Nick Jehlen's blog

Designing, not Choosing

Decisions are, at their best, meaningful actions. And when a decision is a meaningful action, it is because it was designed, not just chosen. In our work, personal and our small “p” political lives, we have lost the craft of “making” decisions.

What is blue?

When I was a kid, I spent many a weekend afternoon in the Nova video tape library (my dad was a producer on the PBS series) watching science documentaries, one after another. The ideas and themes of those programs still influence my thinking about our work, particularly the ones that focused on how we understand and interact with the world around us.

Canary in the coal mine

We believe in facing hard conversations head on. Sometimes, in the space of those conversations, one of us may have a nagging sense that we are being lead in the wrong direction, or that something is just off in the way we are approaching the problem.

Getting unstuck from blood diamonds

I hurt my back pretty badly last year. To recover, I’ve had to change a lot of my behaviors and create a number of new rituals. One is a weekly four mile walk, split in the middle by a nice bowl of soup at Wagamama. Always the same route, always the same soup, always with my notebook so I can do some writing. Tonight, as I was eating my chicken itame, I was writing about how we become unstuck. A simple concept, but something that’s not easy to do. Read more...

The TEA Cycle

There are several names for the kinds of problems we work on – intractable problems, wicked problems, social messes – which are all ways of describing problems in systems that are complex, changing and unpredictable. Health care in the US, for example, and global climate change, but also neighborhood development and organizational crisis. Read more..


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