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Co-Design as a Process of Joint Inquiry and Imagination

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Co-Design as a Process of Joint Inquiry and Imagination
Manuscript of an article that was accepted for publication in Design Issues (May 2012).
For personal and academic use only. See Guidelines
Marc Steen
Many innovation projects are currently organized as co-design processes, that is, as
processes of creative cooperation. The term co-design can, for example, refer to the
organizing open innovation, in which people from different organizations share and
combine ideas and knowledge,
1
or to involving users or customers as participants in the
design process.
2
One might even argue that design is always co-design, since design is
inherently a social process.
3
Co-design comprises diverse approaches, ranging from
research-oriented approaches (such as applied ethnography) to design-oriented
approaches (such as the use of generative tools), and—if we focus on user
involvement—ranging from approaches in which researchers and designers move
towards users (such as usability testing) to approaches in which users move towards
researchers and designers (such as participatory design).
4
Co-design often builds upon
the tradition of (Scandinavian) participatory design.
5
Below, I will follow Sanders and Stappers’s usage of the term co-design to ‘indicate
collective creativity as it is applied across the whole span of a design process’.
6
A useful
definition is also provided by Kleinsmann and Valkenburg, who described co-design as
‘the process in which actors from different disciplines share their knowledge about both
the design process and the design content in order to create shared understanding on
both aspects and to achieve the larger common objective: the new product to be
designed’.
7
This definition draws attention to the sharing and combining of knowledge
and to developing shared understanding—issues that will be discussed below.
Diverse benefits are associated with organizing co-design, ranging from improving
processes of idea generation and service or product development, to improving decision
making and promoting cooperation and creativity, to longer-term improvement of users’
and customerssatisfaction and loyalty.
8
Despite the popularity of co-design, it receives
little scholarly attention and the ideas behind it are rarely discussed critically.
9
This may
also be caused by the popularity of labelling projects as co-design and the conceptual
dilution or confusion that may result from this.
In this essay, I will explore how philosophical pragmatism can help to better
understand and to effectively organize co-design processes.
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Abduction or design thinking
A first move in this exploration is to remark that (co-)design proceeds via a particular
form of logic and that it cannot be adequately understood as a form of science or of
engineering. Science is typically concerned with describing and understanding past or
current situations and with discovering ‘facts’, whereas design is concerned with
envisioning and realizing alternative situations, and with both facts and values.
Furthermore, engineering is typically concerned with solving a problem that is given
beforehand and finding one ‘best’ solution, whereas design is concerned also with
exploring alternative problem definitions and with exploring alternative solutions. I
added ‘typically’ in order to acknowledge the fact that scientists’ or engineers’ actual
practices can be rather different from how these practices are ‘typically’ described or
prescribed in textbooks or in management discourse. Numerous studies have shown
that, in science and engineering practices, facts and values are often intertwined and are
dealt with simultaneously, and that problem-setting and solution-finding proceed via
explorative and iterative processes.
10
What happens in (co-)design can be understood more adequately as a process of
abduction—a term coined by pragmatist philosopher C.S. Peirce, which refers to a type
of reasoning that is different from deduction or induction: ‘deduction proves that
something must be; induction shows that something actually is operative; abduction
merely suggests that something may be.’
11
These three types of reasoning can be illustrated with the following examples: In
deduction, one starts with two or more premises and then draws a conclusion, for
example, one starts with premises ‘All humans are mortal’ (pq) and ‘Socrates is a
human (p), and then deduces that ‘Socrates is mortal’ (q); this type of reasoning is
typical for mathematics and logic. In induction, one starts with a series of observations
and then speculates about a pattern, for example, one observes ‘if copper is heated, it
expands(p1
q1), ‘if steel is heated, it expands’ (p2q2), et cetera, and then induces
that ‘if metal is heated, it expands’ (p→q); this type of reasoning is typical for natural
science and social science. In abduction, one can start with experiencing a specific
current situation as problematic (p), and then one simultaneously and iteratively
imagines ways to approach and frame the situation (pq) and imagines possible
solutions for the problem (q); this type of reasoning is typical for design.
12
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Likewise, Dorst
13
recently argued that abduction is at the ‘core’ of design thinking.
Dorst understands deduction as the process to move from knowing ‘what’ and ‘how’ to
the ‘result’ (e.g. if one knows about stars and about their movements, one can deduce
their locations), and induction as the process to move from knowing ‘what’ and ‘result’
to possible options for ‘how’ (e.g. if one knows about stars and their locations, one can
induce possible working principles), and two forms of abduction. In abduction-1 (closed
problem solving) one develops an object (‘what’), based upon a given desired outcome
(‘result’) and a given working principle (‘how’), and in abduction-2 (open problem
solving) one starts with a desired outcome (‘result’) and develops both an object
(‘what’) and a working principle (‘how’). The latter is associated with design thinkin
and with the notion of framing. Framing refers to an approach of iteratively developing
frames, which refers to combinations of a result and a working principle, and
developing possible solutions, and thus creatively moving between “result”, “how” and
“what” during the design process.
