Design program addresses the needs and desires of the world at large. Through a combination of design thinking, design making, and design doing, we immerse our participants in hands-on physical exploration, rigorous investigation, and strategic intent.
  • [from steve_portigal] Take A Self-Portrait Every Day. Every Day. Every Day [Technologizer] – [This is brilliant: an application of technology that puts the astounding within reach of everyone. Leverages the "smart" aspect of smartphones to enable new activities!] If you’ve spent any time at all on the internet in the last few years, you’re probably responsible for one of the 18 million (now approaching 19 million) views of his video, mashing together years’ worth of self-portraits into a few minutes of thrashing hair and regular shaving. His name is Noah Kalina, he’s a New York-based photographer, and he has teamed up with some other people to create Everyday an iPhone app that makes it super-easy to create your own version of this video. The app thinks about everything, so you don’t have to. It helps you line your face up in roughly the same position every time you take a shot. It reminds you to take your photos on a regular basis. It saves them all for you, and when you’ve taken enough, it automatically turns them into a timelapse video, ready for posting online.

If only fixing the easy problems was that easy

The problems in getting San Francisco high school students to use the separate line for free lunches in San Francisco is not surprising

Lunchtime “is the best time to impress your peers,” said Lewis Geist, a senior at Balboa and its student body president. Being seen with a free or reduced-price meal, he said, “lowers your status.”

School officials are looking at ways to encourage more poor students to accept government-financed meals, including the possibility of introducing cashless cafeterias where all students are offered the same food choices and use debit cards or punch in codes on a keypad so that all students check out at the cashier in the same manner.

Only 37 percent of eligible high school students citywide take advantage of the subsidized meal program.

Many districts have a dual system like the one at Balboa: one line for government-subsidized meals (also available to paying students) and other lines for mostly snacks and fast food for students with cash. Most of the separate lines came into being in response to a federal requirement that food of minimal nutritional value not be sold in the same place as subsidized meals – which must meet certain nutritional standards.

It’s frustrating to encounter situations when the owners of the system understand explicitly why their target customers aren’t adopting their product or service, but are unable to make the changes necessary to reach those customers. In this case, the schools are morally (and legally, perhaps) obliged to provide this service in an accessible fashion, but politics and bureaucracy get in the way. It’s not as if the schools are noting “hmm, no one seems to be eating our free lunches. We have no idea why that is. And even if we knew, we’d have no idea how to fix it!”

I first learned about wicked problems from Adam Richardson who described simple problems as those where both the problem and the solution are known, and complex problems as those where the problem is known but the solution is not. In wicked problems, neither the problem nor solution is known. Looking at the school cafeteria itself, we see a simple problem. Looking at the educational institution, there’s a likely wicked problem lurking just out of sight…why haven’t they solved the simple problem?

I’ve seen so many design student projects that solve simple problems without acknowledging the wicked problem that has prevented the adoption of similar solutions for so long. Naive designers so often believe that their solutions for simple problems are so fantastic that they will automatically be adopted but the sad truth is that the real problem isn’t about the lack of solutions.

Innovation Ain’t Enough

Fit Technologies designed a clothing sizing system that radically reduces complexity and confusion and helps guide shoppers to a product that will really fit their body type. But a better solution for consumers isn’t necessarily a better solution for retailers or manufacturers, and even though they are giving it a shot, it seems likely to fail.

Retailers that commit to it must find space for more merchandise, train workers to understand the new sizes and explain the new system to customers – a struggle for stores that already have few employees on the sales floor.

Then there is the reality, however counter-intuitive it may be, that retailers and clothing makers thrive off sizing confusion. Consumers who find a brand that fits are likely to stick with it and a standard sizing system would encourage them to visit other stores.


About Steve