As I have conversations with people about the digital framework and the principles I’ve started to think about more and more examples of where the principles would be used in real life.
This post will focus on the principle of “design with not for communities”
In my personal life this principle could be played out in many different scenarios but I’m going to just focus on a couple of areas.
The first and most obvious is my immediate local community, the second and maybe not quite so obvious is my work environment – the most common places where I spend my time.
My local community is not designed around the needs of the community and I know that because no one has ever asked my family what our needs for our local community look like, nor my neighbours based on conversations with them….more likely it has been driven by random opportunities and passionate people who are pursuing individual projects to fulfil some niche pocket of need.
Also it isn’t good enough to simply advertise a community meeting in the local shop with a few days to do at times when working families with young kids would struggle to attend…nor is it good enough to not have any mechanism to connect with the conversation of those meetings in a format which is relevant and more appropriate to the needs of families.
The issue for me is that my local community isn’t designed to facilitate a greater level of connections between the people who live there…there isn’t a common space where people from all across the community come together – the school is close but its excludes many of the older and vulnerable people in the community. If we could create an enabling environment which in increased and fostered the social interaction within my community we would be better able to identify common needs and issues and collaborate and co-design solutions which we felt as a community were more appropriate and agile.
In terms of my workplace, we have just recently moved office which has been a positive step as we are now in a space where we are less likely to that we are interrupting colleagues and more likely to have more meaningful and creative conversations.
Now not all offices need to look the same and it isn’t an easy situation to be in when we are in a very overt climate of hotdesking and flexible working in which all offices are now designed around flexibility of movement and easy of access to equipment. But this fails to recognise those teams who don’t and can’t work in that way and as research suggests open plan offices are actually counter productive
As a school governor we are constantly reminded and focused on improving standards and exploring ways in which all aspects of the school environment can support this. Now I’m only talking from a primary school context but I’m convinced this applies anywhere although as I type I’m not aware of research or evidence as I’ve not looked.
Anyway one of the key things teachers are now doing is using the physical space to increase opportunities for learning and improve the overall environment to support the objectives which is to help the children engage with learning.
If you think about applying that to a work space then each physical location should be designed to support different types of working pattern and where people are lucky enough to have offices then these should support those people to do their jobs better.
But in order to understand how these need to be developed and created you need to involve people, understand their needs and their outcomes and then work with them to create spaces which enable them to work or learn more effectively.