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Designing Delivery by Jeff Sussna

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Chapter 14. Thinking in Promises

Promise theory brings the heady concepts of cybernetics down to earth. It turns a deep, abstract conceptual framework into a practical methodology post-industrial IT can use to transform its role in twenty-first-century business. It provides a comprehensive continuous design language that digital service organizations can use to steer themselves by conducting useful digital brand conversations.

The goal of this book is to help readers learn to think in promises. Promise thinking, like design thinking, is a way of doing, not just a way of contemplating or analyzing. Some critics of design thinking have identified a supposed need for design doing. In reality, though, design thinking is already a method for designing things (whether those things be annual reports, buildings, taxi services, or government policies) from a certain perspective or way of thinking. The design-thinking perspective is user-centered, iterative, and feedback-driven.

Similarly, promise thinking is a method for designing and operating complex socio-technical systems. The promise thinking perspective sees systems as composed of autonomous, user-centered, feedback-driven components. These components approach control—that is, continuous quality—as a process of continual repair. That approach helps organizations achieve the responsiveness required to succeed in an economy increasingly characterized by service, infusion, complexity, and disruption.

Doing Continuous Design

As we have ...

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