Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beauty in programming

Ahh... nice day today! Finally, could experience and explore the beauty of programming again after some weeks of social science research. The logics of programming is often hidden behind many doors and dark rooms where light switches must be turned on first.
Well, that happened just today: First, taking a class from a C++ project with more than 100 methods, and 5 related classes. Making simplified versions in Ruby. And finally, seeing some relationships between methods and classes.... the hidden code behind abstractions :)

Well, I tried to post something on stackexchange to ask fellow software developers about their experience with beauty in programming, but not much response yet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some models for the design thinking process

Here is a short list on variations on the design thinking process.

The first process can be found on webpages at the at Stanford. We see several stages, with variating degree in intensity: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test and Iterate.
The process starts with reflections on whom to work for, exploring and selecting perspectives, reflections on learning outcomes and prototyping, as well as evaluation of prototypes.

Next, there is a circular model proposed by Tim Brown of Ideo.

Here, we see that Inspiration influences ideation and implementation and vice-versa.

An iterative design thinking process that is taught at TU Munich Business School is shown below:

Here, we start with an analysis phase, a design phase follows, a prototype is build. Then, there is play and review on the experiences.

An approach called "customer journey" to service design can be found here. It is also a circular model, starting with a "pre-service" period, a service period, and a post-service period.

Another circular model to design thinking is given by Prof. Ranjan from India. He calls his model the "hand-heard-head" model of design.

Design of 1st order is about form and function. Design on 2nd order is about Function, Feeling, impact and effect. Design of 3rd order is about Meaning and Purpose.

Still farther East, I. Nonaka proposes a model for innovation and learning that is somewhat similar to design thinking. It is the SECI model of knowledge creation. Nonaka starts with the aspect of empathy and observation, that he calls "socialisation". Here, knowledge that is difficult to articulate is experienced. Then, the implicit knowledge is made explicit by the process of "externalisation". This is mainly about codification of experiences with symbols or models. Third, externalised knowledge is combined in new ways to generate new concepts and ideas. This is called "combination". Last is the process of internalisation, where explicit knowledge is converted again into implicit knowledge in the form of best practices.

A short overview on design-thinkers can be found here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Repertory grid technique

In preparation with my MBA thesis at TU Munich on innovation, I have been looking into the repertory grid technique lately.
The method originated from T. Kelley who wanted to access subjective information without posing a biased frame of reference when interviewing people. Given a specified context (either minimum or full) by providing elements of interests (observations of phenomena), qualitities (or constructs) about these elements are elicited by participants in the interview.

Some web pages that describe the method are:

von L BJĂ–RKLUND - 2005 -
THE REPERTORY GRID TECHNIQUE. 21 more general dispositions or key competencies. The typical textbook items are, at best, indicators of such “habits of mind” ...

Next step: What could elements be of the RGT for a web collaboration system?

Monday, February 07, 2011

The forms of tacit knowledge

So, I am going to explore the role of tacit knowledge to improve our ways of web communication. As a first step, it is interesting to ask what do we understand "tacit knowledge" is?

Here some ideas on tacit knowledge:
* TK is related to subjective information or knowledge. Subjective is often used to contrast objective information.
* TK is related to the context where information is used
* TK and implicit knowledge are related
* TK and affective information is related. Affective information is often used in advertising. Advertising relies heavily on images and metaphors. There are several authors that investigate cognitive processes for advertisment purposes. One of them is C. Scheier.
* In motivation theory, tacit knowledge might be related to intrinsic rewards versus extrinsic rewards. Some ideas on motivation can be found in the context of gaming, such as here ( Usability learning blog )
One of the concepts used here is the concept of Journey.
* TK is related to emotional communication. How can we share stories to find the deeper motivations?
* TK might be related to synthesis and discovery of knowledge rather to analytic knowledge.
* TK might be related to dynamic versus static information, behavior and actions.
* TK might be related to tastes and patterns

What are your ideas on tacit knowledge? Please help!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Implicit and explicit knowledge

From Nonaka's HBR paper "The knowledge-Creating Company", the following insights can be derived.
First, Western companies try to make decisions based on quantifiable data that often is put together into key metrics, such as increased efficiency, lower costs, improved return on investments.
Japanese companies try to use implicit knowledge for new product development. Here, creating knowledge is not only a matter of processing "objective" information, but depends on subjective insights, intuitions, hunches of individual employees. Often, this requires managers to use images, symbols and metaphors. In this view, a company is not a machine but a living organism. In order to arrive at this view, it takes a shared understanding of what a company stands for, where it is going, what kind of world it wants to live in, and how to make that world a reality. Inventing you knowledge is not the provinence of a specialized R&D department, but a way of behaving.
Central to the knowledge creating company is the activity of making personal knowledge available to others.
The process of turning implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge and vice-versa are especially valuable for an organization. In Nonaka's view, these transitions are the interfaces where knowledge is created.
Explicit knowledge are specification that can easily be communicated and shared in today's web communication systems.
For innovation, "tacit" knowledge is often valuable. Tacit knowledge is very subjective and highly personal. As Michael Polanyi said: "We can know more than we can tell."