These systems helped people kick ass

This is for you if you have been following ‘another take on service design’ that I promised a few posts ago. I am building an argument that service design as it has come about – CMU/RED and all that stuff – doesnt quite cut it. Yes it will become canonical – there will be stuff written about a ‘method’ – which will be steps in how to do it. But quite frankly – it will just be a house of cards. For when we designers raid other peoples intellectual domains we dont do it in a sustainable fashion – even when Morris barged into Ruskin-land he did it sporadically almost with a glass of good old Magaret River chardonnay in his left hand. In recent times we went into the domain of Vandana Shiva and Sunita Narain we did it with a Promise Manual – which in faint light looked like ‘value engineering’ from mechanical engineering etxt books.

A the coal face ‘service design’ looks elitist. Though its throws good parties. Doesn’t it?

Now heer is one snippet on the ‘top down’ – and what service design is. In the main!

Top-Down Vs. Bottom-Up Software Architecture | Bex Huff

More pragmatic advice from James McGovern, this time about top-down versus bottom-up IT initiatives. In other words, CEO mandate versus workers-know-best. Both are needed, but when is which one appropriate? My favorite quote:

One of the more interesting things is that a person debating top-down vs bottoms-up needs to take into consideration is historically which one has had better results. Of course, top-down has the advantage that even mediocre delivery will be declared success while bottoms-up mediocrity will probably result in throwing daggers.

Consideration? Sure, OK. That’s the politically expedient thing to do for bottom-up… but it misses a vital point: is the technology something that people will absolutely love? If so, mediocre implementation will be forgiven, and the top-down criticism will eventually be won over. As I always say, its easier to get forgiveness than permission.

I was a part of multiple skunk works projects at Stellent, some of which got me into a teensy bit of trouble with executives. Some of these projects languished, but many of them took off like gangbusters because people loved them. In the words of Cathy Sierra, these systems helped people kick ass. In the words of Clay Shirky, they were systems where people took care of one another, and that more than anything else guaranteed their existence the next day.


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