About being sensible

Missives from Hothouse Design

How using schematics facilitates better decision making

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, April 12, 2016   

Everyone has experienced the destructive nature of 'decisions made in isolation'. It is usually abundantly clear to those affected by these terrible decisions that there was an absence of facts, information and understanding in the decision making process. When the decisions are about a system, there is an easy way to make that decision making process much better. Schematics are the type of diagrams that provide information about how a system works. They are an invaluable tool for turning information about how a system works into understanding because they put information in context.

We love putting information in context. It is at the core of what we do. We even have a diagram to explain where it fits into the wisdom getting process. For example, we recently created some schematics showing options for changing existing roads - changes that were designed to move traffic from a residential area to an industrial area. Whilst the diagrams looked like maps they were actually schematics because they were not geographically correct. Instead they showed the planned traffic routes in each of the options and the relationship between the residential areas and the industrial areas. They showed the system of roads and facilities.

   Read More . . .

Being patient - adding experience to information

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, April 05, 2016   

At Hothouse Design we have a diagram that describes the process of turning data into wisdom. We didn't invent this process but it resonates for us because it mimics our experience and it explains the process of turning data into wisdom is a very succinct way. In this process, information turns into knowledge once you add experience to the mix.    Read More . . .

Disruption is dangerous language

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, March 22, 2016   

Business jargon is a dangerous thing. People grab hold of new jargonistic terms as if they have found the only life raft in a sea boiling with sharks. Problem is, most jargon is an illusion. It is a smoke screen. The life raft is an illusion, only the sharks are real.    Read More . . .

Running a creative business - finding my tribe

Deirdre Wilson – Wednesday, January 13, 2016   

This is the first of a series of occasional posts about what happens in creative businesses - small creative businesses. But, I have to clarify already, small is a whole different definition when it comes to creative businesses. There are four and a half people and one kelpie in our business which makes us bigger than small in our industry but teeny, tiny in other industries.   Read More . . .

Citizen science, big data and birds

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, October 29, 2015   

Migratory birds fly at night. Obviously right? Well they aren't sitting around waiting for the sun to come up before they take off in a big flock and continue their journey. But before radar technology became available, few people knew about migrating birds flying at night.    Read More . . .

We design schematics. What do you do?

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, October 15, 2015   

When I am asked 'What do you do?' I want to tell the asker all about the schematics we produce because they are the most unusual work we do and the most interesting. But they are awfully hard to explain so I am going to have a crack at it here.    Read More . . .

Colour coding maps in a submarine

Deirdre Wilson – Friday, October 09, 2015   

If you explain something using familiar words, terms and expressions then the person you are explaining to is more likely to understand what you are explaining. Seems obvious. The same holds true with visual explanations. If you colour code then you get faster understanding: red for go, green for stop. Hmm, that doesn't seem right.    Read More . . .

The charismatic trap of solutions and how to avoid it

Deirdre Wilson – Friday, September 25, 2015   

We still start with pencil and paper for projects that have loads of complexity. Something special happens when we sketch stuff out. In our office, drawing very quickly takes over from text but the two are there, hand in hand. Patterns emerge in sketches, hidden traps are uncovered, conclusions are pushed away.   Read More . . .

Design to solve problems

Deirdre Wilson – Wednesday, September 09, 2015   

Know what problems really need to be solved - that is the big secret to good design and problem solving. I have posted previously about asking heaps of questions to uncover the right problems to solve. Happily I have found an article about a product that has been designed so that consumers use it in the way that will optimise its use. This is a superb example of working out what causes problems with use and designing so that those problems are eliminated.   Read More . . .

'In our family we love eating food…' and other idiotic things people say.

Deirdre Wilson – Wednesday, July 22, 2015   

Despite the expression KISS (keep it simple stupid or any of its variations), a lot of us prefer our concepts to be complicated and presenters to be entertaining. We like concepts to have lots of bells and whistles attached right on the front next to the sparkly baubles. And we like presenters to be gorgeous and vivacious.    Read More . . .


Basics. Know what they are. Get them right. Repeat.

About being sensible.

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