In design thinking, problems and possible solutions are explored and developed and
evaluated simultaneously in an iterative process: a ‘design process involves finding as
well as solving problems’ so that ‘problem and solution co-evolve’.
14
Design thinking is
needed to cope with ‘wicked problems’,
15
that is, with problems which cannot be clearly
defined using ‘facts’ at the start of a project and which cannot be solved by selecting a
‘best’ solution—that is, with many real problems in the real world.
In the case of co-design, diverse people participate in this process of design
thinking. Below, I will argue that co-design can be understood and organized as a
process of collaborative design thinking, or—drawing from the ideas of pragmatist
philosopher John Dewey—as a process of joint inquiry and imagination.
Dewey’s Pragmatism
This exploration’s second move is to turn to philosophical pragmatism. Philosophical
pragmatism emerged in the USA in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, with
William James, C.S. Peirce and John Dewey as key figures. A key theme in pragmatism
is its focus on people’s practices and experiences, rather than on abstract theories. I will
focus on texts by Dewey (1859-1952) because his ideas are especially relevant to
technology, engineering and design, and have been used productively in these fields.
16
Many people in the field of design are familiar with Dewey’s ideas on experience
and aesthetics,
17
and Dewey’s ideas appear in Schön’s notion of reflective practice,
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which he uses to discuss the ways in which professionals combine practice and
reflection—not surprisingly so, since Schön wrote his dissertation on Dewey’s theory of
inquiry.
18
Moreover, the usage of Dewey’s ideas to discuss co-design is in line with
Dewey’s ambition to make his ‘scholarly work’ relevant and applicable to ‘practical
affairs’.
19
Dewey saw philosophy as a way to develop tools that people can use to cope
with real problems in the real world, and he aimed for a ‘recovery of philosophy’, so
that philosophy ‘ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and
becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of man’.
20
Dewey’s pragmatism has two key themes: it focuses on people’s concrete practices,
their personal experiences and the role of practical knowledge, and it aims at promoting
cooperation and at empowering people so that they can improve their situations.
21
These
two themes will be briefly discussed below.
Practices, Experiences and Knowledge
Dewey distinguished between primary experiences of ‘gross, macroscopic, crude
subject-matters’, that is, experiences ‘as the result of a minimum of incidental
reflection’, and secondary experiences of ‘refined, derived objects of reflection’, that is,
experiences ‘in consequence of continued and regulated reflective inquiry’.
22
Furthermore, Dewey promoted an ‘empirical method’ of moving back and forth
between practices (primary experiences) and reflections (secondary experiences)
23
in
order to develop practical knowledge: knowledge that is based on practices and that is
practically applicable. In addition, Dewey’s held that knowledge needs to be ‘particular’
or ‘contingent’, which is rather different from traditional philosophy or mainstream
science, where knowledge is typically viewed as ‘universal’ or ‘necessary’
24
.
Dewey held that ‘thinking and acting are just two names for a single process—the
process of making our way as best we can in a universe shot through with contingency’,
and that ‘knowledge is a by-product of activity: people do things in the world, and the
doing results in learning something that, if deemed useful, gets carried along into the
next activity’
25
. Similar ideas—on the generation of knowledge in relation to design
practices—have been expressed by, for example, Stappers and Van der Lugt
26
.
Communication, Cooperation and Change
Dewey believed that ‘the specific conditions which exist at one moment, be they
comparatively bad or comparatively good, in any event may be bettered’.
27
He
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emphasized people’s abilities to communicate and to cooperate as ways to jointly bring
about positive change: ‘The heart of language is not “expression” of something
antecedent, much less expression of antecedent thought. It is communication; the
establishment of cooperation in an activity in which there are partners, and in which the
activity of each is modified and regulated by partnership.’
28
This engagement with
communication, cooperation and change is rather different from a ‘spectator conception
of knowledge’
29
, which is typical for traditional philosophy or mainstream science and
which refers to describing an external reality and a stable state of affairs.
Dewey promoted processes in which people are empowered to jointly reflect on
their practices and experiences, to communicate and cooperate and to improve their own
or other people’s situations. This ‘melioristic motive’
30
can also be found in the works
of Papanek and Margolin
31
and, more recently and in this journal, in the works of
Bonsiepe, Dong, Nieusma and Oosterlaken.
