The way of the firestarter?

3 graphs showing the design process from start of a project to the end
The way of the firestarter’s design process, treat as alpha version 00.2

I was talking with a colleague in London the other week. One of the great thing about working in the same space face to face is being able to noodle together. (I won’t talk about any endless whiteboarding right now).

Anyway one of the things which was mentioned was the design process being messy before it becomes clearer. (Without going into the number of different design methodologies). While they were drawing the multiple iterations, I started to think about how I work.

This is when I started to draw something like the bottom graph and started thinking to what degrees the existing methodologies are incompatible with a collaborative future. I don’t mean just co-designing together but actually building things which people can take forward in a slightly different direction or space.

When I drew it I thought about how I like to starting and proving the worth through research/experiments but also attracting more people into the project to share ideas and thoughts. Ideally there would be other lines which intersect with lines joining and leaving I guess? My old manager use to describe me as a different type of researcher but I can never remember what he called it.

I got a few examples I was describing when drawing. they mainly come from the Perceptive Media space including the Living room of the future and hopefully Adaptive podcasting soon. But even looking at the BBC Backstage era of creating a platform for others to explore above and beyond.

The starfish and the spider on catalysts and firestarters?

I have been reading (listening to) the starfish and the spider for the last few days when walking. I never heard of it till I heard one of the interviews on the after on podcast. It feels like the Catherial and the Bazaar for the internet age, ever so relevant.

Something really got me thinking… The idea that The Catalysts sound very similar to The Firestarters?

The book identifies a set of people the authors call “catalysts”, who tend to be skilled at creating decentralized organizations. The authors list several abilities and behaviors (called “The Catalyst’s Tools”) that “catalysts” have in common, including:

  1. Genuine interest in others.
  2. Numerous loose connections, rather than a small number of close connections.
  3. Skill at social mapping.
  4. Desire to help everyone they meet.
  5. The ability to help people help themselves by listening and understanding, rather than giving advice (“Meet people where they are”).
  6. Emotional intelligence.
  7. Trust in others and in the decentralized network.
  8. Inspiration (to others).
  9. Tolerance for ambiguity.
  10. A hands-off approach. Catalysts do not interfere with, or try to control the behavior of the contributing members of the decentralized organization.
  11. Ability to let go. After building up a decentralized organization, catalysts move on, rather than trying to take control.

This book has some similarities to books like The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, as both identify certain sets of people who are important to change in a society or an organization, and try to define the attributes that people belonging to these sets have in common.

I think the Firestarters is next on my list, as I’m keen to see if there is cross overs or should I tweak my title to catalyst?