Formal picture of
Alexander model (Reprinted by permission of the publisher)
Kumar innovation model
Writing about the relationship of science to
management, Stafford Beer presented a more
elaborate model of the move from cases to consensus, from particular to general. He points out
that several levels of models are involved [ 2].
At the beginning of his career, Christopher
Alexander described a six-part model. It differs
from the bridge model in two important respects.
First, Alexander explicitly separates the mental picture (model) from a formal picture of the
mental picture (a representation of the model).
Second, his notion of a model (at that time at
least) was highly mathematical [ 3].
Vijay Kumar has proposed a model of the
innovation process [ 4]. He frames it as a two-by-two matrix moving from research, to “Framing
Insights,” “Exploring Concepts,” and “Making
Plans.” He notes, “‘Framing Insights’ are primarily about descriptive modeling, creating abstract
mental pictures about the patterns that we recognize about reality. ‘Exploring Concepts’ and
‘Making Plans’ are about prescriptive modeling.”
Where the bridge model forefronts the role of
models, Kumar’s model forefronts steps that make
use of modeling. He recently published a wonderful poster that maps the steps in the “innovation
process” to a series of methods.
During the process of writing this article,
interactions co-editor Richard Anderson pointed
out the Kaiser/IDEO model of the innovation process. Christi Zuber reports that
Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Center (working
with IDEO) developed this model in 2004 as part
of an innovation toolkit created for use inside
Kaiser. This model is similar to Kumar’s model,
but the Kaiser model emphasizes storytelling and
brainstorming as key methods.
Responding to questions about the origin of the
Kaiser/IDEO model, Jane Fulton Suri supplied a
recent model of the process of moving from synthesis to strategy. It shares the same basic structure as the Robinson model, though here synthesis (depicted as the right column in other models)
is depicted as the left column. The framing of
models as a link between patterns and principles
is a useful addition [ 5].
While practitioners and educators increasingly
make use of models, few forefront the role of
modeling in public summaries of their work processes. Glossing over modeling can limit design to
the world of form-making and misses an opportunity to push toward interaction and experience.
We see modeling becoming an integral part of
practice, especially in designing software, services, and other complex systems.
The bridge model makes explicit the role of
modeling in the design process. Explicit modeling
is useful in at least two ways. First, it accelerates
[ 1] Robinson, R.
“Locating the Work:
The Spaces Between”,
in Everyday Matters,
unpublished manuscript, 2005.
[ 2] Beer, S. Decision
The Meaning of
Cybyernetics. New York:
John Wiley & Sons,
[ 3] Alexander, C. Notes
on the Synthesis of
Form. Cambridge, MA:
[ 4] Kumar, V. “Design
Presentation at the
About, With and For
Institute of Technology/
Institute of Design,
[ 5] Fulton Suri, J.
and Gibbs Howard,
S. “Going Deeper,
Next? Conference, San