ISSN 2398-3132

PROCEEDINGS OF DRS

27–30 JUNE 2016

VOLUME 6

50th Anniversary Conference
Brighton, UK

Design + Research + Society
Future-Focused Thinking
EDITED BY:
PETER LLOYD
ERIK BOHEMIA

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Proceedings of DRS 2016
Design + Research + Society
Future–Focused Thinking
50th Anniversary International Conference
Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016
Volume 6

Editors
Peter Lloyd and Erik Bohemia

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Proceedings of DRS
2016 International Conference
28–30 June 2016, Brighton, UK
www.drs2016.org
Volumes 6 of 10
Cover and conference identity design by Gavin Ambrose, Nikki Brewster and Seamus White
Proceedings compiled by Kaajal Modi
Editors: Peter Lloyd and Erik Bohemia
Section-Editors: Harriet Atkinson; Leonard Bachman; Giovanni Baule; Michaël Berghman; Noemi Bitterman; Alison Black;
Rebecca Cain; Elena Caratti; Rachel Cooper; Anne Cranny-Francis; Tejas Dhadphale; Hua Dong; Bianca Elzenbaumer;
Carolina Escobar-Tello; Luke Feast; Tom Fisher; Aija Freimanee; Lorraine Gamman; Valeria Graziano; Camilla Groth; Marte
Gulliksen; Paul Hekkert; Derek Jones; Sarah Kettley; Tore Kristensen; Sylvia Liu; Geke Ludden; Jamie Mackrill; Maarit
Mäkelä; Betti Marenko; Andrew Morris; Kristina Niedderer; Nithikul Nimkulrat; Maya Oppenheimer; Elif Ozcan; Verena
Paepcke-Hjeltness; Ann Petermans; Philip Plowright; Tiiu Poldma; Hendrik Schifferstein; Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen; Qian
Sun; Michael Tovey; Rhoda Trimingham; Kim Trogal; Nynke Tromp; Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer; Sue Walker; Alex Wilkie;
Alex Williams; Seda Yilmaz

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Proceedings of DRS 2016 International Conference: Future–Focused Thinking
ISSN 2398-3132
Published by the Design Research Society
Loughborough University, London
3 Lesney Avenue, The Broadcast Centre, Here East
London, E15 2GZ
United Kingdom

Design Research Society Secretariat
email: admin@designresearchsociety.org
website: www.designresearchsociety.org
Founded in 1966 the Design Research Society (DRS) is a learned society committed to promoting and developing design
research. It is the longest established, multi-disciplinary worldwide society for the design research community and aims to
promote the study of and research into the process of designing in all its many fields.

DRS Special Interest Groups
Design for Behaviour Change
Design for Health, Wellbeing and Happiness
Design Innovation Management
Design Pedagogy
Design for Sustainability
Design for Tangible, Embedded and Networked Technologies
Experiential Knowledge
Inclusive Design
Objects, Practices, Experiences, Networks

DRS International Conference Series
DRS 2002 London; DRS 2004 Melbourne; DRS 2006 Lisbon; DRS 2008 Sheffield; DRS 2010 Montreal; DRS 2012 Bangkok; DRS
2014 Umeå

DRS 2016 Programme Committee
Conference Chair
Peter Lloyd, University of Brighton, UK
Conference Co-Chairs
Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Stephen Boyd-Davis, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Jonathan Chapman, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Peter Childs, Imperial College, United Kingdom
International Scientific Review Committee
Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Erik Bohemia, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Lin Lin Chen, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taiwan
Nathan Crilly, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Paul Hekkert, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Peter Lloyd, University of Brighton, UK
Debates, Conversations and Workshops Chairs
Stella Boess, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Carlos Peralta, University of Brighton, UK
Cameron Tonkinwise, Carnegie Mellon University, US
Conference Experience Chairs
Dan Lockton, Royal College of Art, UK
Veronica Ranner, Royal College of Art, UK
PhD by Design
Bianca Elzenbaumer, Leeds College of Art, UK
Maria Portugal, Goldsmiths University, UK
Alison Thomson, Goldsmiths University, UK
DRS Special Interest Group Chairs
Erik Bohemia, Loughborough University, UK
Rebecca Cain, Warwick University, UK
Hua Dong, Tongji University, China
Tom Fisher, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Sarah Kettley, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Kristina Niedderer, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Nithikul Nimkulrat, Estonian Academy of Arts, Talinn
Michael Tovey, Coventry University, UK
Rhoda Trimmingham, Loughborough University, UK
Executive Advisors
Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Institute of Technology, US
Kees Dorst, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Janet Mcdonnell, University of the Arts London, UK
Johan Redström, Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden
Erik Stolterman, Indiana University, US
Anna Valtonen, Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland

International Board of Reviewers
Tom Ainsworth, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Katerina Alexiou, The Open University, United Kingdom
Manola Antonioli, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris La Villette, France
Rina Arya, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Harriet Atkinson, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Stephen Awoniyi, Texas State University, United States
Jeremy Aynsley, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Leonard Bachman, University of Houston College of Architecture, United States
Betsy Barnhart, Iowa State University, United States
Giovanni Baule, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Nigan Bayazit, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
Michaël Berghman, TU Delft, Netherlands
Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Richard Bibb, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Noemi Bitterman, Technion, Israel
Alison Black, Reading University, United Kingdom
Janneke Blijlevens, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia
Anne Boddington, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Stella Boess, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Erik Bohemia, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Casper Boks, NTNU, Norway
Elizabeth Boling, Indiana University, United States
Andy Boucher, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Simon Bowen, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Stephen Boyd Davis, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Jamie Brassett, Central Saint Martins, United Kingdom
Philip Breedon, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Charlie Breindahl, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark
Patrick Bresnihan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Cheryl Buckley, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Jacob Buur, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Rebecca Cain, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Elena Caratti, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Philip Cash, DTU, Denmark
Tom Cassidy, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Julia Cassim, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan
Jonathan Chapman, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Chien-Hsiung Chen, Taiwan Tech, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Chun-Chih Chen, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Chun-Di Chen, National Taipei University of Education, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Kuohsiang Chen, I-Shou University, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Lin-Lin Chen, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Peter Childs, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Wen-Ko Chiou, Chang Gung University, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Bo Christensen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Henri Christiaans, UNIST, School of Design & Human Engineering, South Korea
Abdusselam Selami Cifter, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Turkey
Nazli Cila, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Mollie Claypool, University College London, United Kingdom
Stephen Clune, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Tim Cooper, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Anne Cranny-Francis, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Nathan Crilly, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Odette da Silva, TU Delft, Netherlands
Massimo De Angelis, University of East London, United Kingdom
Michel de Blois, Université Laval, Canada
Cees de Bont, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Christine de Lille, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Jakki Dehn, Jakki Dehn Materials, United Kingdom

Federico Del Giorgio Solfa, National University of La Plata, Argentina
Claudio Dell'Era, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Samuel DeMarie, Iowa State University, United States
Halime Demirkan, Bilkent University, Turkey
Gaurang Desai, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Pieter Desmet, TU Delft, Netherlands
Emma Dewberry, The Open University, United Kingdom
Sarah Diefenbach, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
Ingvild Digranes, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway
Orsalia Dimitriou, Central Saint Martins, United Kingdom
Hua Dong, Tongji University, China
Dennis Doordan, University of Notre Dame, United States
Kees Dorst, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Shelby Doyle, Iowa State University, United States
Alex Duffy, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom
Delia Dumitrescu, University of Borås, United Kingdom
Abigail Durrant, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Thomas Dykes, Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Wouter Eggink, University of Twente, Netherlands
Bianca Elzenbaumer, Leeds College of Art, United Kingdom
Magnus Eneberg, Konstfack - University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Sweden
Alpay Er, Ozyegin University / Istanbul Institute of Design, Turkey
Ozlem Er, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
Pia Geisby Erichsen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Carolina Escobar-Tello, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Juhyun Eune, Seoul National University, South Korea
Mark Evans, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Luke Feast, Aalto University, Finland
Thomas Fischer, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Tom Fisher, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Kate Tanya Fletcher, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Jodi Forlizzi, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Lois Frankel, Carleton University, Canada
Jill Franz, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Biljana Fredriksen, University College of Southeast Norway, Norway
Ken Friedman, Tongji University, China
Jennifer Gabrys, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Loraine Gamman, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, United Kingdom
Nick Gant, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Philippe Gauthier, Université de Montréal, Canada
Aysar Ghassan, Coventry University, United Kingdom
Katherine Gibson, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Carolina Gill, The Ohio State University, United States
Steve Gill, Cardiff Met University, United Kingdom
Maria Goransdotter, Umeå University, Sweden
Colin Gray, Purdue University, United States
Camilla Groth, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland
Marte Sørebø Gulliksen, Telemark University College, Norway
Ian Gwilt, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom
Robert Harland, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Dew Harrison, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Steve Harrison, Virginia Tech, United States
Marc Hassenzahl, Folkwang University of the Arts, Germany
Anders Haug, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Tero Heikkinen, independent / University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
Tincuta Heinzel, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Paul Hekkert, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Bart Hengeveld, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands
Ricardo Hernandez, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Ann Heylighen, KU Leuven, Belgium
Clive Hilton, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Michael Hohl, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Chung-Ching Huang, National Taiwan University, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Karl Hurn, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Praima Israsena Na Ayudhya, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Robert Jerrard, Manchester Metropolitan Univ/Birmingham City Univ, United Kingdom
Wolfgang Jonas, Braunschweig University of Art, Germany
Derek Jones, The Open University, United Kingdom
Peter Jones, OCAD University, Canada
Rachel Jones, Instrata, United Kingdom
Guy Julier, University of Brighton/Victoria and Albert Museum, United Kingdom
Sabine Junginger, Hertie School of Governance, Germany
Lorraine Justice, Rochester Institute of Technology, United States
Faith Kane, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Helen Kennedy, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Tobie Kerridge, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Richard Arthur Kettley, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Sarah Kettley, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Jinsook Kim, Trinity Christian College, United States
Lucy Kimbell, UAL, United Kingdom
Holger Klapperich, Folkwang University of Arts, Germany
Maaike Kleinsmann, TU Delft, Netherlands
Ben Kraal, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Ksenija Kuzmina, Loughborough University London, United Kingdom
John Langrish, Salford University, United Kingdom
Keelin Leahy, University of Limerick, Ireland
Helmut Leder, University of Vienna, Austria
Ji-Hyun Lee, KAIST, South Korea
Yanki Lee, Hong Kong Design Institue, Hong Kong
Eva Lenz, Folkwang University of Arts, Germany
Pierre Levy, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
Debra Lilley, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Rungtai Lin, National Taiwan University of Arts, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Stephen Little, Asia Pacific Technology Network, United Kingdom
Sylvia Liu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Peter Lloyd, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Kathy Pui Ying, Lo, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Dan Lockton, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Vicky Lofthouse, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Lian Loke, University of Sydney, Australia
Nicole Lotz, The Open University, United Kingdom
Rachael Luck, The Open University, United Kingdom
Geke Ludden, University of Twente, Netherlands
Rohan Lulham, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Ole Lund, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Alastair Macdonald, Glasgow School of Art, United Kingdom
Fiona Maciver, Norwich University of the Arts, United Kingdom
Jamie Mackrill, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Anja Maier, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
Maarit Mäkelä, Aalto University, Finland
Betti Marenko, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Ben Mathews, The University of Queensland, Australia
Tuuli Mattelmäki, Aalto University, Finland
Ramia Mazé, Aalto University, Finland
Sanjoy Mazumdar, University of California, Irvine, United States
Janet McDonnell, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Chris McGinley, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Tomislav Medak, Multimedia Institute, Croatia
Wellington Gomes de Medeiros, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil
Brian Mennecke, Iowa State University, United States
Paul Micklethwaite, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Karen Miller, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

Val Mitchell, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Kathryn Moore, Birmingham City University, United Kingdom
Michael Moore, Ulster University, United Kingdom
Sarah Morehead, Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Nicola Morelli, Aalborg University, Denmark
Mariale Moreno, Cranfield University, United Kingdom
Andrew Morris, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Andrew, Morrison, AHO, Norway
Jeanne-Louise Moys, Reading University, United Kingdom
Tara Mullaney, Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden
Yukari Nagai, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan
Ki Young Nam, KAIST, South Korea
Kristina Niedderer, Wolverhampton University, United Kingdom
Liv Merete Nielsen, Oslo and Akershus university college, Norway
Nithikul Nimkulrat, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia
Conall Ó Catháin, Past Chairman DRS, Ireland
Arlene Oak, University of Alberta, Canada
Maya Oppenheimer, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Elif Ozcan, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Kursat Ozenc, Stanford, United States
Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, Iowa State University, United States
Eujin Pei, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
Carlos Peralta, University of brighton, United Kingdom
José Pérez de Lama, University of Sevilla, Spain
Oscar Person, Aalto University, Finland
Ann Petermans, Hasselt University, Belgium
Daniela Petrelli, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom
Doina Petrescu, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Ida Nilstad Pettersen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Sarah Pink, RMIT University, Australia
Silvia Pizzocaro, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Philip Plowright, Lawrence Technological University, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, United States
Anna Pohlmeyer, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Tiiu Poldma, University of Montreal, Canada
Lubomir Popov, Bowling Green State University, United States
Vesna Popovic, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Thomas Porathe, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Ruben Post, TU Delft, Netherlands
William Prindle, Iowa State University, United States
Charlie Ranscombe, Swinburne, Australia
Yaone Rapitsenyane, University of Botswana, Botswana
Ingo Rauth, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Kirstine Riis, University College Telemark, Norway
Paul Rodgers, Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Zoe Romano, WeMake, Makerspace, Italy
Jose Antonio Rosa, Iowa State University, United States
Seymour Roworth-Stokes, Coventry University, United Kingdom
Robin Roy, The Open University, United Kingdom
Keith Russell, University of Newcastle, Australia, Australia
Daniel Saakes, KAIST, South Korea
Noemi Maria Sadowska, Regent's University London, United Kingdom
Miguel Said Vieira, Independent, Brazil
Fatina Saikaly, Co-Creando, Italy
Filippo Salustri, Ryerson University, Canada
Liz Sanders, The Ohio State University, United States
Rick Schifferstein, TU Delft, Netherlands
James Self, UNIST, South Korea
Nick Senske, Iowa State University, United States
Matt Sinclair, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Kin Wai Michael Siu, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Dirk Snelders, TU Delft, Netherlands

Ricardo Sosa, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Chris Speed, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Jak Spencer, The Sound HQ, United Kingdom
Kay Stables, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Pieter Jan Stappers, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Shanti Sumartojo, RMIT University, Australia
Kärt Summatavet, Aalto University, Estonia
Qian Sun, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Helena Sustar, Aalto University, Finland
Gunnar Swanson, East Carolina University, United States
Ben Sweeting, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Keith Tam, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Hsien-Hui Tang, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Toshiharu Taura, Kobe University, Japan
Damon Taylor, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Sarah Teasley, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom
Adam Thorpe, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Clementine Thurgood, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Jeremy Till, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Oscar Tomico, Eindhoven University of Technology, United Kingdom
Cameron Tonkinwise, Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Mike Tovey, Coventry University, United Kingdom
Rhoda Trimingham, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Nynke Tromp, TU Delft, Netherlands
Darren Umney, Open University, United Kingdom
Louise Valentine, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
Anna Valtonen, Aalto University, Finland
Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Johann van der Merwe, Independent Researcher, South Africa
Mascha van der Voort, University of Twente, Netherlands
Karel van der Waarde, Graphic Design - Research, Belgium
Susann Vihma, Aalto University, Finland
Andre Viljoen, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
John Vines, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Bettina von Stamm, Innovation Leadership Forum, United Kingdom
Sue Walker, Reading University, United Kingdom
Renee Wever, Linköping University, Sweden
Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
Alex Williams, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Garrath Wilson, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Heather Wiltse, Umeå University, Sweden
Christian Woelfel, TU Dresden, Germany
Martin Woolley, Coventry University, United Kingdom
Paul Wormald, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Artemis Yagou, Macromedia University for Media and Communication, Germany
Joyce Yee, Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Susan Yelavich, The New School, United States
Seda Yilmaz, Iowa State University, United States
Robert Young, Northumbria University, United Kingdom

