Thank you for your message.
You seem to be misunderstanding what I wrote and then using a straw man
fallacy to argue against part of it as if it were the whole. The argument
that modelling is not useful because it is not perfect in the limit is
limited. It is about as spurious as suggesting that Graphic Design should
not ever be used because graphics are not a perfect communication. I did not
say that it is necessary to 'perfectly predict' the behaviours of outcomes
resulting from designs. In most cases, being able to predict the general
direction of dynamic behaviours over time of outcomes resulting from the
implementations of complex designs is more than is typically attempted by
designers except in technical design domains.
In essence, in the earlier posts, I suggested three things:
1. Predicting the dynamic behaviours of outcomes (i.e. over time) that
result from the introduction of a new design is an important aspect of
design activity if designers are to be professional.
2. It is helpful for designers to distinguish between 'simple' design
situations and 'complex' design situations. The methods taught in design
schools don't enable designers to predict the behaviours of outcomes
resulting from designs in complex design situations. This is a problem if
the Art and Design fields claim that the design methods for 'simple'
designs apply directly to complex situations. I defined 'complex' design
situations as those having outcomes that are shaped by multiple feedback
3. That designers take responsibility. This includes being exposed to legal
and financial plaints for compensation. This could occur for instance if
(say) a graphic doesn't produce the asked for effects, results in
problematic adverse outcomes, or uses inappropriate rhetorical manipulation.
At present, education on these issues is not a significant aspect of the
design education relating to creating design solutions, yet is potentially
central to any conception of 'design ethics' in Art and Design design
I'm unclear from your post whether the above view of responsibility is the
same or different from what you suggest. As I see it, responsibility focuses
on seeing the design brief and design as legal documents. For example, a
design brief might specify 'produce 5 graphics (for a book) to explain
specified ideas to individuals with 10-12 years of education and must be
understood by 80% of them'. In this case, the brief and design for the
graphics would be part of the contract. The financial and legal
responsibility for fulfilling the brief is located with the designer after
implementation of the design. That is, the designer would be exposed to a
financial claim if 80% of readers of the book with 10-12 years education
did not understand the concepts using those 5 graphics. Is this the same as
where you are coming from?
Your comment on Ackoff's Idealised Design approach points to a slightly
different target than what I had written about. Ackoff's focus of idealised
design was the design of an organisation. Design activity, education and
practices are not an organisation. Nor is it clear that a design field is
an organisation in the sense that Ackoff assumed. Further, Ackoff addressed
the problem of complexity relatively simply by focusing on the problems and
contexts as messes. This leaves hidden the underlying causality in problems
in understanding those messes, which leaves much of the intrinsic design
problems unsolved. In contrast, the 'Two Feedback Loop' hypothesis about
simple vs. complex design makes explicit that causality in ways likely to
change Ackoff's analyses.
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Moh.
Sent: Sunday, 15 May 2011 3:11 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: IDEO design thinking
Dear Terrance, Francoise and all
I am not in a position to comment on IDEO process, so my comments are
limited to one aspect of this great discussion, which is modeling and
prediction of design outcomes.
Even though it is important to predict the behaviour of design outcomes, I
would argue that it is very much difficult -cant say impossible - to
perfectly do that because it depends on different interdependent,
interacting factors with constant changing dynamics >> take the exact same
example of a heater in a room>> it is very simple in Terrance presentation,
but thinking of the connections that designers need to consider when dealing
with this (as mentioned by Francoise) the complexity that lies beneath this
deceiving simplicity is unveiled.
Modeling as a salvation for perfect prediction has also been proved to be a
risky solution; every Model -according to Weinberg - is "ultimately the
expression of one thing we think we hope to understand in terms of another
that we think we do understand" so a models though very useful- a
teleological value- are only abstractions of reality and maybe-from one
perspective -fundamentally wrong because they are not real as argued by
Boardman and Sauser.