32
Dewey viewed knowledge as instrumental, in that he proposed that knowledge should
be concerned with exploring alternative futures, with promoting communication and
cooperation, and with organizing positive change. These are also key themes in co-
design, which makes Dewey relevant indeed to a discussion of co-design.
These topics—practices, experiences and knowledge, and communication,
cooperation and change—are intimately intertwined through Dewey’s concept of
inquiry
33
. Dewey advocated organizing processes of joint inquiry, in which people
jointly explore, discuss and define a problem and jointly explore, develop and evaluate
possible solutions. In very general terms, he envisioned inquiry as a process that starts
from a problematic situation, and that moves—by productively combining doing and
thinking—to a resolution: ‘Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an
indeterminate situation into … a unified whole.’
34
In such an inquiry process, the aim is
not to develop universal knowledge that represents some external reality, but to bring
people together so that they can jointly explore, try-out and learn, and bring about
change in a desired direction.
Exploring Ethics
A third move in this exploration is a turn towards ethics. Based on Dewey’s pragmatist
philosophy, I will argue that co-design has inherent ethical qualities.
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For Dewey, moral experiences were his starting point and the empowerment of
people to cope with moral questions was his primary goal: ‘For Dewey, social and
political philosophy—and not metaphysics or epistemology—is First Philosophy’.
35
Dewey held that people, throughout their daily lives, continuously engage in ethics,
especially when they interact with each other. People have moral experiences and need
to cope with moral questions whenever they think and feel, whenever deliberate and act,
whenever they communicate and cooperate, whenever make plans and decisions.
36
For
Dewey, ‘moral concerns permeate much of experience and require nearly constant
deliberation and choice of action, whether issues are minute or momentous.’
37
Dewey
saw daily life, with both its minor issues and its major questions, as inherently ethical.
Moreover, Dewey saw deliberation as a social process, ‘not only in the sense that we
must take consequences for others into consideration but also in the sense that
conversation with others provides the means for reflection.’
38
I would like to propose that when people engage in a co-design process, they also
engage in ethics—in a process with ethical qualities. These ethics become manifest, for
example, when co-design participants express and share their personal experiences,
when they empathize with others, when they discuss current or problematic situations,
when they envision possible or desirable situations, when they develop and evaluate
possible solutions, or when they make decisions and bring about change. Co-design can
be understood as an instance of ‘moral inquiry’: ‘a reflective response—intervening
with analysis and imaginative deliberation—when action is frustrated’, where
deliberation may ‘proceed by dialogue, visualization, imagining of motor responses, and
imagining how others might react to a deed done.’
39
Similarly, Devon and Van de Poel
40
argued that design is inherently a social activity
and quintessentially an ethical process—‘Ethics is not an appendage to design but an
integral part of it’—and advocated using moral imagination to bring the ethical qualities
in design processes to the fore. In addition, Lloyd
41
argued that design and ethics are
similar in that they are both concerned with envisioning and developing possibilities
and with evaluating and choosing between possibilities.
Pragmatist ethics provides an alternative to two dominant schools in ethics:
consequentialist ethics, which tends to search for general rules to maximize the positive
consequences of one’s actions, and deontological ethics, which tends to search for
general rules based on one’s duties and obligations. ‘Pragmatist ethics turn away from
such rigid abstractions [like the ‘general rules’ just mentioned] and returns to the
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ordinary life-experiences of inherently social, embodied, and historically situated
beings.’
42
If some may find it somewhat awkward to use the term ethics in the context of co-
design, we can instead use the term ethos and discuss the ethos of co-design, that is, the
moral ideas and attitudes of participants in a co-design process.
Joint Inquiry and Imagination
Below, I will discuss Dewey’s ideas on organizing processes of joint inquiry and
imagination.
43
He argued that such processes consists of five phases, which are
intimately related and which are ideally addressed in an iterative process.
Exploring and Defining the Problem (Phases 1 and 2)
1. ‘The indeterminate situation’: A specific and concrete situation is experienced as
problematic, without yet knowing what is precisely problematic about it. Dewey
stressed that personal and subjective experiences are critical for the start of an inquiry
process, to make the situation ‘questionable’, and that expressing and sharing these
experiences are critical: ‘inquiry is not a purely logical process—feeling is a useful and
orienting presence throughout each phase’.
44
2. ‘Institution of a problem’: A provisional problem definition is formulated, which
can later be restated and refined in an iterative process. It is important to be aware of the
importance of the wording: ‘The way in which the problem is conceived decides what
specific suggestions are entertained and which are dismissed’. This intimate relationship
between problem-setting and solution-finding is also found in design thinking.