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Table of Content
Editorial................................................................................................................................................................................................... i
– Volume 1 –
SECTION 1
50 YEARS OF DESIGN RESEARCH
Design Research: What is it? What is it for?............................................................................................................................................. 5

Victor Margolin
Schön’s Legacy: Examining Contemporary Citation Practices in DRS Publications ................................................................................... 17

Jordan Beck, Laureline Chiapello
The Idea of Architecture, The User As Inhabitant: Design through a Christopher Alexander Lens ........................................................... 31

Molly Wright Steenson
Design Research for Sustainability: Historic Origin and Development .................................................................................................... 43

Astrid Skjerven
The Design Methods Movement: From Optimism to Darwinism ............................................................................................................ 51

John Z. Langrish
User Design: Constructions of the “user” in the history of design research ............................................................................................ 65

Theodora Vardouli
60 years of creativity in business organizations ..................................................................................................................................... 83

Ricardo Sosa, Pete Rive and Andy M. Connor
20th Century Boys: Pioneering British Design Thinkers .......................................................................................................................... 97

Emma Murphy and Martyn Evans
Design Research and Design Participation ........................................................................................................................................... 111

Robert Aish
The Design Research Society in the 1980s and 1990s: a memoir .......................................................................................................... 125

Conall Ó Catháin
SECTION 2
AESTHETIC PLEASURE IN DESIGN
Introduction: Aesthetic Pleasure in Design .......................................................................................................................................... 139

Michaël Berghman and Paul Hekkert
Measuring design typicality – a comparison of objective and subjective approaches ........................................................................... 145

Stefan Mayer and Jan R. Landwehr
Most Advanced yet Acceptable: A case of referential form-driven meaning innovation ....................................................................... 157

Seong geun Lee, James Self and Ekaterina Andrietc
Extracting Design Aesthetic Heuristics from Scientific Literature.......................................................................................................... 179

Ana Cadavid, Stefany Ruiz-Córdoba and Jorge Maya
Putting product design in context: Consumer responses to design fluency as a function of presentation context ................................. 203

Laura K. M. Graf and Jan R. Landwehr
The Value of Transparency for Designing Product Innovations............................................................................................................. 215

Peiyao Cheng and Ruth Mugge
A comparison between colour preference and colour harmony – taking athletic shoe design as an example........................................ 233

Li-Chen Ou
Creating Novel Encounters with Nature: Approaches and Design Explorations..................................................................................... 245

Thomas J. L. Van Rompay and Geke D. S. Ludden
Introducing Experience Goals into Packaging Design ........................................................................................................................... 259

Markus Joutsela and Virpi Roto
The beauty of balance – An empirical integration of the Unified Model of Aesthetics for product design ............................................. 277

Michaël Berghman and Paul Hekkert
SECTION 3
DESIGN EPISTEMOLOGY
Introduction: Design Epistemology...................................................................................................................................................... 295

Derek Jones, Philip Plowright, Leonard Bachman and Tiiu Poldma
Mapping design knowledge: 36 years of Design Studies ...................................................................................................................... 303

Kathryn Burns, Jack Ingram and Louise Annable
I know this one, but the answer is complex… ...................................................................................................................................... 321

Simon Downs
Source domains of Architectural Knowledge: Mappings, Categories, Validity and Relevance ............................................................... 339

Philip D Plowright
Using Rhetoric in Persuasive Design: What Rhetoric? .......................................................................................................................... 355

Danny Godin
Design Fiction: Does the search for plausibility lead to deception? ...................................................................................................... 369

Paul Coulton, Joseph Lindley and Haider Ali Akmal

Graphicality: why is there not such a word? ........................................................................................................................................ 385

Robert Harland and David Craib
Design as Anticipation and Innovation: Co-creating a future by learning from the future as it emerges ................................................ 401

Markus F. Peschl and Thomas Fundneider
– Volume 2 –
SECTION 4
Design EDUCATION AND LEARNING
Introduction: Design Education and Learning ...................................................................................................................................... 419

Michael Tovey
“Dis-course is Killer!” Educating the critically reflective designer ......................................................................................................... 425

Veronika Kelly
Design Culture and Contemporary Education ...................................................................................................................................... 441

Therese Uri
Promoting an emancipatory research paradigm in Design Education and Practice ............................................................................... 455

Lesley-Ann Noel
Design Thinking: A Rod For Design’s Own Back? .................................................................................................................................. 471

Aysar Ghassan
Designing the unknown: supervising design students who manage mental health issues ..................................................................... 483

Welby Ings
Using Design Thinking to create a new education paradigm for elementary level children for higher student engagement and success 501

Lesley-Ann Noel and Tsai Lu Liu
Design Research in Interior Design Education: A Living Framework for Teaching the Undergraduate Capstone Studio in the 21st Century
........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 513

Charles Boggs, Helena Moussatche, Catherine Pizzichemi and Meghan Woodcock
Designing Universities of the Future .................................................................................................................................................... 525

Anna Valtonen
Dexign Futures: A Pedagogy for Long-Horizon Design Scenarios .......................................................................................................... 539

Peter Scupelli, Arnold Wasserman, and Judy Brooks
Design and Interdisciplinarity: the improbable introduction of “fundamental physics” in a design school ............................................ 555

Annie Gentes, Anne-Lyse Renon and Julien Bobroff
Card Games Creation as a Learning Method ........................................................................................................................................ 569

Birgit S. Bauer
“Spend another day in our class talking about this research please”: Student insights from a research-based design thinking exercise 593

Cynthia J. Atman, Arif Ahmer, Jennifer A. Turns and Jim Borgford-Parnell
Communication is not collaboration: observations from a case study in collaborative learning ............................................................ 609

Iestyn Jowers, Mark Gaved, Gary Elliott-Cirigottis, Delphine Dallison, Alan Rochead and Mark Craig
The use of argumentation in design research ...................................................................................................................................... 625

Stella Boess
Digital Sketch Modelling: Integrating digital sketching as a transition between sketching and CAD in Industrial Design Education ....... 637

Charlie Ranscombe and Katherine Bissett-Johnson
Prototyping in the in-between. A Method for Spatial Design education ............................................................................................... 653

Jennie Andersson Schaeffer and Marianne Palmgren
Global Flows of Materials: Design Research and Practice in Architecture ............................................................................................. 669

Janet McGaw
Evaluating Living and Learning on Campus: A Community Engaged Research Model ............................................................................ 685

Rebekah Radtke
What is sought from graphic designers? A first thematic analysis of job offers for graphic design positions in the United Kingdom ...... 705

Paulo Roberto Nicoletti Dziobczenskiand Oscar Person
LIVD: An Avant-Garde Publication with Pedagogical and Epistemological Aims .................................................................................... 719

Meredith James
Design Studio Desk and Shared Place Attachments: A Study on Ownership, Personalization, and Agency. ........................................... 729

Peter Scupelli and Bruce Hanington
Online Reflective Interactions on Social Network Sites in Design Studio Course ................................................................................... 751

Simge Hough
Junior designers’ awareness of personal values and their employment choices ................................................................................... 767

Anna Jonkmans, Julia Wurl, Dirk Snelders and Lenny van Onselen
Knowledgeability culture: Co-creation in practice................................................................................................................................ 781

Alicen Coddington, Colin Giang, Alexander Graham, Anne Prince, Pauliina Mattila, Christine Thong and Anita Kocsis
Visual Thinking Styles and Idea Generation Strategies Employed in Visual Brainstorming Sessions ...................................................... 795

Naz A.G.Z. Börekçi
The Future of Product Design Utilising Printed Electronics ................................................................................................................... 813

Nicola York, Darren Southee and Mark Evans

Project Contribution of Junior Designers: Exploring the What and the How of Values in Collaborative Practice .................................... 835

Lennart Kaland, Annelijn Vernooij and Lenny van Onselen
Exploring framing within a team of industrial design students ............................................................................................................. 853

Mithra Zahedi, Lorna Heaton, Manon Guité, Giovanni De Paoli and Marie Reumont
– Volume 3 –
SECTION 5
AESTHETICS, COSMOPOLITICS AND DESIGN
Introduction: Aesthetics, Cosmopolitics and Design ............................................................................................................................ 873

Alex Wilkie
Framing Values in Design .................................................................................................................................................................... 881

Marta Gasparin and William Green
The Prototype as a Cosmopolitical Place: Ethnographic design practice and research at the National Zoo ............................................ 895

Martín Tironi, Pablo Hermansen and José Neira
The Role of Participation in Designing for IoT ...................................................................................................................................... 913

Anuradha Reddy and Per Linde
Aesthetics, Cosmopolitics and Design Futures in Computational Fashion ............................................................................................. 927

Laura Forlano
Designing diagrams for social issues .................................................................................................................................................... 941

Michele Mauri and Paolo Ciuccarelli
iPhoneography and New Aesthetics: The Emergence of a Social Visual Communication Through Image-based Social Media ................ 959

Eman Alshawaf
A Creative Ontological Analysis of Collective Imagery during Co-Design for Service Innovation ............................................................ 969

Priscilla Chueng-Nainby, John Lee, BingXin Zi and Astury Gardin
Post-critical potentials in experimental co-design................................................................................................................................ 985

Sissel Olander
Collaborative Imaging. The communicative practice of hand sketching in experimental physics ........................................................... 997

Judith Marlen Dobler
The Aesthetics of Action in New Social Design ....................................................................................................................................1013

Ilpo Koskinen
Designing Debate: The Entanglement of Speculative Design and Upstream Engagement ....................................................................1025

Tobie Kerridge
SECTION 6
DESIGN AND TRANSLATION
Introduction: Design and Translation .................................................................................................................................................1039

Giovanni Baule and Elena Caratti
Towards Translation Design A New Paradigm for Design Research .....................................................................................................1047

Giovanni Baule and Elena Caratti
Design as translation activity: a semiotic overview .............................................................................................................................1061

Salvatore Zingale
Word to Image – Image to Word The Contribution of Visual Communication to Understanding and Dialog ........................................1073

Michael Renner
Perception, Meaning and Transmodal Design .....................................................................................................................................1089

Mathias Nordvall and Mattias Arvola
The Ways of Synesthetic Translation: Design models for media accessibility .......................................................................................1101

Dina Riccò
The narratives and the supports. Remediating Design Culture in the translation of transmedia artefacts. ...........................................1111

Matteo Ciastellardi and Derrick de Kerckhove
Rules of Thumb: An Experiment in Contextual Transposition ..............................................................................................................1123

Damon Taylor, Monika Büscher, Lesley Murray, Chris Speed and Theodore Zamenopoulos
Juxtaposing Chinese and Western Representational Principles: New Design Methods for Information Graphics in the Field of
Intercultural Communication .............................................................................................................................................................1139

Ruedi Baur and Ulrike Felsing
Elucidating perceptions of Australian and Chinese industrial design from the next generation of industrial designers .........................1163

Blair Kuys and Wenwen Zhang
Translating picturebooks: Re-examining interlingual and intersemiotic translation.............................................................................1179

Anne Ketola
Long Kesh: Site - Sign - Body...............................................................................................................................................................1191

Ola Ståhl

SECTION 7
DESIGN FOR DESIGN – THE INFLUENCE AND LEGACY OF JOHN HESKETT
Introduction: Design for Design The Influence and Legacy of John Heskett .........................................................................................1205

Tore Kristensen and Sylvia Liu
Doing qualitative studies, using statistical reasoning ..........................................................................................................................1211

Gorm Gabrielse and Tore Kristensen
Design as Driver for Understanding Sustainability and Creating Value in the Fur Industry ...................................................................1223

Irene Alma Lønne, Else Skjold
Design Awareness: Developing Design Capacity in Chinese Manufacturing Industry ...........................................................................1237

Sylvia Liu
Design Expanding into Strategy: Evidence from Design Consulting Firms ............................................................................................1253

Suzan Boztepe
– Volume 4 –
SECTION 8
Design for Behaviour Change
Introduction: Design for Behaviour Change ........................................................................................................................................1271

Kristina Niedderer, Geke Ludden, Rebecca Cain, Andrew Morris and Aija Freimane
An alternative approach to influencing behaviour: Adapting Darnton’s Nine Principles framework for scaling up individual upcycling 1277

Kyungeun Sung, Tim Cooper and Sarah Kettley
Assessment of the Co-creative Design Process ...................................................................................................................................1291

Pratik Vyas, Robert Young, Petia Sice and Nicholas Spencer
The potential of Design for Behaviour Change to foster the transition to a circular economy ..............................................................1305

Laura Piscicelli and Geke Dina Simone Ludden
Developing a theory-driven method to design for behaviour change: two case studies .......................................................................1323

Anita Van Essen, Sander Hermsen and Reint Jan Renes
What a designer can change: a proposal for a categorisation of artefact-related aspects ....................................................................1339

Anneli Selvefors, Helena Strömberg and Sara Renström
Exploring and communicating user diversity for behavioural change ..................................................................................................1357

Aykut Coskun and Cigdem Erbug
How I learned to appreciate our tame social scientist: experiences in integrating design research and the behavioural sciences .........1375

Sander Hermsen, Remko van der Lugt, Sander Mulder and Reint Jan Renes
A Design Approach for Risk Communication, the Case of Type 2 Diabetes...........................................................................................1390

Farzaneh Eftekhari and Tsai Lu Liu
Metadesigning Design Research – How can designers collaboratively grow a research platform? .......................................................1412

Mathilda Tham, Anna-Karin Arvidsson, Mikael Blomqvist, Susanne Bonja, Sara Hyltén-Cavallius, Lena Håkansson, Miguel
Salinas, Marie Sterte, Ola Ståhl, Tobias Svensén and Ole Victor
SECTION 9
Design for Health, Wellbeing and Happiness
Introduction: Design for Health, Wellbeing and Happiness .................................................................................................................1434

Rebecca Cain, Noemi Bitterman, Geke Ludden, Jamie Mackrill, Elif Ozcan, Ann Petermans and Carolina Escobar-Tello
In the moment: designing for late stage dementia..............................................................................................................................1442

Cathy Treadaway, David Prytherch, Gail Kenning and Jac Fennell
Design for Ageing-in-place: Evidence from Australia ...........................................................................................................................1458

Naseem Ahmadpour and Alen Keirnan
Supporting healthy behaviour: A stages of change perspective on changing snacking habits of children .............................................1473

Geke D.S. Ludden and Laura H.J. de Ruijter
Co-creating narratives: an approach to the design of interactive medical devices, informed by phenomenology .................................1487

Rowan Page and Mark Richardson
A Design Primer for the Domestication of Health Technologies ..........................................................................................................1499

Paul Chamberlain and Claire Craig
Disentangling complexity: a visualisation-led tool for healthcare associated infection training ...........................................................1515

Alastair S. Macdonald, David Loudon, Susan Wan and Colin Macduff
Exploring Design for Happiness in the Home and Implications for Future Domestic Living ...................................................................1529

Emily Corrigan-Doyle, Carolina Escobar-Tello and Kathy Pui Ying Lo
Using symbolic meaning as a means to design for happiness: The development of a card set for designers .........................................1553

Mafalda Casais, Ruth Mugge and Pieter M. A. Desmet
Designs with benefits: hearth fire nights and bittersweet chores ........................................................................................................1573

Stella U. Boess and Anna E. Pohlmeyer
Happy moments: A well-being driven design of a Car2Go ...................................................................................................................1589

