Category Archives: Research

A change of perspective and a whole new set of metaphors (Czarniawska, 2008)

“…each excursion into another field of knowledge brings with it things that were embedded in a different type of soil, and it is inevitable that particles of that soil are still clinging to the roots, practically invisible to the new owner. Additionally, a re-embedding into the new soil could produce deviations and hybrids that are […]

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Is it still design that we’re doing or is it simply using the designer’s toolkit?

It was sometime in the Spring of 2002 that I was looking for a metaphorical space that would accommodate me – an engineer, an MBA, with graduate product design education and the sensibilities and eye of a designer. I’d spent the year on a Heinz Foundation Fellowship after my MBA to train with Dr Chris […]

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Understanding Delegation

Less than 10 days ago, I was faced with an unusual problem, one of those which they say are good problems to have.  I found I’d reached the point in my process of development where I had to choose between the perspective held over from a past life along with the skills honed therein, where […]

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One year anniversary of experimenting with design and innovation tools for vegetable vendors in Nairobi’s slums

Felix Omondi, our lead innovation facilitator, reminds me today that its the one year anniversary of the first participatory design workshop held with mama mbogas in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s informal settlements. Categorized by us as the “tomato group” of B2C (business to consumer) vegetable vendors (mama mboga in colloquial swahili), these 8 ladies were […]

Also posted in Africa, Assumption filter, Design, Design Methodology, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Mama Biashara, Perspective, Work in Progress | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Resilience of informal urban food systems: Does a systems thinking approach make a difference?

Sterk, van de Leemput, and Peeters (2017) help me start off this sensemaking exercise by clearly distinguishing the difference between engineering resilience and ecological resilience with respect to a system. This was useful to establish the direction of exploration for informal urban food systems. Specifically, Sterk et al (2017) state that ‘engineering’ resilience  focuses on […]

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Contextualizing design of remote interventions for local food systems resilience strategies in literature

I began my academic explorations on this blog a couple of months ago with a post on the power of sensemaking to transform the context and frame of reference, and thus provide a means for empowering one to make decisions for a decidedly unknown near future, where increased uncertainty and volatility have become the norm. […]

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Situating sensemaking in the process of innovation

“the bottom-line goal of Sense-Making from its inception has been to find out what users – audiences, customers, patrons, employees – ‘really’ think, feel, want, dream” (Dervin, 1998) Morente & Ferràs (2018) paper, based on the practical and theoretical contributions of Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making Theory (2015), provided me with this quoted reference that set me […]

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Exploratory User Research to Inform and Inspire Innovation Frontiers: Nokia’s legacy

Swedberg (2020) offers a glimpse of the legacy of an exploratory approach to research. The reasons for using such an approach, based on his analysis, are: The empirical situation makes it necessary to use an exploratory approach. Swedberg (2020) gives the example of a study conducted in 1937 by Lazarsfeld & Stouffer on the effects […]

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Reflecting on Béné’s review of important concepts for local food systems resilience in context of systemic shocks

Béné’s (May, 2020) review last year of the most important concepts for thinking about resilience of local food systems, in context of the pandemic and other shocks provides frameworks for situating empirical data on the resilience strategies employed by informal economic actors in the last mile of Nairobi’s urban food system specializing in fresh produce […]

Also posted in Africa, Analysis, Biashara Economics, East African Community, Economy, Frameworks, Informal & Flexible, Kenya, Literature review, Perspective, waymarkers, Work in Progress | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on Kate Meagher’s work

Meagher’s work (1990) clearly demonstrates that what I would go on to see 25 years later at the borderland of Uganda and Kenya, she had already seen at the borderland of Uganda and then Zaire (now DRC). Possibly the only difference in our interpretation and narratives is due to our own positional frame of reference […]

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