The ethics of co-design occur in the ways in which and in the extent to which
participants are able to express and share their experiences and to empathize with
others, for example, by engaging in storytelling, and in the ways in which they are able
to draw from their own and other people’s experiences when they explore and define the
problem. Ideally, these processes are carefully organized, so that participants can
engage with questions such as: What do I find problematic about this situation? What
are other people’s experiences? or In what direction should we look for possible
solutions?—questions which Dewey would have found ethical.
Perception of the Problem and Conception of Possible Solutions (Phase 3)
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3. ‘The determination of a problem-solution’: In an iterative process, the problem
and possible solutions are simultaneously explored and further defined—similar, again,
to design thinking: ‘Observations of facts and suggested meanings or ideas arise and
develop in correspondence with each other’.
45
Dewey proposed that problems are best
explored and defined using perception—one’s capacities to see, hear, touch, smell and
taste current situations (what is)—and that solutions are best explored and developed
using conception—one’s capacities to imagine and envision alternative situations (what
could be). Ideally, perceiving the problem and conceiving possible solutions are
productively combined.
46
Different or more precise ways to perceive the problem help
to conceive different or more concrete solutions, just like the conceiving of different or
more detailed solutions helps perceiving the situation differently or more precisely.
The ethics of co-design occur in the ways in which and in the extent to which
participants can use their capacities for perception, for example, by engaging with
visuals that are related to the problem and by empathizing with the people involved, and
can use their capacities for conception, for example, by using tools that foster joint
creativity and the generation of innovations.
47
Such perception and conception ideally
involve ‘moral imagination’ or ‘dramatic rehearsal’
48
, in which co-design participants
imagine or rehearse current and problematic situations or alternative and desirable
situations, using both their thoughts and their feelings. In such deliberation, ‘we singly
or collectively hunt for ways to settle difficulties and ambiguities by scoping out
alternatives and picturing ourselves taking part in them. Imagination continues until we
are stimulated to act by a course that appears to harmonize pressing interests, needs, and
other factors of the situation.’
49
This combination of perception and conception, and the ways in which co-design
participants cooperate productively would enable them to address questions such as:
How does this problematic situation feel like? How can we generate solutions for this
problem? or How is this solution better than the current situation?—questions that we
can consider, again, as ethical.
Trying-out and Evaluating Solutions (Phases 4 and 5)
4. ‘Reasoning’: One should not jump to conclusions or accept a solution too quickly.
The relationships between the tentatively-defined-problem and different suggestions-
for-solutions need to be evaluated in order to assess how different solutions can help to
solve the problem. Ideally, participants can explore and define the scope and boundaries
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of a project and critically discuss means and ends, and the relationships between means
and ends. This can promote systems thinking, since participants become more aware of
the scope and boundaries of their project, and a systems perspective can help them to
generate innovative ideas and solutions.
5. ‘The operational character of facts-meanings’: This phase is concerned with
practically trying-out solutions, for example, by organizing experiments or tests with
users or customers. The project becomes more real and the stakes get higher, and it is
therefore critical that the people involved continue to cooperate constructively. They
may need to express and discuss their respective roles and interests, which may cause
conflicts between them, but which is necessary for developing a shared understanding
50
of what needs to be done and how they need to cooperate. They need to jointly generate
solutions that will work practically. If their roles and interests remain unexamined, there
is a risk that one role or one interest dominates the project, which can lead to solutions
that are less viable or less feasible. Ideally, co-design participants can deal creatively
and productively with even ‘deep-seated and fundamental value conflicts’
51
and develop
solutions that work for all of them.
The ethics of co-design occur in the ways in which and in the extent to which the
people involved are able to try-out different solutions, to critically discuss the project’s
scope and boundaries, and to negotiate their different roles and interests. This would
help them to explore ethical questions such as: What should be our project’s scope? or
What solution will work for me? And for the other participants or stakeholders?
Imagination is key throughout the process outlined above. Fesmire discussed two roles
of imagination:
52
1) imagination as empathic projection’, as a way to respond directly
and empathically to others and their feelings and thoughts; and 2) imagination as a way
to escape current patterns and imagine alternatives. Imagination is then ‘a capacity to
engage the present with an eye to what is not immediately at hand’.
53
In sum, we can understand co-design as a process of joint inquiry and imagination,
that is, as ‘a reflective activity in which existing tools and materials (both of which may
be either tangible or conceptual) are brought together in novel and creative
arrangements in order to produce something new’.
54
In such a process, people use ‘the
power of intelligence to imagine a future which is the projection of the desirable in the
present, and to invent the instrumentalities of its realization’.
55
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An Example
In order to illustrate this argument, I will discuss one project: TA2.