Tessa Duste, Pieter Desmet and Elmer van Grondelle

SECTION 10
DESIGN FUTURES
Games as Speculative Design: Allowing Players to Consider Alternate Presents and Plausible Futures ................................................1609

Paul Coulton, Dan Burnett and Adrian Gradinar
An approach to future-oriented technology design – with a reflection on the role of the artefact .......................................................1627

Tiina Kymäläinen
Future Product Ecosystems: discovering the value of connections ......................................................................................................1643

Tim Williams and Marianella Chamorro-Koc
Vision Concepts within the landscape of design research ...................................................................................................................1659

Ricardo Mejia Sarmiento, Gert Pasman and Pieter Jan Stappers
Visual conversations on urban futures. Participatory methods to design scenarios of liveable cities ...................................................1677

Serena Pollastri, Rachel Cooper, Nick Dunn and Chris Boyko
– Volume 5 –
SECTION 11
Design Innovation Management
Introduction: Design Innovation Management ...................................................................................................................................1701

Rachel Cooper, Alex Williams, Qian Sun and Erik Bohemia
Emerging Trends of Design Policy in the UK ........................................................................................................................................1709

Qian Sun
Resourcing in Co-Design .....................................................................................................................................................................1725

Salu Ylirisku, Jacob Buur and Line Revsbæk
From Participation to Collaboration: Reflections on the co-creation of innovative business ideas .......................................................1739

Cara Broadley, Katherine Champion, Michael Pierre Johnson and Lynn-Sayers McHattie
Bridging service design with integrated co-design decision maker interventions .................................................................................1759

Sune Gudiksen, Anders Christensen and Pernille Henriksen
Exploring framing and meaning making over the design innovation process .......................................................................................1779

Clementine Thurgood and Rohan Lulham
The making of sustainable cultural and creative cluster in Hong Kong ................................................................................................1795

Kaman Ka Man Tsang and Kin Wai Michael Siu
An exploration of Service Design Jam and its ability to foster Social Enterprise ...................................................................................1811

Ksenija Kuzmina, Chris Parker, Gyuchan Thomas Jun, Martin Maguire, Val Mitchell, Mariale Moreno and Samantha Porter
Fiction as a resource in participatory design .......................................................................................................................................1829

Eva Knutz, Tau U. Lenskjold and Thomas Markussen
Space as organisational strategy ........................................................................................................................................................1845

Pia Storvang
The value of design: an issue of vision, creativity and interpretation ..................................................................................................1865

Mariana Fonseca Braga
A Multilevel Approach to Research ‘Obscure’ Innovation Processes and Practices ..............................................................................1883

Emmanouil Chatzakis, Neil Smith and Erik Bohemia
Coordinating product design with production and consumption processes .........................................................................................1905

Anders Haug
How Companies adopt different Design approaches...........................................................................................................................1921

KwanMyung Kim
Challenges in co-designing a building .................................................................................................................................................1937

Min Hi Chun
SECTION 12
DESIGN PROCESS
Form as an abstraction of mechanism ................................................................................................................................................1953

Lewis Urquhart and Andrew Wodehouse
Integrating Nanotechnology in the Design Process: An Ethnographic Study in Architectural Practice in Egypt .....................................1971

Ramy Bakir and Sherif Abdelmohsen
Of Open bodies: Challenges and Perspectives of an Open Design Paradigm. .......................................................................................1987

Émeline Brulé and Frédéric Valentin
Provocative design for unprovocative designers: Strategies for triggering personal dilemmas ............................................................2001

Deger Ozkaramanli and Pieter M. A. Desmet
A case based discussion on the role of Design Competences in Social Innovation................................................................................2017

Tamami Komatsu, Manuela Celi, Francesca Rizzo and Alessandro Deserti
Riding Shotgun in the Fight Against Human Trafficking .......................................................................................................................2031

Lisa Mercer
Could LEGO® Serious Play® be a useful technique for product co-design? ...........................................................................................2045

Julia Anne Garde and Mascha Cecile van der Voort

Intuitive Interaction research – new directions and possible responses. .............................................................................................2065

Alethea Blackler and Vesna Popovic
Skilling and learning through digital Do-It-Yourself: the role of (Co-)Design ........................................................................................2077

Giuseppe Salvia, Carmen Bruno and Marita Canina
Design Research, Storytelling, and Entrepreneur Women in Rural Costa Rica: a case study .................................................................2091

Maria Gabriela Hernandez
Temporal design: looking at time as social coordination .....................................................................................................................2109

Larissa Pschetz, Michelle Bastian and Chris Speed
A Physical Modeling Tool to Support Collaborative Interpretation of Conversations ...........................................................................2123

Piotr Michura, Stan Ruecker, Celso Scaletsky, Guilherme Meyer, Chiara Del Gaudio, Gerry Derksen, Julia Dias, Elizabeth
Jernegan, Juan de la Rosa, Xinyue Zhou and Priscilla Ferronato
– Volume 6 –
SECTION 13
DESIGN INNOVATION FOR SOCIETY
Introduction: Design Innovation for Society .......................................................................................................................................2143

Nynke Tromp and Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer
The Challenges of Human-Centred Design in a Public Sector Innovation Context ................................................................................2149

Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer
Activating the core economy by design ..............................................................................................................................................2165

Rebeca Torres Castanedo and Paul Micklethwaite
On presenting a rich picture for stakeholder dialogue ........................................................................................................................2183

Abigail C. Durrant, Wendy Moncur, David S. Kirk, Diego Trujillo Pisanty and Kathryn Orzech
Design and the Creation of Representational Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving ............................................................2203

Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem
Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design ........................................................2221

Tasman Munro
Design Tools for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies ..............................................................................2241

Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham
Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance....................................................................................2257

Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell
Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design .......................................................................................................................2273

Annet Kempenaar
From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution .................................................................2287

Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin
SECTION 14
EFFECTIVE INFORMATION DESIGN
Introduction: Effective Information Design.........................................................................................................................................2303

Alison Black and Sue Walker
Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches ............................................2309

Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas
Design methods for meaning discovery: a patient-oriented health research case study ......................................................................2327

David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi
Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness .................................................................................2343

Maxwell J. Roberts and Ida C.N. Vaeng
Data Visualisation Does Political Things .............................................................................................................................................2361

Joanna Boehnert
The information designer through the lens of design for learning .......................................................................................................2381

Eden Potter
A user centred approach to developing an actionable visualisation for ‘balance health’ .....................................................................2393

Shruti Grover, Simon Johnson, Ross Atkin and Chris Mcginley
SECTION 15
Design Thinking
Introduction: Design Thinking ............................................................................................................................................................2417

Seda Yilmaz, Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness and Tejas Dhadphale
From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP ............................................2425

Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille
Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands .......................................................2447

Xinya You and David Hands
United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation ............................................................2465

Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

Designing Creative Destruction ..........................................................................................................................................................2483

Ashley Hall
Blending Hard and Soft Design via Thematic Analysis .........................................................................................................................2495

Vasilije Kokotovich and Kees Dorst2495
The cycle of interdisciplinary learning and theory-solution building in design research .......................................................................2507

Young-ae Hahn
Don’t Look Back: The Paradoxical Role of Recording in the Fashion Design Process ............................................................................2521

Helen McGilp, Claudia Eckert and Christopher F Earl
Contrasting similarities and differences between academia and industry: evaluating processes used for product development..........2535

Nathan Kotlarewski, Christine Thong, Blair Kuys and Evan Danahay
What is the Nature and Intended Use of Design Methods? .................................................................................................................2551

Colin M. Gray
Becoming a More User-Centred Organization: A Design Tool to Support Transformation ....................................................................2565

Lennart Kaland and Christine de Lille
– Volume 7 –
SECTION 16
DESIGN RESEARCH – HISTORY, THEORY, PRACTICE: HISTORIES FOR FUTURE-FOCUSED THINKING
Introduction: Design Research – History, Theory, Practice: Histories for Future-Focused Thinking .......................................................2585

Harriet Atkinson and Maya Rae Oppenheimer
The Structure of Design Processes: ideal and reality in Bruce Archer’s 1968 doctoral thesis ................................................................2593

Stephen Boyd Davis and Simone Gristwood
Closing the circle ................................................................................................................................................................................2613

Douglas Tomkin
Re-integrating Design Education: Lessons from History ......................................................................................................................2627

Peter A. Hall
(Re)working the Past, (Dis)playing the Future. Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at MoMA, 1972 ...................................................2639

Ingrid Halland Rashidi
Recommendations to rebuild the body of feminist work in industrial design ......................................................................................2655

Isabel Prochner and Anne Marchand
Design practice and design research: finally together? .......................................................................................................................2669

Kees Dorst
Design Research is Alive and Kicking… ................................................................................................................................................2679

Paul A. Rodgers and Joyce S.R. Yee
Reverse Innovation: How Has Design in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region Changed the World ......................................................2701

Ningchang Zhou and Tao Huang
Beautiful Nerds: Growing a rigorous design research dialogue in the Irish context ..............................................................................2711

Adam de Eyto Carmel Maher, Mark Hadfield and Maggie Hutchings
Design Research in the East – at Universities and the Board of Industrial Design of the GDR between the 1960s and 1990 ..................2723

Sylvia Wölfel and Christian Wölfel
International Norms and Local Design Research: ICSID and the Promotion of Industrial Design in Latin America, 1970-1979 ...............2739

Tania Messell
SECTION 17
DESIGN-ING AND CREATIVE PHILOSOPHIES
Introduction: Design-ing and Creative Philosophies ............................................................................................................................2757

Betti Marenko
Probing the future by anticipative design acts ....................................................................................................................................2761

Annelies De Smet and Nel Janssens
Making polychronic objects for a networked society ..........................................................................................................................2795

Jane Norris
Responsibility in design: applying the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon ...............................................................................................2809

Sander Mulder
Space as a Becoming: Fresh Water Expo Pavilion as a Creative Practice for an Architecture to Come ..................................................2825

Emine Görgül
The Foam: a Possible Model for the Motion Graphic Design ...............................................................................................................2837

Anamaria Galeotti and Clice Mazzilli
Experience – A Central Concept in Design and its Roots in the History of Science ................................................................................2869

Johannes Uhlmann, Christian Wölfel and Jens Krzywinski

SECTION 18
EMBODIED MAKING AND LEARNING
Introduction: Embodied Making and Learning ....................................................................................................................................2889

Marte S. Gulliksen, Camilla Groth, Maarit Mäkelä and Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen
The role of sensory experiences and emotions in craft practice ..........................................................................................................2895

Camilla Groth
Learning to learn: What can be learned from first-hand experience with materials? ...........................................................................2911

Biljana C. Fredriksen
Why making matters—developing an interdisciplinary research project on how embodied making may contribute to learning ..........2925

Marte S. Gulliksen
Physiological measurements of drawing and forming activities ..........................................................................................................2941

Marianne Leinikka, Minna Huotilainen, Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, Camilla Groth, Mimmu Rankanen and Maarit Mäkelä
Code, Decode, Recode: Constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing knowledge through making ................................................2959

Anna Piper
Experience Labs: co-creating health and care innovations using design tools and artefacts .................................................................2965

Tara French, Gemma Teal and Sneha Raman
– Volume 8 –
SECTION 19
DESIGN FOR TANGIBLE, EMBEDDED AND NETWORKED TECHNOLOGIES
Introduction: Design for Tangible, Embedded and Networked Technologies .......................................................................................2985

Sarah Kettley and Anne Cranny-Francis
Designing from, with and by Data: Introducing the ablative framework..............................................................................................2991

Chris Speed and Jon Oberlander
Feel it! See it! Hear it! Probing Tangible Interaction and Data Representational Modality ...................................................................3005

Trevor Hogan and Eva Hornecker
Designing Information Feedback within Hybrid Physical/Digital Interactions ......................................................................................3019

David Gullick and Paul Coulton
Harnessing the Digital Records of Everyday Things .............................................................................................................................3033

Dimitrios Darzentas, Adrian Hazzard, Michael Brown, Martin Flintham and Steve Benford
A Toaster For Life: Using Design Fiction To Facilitate Discussion On The Creation Of A Sustainable Internet of Things .........................3049

Michael Stead
Making Service Design in a Digital Business ........................................................................................................................................3069

Piia Rytilahti, Simo Rontti, Titta Jylkäs, Mira Alhonsuo, Hanna-Riina Vuontisjärvi and Laura Laivamaa
Ad Hoc Pairings: Semantic Relationships and Mobile Devices .............................................................................................................3085

Jason O. Germany
Serious Play Strategies in the Design of Kinetic and Wearable Devices................................................................................................3103

Lois Frankel and Ellen Hrinivich
Tangibility in e-textile participatory service design with mental health participants............................................................................3121

Sarah Kettley, Anna Sadkowska and Rachel Lucas
Wearable Sensory Devices for Children in Play Areas .........................................................................................................................3133

Cai-Ru Liao, Wen-Huei Chou and Chung-Wen Hung
Intuitive Interaction in a Mixed Reality System ..................................................................................................................................3149

Shital Desai, Alethea Blackler and Vesna Popovic
From nano to macro: material inspiration within ubiquitous computing research...............................................................................3165

Isabel Paiva
SECTION 20
Experiential Knowledge
Introduction: Experiential Knowledge ................................................................................................................................................3177

Nithikul Nimkulrat
Double-loop reflective practice as an approach to understanding knowledge and experience.............................................................3181

John Gribbin, Mersha Aftab, Robert Young and Sumin Park
Designing “little worlds” in Walnut Park: How architects adopted an ethnographic case study on living with dementia ......................3199

Valerie Van der Linden, Iris Van Steenwinkel, Hua Dong and Ann Heylighen
Bonding through Designing; how a participatory approach to videography can catalyse an emotive and reflective dialogue with young
people ...............................................................................................................................................................................................3213

Marianne McAra
Capturing architects’ designerly ways of knowing about users: Exploring an ethnographic research approach ....................................3229

Valerie Van der Linden, Hua Dong and Ann Heylighen
SECTION 21

INCLUSIVE DESIGN
Introduction: Inclusive Design ............................................................................................................................................................3247

Hua Dong ...................................................................................................................................................................................

