Charlotte’s nature, . . .

Charlotte spider

Our Charlotte

In late October of ’05, the spiders in our neighborhood spun their webs while we prepared to welcome Hurricane Wilma on the 24th. Somehow, they just seem to know what’s going to happen much better than NOAA.

The south-east window wall of our home creaked while we hid beside Illie’s ‘power tools’ in the utility room. When the eye passed overhead, being a fearless designer with a really bad case of the shakes, I went outside to check for damage and take a breather. I happened to notice that the webs were all still up. As those webs were in the lee on the leading edge of the eye, the trailing eye-wall would blow them all away when they were fully exposed to the 120-knot blasting coming in behind us fueled by a cold front.

As Boyle predicted in 1662, with a drop in temperature, the air density and the force of the storm winds in the trailing wall increased. The spiders weren’t aware of Boyle’s law, nor NOAA’s predictions, . . . Their webs held, every single one of them.

spider web

Tensegrity web

Spiders are hard-wired masters in the art of creating durable structures under tension. As she spins, she resolves ALL of the forces acting on her web without conscious thought. The web is spun in a roughly vertical plane, dropping from above to connect with her radiating shrouds anchored on any handy branch, to meet roughly in the middle. Then, working around the perimeter, she ties the structure together with an annular pattern resulting in a radially symmetrical web, with all of the stress in balance. Absolute Magic!

Conversely, we describe the host of forces of product development with terms that are all derived from pressure; Time-to-Market, Competitive Pressure, Price Pressure, Cycle compression. We’ve all lived with the forces and the extended analytics involved that define how we resolve solutions to problems. They feel like pressure and we respond accordingly.

Design Thinking works like Charlotte, resolving the force vectors by connecting the points directly with concepts or an idea that is literally woven with the same elegance as the web. Interdependent, tensile, and balanced.

The art or science of Design Thinking seeks the same balanced symmetry by resolving apparently polarized forces; prioritized needs, system requirements, operational structures, manufacturing, processing, supply-chain logistics or group dynamics. Design Thinking senses the values of those forces as tensile and balances them with appropriate solutions that are individually insufficient, but collectively robust. We need more spiders.

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