56
In this research
and innovation project, some forty researchers, designers and developers from fourteen
organizations (ranging from international corporations and small enterprises to
universities and research institutes) cooperated for four years (2008-2012) on
developing and evaluating a series of innovative telecommunication, multimedia and
gaming applications. The project’s goal was to better understand how such technologies
can help groups of people to engage in social communication when they are separated in
space and in time—TA2 stands for Together Anywhere, Together Anytime. TA2 focused
on group-to-group communication, as an alternative to many projects and products that
facilitate one-to-one communication. The project followed a co-design approach and
promoted multidisciplinary teamwork, early user involvement and an iterative approach
of research, design and evaluation.
Below, I will discuss some of the co-design activities in TA2 and focus on the ways
in which project-team members engaged in joint inquiry and imagination.
57
Exploring and Defining the Problem (Workshops)
The original project plan contained a drawing of pyramid (Figure 1), which
represents the project’s goal, that is, to make ‘communications and engagement easier
among groups of people separated in space and time’, which will ‘help in the nurturing
of social relationships’ (in the top of the pyramid), and what needs to be done in order
to realize that goal: the development of technologies, components and applications, and
knowledge on, for example, user experience and business modelling (in the bottom of
the pyramid).
Existing
Knowledge
Key
Enablers
Essential
Outputs
Project
Vision
Concept
demonstrators
Improved
relationships
between groups
User
understanding
Multimedia
composition
Editing grammar for
video communication
A/V transmission
chain
Business
modelling
Interaction
design methods
Analysis and
interpretation
Narrative
representations
Experience
design
Standards
RTP, H.264, SIP, AAC
Architectures
and platforms
Social
science methods
Interaction
modelling language
Evaluation
methods
Social science
theory
Design
best-practice
Component technologies
Ambulant, NSL
Figure 1: Overview of TA2 goals and enablers.
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Implicitly, it is suggested that there is something problematic about the current focus on
one-to-one communication in many products and services, and that products and
services for group-to-group communication need to be developed. In order to make the
process of problem exploration and definition more explicit and more into a collective
effort, several co-design workshops were organized.
Three months into the project, key project-team members participated in a Scenario
Workshop. They were invited to empathize with different groups of (imaginary) people
and to take them as a starting point for developing scenarios. They wrote five short
narratives in which people use the TA2 applications in specific situations. Writing these
scenarios helped them to empathize with (imaginary) users and their experiences, and to
more vividly imagine the sort of problems that TA2 aims to solve.
In the tenth month of the project, it appeared that people had slightly different ideas
on the project’s overall goal. In order to improve shared understanding, a Togetherness
Workshop was organized. All project-team members were invited to express their
personal experiences in relation to togetherness and to engage more personally with this
key theme. This workshop further helped project-team members to empathize with
people’s experiences, by expressing and sharing their experiences in relation to the
theme of togetherness.
These workshops brought to the fore the ethics of co-design in that they helped
project-team members to express and share their own experiences and to empathize with
other people and their experiences—which helped to ground the project’s problem
definition in people’s concrete experiences.
Perceiving the Problem and Conception of Possible Solutions (Storyboards)
Next, the five scenarios were developed into five storyboards, in an iterative process
between key project-team members and a professional illustrator. Each storyboard
consisted of five to ten drawings with accompanying narratives. One example is
MyVideos (Figure 2): a software application that helps people to use video recordings of
a social event, for example, a school concert (left), to create a video compilation, using
one’s own and other people’s footage (middle), and to share these video compilations
with others, for example, a family member abroad (right). MyVideos is intended to
facilitate togetherness by enabling people to share the experiences of a shared activity.
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Figure 2. Drawings of a storyboard for MyVideos.
Jointly developing the storyboards helped the project-team members to be more specific
and precise, and to productively discuss how the project overall goal and ideas for
specific solutions relate to each other. Moreover, the five storyboards were used to
organize focus groups with people from five corresponding target groups, in order to
talk with them about the applications as early as possible—before any prototypes were
built. These focus groups helped to better understand people’s daily lives, their needs,
expectations and preferences in relation the TA2 applications.
Creating these storyboards and discussing them with potential users helped the
project-team members to combine technology perspectives (the ambition to create
technology) and users’ perspectives (the ambition to help people). It promoted a
multidisciplinary and iterative process in which project-team members were able to
discuss different solutions in the context of the overall project goal.
Creating and discussing the storyboards brought to the fore the ethics of co-design
in that both project-team members and users were able to perceive the problem (the
project’s goal), and to conceive possible solutions (specific applications), and to move
between perception and conception in an iterative process, for example, when project-
team members listened to users talking about their problems and when they jointly tried
to find solutions for these problems.