Designing for older people: But who is an older person? ....................................................................................................................3251

Raghavendra Reddy Gudur, Alethea Blackler, Vesna Popovic and Doug Mahar
Towards designing inclusion: insights from a user data collection study in China ................................................................................3263

Weining Ning and Hua Dong
‘Difficult’ packaging for older Chinese adults ......................................................................................................................................3279

Xuezi Ma, Hua Dong
Crafted with Care: Reflections from co-designing wearable technologies with care home residents....................................................3295

Christopher Sze Chong Lim and Sara Nevay
To Shed Some Light on Empowerment: Towards Designing for Embodied Functionality .....................................................................3313

Jelle van Dijk and Fenne Verhoeven
Measuring Product-Related Stigma in Design .....................................................................................................................................3329

Kristof Vaes, Pieter Jan Stappers and Achiel Standaert
Towards more culturally inclusive communication design practices: exploring creative participation between non-Indigenous and
Indigenous people in Australia ...........................................................................................................................................................3349

Nicola St John
Designing meaningful vehicle for older users: culture, technology, and experience.............................................................................3373

Chao Zhao, Vesna Popovic and Xiaobo Lu
Towards Innovative and Inclusive Architecture ..................................................................................................................................3393

Sidse Grangaard
Hidden public spaces: when a university campus becomes a place for communities ...........................................................................3407

Davide Fassi, Laura Galluzzo and Liat Rogel
– Volume 9 –
SECTION 22
FOOD AND EATING DESIGN
Introduction: Food and Eating Design.................................................................................................................................................3427

Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein
Designing with Empathy: Implications for Food Design.......................................................................................................................3435

Hafdís Sunna Hermannsdóttir, Cecilie Dawes, Hanne Gideonsen and Eva De Moor
Designing for sustainability: a dialogue-based approach to the design of food packaging experiences. ...............................................3449

Zoi Stergiadou, Jenny Darzentas and Spyros Bofylatos
Towards a sensory congruent beer bottle: Consumer associations between beer brands, flavours, and bottle designs .......................3467

Anna Fenko, Sanne Heiltjes and Lianne van den Berg-Weitzel
SECTION 23
OBJECTS, PRACTICES, EXPERIENCES AND NETWORKS
Introduction: Objects, Practices, Experiences and Networks ...............................................................................................................3479

Tom Fisher and Lorraine Gamman
Stories in a Beespoon: Exploring Future Folklore through Design ........................................................................................................3485

Deborah Maxwell, Liz Edwards, Toby Pillatt and Niamh Downing
Uber and Language/Action Theory .....................................................................................................................................................3503

Michael Arnold Mages
Emotional Fit: Developing a new fashion design methodology for mature women..............................................................................3521

Katherine Townsend, Ania Sadkowska and Juliana Sissons
From Afterthought to Precondition: re-engaging Design Ethics from Technology, Sustainability, and Responsibility ...........................3539

Jeffrey Chan
Design for Resourceful Ageing: Intervening in the Ethics of Gerontechnology .....................................................................................3553

Elisa Giaccardi, Lenneke Kuijer and Louis Neven
SECTION 24
REFRAMING THE PARADOX – EXAMINING THE INTERSECTIONS BETWEEN EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN AND DESIGN FOR THE PUBLIC
SECTOR
Introduction: Reframing the Paradox – Evidence-based Design and Design for the Public Sector.........................................................3569

Luke Feast
Open Practices: lessons from co-design of public services for behaviour change .................................................................................3573

Simon O’Rafferty, Adam DeEyto and Huw Lewis
Capturing the “How”: Showing the value of co-design through creative evaluation ............................................................................3591

Arthi Kanchana Manohar, Madeline Smith and Mirian Calvo
Design in the Time of Policy Problems ................................................................................................................................................3605

Lucy Kimbell
The introduction of design to policymaking: Policy Lab and the UK government .................................................................................3619

Jocelyn Bailey and Peter Lloyd
Problematizing Evidence-Based Design: A Case Study of Designing for Services in the Finnish Government ........................................3635

Helena Sustar and Luke Feast

Designed Engagement .......................................................................................................................................................................3653

Gemma Teal and Tara French
Public design and social innovation: Learning from applied research ..................................................................................................3669

Caroline Gagnon and Valérie Côté
Design as analysis: examining the use of precedents in parliamentary debate. ...................................................................................3687

Darren Umney, Christopher Earl and Peter Lloyd
Exposing charities to design-led approaches through design research. ...............................................................................................3705

Laura Warwick and Robert Djaelani
– Volume 10 –
SECTION 25
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Introduction: Sustainable Design .......................................................................................................................................................3725

Rhoda Trimingham
Design for Sustainability: An Evolutionary Review ..............................................................................................................................3731

Fabrizio Ceschin and Idil Gaziulusoy
Consumer Product Design and Innovation: Past, present and future...................................................................................................3755

Robin Roy
Product-Service Systems or Service Design ‘By-Products’? A Systems Thinking Approach ...................................................................3771

John Darzentas and Jenny Darzentas
Supporting SMEs in designing sustainable business models for energy access for the BoP: a strategic design tool ...............................3785

Silvia Emili, Fabrizio Ceschin and David Harrison
Extending clothing lifetimes: an exploration of design and supply chain challenges. ...........................................................................3815

Lynn Oxborrow and Stella Claxton
The effect of consumer attitudes on design for product longevity: The case of the fashion industry ....................................................3831

Angharad McLaren, Helen Goworek, Tim Cooper, Lynn Oxborrow and Helen Hill
Framing Complexity in Design through theories of Social Practice and Structuration: A comparative case study of urban cycling ........3847

Tobias Barnes Hofmeister and Martina Keitsch
Integrating Sustainability Literacy into Design Education ....................................................................................................................3861

Andrea Quam
Design of resilient consumer products ...............................................................................................................................................3873

Anders Haug
Designing for Sustainable Transition through Value Sensitive Design ..................................................................................................3889

Luisa Sze-man Mok, Sampsa Hyysalo and Jenni Väänänen
Mixing up everyday life - uncovering sufficiency practices through designerly tools ............................................................................3913

Miriam Lahusen, Susanne Ritzmann, Florian Sametinger, Gesche Joost and Lars-Arvid Brischke
Give car-free life a try: Designing seeds for changed practices ............................................................................................................3929

Mia Hesselgren and Hanna Hasselqvist
A sociotechnical framework for the design of collaborative services: diagnosis and conceptualisation ................................................3943

Joon Sang Baek, Sojung Kim and Yoonee Pahk
Moving Textile Artisans’ Communities towards a Sustainable Future – A Theoretical Framework .......................................................3961

Francesco Mazzarella, Carolina Escobar-Tello and Val Mitchell
Sharing 10 years of experience with class AUP0479 – Design for Sustainability ...................................................................................3983

Maria Cecília Santos, Tatiana Sakurai and Verena Lima
SECTION 26
THE POLITICS OF COMMONING AND DESIGN
Introduction: The Politics of Commoning and Design ..........................................................................................................................4005

Bianca Elzenbaumer, Valeria Graziano and Kim Trogal
Commons & community economies: entry points to design for eco-social justice? .............................................................................4015

Fabio Franz and Bianca Elzenbaumer
Design Togetherness, Pluralism and Convergence ..............................................................................................................................4029

Monica Lindh Karlsson and Johan Redström
Designing participation for commoning in temporary spaces: A case study in Aveiro, Portugal ...........................................................4045

Janaina Teles Barbosa, Maria Hellström Reimer and João Almeida Mota
From Rules in Use to Culture in Use – Commoning and Infrastructuring Practices in an Open Cultural Movement ...............................4063

Sanna Marttila

Index of Authors ………………………………..…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4080

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Editorial
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.651

The 50th Anniversary conference of the Design Research Society is a special event at an
interesting time for Design Research. The Design Research Society was formed in 1966
following the Conference on Design Methods held at Imperial College London in 1962. In the
lead up to DRS2016 we contacted the secretary to the 1962 conference, Peter Slann, who
now lives in Scotland, and who sent us the original reel-to-reel audio tape recordings of that
conference. Listening to those tapes it is striking not only how similar some of the
discussions are about design and design research, but also how much has changed. In 1962
every voice is a male British voice. One comment at the end of the conference stands out as
significant. Thanking people for coming to the conference and looking towards the future at
the end of the closing session, John Page, then Professor of Building Science at Sheffield
University, asks the audience three questions (the quote is verbatim):
“if one agrees that there are bodies of knowledge that have been raised here, which
need further exploration – particularly a case in point would be the terminology of
design – is there any point in trying to get some kind of inter-disciplinary working party
going on these problems? In this question of disciplines, is there any machinery or any
way of arranging for an interchange of information between specialists and people
working at Universities? Lastly, is there any point in making the whole thing more of a
formal entity, a society, or something of that kind?”

Fifty years later it is clear that there was a point. The DRS as it exists today can trace its
origins to the affirmation of that last question in 1962, and the ‘some kind of
interdisciplinary working party’ that Design Research has become owes its identity to that
1960’s future-focused thinking.
Since the Conference on Design Methods in 1962 many Design Research conferences have
been held, with the DRS often as a key organiser. Certainly in the earlier days, defined subfields of research originated from these conferences. Design Participation in 1971 started
the participative design movement that has grown into present day co-design. Design for
Need, held in 1976, and taking a global view of the population, started both sustainable and
inclusive design, and Design Policy held in 1980 introduced a much needed social, political
and international dimension to the design research field as Design itself lurched into the
consumerist 80s.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Peter Lloyd

From almost every conference comes a thread that leads to the present day, so the fiftieth
anniversary conference represents a point to gather these threads together, see how they
complement and blend with one another, and consider what kind of textile they might
weave in the coming years. Indeed, the early advice that many gave was not to spend too
much time looking back and to concentrate on the future. For DRS2016, as well as the
Design Research field more generally, the increasing number of PhD researchers is a sign
that this future is set to be a healthy one. A significant number of papers in these
proceedings are the result of doctoral research projects and organisations like PhD by
Design, who had a strong presence at DRS2016, ensure that today’s PhD Researchers will
become tomorrow’s Design Research leaders.
The DRS Conferences have always looked to develop new formats for people to engage with
one another, over and above the standard paper presentation. The 1973 Design Activities
conference aimed at:
“the provision of an extension of media forms beyond the normal ‘verbalized’ media of
the average conference with the idea that such extensions were significant
contributions to dialectical form, and not just ‘entertainments’.”

The 2014 DRS conference, in Sweden, continued that tradition by introducing
‘Conversations’ and ‘Debates’ alongside the more traditional academic paper presentation.
It feels entirely appropriate that the field of Design Research is at the forefront of
conference design, appropriating new technologies in developing more productive formats
for discussion, networking, and presentation. And rightly so, because in an age when
research papers and keynote presentations are available online we need to ask whether a
conference, with all the travel, expense, and carbon involved, is still the most effective way
of energizing and invigorating a research field.
DRS2016 is no exception and continues this ongoing conference prototyping activity. We
have tried to develop a discursive conference that leans both towards the academic, in
research papers, but also towards the practical in Conversations and Workshops. So this is a
conference that presents existing research, projects, and discussions not as fixed end points,
but as ongoing dialogue. To do that we have tried to balance the online conference with the
offline one, and the ephemeral with the enduring. Partly this approach helps to provide a
continued legacy for the conference, but it also helps to include as many people as possible
in (re)directing the dialogical flow of research activity.
As an organising committee we met in January 2015 to talk about key questions, conference
themes and conference design. From that discussion the three individual words of the DRS –
Design, Research, and Society – were felt to define an interesting area for a conference; one
that was about the practice and doing of design but also about design’s societal impact and
the moderating role that research plays between the two. Design + Research + Society
perhaps represents a larger area than that of the Design Research Society, but as these
proceedings demonstrate the appetite is clearly apparent for Design Research to embrace
ever-wider concerns.

ii

Editorial

The underlying premise, however, was that 50 years of design research has provided us with
a sound understanding of design and a solid foundation upon which to build. The interesting
questions, then, appeared to us as not so much how we do more of the same – though that
of course has its place – but in how we use what we now know. Hence the three broad
questions that the papers in these conference proceedings respond to:
 How can design research help frame and address the societal problems that
face us?
 How can design research be a creative and active force for rethinking ideas
about Design?
 How can design research shape our lives in more responsible, meaningful, and
open ways?
The DRS has a number of established Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which the organising
committee thought important to prioritise but we also wanted to find a way to add
additional emerging and complementary research themes to these. This resulted in a call for
additional themes in June 2015 and a selection process that resulted in 15 further themes
(from 25 proposals) alongside the 9 themes represented by the Special Interest Groups. The
idea of a ‘conference of conferences’ began to emerge, with theme papers managed by subchairs, but consistency of peer-review overseen by a central review committee across all
themes.
The systems currently available for managing paper submission, in the case of DRS2016 the
excellent ConfTool system, now provide comprehensive integrative platforms to conduct
sophisticated submission, peer-review, rebuttal, discussion, communication, and
programming of papers, which means we can be more confident than ever about the
academic quality of the final papers accepted for DRS2016. In total we received just under
500 paper submissions all of which were reviewed by two, and sometimes three reviewers,
as well as being managed by theme chairs. In total 939 reviews were written by 290
reviewers with 200 papers being accepted, and a further 40 accepted following revision. This
represents an acceptance rate of 49%.
The 240 papers in these proceedings have been grouped under 26 themes, 23 of which have
been closely managed and developed by theme chairs (the other 3 themes derived from an
Open Call). In these proceedings you will find an introduction to each theme by the relevant
chair(s), outlining the background to the theme and putting the papers that were finally
accepted and published into a wider context. Nine of the themes are the result of calls from
the Design Research Society Special Interest Groups, which are active throughout the year
and that report to the DRS council regularly. Many Special Interest Groups hold their own
conferences, supported by the DRS, so the papers in these proceedings, responding to the
overall theme of Future-focused Thinking, should be seen as a sample of those specialisms.
Fittingly for a 50th Anniversary conference there is a strong historical thread of papers – the
field of Design Research now becomes a subject of historical study in the themes of Histories
for Future-focused Thinking, 50 Years of Design Research, and Design for Design: The

iii

Peter Lloyd

Influence and Legacy of John Heskett. This is a useful development, and shows the maturity
of the field now, with early work not just a familiar citation in reference lists, but something
that can be looked at in a wider cultural and historical context.
Many of the new themes bring a more critical and speculative approach to Design Research,
framing research questions and practices in ways other than what some see as more
‘traditional’ evidence-based approaches to research. These are papers that argue for a
particular position or approach to understanding design or practice. Examples of these
themes include Aesthetics, Cosmopolitics & Design; Design-ing and Creative Philosophies,
and Reframing the Paradox: Evidence-based Design and Design for the Public Sector. The
emerging area of Social Design is well represented in the areas of Design Innovation for
Society and The Politics of Commoning and Design and shows the importance of Design
Research to discussing and achieving concrete outcomes for social good.
The idea and limits of Design and Design Research are explored in many themes, but in
particular Objects, Experiences, Practices & Networks; Design and Translation; and Design for
Tangible, Embedded and Networked Technologies take a more systemic view of design,
placing it within a network of activities and technologies. In contrast to this other themes
focus much more on the individual and collective experience of designers and others
involved in the process of design, for example: Experiential Knowledge; Embodied Making
and Learning; Aesthetic Pleasure in Design; and Food and Eating Design.
Of course there are themes that have been ever-present in DRS, and in other Design
Research, conferences – understanding design process and the nature of design knowledge
are the subject of the Design Epistemology and Design Process themes. The practical impacts
that design can have on all types of organisations are explored in Design Thinking, an area of
continued and increasing interest, and Design Innovation Management. Design Education
and Learning, now with its own large biennial conference series, was the most popular
theme for DRS2016, with 28 papers accepted from 53 submissions.
Finally, there are a set of well-developed themes, organised as part of DRS Special Interest
Groups, that broadly explore the welfare of others both in a small and large sense embracing
ideas of person-centredness, responsibility and ethics. These themes include Design for
Health, Wellbeing, and Happiness; Inclusive Design; and finally Sustainable Design.
As in any research field the definitions between sub-areas often blur and overlap, and there
are themes that contradict and conflict with one another, strongly arguing against a
particular approach or theoretical grounding of another area. The DRS2016 keynote debates
were designed to explore some of these issues and fault lines but more generally this should
be taken as a sign of health and maturity. For many years we have heard that Design
Research is a new field, still finding its feet, but as an organising committee we think the
definition and extent of the themes in these proceedings demonstrate precisely the
opposite. In Fifty years we have built up a strong and diverse research field that is widely
applicable, broadly inclusive and, in 2016, more relevant than ever.

