Basics of the Design Process

Basic components in the New American Paradigm Design Process

Who is part of our community?

The first step in our design process is to ground ourselves and our ethical sensibilities; to tune out of our hectic day to day and remember what matters to us.  Through imagery, knowledge uptake and various visualization and dialogue techniques, we expand our consideration and begin to map our new social and ecological environment; it’s structural features, processes and trajectories.    

How do we transform the world?

In the next phase of design, we consider a thorough set of operations that are available at any given point.  These operations extend far beyond transformations or our own organizational boundaries.  They extend to the shaping of supply chains, industry, the economy, the government, and particularly culture.  For instance, what image do we model in our advertising?  A consumer who is oriented toward their social and ecological environment?

 How does the environment change?

In the third phase we consider what information is available to us about our social and ecological environment.  What are the channels through which this is communicated?  This starts by mapping ‘changes’ in social and environmental conditions on various time scales, and then by mapping ways in which these changes might seep through the current information boundaries of the organization.  

 Mapping organizational processes which lead to action

The fourth phase involves mapping all of the processes which lead to decisions or enactment of the various operations in the company. This is a basic systems modelling exercise with inputs and outputs, nodes, and communication channels.

Where can we inject information about our newly perceived environment?

In this phase we map locations in our organizational map which might take an input from our new environment.  This might be anything from a poster on a wall in a common room to the addition of criteria in particular planning processes. We believe that no injection is too small. Small changes may be the source of important creativity down the road.

How does information travel back out to the environment?

The sixth phase involves mapping all of the ways in which actions and their influence might be mapped back into the environment for partnering with organizations, and people as consumers and citizens and even our non-human friends; because they are listening!

Iterate, Iterate, iterate!

This environment should be taken as an input for the first step and iterated.  These early iterations 2 → represent the low hanging fruit for making social and environmental progress, while the goal is to expand and deepen exchange with this environment.

And of course… Redesign this conversation

Develop criteria for evaluating this process which measures cultural, as well as structural progress; and design the next occasion for this meeting; who should be involved and how it will be facilitated.