There's always been such an emphasis on the look & feel of office spaces that I wouldn't be surprised if images of cool agencies come to your mind when we speak of the culture and ecosystem of creative agencies or design-related offices. You can find any of the above strewn all over my neighborhood in San Francisco. Too often the more important elements of the human ecosystem are the most neglected and dysfunctional. Social, cultural, and behavioral elements, the way people interact and get work done, that's where the focus should be, particularly by user-centered designers striving to become design thinkers.

Design thinking requires adaptive, dynamic systems that challenge the dysfunctional linear traditional management dogmas (processes) that have stuck around for no intelligent reason. Creativity is such a wonderful and amazing quality that every effort should be made to safeguard that spirit individually and as a team. Here is a list of behaviors and practices that are conducive to design thinking and those that will extinguish creativity in a flash.

Design Culture vs. Cult

What do you get if you mix the cult of performance & short-term success with the cult of productivity and busyness? The result would be a performance-driven system that rewards the folks who seem busy working long hours, who aim for quick wins, and fix short-term problems, instead of recognizing the invaluable contribution of those who aren't afraid of being accountable, of taking time to think and play with ideas; who gladly take on challenges that have no easy solutions; who have a macro view of the landscape and apply long-term strategic solutions.

My two cents...

I'm grateful (and brave enough) to design for businesses in incredibly diverse industries. (Although I must admit, at the time of writing this I've reached a pivotal point that comes from the realization that the establishments that control the systems that make up these industries are far too wealthy, powerful, and dangerous; and unless we design thinkers do something about it like innovate for the betterment of the world as a whole instead of contributing to a corporation's bottom-line at the cost of our planet/child labor/human rights, our future looks bleak...but that's a topic reserved for another post.)

I've worked among very talented peeps as a user-centered designer (UCD), user-experience designer, art director, visual artist... in San Francisco. I've been inside banking giants (just don't tell anyone), sat next to dotcom millionaires, innovated with innovation agencies, worked with startups, non-profits, health industry, gaming industry, you name it. I can still say one of the most draining environments is the rigorous process driven system held together by red tape. The memories of hours sitting on meetings about processes for processes makes my skin crawl. At the heels of that comes the competitive spirit and jealousy mostly displayed by women within large corporations and sales-driven companies. I get that they're hungry for a spot in that corporate ladder. That's most certainly not what drives me but I can try to empathize. It's just such a shame that it's usually done at the price of innovation and collaboration. Still, I am not easily discouraged. I believe positive change is contagious. There's incredible power in leading by example. If you want things to change, then do something about it today. Better late than never! :D