iv

Editorial

There is a sense in which design research sits at the crux of a false dichotomy; between on
the one hand research in a ‘pure’ form (which values objectivity, subjectivity, experiment,
discourse, history, analysis) and on the other the active engagement in shaping future forms
by suggestion, prototype, speculation, practice, and intervention at all levels, from the
molecular to the political, from the anthropological to the computational. In an increasingly
fragmented and atomised world Design Research is a field which reveals the falsehood of
the dichotomy. It is a field that collectively links disciplines, audiences, and technologies in a
critical but productive way. The design of a conference – with its implicit value systems,
partiality to statistical analysis, but with an emergent structure and representation – is no
bad example of a future-focused design research that shares what knowledge is known and
explores what knowledge is possible.
Finally, we would like to thank all people – the local organisation, the international
programme and review committee, and all the reviewers – involved in organising DRS2016
and who have contributed to such a huge collective effort. The valuable time that has been
given in helping to shape and deliver the conference has been very much appreciated.
Thanks should also go to the Design Research Society, for supporting the conference so
effectively; to the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London for providing time and
resources as partner Universities; and to the University of Brighton, particularly the College
of Arts and Humanities, for enabling the early vision of a 50 th Anniversary DRS conference to
be fulfilled.
Peter Lloyd
DRS2016 Conference Chair
Vice Chair of the DRS
Brighton, UK

v

Peter Lloyd

Previous Design Research Society and Associated Conferences
1962 Conference on Design Methods, London, UK
1964 The Teaching of Engineering Design, Scarborough, UK
1965 The Design Method, Birmingham, UK
1967 Design Methods in Architecture, Portsmouth, UK
1971 Design Participation, Manchester, UK
1972 Design and Behaviour, Birmingham, UK
1973 The Design Activity, London, UK
1974 Problem Identification for Design, Manchester, UK
1976 Design for Need, London, UK
1976 Changing Design, Portsmouth, UK
1978 Architectural Design, Istanbul, Turkey
1980 Design Science Method, Portsmouth, UK
1982 Design Policy, London, UK
1984 The Role of the Designer, Bath, UK
1998 Quantum Leap, Birmingham, UK
1999 CoDesigning, Coventry, UK
2002 Common Ground, London, UK
2004 Futureground, Melbourne, Australia
2006 Wonderground, Lisbon, Portugal
2008 Undisciplined!, Sheffield, UK
2010 Design And Complexity, Montreal, Canada
2012 Uncertainty, Contradiction and Value, Bangkok, Thailand
2014 Design's Big Debates, Umea, Sweden

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SECTION 13
DESIGN INNOVATION FOR SOCIETY

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Introduction: Design Innovation for Society
Nynke Trompa and Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwerb
a

University of Technology, Sydney
TU Delft
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.628

b

What an exciting time for design it is. Instead of being merely concerned with the creation of
artefacts, contemporary design may now seek ways to shape governance structures in
Indonesia, may facilitate dialogue about the risks and challenges of self-presentation online,
or may seek social transformation for people in vulnerable positions. Clearly, designers and
scholars involved here are not concerned about revenue, but about social value: about
improving the way people live together. With this goal in mind, the designer is no longer on
solid ground, but enters the realm of politics. She needs to lever between power structures,
engage various stakeholders, and advocate new ways of thinking. Which role the designer
could or maybe should adopt in innovation processes that aim for social good is not clearly
articulated yet. We are at the stage of experimenting and exploring what roles the designer
can play and what value this brings. Nevertheless, the notion that current societies are in
urgent need for new approaches and solutions clearly fosters the bravery to invite the
creative to the public domain. Because not only do designers wish to ‘do good’ and move
into social design practice, also the public sector increasingly acknowledges that creative
thinkers and new relationships with citizens are needed. In this new discipline of design, we
see focus on the social system that is coping with the problem and/or has potential in
contributing to the solution, or a focus on the object of design, which can be a boundary
object for facilitating the innovation processes, or the eventual outcome of design. In
reference to the papers included in this theme, we provide an overview of contemporary
research within design innovation for society and raise three important issues that revolve
around the theme.
To be able to move from a commercial design practice to design innovation for society, we
need a practice that produces products, services and interventions that generate value for
society. This is not only about generating innovative ideas, but also about the
implementation of them and the continuous delivery of public value, or in other words,
providing service. Addressing complex societal challenges often includes developing services.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Nynke Tromp and Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer

And because the nature of these problems is networked (Dorst, 2015), the design of services
requires collaboration between stakeholders across different organisations and disciplines
(Sørensen & Torfing, 2012). Collaborative services for complex social issues are usually
provided through the public sector, but can also be created and delivered through publicprivate innovation networks (Gallouj, Rubalcaba, & Windrum, 2013); through voluntary and
community associations, business and professional and citizen groups (Kelly, Mulgan, &
Muers, 2002) or through a process of ‘co-production’ in which citizens and state work
together to produce public outcomes (Christiansen & Bunt, 2014). As such, the boundaries
between service users and service providers are blurry and increasingly overlapping,
resulting in a complex service system.
To be able to design for such complex service systems requires that designers understand
the complexity of these systems and find ways to ensure that the various stakeholders in the
system will adopt new service concepts. This includes an understanding of the boundaries of
what can and cannot be designed or controlled in a complex system. One way to look at this
is through the organisations and people within organisations that collectively constitute a
complex service system. Opposing the management discourse based on technical rationality
that assumes that organisations are systems which can be controlled, Stacey and Griffin
(2006, p30) state that organisations are not actually existing things called systems but,
rather, are ongoing, iterated patterns of relationships between people. The global patterns
we recognize as complex service systems, such as the health service or the educational
service, are continually emerging in these myriad local interactions (ibid, p39). This suggests
that we cannot completely design or prescribe complex service systems, but that we can try
to design for them.
Indeed we can observe a trend that design practices in the public realm are increasingly
aimed at designing ‘infrastructures’ that influence the relationships between stakeholders in
the system, rather than designing service concepts for end-users. For example, MindLab
recently designed a ‘speed-sharing event’ that allows the municipality of Odense to support
primary school teachers in sharing knowledge with each other to improve their teaching
(Nygaard & Reynolds, 2015). Rather than designing an ‘educational service’ for children and
their parents (the end-users), the project was aimed at improving the infrastructure of that
service that influences the relationships between teachers, and the relationship between
teachers and the municipality.
To be able to design for such complex service systems puts designers in a role of ‘mediator’
between service providers, and between service providers and service users. As a mediator
the designer facilitates a dialogue between stakeholders – through for example co-design
practices or boundary objects - aiming at a reciprocal understanding of their needs and
perspectives. However, the designer-mediator role is not only about facilitating this
dialogue. It also requires expertise to use the understanding of the stakeholders to inform
the development of interventions that allow for the emergence of new patterns of
relationships between the people within the complex service system. These new patterns of
relationships can then lead to new (bottom-up) strategies to create value for society. The

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speed sharing event designed by MindLab, led to new relationships between teachers, which
in turn resulted in new bottom-up teaching strategies to create value for children in schools.
Not surprisingly, for many, societal innovation goes hand in hand with participatory
processes. And this has led to valuable results: the focus on underlying needs and concerns
of stakeholders fosters open dialogue, and thereby the space to not only improve the
outcome of design, the service, but equally so the provision of the service: its governance.
Van der Bijl-Brouwer illustrates effectively how a new ‘frame’ may unite stakeholders in
deciding upon a new way of working, one in which earlier obstacles could be overcome and
in which service-users can actually become part of the service provision. In a similar line of
thinking, Torres Castanedo & Micklethwaite illustrate nicely how a co-design approach may
activate people to recognise and exchange their human capability to strengthen the social
welfare of the community. Through workshops and creative sessions with end-users as well
as service providers, ideas were developed that as such did not require new resources but
foremost human capital. Given both the work of Durrant et al. and Cooney et al., such
processes could benefit from visual narratives that act as boundary objects: either to be able
to integrate research findings in one’s work as public servant, or as a way to make sense of
the topic at hand and discuss this together. Torres Castanedo & Micklethwaite’s focus on
human capital is in line with what Munro advocates for in his paper. Given the fact that
social design often revolves around problems, and people who have problems, Munro
argues that designers should prevent this problem-oriented approach and shift to a design
process that aims for social transformation. Equally seeking to improve the wellbeing of
vulnerable people through design, Whitehead, Evans & Bingham present a tool to improve
the new product development process to ensure designs fit the social context of people
living in poverty. In contrast to the societal innovation processes that start with a social
objective, both Rosenqvist & Mitchell and Kempenaar start off with an existing public design,
and put forward design approaches to improve the design and/or its governance.
Kempenaar focuses on regional design and illustrates the parallels their process revealed
with participatory design. Discussing three levels of governance -direct governance (first),
the vision that guides governance (second), and the values and norms that govern this
governance (third)- Rosenqvist & Mitchell study how a design approach could also influence
more directly the second and third order governance. In their view, the designed
environment, the products and services can make governance structures tangible for people
and thereby empower them, similar to design activism. These papers show how design is
capable of improving the organisation and governance of services, maybe even more than
offering new ideas for services. The papers show that design can support occupational
rehabilitation, mental health care, wastewater management, elderly care, poverty, and
digital literacy. Bringing this to the educational domain, Cattoir-Brisson at al. have placed the
concept of project centre to the development of their curriculum to teach and study social
innovation by design in projects with public partners. In their view, social innovation relies
on the relatively recently adopted agency-model in design, yet its goal can be traced back to
the origin of design: improving the quality of our shared existence. In how to constitute this

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Nynke Tromp and Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer

quality or societal value, students are taught conceptual frameworks from the social
sciences and humanities and are taught how to coordinate multiple stakeholder processes.
Although many designers and design scholars are currently developing methods and tools to
support societal innovation by design, little is said about how social value is exactly defined:
what does betterment of society mean? The very fact that there might be no ‘right answer’
to this question may be one of the reasons co-design is often the route designers take.
Thorpe and Gamman argue this indeed “necessitates a co-design approach that is plural and
equitable regarding the agency of actors within the design process” (Thorpe & Gamman,
2011, p. 219). And clearly, the papers in this theme reveal its value. Nonetheless, we wish to
address three issues that may lead to problems in the future when we do not account for
them.
Firstly, the fact that stakeholders often provide input in response to the current context, i.e.,
the (problematic) situation that exists at the moment. In other words, what they consider
important, valuable or desirable has been framed by the existing system. But examining
today’s problems using today’s lens can only partly help to understand how to design for a
better society: we also need the knowledge, the theories and philosophies that help us to
understand what makes a viable community in the long term. So similar to how a politician is
informed both by everyday experiences (which admittedly is lacking in current politics) and
science/knowledge, so too should the social designer lean on both channels for
understanding.
Secondly, ‘human-centred’ design is not the same as ‘society-centred’ design. Many explain
designers’ human-centeredness as particularly valuable for the public sector, considering
that many societal systems, like education and health care, have grown so large that the
human touch is often lost. From the macro view, we agree that a human perspective is
crucial. However, in adopting this perspective it is important to understand that what may
be desirable from an end-user perspective (the type of perspective many designers regularly
take) can easily conflict with what is best for society as a whole. Social design inevitably
deals with competing interests—known as social dilemmas —in which individual concerns
and social interests conflict (Van Lange & Joireman, 2008) and can actually offer unique
solutions for resolving these (Tromp, 2013).
Finally, it can be argued that what most people want is not necessarily ‘good’. Including the
wants of every stakeholder in the design decision-making process may have less than
desirable ethical implications. There are, however, philosophers who can help us articulate
‘what is good’; not to provide a single ‘correct’ answer, but to guide decision-making partly
from a moral standpoint. For example, the products and services we develop for health and
education also define which people are ‘sick’ or ‘dumb’. Prescriptions such as these may not
be readily apparent in the design of a single device, but when we develop a national
electronic patient file system, they are. Using values to guide design decisions for such
systems is already quite common (e.g., Value-Sensitive Design; Friedman, Kahn, & Borning,
2002). Since social design is inherently dealing with trade-offs between conflicting concerns,
ascertaining the value-related dimension of a design is unquestionably central to social

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Introduction: Design Innovation for Society

design and innovation methodology, especially for large-scale transformations in the public
sector.

References
Christiansen, Jesper, & Bunt, Laura. (2014). Innovating public policy: allowing for social complexity
and uncertainty in the design of public outcomes. In C. Bason (Ed.), Design for Policy. Farnham
Surrey, England: Gower Publishing Limited.
Dorst, Kees. (2015). Frame Innovation; create new thinking by design. Cambridge, Massachusetts:
The MIT Press.
Friedman, B., Kahn, P. H., & Borning, A. (2002). Value Sensitive Design: Theory and Methods.
Univeristy of Washington technical report, 02-12.
Gallouj, Faïz, Rubalcaba, Luis, & Windrum, Paul. (2013). Public-private innovation networks in
services (ServPPINs). In F. Gallouj, L. Rubalcaba & P. Windrum (Eds.), Public-Private Innovation
Networks in Services (pp. 1-20). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Kelly, Gavin, Mulgan, Geoff, & Muers, Stephen. (2002). Creating Public Value: An analytical
framework for public service reform. UK: Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office Retrieved from
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100416132449/http:/www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/stra
tegy/seminars/public_value.aspx.
Nygaard, Lene, & Reynolds, Sophie. (2015). Creation solutions for Danish teachers: the time and
quality dilemma. from http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/creating-solutions-danish-teachers-timeand-quality-dilemma-0
Sørensen, Eva, & Torfing, Jacob. (2012). Introduction Collaborative Innovation in the Public Sector.
The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 17(1), 1-14.
Stacey, R., & Griffin, D. (2006). Complexity and the Experience of Managing in Public Sector
Organizations. New York: Routledge.
Tromp, N. (2013) Social Design: How products and services can help us act in ways that benefit
society. Delft Univeristy of Technology: PhD thesis.
Van Lange, P. A. M., & Joireman, J. A. (2008). How We Can Promote Behavior That Serves All of Us in
the Future. Social Issues and Policy Review, 2(1), 127-157.

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The Challenges of Human-Centred Design in a Public
Sector Innovation Context
Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer
University of Technology Sydney
mieke.vanderbijl-brouwer@uts.edu.au
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.294

Abstract: The world is increasingly faced with complex societal problems such as
climate change, an ageing population, radicalising youth and chronic health
problems. Public sector organisations have a key role in addressing these issues. It is
widely acknowledged that tackling these problems requires new approaches and
methods. Design, and in particular human-centred design, offers opportunities to
develop these methods. In this paper I argue that a new type of human-centred
innovation practice is necessary to adjust traditional user-centred design methods
and tools to the public sector innovation context. This context involves different
types of stakeholders with conflicting needs and aspirations, and requires a precise
articulation of the value of human-centred design. I will propose a possible answer to
these challenges through a case study relating to severe mental illness, in which we
applied Dorst’s frame creation methodology, in combination with the NADI-model of
Needs and Aspirations for Design and Innovation.
Keywords: public sector, human-centred design, design innovation, methods and tools

Introduction
The world is increasingly confronted with complex societal challenges including climate
change, poverty, crime, health issues and an ageing population. Public sector organisations
play a key role in developing solutions for these issues. However, many argue that traditional
government tools and approaches to addressing these challenges may not provide solutions,
and that new approaches towards public sector innovation are required (Daglio, Gerson, &
Kitchen, 2014; Sørensen & Torfing, 2012)
Over the past decade, design has emerged as a possible answer to dealing with these
challenges. Dorst (2015) advocates that the new open, complex, dynamic and networked
problems of our time require a radically different response, and that design can contribute
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer

to this as expert designers deal with the new types of problems in their professional field
without too much trouble. The application of design outside the traditional design domain is
often called ‘design thinking’. In their publication on design for public good the UK design
council states that ‘design thinking is the way to overcome common structural flaws in
service provision and policymaking’ (UK Design Council, 2013). Likewise Bason (2010) argues
that design approaches and tools can help government to consciously create meaning and
value we want citizens, businesses and other actors in society to experience.
When design is applied within a public sector context, it sits within the field of ‘public sector
innovation’. Bason (2010) defines public sector innovation as the process of creating new
ideas and turning them into value for society. It is therefore not just about generating
creative ideas, but also about the implementation of them and the continuous delivery of
value. Innovation in the public sector considers the design and implementation of products,
services, processes, positions, strategies, governance and rhetoric (Hartley, 2005). The
desired result of these innovations is the creation of ‘public value’, including service quality,
societal outcomes (reduced crime, educational attainment), and societal values such as
democracy, equality, and trust, legitimacy, and confidence in the government (Bason, 2010;
Kelly, Mulgan, & Muers, 2002; Vigoda-Gadot, Shoham, Schwabsky, & Ruvio, 2008).
The application of design in public sector innovation is resulting in a new emerging practice
in which design approaches are used to design and implement public services, products,
policies and procedures across domains such as housing, employment, health, crime
prevention, and education (van der Bijl-Brouwer, Kaldor, Watson, & Hillen, 2015). Although
some promising results have been achieved, this practice has also been critiqued in different
ways (Dorst, 2015; Mulgan, 2014). The application of design thinking in the public sector has
often led to public servants not taking on the full potential of design as an innovation
approach. At the same time, designers have often ignored the particular characteristics of
the public sector context in their social designs, which has often failed to lead to long-lasting
social innovations.
There are various elements of design that contribute to public sector innovation. For
example, the UK Design Council (2013) showed that design contributes to public sector
innovation through integrating analysis, solution and implementation, looking at the entire
system, understanding user needs, testing iteratively, and engaging teams and departments
in collaboration across silos. In this paper I will focus specifically on the application of usercentred design methods and tools to public sector innovation. In the next section I will firstly
describe two challenges of applying human-centred design in a public sector innovation
context. Next I will give an example of an approach that addresses these challenges, which I
will illustrate through a case study. I will conclude this paper with discussing an agenda for
the study of human-centred innovation practices in a public sector context.