Trying-out and Evaluating Solutions (Prototypes)
In the second and third year of the project, project-team members worked together
to develop several prototypes and they discussed the viability and feasibility of the
various technologies and applications. Moreover, these prototypes were tried-out
evaluated in realistic situations in close cooperation with potential users, in field trials in
people’s homes or in laboratory experiments.
For example, for MyVideos, project-team members cooperated with two groups of
parents with children in two high schools. First, a group of parents with children in a
– 13 –
high school in The Netherlands participated in focus groups in which they discussed
their current practices of recording, editing and viewing video material vis-à-vis the
ideas for MyVideos. Some months later, they made video recordings of a concert in
which their children performed and participated in user tests, in which they evaluated a
first prototype of MyVideos to view and edit the video material recorded at that concert.
Next, they participated in focus groups to discuss different options for further
development, which directly impacted the development of a second prototype of
MyVideos. Next, parents with children at a high school in the UK participated in further
evaluation. At a concert in their school, they made video recordings of their children
performing and some of them participated in user tests to evaluate the second prototype
of MyVideos (Figure 3). In these experiments, people’s experiences with using the
application were studied by conducting interviews and filling-out questionnaires before,
during and after the experiments.
Figure 3: Prototype and user test of MyVideos.
The ethics of co-design happen in so far as the participants are able to jointly achieve
concrete results and, at the same time, to critically discuss these results—and to learn
from this confrontation, for example, when solutions do not work as planned or when
problems turn out unexpectedly.
Conclusion
My argument has been that co-design can be understood as a process of collaborative
design thinking: a process of joint inquiry and imagination in which diverse people
jointly explore and define a problem and jointly develop and evaluate solutions. A
process in which participants are able to express and share their experiences, to discuss
and negotiate their roles and interests, and to jointly bring about positive change. Co-
– 14 –
design participants combine inquiry, a move from the outside world and others to the
inside world, so that they can be curious and jointly learn, and imagination, a move
from the inside world to the outside world and others, so that they can be creative and
jointly bring about change.
Moreover, I have argued that the process of co-design has inherent ethical qualities.
These ethics come to the fore in the ways in which and in the extent to which
participants are actually able to express and share their experiences, to discuss and
negotiate their roles and interests, and to jointly bring about positive change. The ethics
come to the fore, for example, in the process of framing
58
, in which participants
creatively and iteratively move between problem-setting and solution-finding. Ideally,
co-design participants are able to jointly and carefully engage with ethical questions
such as: How do I perceive this problem? How do others perceive it? How would I go
about solving it? How can we jointly develop solutions?
This view is supplementary to other views on co-design, which typically emphasize
the generation and combining of knowledge, in that it brings to the fore the importance
of combining thinking and feeling, facts and values, of combining doing and reflecting,
and divergence and convergence.
In the spirit of pragmatism, I would like to advocate organizing co-design more
accordingly to these ethics—to its ethos, which often remains implicit. We can do this
by making these ethics more explicit, for example, by promoting reflexivity: by helping
co-design participants to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and of their own
roles and interests. By becoming more aware of their involvement, participants can
organize their co-design more effectively, so that they can jointly learn and jointly
create, address problems in the real world, and develop solutions that work.
Acknowledgements
This paper was written within the TA2 project, which received funding from the
European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant
no. ICT-2007-214793. I would like to thank Pieter Jan Stappers for his enthusiasm for
the idea to read Dewey to understand co-design, and Larry Hickman for his enthusiasm
for an early draft of this paper.
– 15 –
1
H.W. Chesbrough, Open innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from new
technology (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003); and H.W. Chesbrough,W.
Vanhaverbeke, and J. West (eds.), Open innovation: Researching a new paradigm (Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press, 2006).
2
S. Kujala, User involvement: A review of the benefits and challenges, Behaviour and
Information Technology, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 1-17, 2003; H. Rohracher (ed.), User involvement in
innovation processes: Strategies and limitations from a socio-technical perspective (München,
Germany: Profil Verlag, 2005); and B. Edvardsson, A Gustafsson, P. Kristensson, P.
Magnusson, and J. Matthing (eds.), Involving customers in new service development (London,
UK: Imperial College Press, 2006).
3
L. Bucciarelli, Designing engineers (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994).
4
E. B.-N. Sanders and P. J. Stappers, Co-creation and the new landscapes of design, CoDesign,
vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 5-18, 2008; and M. Steen, Tensions in human-centred design, CoDesign, vol.
7, no. 1, pp. 45-60, 2011.
5
D. Schuler and A. Namioka (eds.), Participatory design: Principles and practices (Hillsdale,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1993).
6
E. B.-N. Sanders and P. J. Stappers, Co-creation and the new landscapes of design, CoDesign,
vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 5-18, 2008.
