IA Summit 2018 – Convergence with curiosity

Due to humidity and air conditioning and magic trick was almost ruined in this talk. Nonetheless, I soldiered on and talked about how invisible assumptions run the risk of undermining our natural creativity.

Here is the introduction to the talk that I delivered on the day:

A thin, sliver of time between the past which has become a story we tell ourselves and the future which is a story we will try to enact.

You can think of those two things – the context of the past and the plan for the future as two expanding, fragmented funnels of time, continually focused on the space we occupy and the time we call now. 11am on Friday 23rd March – in Chicago at the 19th IA Summit 2018.

We are at a delicate intersection – a point of convergence.

A single, semi-shared now – and we are here, together for 40 minutes or so. (HOURGLASS TURN & PLACE)

This talk is about that idea. The points between divergence and convergence. It’s about having an impact in every moment, balancing constraints and curiosity and reconciling some of stuff that feels like a paradox in the practice of IA.

I’ve described IA as being like an equals symbol, balancing an equation with requirements on one side and capability on the other – a single, stable source of truth that makes the efforts in design projects make sense.

But that definition skips out some stages. It’s an abstract theory masquerading as a concrete direction. It might describe the output of good IA, our destination, but it doesn’t really help you plan a route.

In order to build that stable, solid truth, you need to be sensitive to what is required to make things balance. You need to be able to work from both ends, consider the requirements and capabilities as variables you can manipulate.

This talk is about standing the middle of things. Whether that’s focused on occupying now, but being sensitive to the context of the past and the ambition of the future. Or occupying the middle of that equation. Or oscillating between different mindsets and types of thinking at different stages of creative projects. Or being that middle lynch-pin discipline that pulls together multidisciplinary teams so that they can share meanings, ambitions, plans and effort.

The theme of the summit this year is converging.

Last year I shared my fish model, which in turn is a version of the double diamond – a model that separates divergent and convergent mindsets. Today I’m going to argue that an IA mindset is a converging mindset.

(Solid centre that provides a source of gravity that can complement the other forces within a project – slightly ahead, but pulling things together – convergence with curiosity).

IAs are focused definition – and through definition we focus and exclude, moving closer towards precision and away from ambiguity – from what might have been to what will be, narrowing the range of possible futures.

But there are traps lurking for us if we only focus on converging, I think we need to converge with curiosity. Deliver the specific value that architecture can give to a project, and do so with patience and generosity.

This mindset sees us working from both ends of that equation, jumping across and between and working with multiple disciplines. Making the most of every moment to have an impact and working towards the future we want with effectiveness and confidence.

This talk is about making the most of now…