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The challenges of human centred design in a public sector
innovation context
Human-centred design (HCD) is a group of methods and principles that are aimed at
designing useful, usable, pleasurable and meaningful products or services for people. The
main principle of these methods is that they describe how to use insights about human
beings – users, customers, or other stakeholders - to design products or services that meet
their needs and aspirations. HCD has developed from a methodology focussed on
ergonomics and anthropometric data (Dreyfuss, 1955), to a more contextualised designfocussed methodology that integrates needs and aspirations across the physical, cognitive
and emotional domain, and that involves users and other stakeholders in the design process
in different ways (for example Jordan, 1999; Norman, 1998; Sanders & Stappers, 2008).
HCD has matured to such an extent that it is now increasingly being adopted in sectors
outside the traditional design domain to support innovation. Publications by Martin (2009)
and Brown (2005) kick-started the ‘design thinking’ movement, which advocates the
application of design methods to develop business strategies to gain competitive advantage.
Furthermore, following the early work of Papanek (1984), design is gaining popularity in the
public and social sector to address complex societal problems (Bason, 2010; Dorst, 2015;
Manzini, 2015).
However, applying HCD methods and principles in a public sector innovation context is not
just a matter of taking the principles and methods and applying them directly to public
sector problems. As the public sector context is fundamentally different from the traditional
human-centred design context, it requires a new trans disciplinary practice (van der BijlBrouwer, Kaldor, Watson, and Hillen, 2015). The two challenges from a HCD perspective that
I will discuss in this paper are firstly the complexity of identifying the human beings that are
at the centre of HCD in a public sector context, and secondly the need to articulate the value
of HCD methods and tools.

2.1 Challenge 1: Who are at the Centre of Human-Centred Design in the Public
Sector?
Traditionally design theory and methods have been centred on the end-user of products, so
called user-centred design (e.g. Norman, 1998). The adoption of design thinking in
businesses in the private sector has broadened the focus from the user to the customer or
consumer. Likewise, in the public sector the term citizen-centred public service design has
recently emerged (Mager, Grimes, Atvur, McMullin, & Malhotra, 2013). However, to make
sure that design proposals are implemented and embedded within the public sector
organisational context, we need to look further than just the people who receive or use a
solution. The networked character of many complex societal problems, means that many
stakeholders are involved who are either influenced by the problem and/or potentially play
a role in solving the problem (Dorst, 2015). The needs and aspirations of all the stakeholders
that are part of the problem and solution need to be addressed to be able to develop

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solutions that are adopted and implemented by those stakeholders. For example, it is
important to address the needs of service providers to motivate them to deliver high quality
services (van der Bijl-Brouwer & Watson, 2015).
A second challenge with regard to the ‘target group’ of HCD in a public sector innovation
context, is that the target group is not something that can be deliberately chosen. The public
sector is held accountable for providing public value for all citizens, and it is not publicly
accepted that people ‘fall through the cracks’. This is a fundamental difference to innovation
in the private sector, where target groups can strategically be chosen to find opportunities
for innovation that align with the organisation’s strategy (for example Bucolo, Wrigley, &
Matthews, 2012).

2.2 Challenge 2: Articulating the Value of HCD Methods and Tools
The transfer of design practices to fields outside the traditional design field has resulted in
an increasing number of ‘non-designers’ taking on design approaches themselves or
engaging with design professionals, to develop innovative solutions. This includes public
managers who seek to drive change in their public sector organisations through designbased approaches. A widely recognised element of public sector innovation is the need to
develop and implement solutions across agencies and organisations (van der Bijl-Brouwer,
Kaldor, Watson & Hillen, 2015, Sørensen & Torfing, 2012). It is therefore essential to engage
teams and departments in collaboration across ‘silos’, as indicated by the UK Design Council
(2013).
In a cross-silo co-design situation involving non-expert designers it becomes particularly
relevant to articulate how design-based practices contribute to innovation. This
‘consciousness’ of the value of design-based practices is required to embed innovation in a
public sector organisation (Bason, 2010). At the moment this need is met by the availability
of a plethora of online toolkits, method cards and books, as well as tutorials, master classes,
and courses in various methods. The risk of providing people with random collections of
methods is that it can be quite overwhelming. More importantly, the possible experienced
superficiality of individual methods might distract from the real value of human-centred
innovation approaches. We therefore need succinct and clear means to articulate what can
and cannot be achieved using HCD in a public sector innovation context.

A human-centred innovation approach
To address abovementioned challenges of human-centred design in a public sector context,
we have experimented with various methods and tools in our research centre. The
underlying methodology we use to address networked problems is Frame Creation,
developed by Dorst (2015). Furthermore the need to better articulate the value of humancentred design methods and tools have led to the development of a model of Needs and
Aspirations for Design and Innovation (NADI-model) (van der Bijl-Brouwer & Dorst, 2014). I
will introduce this methodology and model in this section.

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3.1 Dorst’s Frame Creation Methodology
Dorst (2015) developed the Frame Creation methodology based on a combination of
empirical studies into expert designer’s practice, a fundamental analysis into reasoning
patterns and different forms of rationality, and experimental practice. The approach is
particularly suitable to address problems with an open, complex, dynamic and networked
character. The main principle of the approach is that addressing these problems requires a
‘reframe’ of the problem, a new perspective on the problem. The following three elements
of the methodology are of particular interest when we look at the challenges of humancentred design in a public sector context:
Context and field: these steps are aimed at identifying and examining stakeholders. Dorst
distinguishes stakeholders in the context and in the field (ibid, p76). The context contains
the inner circle key stakeholders who have been involved in the problem situation before, or
those who are clearly going to be necessary participants in any possible solution. The field
considers the wider space of players, including anyone who might be connected to the
problem or the solution at some point in time. As such, Frame Creation clearly goes beyond
the usual suspects in mapping stakeholders and through that addresses the challenge of
human-centred design in a public sector context to address the networked character of
problems.
Themes: themes analysis is aimed at identifying and seeking to understand the deeper
factors that underlie the needs, motivation, and experiences of the stakeholders in context
and field. A theme is a phenomenological construct and may be understood as the structure
of experiences. Themes are often universal human values and meanings. Identifying themes
is beneficial in networked problems as they present a deeper level of the problem at which
stakeholders have much in common. After identifying themes, frame creation uses methods
borrowed from hermeneutic phenomenology (van Manen, 1990) to understand the themes.
Understanding the pattern of a theme subsequently supports exploring new frames in the
next step.
Frames: to move from themes to frames and solutions, it is useful to look at how elements
of the pattern of the theme are dealt with outside the original problem context. Through
using metaphors a frame can then be created which forms a bridge between the problem
and the solution (Dorst & Tomkin, 2011). Different frames are then analysed on their
‘fruitfulness’ i.e. the extent to which they open up the solution space. In section 4 I will
illustrate this with a case study.

3.2 The NADI-model
The focus on themes in the frame creation methodology means that it is inherently a
human-centred methodology. But not every HCD method provides insights into themes. To
explain how themes are related to insights that are gathered through other methods, we
developed a four-layer model of insights into human Needs and Aspirations for Design and
Innovation (NADI-model). The model is based on an analysis (see van der Bijl-Brouwer &
Dorst, 2014) of the kinds of ‘deep’ insights that experts in design and innovation recommend

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to gather (e.g. Hekkert & van Dijk, 2011; Martin, 2009). We found that we can distinguish
four levels of insights: needs and aspirations that are related to solutions, scenarios, goals,
and themes (figure 1).

Figure 1 The NADI-model: a model of insights into Needs and Aspirations for Design and Innovation

On the solution level we find the insights that are related to what people want, such as
products and services. One level deeper, the scenario level describes how they want to
interact with a solution. The deepest levels of insights are the goals and themes levels, which
describe why people want certain solutions and scenarios. The difference between goals and
themes is that goals describe what people want to achieve within the context of a certain
design problem, while the themes describe the underlying needs and aspirations that can be
analysed independently of that context. For example, the design of a sports car might be
based on the themes ‘identity’ and ‘independence’; both of which are also relevant in
situations outside of a sports car. The goals, in the context of a car, could be that someone
likes to have a car all to him or herself and that the car should fit that identity of
independence. The scenarios that achieve these goals are ‘getting attention while driving on
a boulevard on your own’. The solution could be a two-seater (just for yourself) or a
convertible car (being visible).
We developed the model because we have experienced that the different levels of insights
each have a different purpose in the design and innovation process. As I explained in the
section on the Dorst’s frame creation methodology, the advantage of an analysis of themes
is that it stimulates (re-) framing of problems and through that opens up the solution space.
On the other hand, gathering insights on the scenario level is mostly valuable for
incremental innovation that does not require a reframe of the problem, or for refining
solutions after the frame has been set. Furthermore scenarios are beneficial for
communicating solutions as they provide a common language across stakeholders (van der
Bijl-Brouwer & van der Voort, 2013).
The NADI-model addresses the need to articulate the value of human-centred design in a
public sector innovation context. The model can be used to make explicit which methods
lead to which kinds of insights. Furthermore the model can be used to present new solution
proposals alongside their underlying needs and aspirations. We have experienced that this

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supports the decision-making process in multi-stakeholder problems, as all the stakeholders
involved in decision-making can develop a shared understanding of the needs and
aspirations that a solution intends to address through the NADI-model.

A case study: supporting people with severe mental illness
4.1 Background
We were asked by Hunter Partners in Recovery (PIR) to help them solve the systemic
problems of supporting people with severe and persistent mental health problems who
acutely need help (see also van der Bijl-Brouwer & Watson, 2015). These people are referred
to by PIR as ‘consumers’. PIR aims to generate and implement interventions for this problem
through particularly looking at the systemic aspects of this problem. The systemic aspects
concern the problems that arise from the fact that many service providers are currently
involved when people with a severe mental health problem acutely need help when they are
very unwell, for example when they are psychotic, severely anxious, and/ or suicidal. In
these situations the consumer, their carers (family or friends), community members or their
landlord might make the first call. Ambulance might transport someone to the hospital or a
mental health unit, the police might be involved when someone is threatening self-harm or
harming others, the emergency department and mental health professionals provide help in
the hospital, and various service providers can be involved in follow-up care including
general practitioners, social workers, non-government organisations etc. This journey is
often very traumatising for consumers. Furthermore there are often conflicts between for
ambulance, police and emergency department about the priority of emergency responses.
PIR wanted to engage all these stakeholders in the process of generating interventions, but
had no capacity for a process to (co-) create solutions. They therefore invited us to support
them in that process.

4.2 Case Study Approach
In the project we used Dorst’s frame creation methodology and the NADI-model as
described in the previous section. Within the context, field, themes and frame steps of
Frame Creation we applied various (human-centred) design methods to gain the required
insights. We for example used stakeholder mapping, storytelling, cultural probes, and codesign workshops to gain insights into the needs of the large variety of stakeholders in the
context and field. We then applied both internal (within our research team) and external
(with varying groups of stakeholders) sessions in which we explored themes and frames. The
NADI-model was used to communicate frames and solutions to stakeholders. The project
was executed over the course of six months.

4.3 Results of the Case Study
Figure 2 shows a stakeholder map of this problem with the person with a severe mental
illness and their caregivers in the middle, and around them the many persons and

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organisation that are either affected by the problem, or play a role in the development of
solutions. What becomes immediately evident is that there are many people and
organisations involved, and that this is therefore a very complex networked problem.

Figure 2 Stakeholder map for the systemic problems of supporting people with severe mental illness

When we explored the needs and aspirations of these stakeholders we found a number of
reoccurring themes, including ‘contribution’, ‘drive’, ‘empathy’, ‘empowerment’, ‘piece of
mind’ and ‘consistency and stability’. In this paper I will use the reoccurring theme ‘drive’ to
illustrate how an analysis of themes can lead to the development of solutions. All
interviewees and workshop participants who work in the sector mentioned their drive to
make a difference. For example, an ambulance paramedic mentioned that ‘there’s no better
feeling than saving someone’s life’.
In Frame Creation we subsequently use methods borrowed from hermeneutic
phenomenology to develop an understanding of theme outside the context of the problem.

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This includes various exercises, including reflecting on the theme through personal
experiences, literature about the theme, and exploring pieces of art or music that reflect the
meaning of the theme (see for examples Dorst, Kaldor, Klippan, & Watson, 2016). Through
these exercises we try to find the ‘pattern’ of a theme. For example, we asked ourselves the
question ‘when do you experience drive?’ and ‘what does it feel like?’ Through this analysis
we found that to sustain the drive to make a difference, there is a need for feedback. This
pattern is shown in figure 3. When you are driven to do something good, you feel a sense of
achievement when you can see what the results of your efforts are. For example, when
cooking for friends it feels good when these friends show that they are enjoying the meal.
This feeling might in turn motivate you to continue organising dinner parties for your
friends. Without the feedback, the drive cannot be sustained. This analysis of the theme
outside the context of the problem of severe mental illness, allowed us to find this feedback
pattern.

Figure 3 A pattern found through an exploration of the theme ‘drive’

The need for feedback to sustain the drive is exactly what was missing in the problem
context of an acute mental illness response. Police officers for example indicated a sense of
futility and frustration: ‘If we do not hear from the person again, there is an assumption that
one of three things happened to them: 1) they got better, 2) they moved away, 3) they died.
We are essentially feeding our efforts into a ‘cone of silence’ that does not speak back.’
Likewise, ambulance paramedics mentioned similar experiences as there is no quick fix to
mental health problems: ‘It’s not like stopping the bleeding or starting the heart’.
Feedback is also an essential element of another theme: learning or ‘growth’. Apart from
learning through training, people learn ‘by doing’ and reflecting on what they do (reflective
practice). But you only learn if you know what the effects of your actions are (figure 4). In
the cooking example you can only become better at cooking when you can taste the food or
when your friends tell you (honestly) what they think of the meal you prepared for them.
Feedback on actions is therefore essential. A police officer confirmed this and indicated it
would be useful to know what works and what wouldn’t. A part of the systemic problem of

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supporting people with severe and persistent health problems is therefore this broken cycle
of drive and growth.

Figure 4 The broken cycle of the themes drive and growth

To frame the problem we looked at how the elements of the themes are dealt with in
domains outside the problem context. Exploring these metaphors can lead to new frames
(Dorst 2015). A frame that turned out to be particularly fruitful for the themes of ‘drive’ and
‘growth’ was looking at generating a shared response to mental illness as if it were a sports
team. We found that the current shared response is like a sports team in which each player
is on the field at a different moment, and each player has a different coach. This makes it
very hard to collectively coach the people on the ground, and sustain their drive and growth.
Through this frame we developed the solution of a ‘coaching team’. The coaching team is
explained through the NADI-model in figure 5. A coaching team [solution] is a group of team
leaders of each of the participating organisations (ambulance, police etc.). The envisioned
scenario of this coaching team is that they frequently come together to reflect on what is
happening on the ‘field’. To be able to get an appropriate view on this field we designed a
new role: the ‘observer’. This is someone who interviews people with a severe mental illness
who have recently been through an episode, and maps their experience through for example
a journey map. This journey map is then fed into the coaching team, which allows them to
reflect on their collective actions. They can then develop an adjusted coaching approach,
providing both constructive feedback on the negative stories, as well as positive feedback on
the good stories. The goal of this scenario is to stimulate motivation and provide reflective
practice for learning for the service providers in acute mental illness situations. The
underlying themes are drive and growth.

