Book club members seated at table with Kees Dorst.

Strategic creativity book club: Frame Innovation

The book club aims to be an approachable, walk-in, sense-making moment, and we try to keep it low-threshold, but thought-provoking and productive. It is more of a place to help us form, rather than to debate or defend opinions. A place to listen and process what you hear while making your own connections.

So we don’t have themes or burning questions to structure the discussion with. We start by asking what each of us took away from the book. Then we take the resulting collage of responses, and work from there.

Our fourth book club was devoted to Frame Innovation: Create New Thinking by Design by Kees Dorst, and Kees joined us for the discussion. After Indian food on the back balcony overlooking the train tracks, we moved to the library.

Dorst’s book explains the special approach top-level designers bring to problem-solving, which he calls ‘frame creation’. It includes many cases which help understand how frame creation works in real life. Almost all of us immediately recognized the components of this approach in some part of our own experience and practice, even though these widely differ.  Among other things, we discussed how to make clients aware of the value of frame creation, and to ensure that it’s given a place and supported. Kees related his experiences with organisations and the options and obstacles one encounters. We also discussed education: whether and at what level students should learn about the ideas and methods frame creation is based on. We learned about a new Creative Intelligence university course in which students have to work with an approach taken from a completely different profession (so for example, design students have to work like lawyers, comparing situated solutions in detail; while law students have to work like designers, learning how they think ahead).

As one participant said: “After the book club meeting, I often re-read parts of the book that other people’s comments have called attention to from a new perspective.”

A special thanks goes to Kees Dorst for joining us. For the next club meeting, we’re considering the book Adversarial Design by Carl DiSalvo. You’re welcome to join us!


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