7
M. Kleinsmann and R. Valkenburg, Barriers and enablers for creating shared understanding in
co-design projects, Design Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 369-386, 2008.
8
M. Steen, M. Manschot and N. De Koning: Benefits of co-design in service design projects,
International Journal of Design, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 53-60, 2011.
9
With the exception of work by, for example, Sanders, Stappers, Kleinsmann, Valkenburg and
Van der Lugt (referenced), and work in the Scandinavian Participatory Design tradition, by
people like E. Beck, G. Bjerknes, T. Bratteteig, S. Bødker, P. Ehn, J. Greenbaum, M. Kyng, R.
Markussen, and more recently, K. Battarbee, J. Buur, J. Fulton Suri, J. Gulliksen, I. Koskinen,
S. Kujala, T. Mattelmäki and E. Stolterman.
10
B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts (2nd ed.)
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986); B. Latour, Science in action: How to follow
scientists and engineers through society (Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press, 1987); S.
Woolgar (Ed.) Knowledge and reflexivity: New frontiers in the sociology of knowledge
(London, UK: Sage, 1988); M. Ashmore, The reflexive thesis: Wrighting sociology of scientific
knowledge (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989), K. Knorr Cetina, Laboratory
studies: The cultural approach to the study of science, In S. Jasanoff et al. (Eds.), Handbook of
Science and Technology Studies (140-166) (London, UK: Sage, 1995); and B. Latour, Aramis,
or the love of technology (Translated by Catherine Porter) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1996).
11
C.S. Peirce, quoted in: N. Cross, ‘Discovering design ability’, Discovering design:
Explorations in design studies. R. Buchanan and V. Margolin (Eds.) (Chicago: The University
of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 110.
12
See also: N.F.M. Roozenburg and J. Eekels, Product design: Fundamentals and methods
(Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1995).
– 16 –
13
K. Dorst, The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application, Design Studies, vol. 32, no. 6, pp.
521-532, 2011.
14
B. Lawson, How designers think: The design process demystified (4th ed.) (Amsterdam:
Elsevier, 2006), p. 125; and N. Cross, Designerly ways of knowing (London: Springer-Verlag,
2006), p. 80. See also: K. Dorst and N. Cross, Creativity in the design process: Co-evolution of
problem-solution, Design Studies, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 425-437, 2001; N. Cross, Design thinking
(Oxford: Berg Publishing, 2011); and J. Kolko, Abductive thinking and sensemaking: The
drivers of design synthesis, Design Issues, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 15-28, 2010.
15
H.W.J. Rittel and M.M. Webber, Planning problems are wicked problems, in Developments in
design methodology, N. Cross, ed. (Chichester: Wiley, 1984); R. Buchanan, Wicked problems
in design thinking, Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 5-22, 1992; R. Coyne, Wicked problems
revisited, Design Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 5-17, 2004; and K. Dorst, Design problems and
design paradoxes, Design Issues, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 4-17, 2006.
16
L.A. Hickman, John Dewey's pragmatic technology (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Press, 1990); L.A. Hickman, Philosophical tools for technological culture: Putting pragmatism
to work (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001); J. Keulartz, M. Schermer, M.
Korthals, and T. Swierstra, Ethics in technological culture: A programmatic proposal for a
pragmatist approach, Science, Technology, & Human Values, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 3-29, 2004;
G.A. Emison, The complex challenges of ethical choices by engineers in public service, Science
and Engineering Ethics, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 233-244, 2006; P. Dalsgaard, Designing engaging
interactive environments: A pragmatist perspective (PhD dissertation) (Aarhus University,
2009); S.A. Moore, ed., Pragmatic sustainability: Theoretical and practical tools (London:
Routledge, 2010); and R. Sennett, The craftsman (London: Penguin Books, 2008). See also: G.
Melles, New pragmatism and the vocabulary and metaphors of scholarly design research,
Design Issues, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 88-101, 2008; and C. DiSalvo, Design and the construction of
publics, Design Issues, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 48-63, 2009.
17
J. Dewey, Art as experience (New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2005 [first published
in 1934]).
18
D.A. Schön, The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (New York: Basic
Books, 1983); and D.A. Schön, Design: A process of enquiry, experimentation and research,
Design Studies, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 130-131, 1984.
19
D. Hildebrand, Dewey: A beginner’s Guide (Oxford: Oneworld, 2008), p. 3.
20
J. Dewey, The need for a recovery of philosophy, in Creative intelligence: Essays in the
pragmatic attitude. J. Dewey, ed. (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1917), p. 65.
21
D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), pp. 4-6.