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Figure 5 NADI-model for the ‘coaching team’.

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Discussion
5.1 Who’s at the Centre of HCD in a Public Sector Context?
One of the complexities of HCD in a public sector innovation context is the large amount of
stakeholders involved. This was also the case in the acute mental illness case study. Through
applying the frame creation methodology we explored the deeper levels of needs and
aspirations to find a common ground for solutions. The common need for drive and growth
led to the development of the ‘coaching team’.
This raises the question which types of stakeholders we can distinguish in complex societal
problems and whether we can identify a typology of reoccurring themes. For example, the
themes ‘drive’ and ‘growth’ will likely reoccur in other problems involving many service
providers. Without claiming to be complete I would like to discuss the following categories
of stakeholders:
Problem owners: the stakeholders – often public sector organisations - who are accountable
for tackling a problem or take responsibility in addressing a problem, often public sector
organisations. This might not always be straightforward. In the mental health case study, PIR
was an organisation that was specifically put in place by the federal government to address
this problem. Before their establishment there was not a clear problem owner for the
systemic problems around acute mental illness. Themes that are likely to apply to problem
owners are for example reputation, identity, leadership, contribution, and responsibility.
End users: the stakeholders that make use of a designed solution or intervention, for
example children in a school using new educational tools, or people with a disability using in
home help services. Themes for this group are very diverse and relate to the specific
problem that is being addressed.
Direct contributors: the stakeholders who contribute to a solution by offering time and
effort, for example through providing a service, e.g. school teachers contributing to the
learning of children or volunteers providing help at refugee centres. Themes that often
apply to direct contributors include motivation/ drive, care, identity, belonging etc.
Indirect contributors: stakeholders that contribute through providing resources, including
funding and infrastructure, for example a local council providing a community centre, or a
government agency providing funding to an NGO to provide a service. Different themes
apply to why people and organisations provide resources, such as identity, control, and
accountability.
The public: people who are indirectly affected by the implementation of an intervention, for
example members of the community who are informed of the implementation of a new
service for homeless people through the media. The public needs to be considered as they
indirectly hold public sector organisations accountable through voting and paying taxes.
Themes include societal values such as equality, empowerment, compassion, community
etc.

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The boundaries between above-mentioned stakeholder groups are blurry and increasingly
overlapping. For example, in the mental health case, people with a severe mental illness
were end-users, but also contributors. They contribute through sharing their stories for the
coaching team to be able to function. It was precisely that opportunity for contribution to
society that motivated them to share the stories.
These blurred boundaries between contributors and end-users are widely recognised in the
public sector innovation literature (Bason, 2010; Kelly et al., 2002). This new relationship
between public state and citizens is called co-production – working together to produce
public outcomes (Christiansen & Bunt, 2014). Public sector organisations have been aware of
the opportunities of co-production for some time, but there are plenty of remaining barriers
to creating the conditions for its implementation (Boyle & Harris, 2009). HCD might be able
to contribute to this field, by clarifying the underlying patterns of human behaviour when
people contribute to, provide resources, or use interventions for complex societal issues.

5.2 Articulating the Value of HCD
In the PIR case study we used the NADI-model to explain how solutions intended to address
underlying needs for scenarios, goals and themes. Clarifying the relationship between
problem and solution seemed to establish a common ground for decision-making. This need
for a shared frame of reference in decision-making is generally acknowledged in the design
research field (Visser, 2006; van der Bijl-Brouwer & van der Voort, 2014).
Furthermore, the NADI-model helped in articulating which HCD methods lead to which
levels of insights. For example, the interviews with caregivers resulted in many stories of
experiences, which articulate their needs and aspirations on the scenario level. Further
research is required to map other HCD methods to the model.
The frame creation method also helped in articulating the value of HCD methods and tools.
It provides a ‘backbone’ to the human-centred innovation process, by indicating how the
insights gained through a specific method, e.g. stakeholder interviews, feed into the framing
process, and through that the innovation process. This provides a better insight into the
function of individual methods than a collection of seemingly unrelated methods and tools.

5.3 An Agenda for Researching HCD in a Public Sector Innovation Context
To help mature the new emerging practice of HCD in a public sector innovation context, I
propose to address the following topics in future research:

Exploring the different types of stakeholders in complex societal problems and their
reoccurring needs and aspirations, such as suggested in section 5.1

How and when to include stakeholders in the public sector innovation process (e.g.
through co-design). Who should facilitate this process? Who should take ownership?
How can people be motivated to participate in co-design? What is the role of public
sector organisations in this process?

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How to evaluate solutions in the public sector innovation process through prototyping
and piloting. Prototyping and qualitative formative evaluations are required in an
iterative HCD process, while the public sector context also requires evidence quantitative summative evaluations - to support the decision-making of policy makers
(Mulgan, 2014).

How to relate HCD principles and concepts to theories on public value. Public value
includes the quality of products and services (outputs), the outcomes of this process (e.g.
lower unemployment rates), and societal values such as equality and democracy (Bason,
2010; Kelly et al., 2002). Outcomes and societal values are not part of traditional HCD
practices.

Conclusion
In this paper I presented two challenges of applying HCD to a public sector innovation
context, and showed how Dorst’s frame creation methodology, in combination with the
NADI-model addresses these challenges. However, human-centred public sector innovation
should not just be seen as a challenge, but also as an opportunity. The complexity of societal
issues can be better understood through the complex networks of stakeholders. HCD
provides opportunities to better design and coordinate for these complex networks of
stakeholders, by exploring why and how people use, adopt, and contribute to all kinds of
solutions that are intended to make the world a better place.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Hunter Partners in Recovery for their
collaboration in the mental health project. Furthermore I would like to express my
gratitude to all the respondents and design innovators that participated in this study.
Specific thanks go to Rodger Watson and Lucy Klippan for their indispensable support in
the research project.

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About the Author:
Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer is Senior Lecturer at the University of
Technology Sydney. Her research spans the fields of Human-Centred
Design methodology and Public Sector Innovation. She is a core staff
member of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation.

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Activating the core economy by design
Rebeca Torres Castanedo* and Paul Micklethwaite
Kingston University London
*di.rebeca@gmail.com
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.309

Abstract: The traditional provision of public services needs to be transformed, and
this transformation includes ceasing to consider users as passive recipients of
services. Instead, the process of service development should be opened up to more
participatory methods, whereby users and providers, working together, transform
the way in which the welfare state is conceived and services designed and delivered.
In achieving conditions of wellbeing, societies face very complex problems,
particularly such groups as the elderly, who depend most heavily on the social care
services. The paper describes the research developed, as part of the major project of
MA Sustainable Design in Kingston University, London, whereby, through the core
economy of all the human resources and social networks that support social life, new
possibilities for services may emerge, capable of addressing the ageing and wellbeing
agenda. The paper also reflects upon dialogic conversation, and social interaction, as
the ideal means of engagement when working with social agendas.
Keywords: wellbeing; public services; core economy; ageing

Social Welfare - Change is needed
Nowadays, societies are facing very complex problems in their efforts to bring about
conditions of wellbeing - conditions which neither the welfare state itself nor its institutions
have proved able to provide successfully and with long-term effect.
These complex challenges are defined by the rapid transformation of the communities, with
deep social changes, which have imposed new demands upon the provision of services.
Communities are facing new types of ‘wicked’ problem (Cottam, 2008), which nowadays are
more particular, and specific to each population group, so making them harder to tackle.
From the perspective of the welfare state, all this makes it harder to respond appropriately
to each particularity.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Rebeca Torres Castanedo and Paul Micklethwaite

The traditional model of welfare has not managed to recognise and value the abundant
resources residing within the communities themselves, often it views people as little more
than passive receivers of services, overlooking their natural assets, such as local knowledge
and life experience. It tends to define people simply as vulnerable potential users and
therefore describing them only in terms of problems. Their needs and demands are thus
perceived as the only ‘assets’ they possess.
In reality however, effective social care, with its provision of services, relies on a nonmonetary economy which is present within communities and in the daily lives of every
human being. This is the core economy, which is to be found in human relationships, such as
family, friends, neighbours and social networks, but also extending into civil society as a
whole.
This aspect is constantly undervalued and ignored, but it supports all the human resources
which flourish in social life. Although this non-monetary economy provides care for children
and the elderly, within safe and vibrant communities, where the quest for social justice is
powerful and in a variety of ways helps to shape conditions conducive to wellbeing, the
market will always tend to overlook its influence, failing to attach any value to all these
human qualities: the capacity to love, to manifest empathy and solidarity, to offer help and
care, to share and to learn from each other, together with the countless other characteristics
that define us as human (Stephens, Ryan-Collins & Boyle, 2008).
Edgar Cahn, the founder of TimeBanking and main advocate of the relevant role that the
core economy plays in achieving wellbeing, often uses the analogy of a computer to explain
its importance. According to Cahn (2000) the performance of a computer relies on the basic
central operating system. This operating system is the core economy: families, neighbours,
and the community.
If the operating system, our society, is failing, this is not because it has lost the capacity to
care for others or show solidarity, but because there is an inherited tendency to view these
natural human qualities and actions as commodities, which can be bought and sold through
the market. The response must instead be to strengthen the community, finding new ways
to rebuild this core economy on a basis of solidarity, reciprocal support, trust and
engagement. The essential idea of rebuilding the core economy can be implemented
through the co-production model, and the public services may play a fundamental role in
achieving this.
While it is impossible for social programmes to directly deliver community, co-production
does offer a way to acknowledge people as assets, and to build people’s capacity to define
the characteristics of the community they want to live in, and the services they need, all
these under relationships based on parity, between people and institutions.
This model leaves behind the passive roles imposed by the traditional welfare system, in
which service users are only considered as receivers. Instead it entails a shift in the way
providers and users relate to each other by blurring these roles, and thus enabling peer-to-

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peer relationships based on reciprocity, in which responsibilities and expectations are shared
(Penny, Slay & Stephens, 2012).
In a situation where the traditional welfare state is not enough, nor capable of providing
appropriate responses to the particular demands of society, co-production suggests a
promising alternative framework within which communities can be drivers of their own
transformations, and offers a unique opportunity to make radical changes in the welfare
state.
For design also, and above all for designers, it is both important and relevant to play an
appropriate role within such a model. Earnest consideration must be given as to how design
can best participate in the transformation of services and their delivery, and in particular
how the principles of the core economy and co-production may shape the process of design,
especially when tackling social issues.
In the context of the provision of services and within the co-production proposal, it is
absolutely essential to highlight co-design, as representing an attitude towards the design
process which has a close relationship with social innovation, especially in its role of tackling
social issues.
Co-design implies a scenario of multi-stakeholders, in which the premise is that everyone
possesses the capacity to participate in the definition of their own realities, and that this is
likely to be the only way in which a design can be effective. The mind-set for a co-design
process is based on general inclusiveness, far beyond simple consultation, with mutual
learning, openness and the breaking of the tradition top-down responses, as the only ways
to generate real change (Fuad-Luke, 2009), plus the adoption of a “consensus over dissensus
approach” (Fuad-Luke, 2013, p.471).
For designers, specifically, it is necessary to ask how the field of design, and therefore the
designers, can best engage their practice and skills with social issues, considering, among
other things, questions of with whom, from where, and, above all, towards what type of
society.

Ageing as a challenge both globally and locally, and so also for
design
According to the report "World Population Ageing" (United Nations [UN], 2013), the number
of older people is expected to double by 2050, reaching more than two billion. It is predicted
that by 2047 the number of people aged 60 years or older, will exceed the proportion of
children below 15 years.
Population ageing is a worldwide demographic phenomenon. Old age is a natural stage of
life, yet this demographic change is often understood less as a breakthrough than as a
problem, not only for the older people themselves, but also for the state which has to make
welfare provision for them.

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These figures suggest that ageing, and the securing of wellbeing provision for the elderly,
should be considered a priority agenda, in which designers need to be involved.
As stressed throughout this paper, there is an urgent need for the provision of services to be
transformed and radically improved. Thus the agenda of ageing offers a valuable
opportunity for designers to address a social issue which clearly requires priority
attention, especially because older people form one of the large groups more dependent on
the welfare state.
This agenda is relevant not only for the sake of the immediate and positive outcomes which
might result, but also because working with and for this population group can offer
opportunities to reshape social relationships, introducing innovative and effective ways of
tackling problems and so empowering and improving the communities themselves for the
future.
As the major project for the Master's degree in Sustainable Design at Kingston University,
this research was developed with the aim of finding alternatives to the unwelcome scenario
of deep cuts, especially in the health and social care budget, within the Borough of Kingston
upon Thames in South West London, and indeed to look for ways to improve services
without expectation of further funding.
Starting from 2010, the Government of the UK has gradually implemented massive public
spending cuts, or, as the report of the New Economics Foundation defined it, a policy of
"new austerity" (Slay & Penny, 2013). These cuts were heavily targeted upon the services
which provide help to those in need of considerable benefit support from the welfare state,
such as the elderly, the unemployed and people with disabilities.
This austerity model was linked to a new social programme focused on building a "Big
Society", which called for community action, local decision-making processes, and the
involvement of communities in their public services.
An advantage of the "Big Society" strategy might be that it should, if successful, encourage
citizens to participate actively in the definition of those services likely to affect their
wellbeing, and so result in the communities as a whole, becoming more active and involved.
In principle, therefore, it might be perceived as presenting both an opportunity and an
incentive to redesign the welfare state, while enjoying government support.
There are, however, some very different and less acceptable possible implications inherent
in the government proposals, especially at a time when, in practice, cutting expenditure has
often seemed to be its primary, if not its only, aim and commitment. A major challenge will
be to activate the core economy within the communities, opening up the process by which
public services are delivered, and so redefining them, without at the same time taking from
the state the essential ultimate responsibility (Coote, 2010).
It may well be judged that the activation and use of the core economy provides the ideal
approach to tasks such as that of driving innovations within the public services, but
important practical questions still remain to be considered.

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What steps will have to be taken if communities are to be built, strong enough to respond
with vigour to their varied challenges, including the need to introduce bold and novel
reforms in the public services? What mind-set changes need to take place, not only among
ordinary citizens, but also in the framework and process of design, and in the role of social
designers, in order to achieve these aims?
In fact, the present project seeks to respond to some of these questions. It is particularly
relevant to examine how, with the committed support of design, the core economy might
indeed be activated, so opening new opportunities for the people to take control over what
happens in their own localities and spheres of interest.
One aspect which may serve as an example of the need for a new, more enlightened, mindset, is the concept of ageing itself, which is truly a natural stage of life, not something which
needs to be managed or stigmatised as a "policy problem to be solved" (Bazalgette, Holden,
Tew, Hubble & Morrison, 2011, p.9).
Many of the daily limitations that the elderly face may be tackled through a better
understanding of the challenges, and through a redefinition of services.

