Thursday, April 9, 2020

Knowledge Architecture and Design Maturity

High mature design-driven innovation is not spontaneous or serendipitous, but an architectural effort, a managed process, and cross-disciplinary practice.

We live in the digital era with knowledge abundance. Knowledge fuels imagination. Knowledge architecture is a useful tool to develop the design competency of the business.

The forward-thinking leaders understand how things like design thinking can fundamentally change organizations, build a strong brand, and whether and how they can build knowledge architecture as a practical tool to improve design thinking and maturity.

Knowledge Architecture is a useful tool to empower design thinking: Neither architecture nor design are “events” of creativity, but are in fact, creative and thoughtful activities that extend over time. Knowledge is power, however, there are the inherent dangers of too much knowledge particularly because of the inconsistencies and incoherence in the body of knowledge that surrounds us. Thus, more attention needs to be placed on the conditions that allow knowledge to flow, connect dots to create new ideas, and generate business value by designing an interactive knowledge architecture and taking dynamic knowledge disciplines.

Knowledge cycles drive the emergence, extend through and beyond any chosen organization. Knowledge Management needs to be well embedded into the key business processes to enable design, Knowledge Architecture has the visual ability to “see” ideas and express them in visual terms via interactive way. It’s a useful tool to empower design thinking and improve design maturity from design-by-default, in which design just happens and design is dictated by status quo policies, procedures, tools, and traditional mindsets to design by practice in which design becomes the key ingredient of innovation strategy and one of the very purposes of knowledge architecture.

Knowledge Architecture helps to bridge the silos and encourage structural design practices:
Design Thinking is not just about wireframes and visual designs. It has a broader scope with interdisciplinary knowledge and structural processes. Design is largely considered a byproduct of solid engineering discipline. But art, science or engineering, etc, are all interconnected disciplines at the core of problem-solving to improve design maturity.

In practice, silo stifles design thinking. Silos come in multiple flavors, some are cultural, some are geographical, some are organizational, some are linguistic, some are even technical. A knowledge architecture can consist of multiple aspects, and the multiple aspects could be architected in their own right to bridge siloed knowledge. Methodologically, tools for design are user personas, scenarios, and storyboards, etc. Rather than focus on one method, as a team with broad expertise across a range of disciplines, there are choices of tools or methods appropriate for the challenge. Design maturity requires a design-driven, cross-domain knowledge discipline, varied methodology, and across-functional paradigm facilitated by an effective knowledge architecture.

Knowledge Architecture helps to decompose the complexity of design work:
There is an emergence-vs-design-paradox thereon across the business complexities around the multi-faceted business world. The knowledge architecture and design are locked in a reciprocal feedback loop, co-evolve and therefore that actual designs have a large emergent aspect. All types of intelligence such as design have a certain level of complexity in it. Knowledge Architecture decomposes the complexity of design work via effective partitioning, leading to effective decomposition to handle the complexity smoothly.

It’s important to apply design thinking to develop intuitive products and services, keep things simple and optimize the business from functioning to delight. That tacit and explicit knowledge and learning from design practices and experiences are essential aspects, components, parts or facets of the knowledge architecture-design feedback loops. Companies that are skilled at leveraging knowledge architecture for managing design complexity such as highly productive complexity, value/cost/risk ratio complexity, can gain advantages by pushing the boundaries of a more sophisticated business mix and improving the organizational maturity.

In the industrial era, very few companies can arrive at the top of the design maturity pyramid due to the reductionistic management discipline focusing on efficiency and functioning. The distinctive advantage of being design-centered is that you prioritize in making things likable rather than just making them functioning. High mature design-driven innovation is not spontaneous or serendipitous, but an architectural effort, a managed process, and cross-disciplinary practice.


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