22
J. Dewey, Experience and nature (La Salle: Open Court Publishing, 1965), pp. 3-4.
23
J. Dewey, Experience and nature, p. 5-9.
24
J. Dewey, Reconstruction in philosophy (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1920), p. 78.
25
L. Menand, The metaphysical club: A story of ideas in America (New York: Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, 2001), pp. 360 and 322.
– 17 –
26
R. Van der Lugt and P.J. Stappers, Design and the growth of knowledge (Delft University of
Technology, 2006); and P.J. Stappers, Doing design as a part of doing research, in Design
research now: Essays and selected projects, R. Michel, ed. (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2007),
pp. 81-91.
27
J. Dewey, Reconstruction in philosophy, p. 178.
28
J. Dewey, Experience and nature, p. 179.
29
J. Dewey, Reconstruction in philosophy, p. 156.
30
D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), p. 5.
31
V. Papanek, Design for the real world: Human ecology and social change (2nd ed.) (Thames
& Hudson, London, 1991) and V. Margolin, The politics of the artificial: Essays on design and
design studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).
32
G. Bonsiepe, Design and democracy, Design Issues, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 27-34, 2006; A. Dong,
The policy of design: A capabilities approach, Design Issues, vol. 24, no. 4, 76-87, 2008; D.
Nieusma, Alternative design scholarship: Working towards appropriate design, Design Issues,
vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 13-24, 2004; and I. Oosterlaken, Design for development: A capability
approach, Design Issues, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 91-102, 2009.
33
L.A. Hickman, Dewey’s theory of inquiry, in Reading Dewey, L.A. Hickman, ed. (1998), pp.
166-186; and D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), pp. 40-62.
34
J. Dewey, Logic: The theory of inquiry (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1938), pp. 104-105.
35
J.J. Stuhr, Dewey’s social and political philosophy, in Reading Dewey, p. 85.
36
D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), pp. 63-93; and G.F. Pappas, Dewey’s ethics: Morality as
experience, in Reading Dewey, L.A. Hickman, ed. (1998), pp. 100-123.
37
D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), p. 63.
38
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination: Pragmatism in ethics (Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Press, 2003), p. 82.
39
D. Hildebrand, Dewey (2008), p. 77.
40
R. Devon and I. Van de Poel, Design ethics: The social ethics paradigm, International
Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 461-469, 2004. See also: R. Devon,
Towards a social ethics of technology: A research prospect, Techne: Research in Philosophy
and Technology, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 99-115.
41
P. Lloyd, Design, ethics and imagination (or: Why we don’t need to teach ethics to designers,
but why we should teach philosophers to design), presented at an Ethics Seminar at the Open
University, 16 November 2006.
42
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination, p. 58.
43
This section is based on: J. Dewey, Logic: The theory of inquiry, pp. 101-119.
44
D. Hildebrand, Dewey, p. 57.
– 18 –
45
J. Dewey, Logic: The theory of inquiry, pp. 109.
46
There is a looking backward when perceiving a problem and a looking forward when
conceiving solutions. This looking backward and looking forward can be recognized in
Dewey’s phrase warranted assertibility, which he used to describe the role of knowledge in
inquiry: warranted ‘points backward in time toward something that has been accomplished’ and
assertibility ‘points forward in time towards something yet to be done’ (L.A. Hickman,
Dewey’s theory of inquiry, 166-167).
47
F. Sleeswijk Visser, Bringing the everyday life of people into design (PhD dissertation) (Delft
University of Technology, 2009); and E. B.-N. Sanders, Generative Tools for Co-designing, in
Collaborative Design: Proceedings of CoDesigning 2000, S. A. R. Scrivener, L. J. Ball, and A.
Woodcock, eds. (London: Springer-Verlag, 2000), pp. 3-12.
48
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination, pp. 55-91.
49
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination, p. 70.
50
M. Kleinsmann and R. Valkenburg, Barriers and enablers for creating shared understanding in
co-design projects, Design Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 369-386, 2008.
51
J. Keulartz, M. Schermer, M. Korthals, and T. Swierstra, Ethics in technological culture: A
programmatic proposal for a pragmatist approach, Science, Technology, & Human Values, vol.
29, no. 1, pp. 3-29, 2004.
52
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination, p. 65.
53
S. Fesmire, John Dewey and moral imagination, pp. 67.
54
L.A. Hickman, Dewey’s theory of inquiry, p. 169.
55
J. Dewey, The need for a recovery of philosophy, p. 69.
56
See also: www.ta2-project.eu
57
M. Steen, J. Buijs and D. Williams: The role of scenarios and demonstrators in promoting
shared understanding in innovation projects, International Journal of Innovation and
Technology Management, vol. x, no. x, pp. x-x, 2012 (forthcoming).
58
K. Dorst, The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application.
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