Addressing the ageing agenda through social interaction
As already mentioned, the research project was developed within a scenario of deep cuts in
the health and social care budget of the Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
The thesis of the research was built upon the activation of the core economy so as to
provide the means and opportunities to reframe the provision of services locally, with
special reference to the elderly and the wellbeing agenda. It is important, however, at this
point to outline the steps and activities through which the project proceeded, and to
acknowledge the background which was essential for its development.
In March 2015, Kingston Borough issued an invitation to the course leader and to some
students on the Master's course in Sustainable Design at Kingston University, to participate
in developing and delivering a workshop based on co-design principles. The primary aim of
the workshop was to seek out opportunities for possible future collaboration among local
service providers and commissioners in Kingston.
Faced with the scenario of deep cuts combined with a continuous rise in the demand for
services, this first workshop sought to strengthen links between providers and
commissioners of services, in order that they might collaborate, funding activities or projects
in common, and so be able to apply together for public funding.
After this workshop, the participants and representatives of the Borough expressed their
interest in being part of a second workshop in which they could flesh out and put into effect
some of their initial thoughts.
This first encounter provided a rich experience, which helped towards a better
understanding of the position of the Borough and of the challenges with respect to the
ageing agenda.

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An important insight concerned the role that money usually plays within the social sector. By
itself, an increase in the money available for services is rarely enough to bring about the
hoped-for improvements. A clear implication is that, just as important as the financial
aspect, is a fundamental change in the mind-set of both providers and receivers of services.
In fact, many organisations within Kingston Borough are already making use of the core
economy as an alternative to tackle the challenges in the provision of services for the
elderly, and these places should be considered as spaces where collaboration can be
strengthened.
One of the places where the core economy is central to its daily activities is The Bradbury, a
day centre located in Kingston upon Thames. This charity offers a wide range of activities,
from Art Classes and a Creative Writing group to Tai-Chi, Chair Exercises, and various lively
dance sessions, all this in support of people aged over 50 and their carers.
There are many aspects which make the Centre very special, and also relevant to the theme
of this project. There are only two people (the manager and the chef) who actually receive a
salary for running The Bradbury. Everything else is run by a quite remarkable, and numerous,
set of volunteers, who lead activity groups, teach, help in the kitchen and serving the food,
tend the garden, and so much else. Notably, they still find time to welcome newcomers and
visitors. It is important to emphasise that most of the volunteers are also members of The
Bradbury.
The relationships, enabled and established over several years with young people, especially
with students from Kingston University, have been a great benefit, not only for the elderly
but for the young too. Through something as simple as a cup of tea and a chat, a connection
with the wider community is made.
Through this contact and the diverse activities, everyone there is addressing issues crucial
for the physical and emotional wellbeing of this population group, on a firm basis of
solidarity, care and friendship.
In this case, the initial approach happened about six months before the actual research
project. An alternative way to foster digital literacy among elderly people, based on
principles of co-learning, was co-developed with some members of the Bradbury, as part of
a social innovation module in the Masters programme. This initial approach was a crucial
and relevant aspect, which positively influenced the research for the major project.
On the basis of this experience, it is necessary to acknowledge and emphasise that, for
projects aiming to work with social agendas, there is a fundamental need for designers to
get involved with the core economy through daily life, and not to be satisfied with being
simply observers in any context. Observation is indeed important, just as are social
interaction and the building of relationships involving peer-to-peer collaboration. All these
proved to be key elements for the development of different stages of research.
The informal and easy relationship which developed with many of those at The Bradbury, in
particular, led to an openness which permitted the natural and organic exchange of

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viewpoints and experiences, in a most valuable way, and without excessive dependence
upon set questionnaires or interviews.
As stressed earlier, the core economy was at the heart of the project, and once its key role
was acknowledged, it offered the opportunity to begin a radical reinterpretation of the
provision of services.
Following the good reception of the first workshop in March 2015, there was an initial
petition from the Borough suggesting a second workshop, for which the content control, the
dynamic, and all the arrangements were left in the hands of the student leading the project,
and the university. This second workshop proved an invaluable opportunity for the research.
Instead of considering this event as an occasion for new ideas to be generated which might
go on to be rapidly implemented, or indeed for producing new projects; it was in fact
understood as the opportunity for a novel agenda, in which the idea of new possibilities of
services may be presented.
This process was guided by the search for new and less rigid approaches to the reform of the
social care services, which would keep an open mind towards alternative or untried
methods, in response to the local wellbeing agenda.
The workshop was therefore considered as an opportunity to introduce to the participants
an alternative mind-set, to be based on the importance of the core economy, especially for
this task of addressing wellbeing. In fact, such a change in the mind-set offers a remarkable
opportunity to provide a new frame for viewing society, and potentially reforming the care
services.
Relying on the willing cooperation of the Bradbury members, and the perceptive information
they provided, often from personal experience, in interviews and informal conversations, it
was decided to focus the investigation to the issues concerned to the elderly and those living
with dementia.

3.1 New definitions for ageing and services
As previously discussed, an essential stage for working within the core economy and thereby
activating it, is to strengthen links with all the possible stakeholders. In this case this process
of engagement occurred not only with the local service providers and commissioners who
attended the first workshop, but also with some receivers of local services.
This helped towards a much better understanding of the issues affecting the final users of
services and the challenges that organisations and institutions face within their daily
activities.
Local service providers and commissioners had been offering, with positive outcomes, a
wide range of activities and projects targeting, directly or indirectly, the elderly and sufferers
of dementia with positive outcomes, however there were inevitably some duplications and
omissions. An interesting aspect is that although they do not officially recognise the vital role
that the core economy plays, in practice they are following its principles.

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A deeper research was undertaken on the elderly and people living with dementia, and this
led to a better understanding of the challenges and limitations affecting the elderly and
those living with dementia, and so helped to define areas of opportunity which might prove
of value in the effort to tackle the local wellbeing agenda.

Figure 1 Discussion table run at The Bradbury, delivered through an open dialogue for discussing the
concept of ageing, the misconceptions about it and the possibilities to address the local
wellbeing agenda. Photo courtesy of Guilia Bossis, 2015.

This engagement process was carried out through both primary and secondary research with
elderly people, mainly members of The Bradbury and with their staff.
This social interaction fostered closer links with some service users, who became potential
participants in the second workshop. Furthermore this was a discovery process in which the
ageing agenda was not understood through a dry list of requirements established in a design
brief. Instead a variety of interviews, together with ethnographic observations made during
their daily activities and a group discussion table, enabled a dialogic interaction, aimed at
strengthening a bond of empathy, and providing insight into their challenges, needs, and
aspirations.

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Figure 2 Outputs of the reflection and discussion based on the report “Five Ways to wellbeing” of The
New Economics Foundation, which was used a catalyst to stimulate naturally the
conversation about this agenda as respects the elderly. Photo courtesy of Guilia Bossis,
2015.

As a result of this social interaction, and in preparation for the second workshop, four
agendas were defined as the first step towards tackling the ageing agenda as a whole.
These sought to present some of the most representative topics with respect to the local
wellbeing agenda. The topics and issues selected were built upon the insights, four areas of
opportunity, and potentially valuable responses which had come to light in the earlier
activities.
People living with dementia: this topic is important, not only for those directly affected and
their families, but for the community as a whole. It is possible for someone suffering from

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the earlier stages of dementia to continue living a dignified independent life, but only where
the community is knowledgeable and aware, so as to be able to respond in a way which
supports the sufferer.
Informal carers and the community: although the role of the informal carer is officially
recognised, it rarely receives the support and attention it deserves. Usually the provision of
services targets only the person with dementia without acknowledging that the wellbeing of
the patient is greatly dependent on the carer. To respond to this, there is no need of a major
structure or extra services. Often all that is needed is a supportive environment, with access
to relevant services which may already exist.
Bereavement and better access to services: various potentially valuable services do exist, but
often these may be difficult for those needing them to access. It will not be enough to
increase the supply of leaflets and other official means of information. Instead a variety of
friendly and informal channels need to be introduced. For those recently bereaved, are
often shocked and find it hard to communicate and re-enter normal life, so that they have a
special need of suitable ways to learn what help is available, and then to find the motivation
to take action.
Transition into retirement: retirement is potentially a very dangerous event. The self-image
which a person has cultivated over many years, is often suddenly shattered, and there is the
difficult task of establishing a suitable new one. The person who does not find the
motivation to build a new routine, is very likely to become lonely and inactive. It is vital to
give special support at this stage, so as to re-motivate such a person. In this way, the
subsequent social isolation and depression, now evident within the elderly, may be
prevented or reduced.

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Figure 3 Timeline of the design process and main research activities.

Co-designing in search of new possibilities of services
The second workshop brought together elderly users of local services, together with local
service providers and local commissioners, and designers (from the Kingston University
Sustainable Design Master's course). The format adopted sought to provide a supportive
framework, within which these diverse elements could gather and be guided in their search
for new possibilities of services which might be of value in tackling Kingston's wellbeing
agenda, with particular regard to the elderly.
The intention was to foster a mind-set open to the possibilities which may offer themselves
if the core economy within Kingston is activated, and is considered as one of the main assets
available for an effective response to the wellbeing agenda, for the elderly and those
affected by dementia.
The workshop format proposed to place the ways in which people may address, achieve, and
eventually experience wellbeing at the centre of any service innovation.

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Through principles of co-production, enabled by a co-design process and by the insights
arising from the earlier research, participants were aided to discover and define (the first
two phases of the Double Diamond design process model) opportunities for responding
creatively to the agendas and the issues underlying them.

Figure 4 Workshop format with materials and templates used to support the process in each table.

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Activating the core economy by design

The chosen way to introduce each agenda was by providing specifically relevant material,
with information which acted as a catalyst, to release suitable responses from the
participants.
This information consisted of a persona, a context and a question. Each persona presented
an elderly person facing a particular life crisis related to wellbeing.
The persona was to be introduced through a first-person narrative, embodying not only the
facts of the situation but the challenges, aspirations and emotions felt.
In order to facilitate the conversation and the analysis of the persona, the report “Five Ways
to wellbeing” developed by The New Economic Foundation were provided for each table.
An initial question sought to stimulate lively and energetic subsequent discussion, while
suggesting potential areas which it might be fruitful to consider, and which were likely to call
forth a range of different ideas.

Figure 5 Teams during the discussion and analysis of the given agendas. This process was guided by
understanding the persona’s challenges and interactions, and finally by recognition of the
available local assets which would provide significant support to the persona. Photo
courtesy of Pudsorn Promkingkaew, 2015.

The second stage included the clarification and definition of the team’s brief, in response to
the initial question provided. The prototyping of their ideas and suggestions, by means of a
storyboard, explained the way that the initiative could work, and expand on the team's
response to the agenda.

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Figure 6 Teams working on their service prototypes in order to explain how their idea would work
and the impact of this idea in the persona’s life and eventually throughout the community.
Photo courtesy of Pudsorn Promkingkaew, 2015.

In terms of the co-design process, the event showed the importance of ensuring a group
dynamic in which different voices would have a hearing, drawing on widely different areas of
knowledge and experience.
It became clear that co-design processes, especially those related to social innovation, gain
greatly from the input of ordinary people, with their day-to-day knowledge and particular
life experiences.
One of the main aims of the second workshop was to provide participants with a
framework which would encourage them to generate and propose new and original
possibilities of services. The pattern of discussion about the development and delivery
processes was likely to have more relevance, and a more enduring significance, than the
workshop outputs per se.
With respect to the agendas of the elderly, and of people living with dementia, it was
evident that the way in which the agendas were introduced enabled the participants to have
a deeper understanding of the challenges faced, and especially to begin to look on the
people involved in terms of human assets, rather than only as users, in constant need, and
thus as problems.
Most of the outputs developed by the each of the teams, could be considered as new
definitions of services, which in fact, could be easily translated to local services.

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The workshop outputs provided fresh responses, in which the roles of providers and
receivers were redefined, or even completely renewed. This emphasised the potential of
the core economy, was seen as a natural and essential participant in all efforts to tackle the
local wellbeing agenda.
The suggestions from the teams were varied, creative, and really promising.
For example one team developed a "companion matchmaking" service (in which a volunteer
will naturally support the sufferer in continuing with present activities, and potentially
extending them), as a service which seeks to encourage the local community to be aware
and responsive to people living with dementia.
Another team suggested a street party, as a way to generate a better and more engaging
method to keep informal carers in touch with their community, and to provide them with
both support and relevant information, in a supportive and empathetic environment.
The team which worked with the transition to a retirement agenda, created a retirement
advice centre, where the opportunity for mentoring, and the availability of new and varied
channels of communication, would help to make the transition into retirement controlled
and potentially enjoyable, being based on the person's interests and abilities.
Dealing with the topics of bereaved people, and access to services, the last team worked on
a proposal for creating more friendly and engaging ways to communicate the availability of
local services. Members of the local community, and word of mouth, would play a major role
in promoting these methods, making use of places in frequent and easy use.
It was very interesting to see how readily, in the teams' proposals, the traditional, and
isolating, role of user was broken, so that, instead of simply passively receiving a benefit,
they in fact became part of the delivery service, achieving improved wellbeing, while actively
participating.
Although some resourcing and financial support is still likely to be necessary, this was no
longer at the heart of the provision of services. The majority of the proposals aimed to make
fuller use of those assets and resources which were already in existence; but the assets
which were most valued were those provided by the people and the communities
themselves.

Conclusion
The research project sought to study the power of the bottom-up approach, and its
potential ability to drive positive changes leading towards the generation of more active and
supportive communities for tackling social issues. While many answers are proposed as to
what should be done to improve the world, much less attention is given to the way in which
in practice, such answers might be found, and such improvement brought about.
In answer to this need for suitable approaches to use in the search for better ways to bring
about the necessary transformations, this project proposes an agenda based on a bottom-up

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approach and the involvement of the general population, combined with the empowering
stimulus of a co-design process and the core economy.
The second workshop, in addition to offering some interesting potential solutions, also, and
perhaps more valuably, showed that, with a suitable guidance from designers within a codesign process; a mind-set could emerge based on the value of the ordinary citizens and
their natural assets, and this could be the basis for a completely revised view of the possible
ways to improve fundamentally the provision of public services for the elderly, even in time
of financial stringency. It is important to emphasise that within the co-design process,
designers have their own contributions to make which are in the first place their specialist
training, but also those assets which are built upon their experiences and particular
interests. Therefore, they combine several valuable roles involving the guidance of the
design process and to be responsive to the insights raise by the participants.
Although some positive comments were received by the participants, “it was great to think
about what really matters to people. I think a challenge for me is to ensure that those who
work in the creative arts are seen as a community asset and that they have an important role
to play in maintaining the wellbeing of our community”, one of the limitations of this project,
was the lack of enough time to be sure that this change in mind-set would last, and to watch
how far it could go in renewing the social care and health system in Kingston.
As for next steps, some of the ideas developed by the teams during the workshop are
considered to have much potential, and to be almost ready for official prototyping and
testing. But again this needs both time and guidance, which at this late stage of the project
cannot be guaranteed, but must be left in the hands of others. The work will not be wasted,
however, if the principles are picked up by the participants and employed, in different
circumstances, elsewhere.
All projects tackling social issues are dependent upon the existence of strong social
networks, since without them it is very difficult to build trust and empathy among the
stakeholders. Therefore it is important to provide time to strengthen relationships among
designers and the community in general.
There is no sort of professional training which can take the place of the insights arising from
daily experience in all its variety, as provided by people who are actually dealing with the
social issue under consideration. Such a source of knowledge must be acknowledged as
valuable in its own right, and also as an asset which, in one way or another, all participants
have in common. This factor in itself may help to enable horizontal channels of
communication, and so facilitate and enliven the design process.
Acknowledgements: This research project would not be possible without the
tremendous support and willingness of all the members and staff of The Bradbury, and
its manager Laura O´Brien, who always opened the doors of this special place for the
development of the research. The second workshop was only possible with the
participation, cooperation, and openness of all the providers of local services and of the
fellow students of the Master’s course Sustainable Design at Kingston University: Phil
Spencer, Ahsan Khan, and Lucy MacDonald; and the course leader Paul Micklethwaite,

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their support as designers and facilitators was a key element of this event. Project
website: http://tinyurl.com/q97ecwl

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Manzini, E. (2015). