Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Home and work, the biggest parts of our lives, are amalgamated during the pandemic. With boundaries between the two gone, our lives are pushed outside balance and we suffer from high workload, increased stress, sleep deprivation, burnout, and a series of other problems. Reestablishing this boundary is difficult but important in order to bring our lives back to balance.

In “normal” conditions, when we go to work we have, what Japanese monk Shunmyo Masuno calls gates. When we leave for work in the morning, our first gate is the boundary of our home. When we get on a bus or bike, that’s the second gate. Coming to the office is the third one. The same three gates are there when we go back from work. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Peter Gonzalez on Unsplash

Originally published on

Airbnb optimized for its users (landlords and travelers), but it affected entire neighborhoods, communities, rental industry, prices, and other structures we can’t fully understand yet, effectively affecting millions of people beyond their user base. Non-users became collateral damage that suffer from unintended consequences and externalities.

User-centric and other anthropo-centric frameworks often gravitate towards select humans and their immediate needs, sometimes even at the expense of the society and the ecosystem. Commercially-bounded design should especially be held responsible.

In reality, we’re not designing only for the experiences of the end users who interact with our creations. No matter who we optimize for, our creations will affect other people, non-humans, and non-living structures that we might depend on. The boundaries that we draw around people or spaces are artificial and arbitrary. The reality doesn’t care about our boundaries. It will respond to our creations in its wholeness, cascading the effects of our work throughout the entire system. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash

Originally published at

My intention here is not to offer a definition of strategic design. Instead, I would like to explore it from my own, specific angle. This is more a contemplation and reflexion on my own practice and an attempt to make sense of it. Therefore, you are free to call out bullshit on this piece, challenge it or contribute to it. I am open for discussion, more than anything else.

Strategic design is often defined as an emerging discipline that uses design principles and practice to address complex, interrelated problems. It is multidisciplinary (or even contra-disciplinary: cutting across well-established borders) because it borrows from and fuses different disciplines, practices and methods — management, traditional design, architecture, foresight, systems thinking, to name just a few. The applications of strategic design vary: it can be used to influence strategic decision making in organizations, define a business model, set a corporate vision, identify new business opportunities, and make interventions (through strategy, products, services or policies) that create positive outcomes for people, organizations and the environment. We know that yesterday’s solutions become tomorrow’s problems; thus, I prefer to use the term intervention instead of solution because it is a more humble stance acknowledging that complexity can hardly ever be solved. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sean McClintock on Unsplash

One bag of chips full of saturated fats and beer might taste delicious and won’t kill you immediately, but repeating it over the years will likely deteriorate your health. And that’s the problem because the relationship between the action and the effect is not immediately obvious. It takes time for the effect to become visible, and when it does, it is harder (if not impossible) to make a change. It’s the same with other complex systems, such as climate, society and even business.

There’s a lesson for people who design and build things. Oftentimes, we’re obsessed with quick fixes and short-term thinking. We value speed and delivery. We’re craving for finite answers and do not spend enough time with questions. We’re jumping into solutions too quickly and taking research too lightly. We’re making decisions based on assumptions. We are optimizing fragments rather than systems. We’re not considering (unintended) consequences and future impact. …

Last year I fulfilled one of my dreams and learned to play the guitar, spending only 10 minutes every day, for a month. Learning basic chords was an obvious start for a beginner but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t have a good ear for music. My fingers were rigid and I had difficulty stretching them properly, especially the pinky which always followed the ring finger (it’s funny how our brains are wired). I had difficulty switching between chords since it required quick repositioning of fingers. While I knew exactly what I needed to do, my body wasn’t able to do it. …

Image for post
Image for post

The first idea is just that — a first idea. A gut reaction to the problem at hand. And yet, we often treat it as a final one. We stick to that first thought — give it a lot of love, refine it, nurture it and defend it. Until it proves to be wrong and we get frustrated.

Don’t give your first idea any love.

Think of it as just one option, rather than a final one. That way, you will be inclined to find alternative ideas. Many of them. Frame your problem in a different perspective and explore it in a different context. Try a bizarre version of it. If an idea hasn’t been taken to unusual places, it hasn’t been explored enough. …

Technology wants me to stay up to date, get excited, never miss a thing, never miss anything. Grow my network, subscribe, signup now, start my trial now, go premium now, learn more, like more, follow more, share, stare, fade to black.

It also wants to inform me, notify me, engage me, remind me, suggest to me, send me newsletter, access my phonebook, know my location, access my location, follow my every step, blind me with ads, target ads for me, block my ad-blocker for me. …

I read books a lot, both physical and digital books, and I often question myself about the difference in experience in reading these two. There are some obvious differences like format, shape or weight, and obvious similarities like reading pages or bookmarking. I would like, however, to focus on one particular quality of a book that is the most important difference between any physical and digital good — meaning.

With each new book I read, I change. Some books make me laugh, some make me feel depressed and some can achieve both. Design books that I read every single day make me feel more confident and more excited about my job. …


Janko Jovanovic

In a liminal space between People, Strategy, Foresight, Systems, Speculative design, and Ethics. Design Management @zalando.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store