Once a reflective practitioner, always a reflective practitioner. Doing a PhD on the practice of design , innovation and product development results in an attitude to step out every now and then in order to reflect on action and activities done. Below an overview of publications that are in the process of writing and reviewing. Plus a new project, an exciting extension of the concept of ‘mirroring’ to the realm of new-business creation.
(Publication) Surprises are the benefits: understanding (re-) framing in multidisciplinary design teams
Download working : surprises are the benefits working_paper
New Product Development (NPD) and design are social processes as many specialist work together on one -eventually- integrated product and/or service. Thereby aims have to be defined and negotiated, likewise who does what and in what order. This paper explores the inherently social dimension of NPD, whereby teams of individuals have to collaborate. The perspective taken is Schön’s refection-in-action; a perspective that is one of the dominant paradigms in design research. However, Schön’s reflection-in-action neglects the social dimension, as it originated from describing individuals and individual designers. This paper attempts to fill the gap, by describing an in depth study on NPD teams in the wild and how the reflective practice manifests at the level of a team, as the team of specialists aligns and coordinates activities into a unified and coherent whole. The first finding is that (re-) framing, an essential ingredient in Schön’s vocabulary, is an explicitly articulated team activity in a social context, requiring ample time and effort. An activity with the aim to find a new productive frame for all involved, yet that has distinctive features, setting it apart from other steps of reflective practice. The second finding is that this process of (re-) framing has three iterative stages. First, the team detects a surprise, which contradicts prior expectations. For teams, this is not as arbitrary as it may seem. Subsequently, the team has to make sense of the situation they are in. Eventually, the team engages in what we named future framing, an activity that we defined as “the ongoing development of plausible images of what we will create together, that rationalizes what we are doing”. A new and strong guiding frame is established, only if (1) the constituents of the situation at hand are understood, (2) the relations among the activities of specialist reestablished, and (3) a future frame is developed that extrapolates and enables to reflect on imagined future activities. This frame provides guidance for subsequent activities of individual specialists, who can progress relatively on their own.
(Project) Designing new business opportunities
This is a study done together with Giulia Calabretta in the context of the CRISP project (http://www.crispplatform.nl/). The aim is to study how designers develop new business opportunities, extending the concept of mirroring by design. The study started in September 2012, and the aim is to develop and validate so-called ‘projecta’s, concrete, tangible and plausible representations that explore what a new NPD project might be. The representations can be experienced by all involved, and enables to rationalize what the project is about. The project is nearing its end (May 2013), and subsequently will be refelcted on with all involved stakeholders. A case study will be distilled.
(Publication) A Deweyan inquiry: a research method for design practitioners
The gap between design practice and theory is well known and difficult to bridge. Most studies are done by researchers observing or even participating in practice. Consequently, most scientific methods for studying practice are developed for external researchers. Another way of bridging the gap is by practitioners doing research, thereby ensuring sufficient validity. Unfortunately, for practitioners doing research no off-the-shelf methods exists. In this paper a new method is discussed, named a Deweyan inquiry as it is based on Dewey’s logic. Dewey is a well known Pragmatist, a philosophy that rejects the subject-object dichotomy and puts experiential learning central. Roughly it can be divided in two stages: a stage of developing new theory in a grounded approach, followed by experiments in-the-wild to validate this theory. The paper both presents the method and reflects on a case study, whereby the method is used.
(Publication) Begin with the end: beyond products, services and systems
A journal article, discussing a model to describe and categorize design for its contribution to organizations. First R. Buchanan’s classic paper on the four orders of design is discussed. Yet Buchanan discusses design as a activity that is conducted relatively on its own, apart from teams and organizations. Second, the model is adapted to fit the organizational context. Several examples are described.
(Publication) Describing team cognition in product development
Product development requires the knowledge of many specialists, and often simultaneously. Nobody can truly oversee consequences of all choices. Consequently, people in teams need to ‘think collectively’. Team cognition is the binding mechanism underlying the observable alignment and coordination in activities of team members interacting and dealing with situations that are encountered. Briefly three rival theories on team cognition are discussed.
A participatory study is conducted in the practice of multidisciplinary product development. Several key findings are discussed, resulting in a model describing team cognitive processes. In the conclusions it is shown that an ecological perspective fits best the findings, as a system of humans interacting with each other and their environment, including tools, representations and the surroundings.