Transition Design Week 3

Future of Fish

This week we have a guest lecture Cheryl Dahle founder of Future of Fish, an nonprofit systems change incubator focusing on fishing industry. The way Cheryl as a designer to approach the global overfishing crisis is an very good example of transition design.

Design thinking focuses on end user but how about a systematic problem? Where to start?

From picture above, you could see while designers could use their empathy and skillset to understand the users’ need in the bottom but what if it is a systematic problem. There is no way designer could come out with certain design (either physical or abstract) and force everyone to follow it. How to make system-level change? This is what transition design always talks about.

“Magical leverage points are not easily accessible, even if we know where they are and which direction to push on them. There are no cheap tickets to mastery. You have to work hard at it, whether that means rigorously analyzing a system or rigorously casting off your own paradigms and throwing yourself into the humility of Not Knowing. In the end, it seems that mastery has less to do with pushing leverage points than it does with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go.”
By Donella Meadows

Cheryl gave us an abstract answer: We could first try places with tension and self-interest collide. After the field research, the team came out with several insights about the fishing industry:

  1. Demand bullies supply
  2. The way fish is sold disguises scarcity
  3. Innovator are stranded
  4. Strong incentives exist for bad technology

In the systematic view, we could see that:

  1. Current theory of change is stuck
  2. The middle of chain is black box
  3. No one is engaging in the middle of chain
  4. Command and control is not working

Several changes could never be solved by single organization so that is why she started the Future of fish to be a innovation incubator on fishing industry.


Future of Fish

CM 2013: Cheryl Dahle — The Future of Fish: How Design Spurred Market Change, Ocean Health