The pathways out of this as Terrance mentioned are:
*First... the development of real professionalization of design activity
that includes designers taking full responsibility for predicting design
outcomes accurately and taking financial responsibility for
problematic design outcomes.
The second, is radically improved design education that includes the
necessary reasoning and research skills to enable designers to be able to
predict the behaviours over time of outcomes
resulting from their designs.*
I think they are simply one, we educate to produce professional. If
education includes the necessary reasoning and research skills etc, then we
shall get the kind of professional designers with specialized knowledge
(attitude and aptitude) to take full responsibility for their design
But again, I can't help but to think that this -creating a pure science of
design- is not enough, because even in a domain of pure scientific methods,
Operation Research as an example, Ackoff detailed that mathematical modeling
that once fuelled the existence of OR became short of achieving its main two
objectives: predicting and preparedness. The warning was of the gap to
prepare perfectly for an imperfect prediction; especially when other factors
were added to the mix and views of a whole system emerged; design I think is
never seul and solo.
My point here builds on the last few words of Francois; it should not only
be a science but rather TRANSDISCIPLINARY perspective to design challenges
that can help understand and build upon our best imagined- yet achievable
situation possible today and work our way backwards to current situation (as
argued in Idealized Design for Ackoff).
De Montfort University
On Fri, May 13, 2011 at 10:56 PM, Francois Nsenga <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Yes, dear Terry!
> In addition to profesionalization, acountability, and training, there also
> is (I would say even more importantly) the image we ourselves portray in
> public that, in my view, is too reductive and not at all to our advantage.
> Especially, while negotiating with our direct and indirect commissioners
> give shape to the artifactual environment. As long as we, designers, (in
> general, with a few exceptions) keep confining ourselves within the group
> "creative" members of society (artists and crafts/studio people), we
> are no longer entitled to dealing with that thick complexity that surround
> us all. We can no longer pretend to generate 'boundedly rational choices'
> leading to 's*atisficing* decisions' (dixit Simon) or solutions.
> Even in your example of heating a room, the situation is not that simple.
> Indeed, beyond mere mechanical or electronical manipulation of the
> - outcome of providing heat in a 'simple feedback loop' - and prior to
> invoke ( in my judicial metaphor, I prefer 'summon to appear' ) the entire
> world to heating a room, the situation you evoke is so complex when all
> (human and non human), directly and indirectly concerned are considered in
> their potential, various and multiple feedback loops. And what about the
> outcomes of heating on animals that may be in the room, how are they
> affected by low, medium, or high heat? On young children and elderly
> On plants? On a trendy wall paper? On a highly sensitive computer? On the
> varnish on the floor and on furniture or the paint on walls? On the bill
> be paid? Heat in which room? When? In a hospital? Or in a restaurant? And
> don't leave aside the outcomes resulting from heating the room, on the
> run, on copper wire, on walling material, isolation, thermostat sensors
> knobs, heat diffusers, etc., etc.
> All this hints to another 'obvious - but 'complicated', and hence rarely
> tackled - solution pathway' through complexity: to learn how to set - and
> deal with - boundaries among all those concerned with any given situation.
> Among the few - the list can be extended to most pertinent limits -
> given above, at which range of priority each will be 'rationally' set on
> scale of providing heat to a particular place?
> We are here very far from mere 'creativity', caftsmanship, and
> droughtsmanship. By the way, please don't get me wrong, these aptitudes
> skills are very important and absolutely necessary. But each for a
> corresponding purpose, and at respective specific stages in the disigning
> process. Complexity often breeds confusion. And confusion, in my view, is
> the plague that our profession suffers most.
> Thus, very far from simplistic or simplified (narrowly modeled) design
> situations, or far from those situations perceived as complicated or those
> labeled 'chaotic' and 'unknown', I believe there is a need for a 'science'
> rather. I would even make it more precise: a need for a transdisciplinary
> science of the artifactual world!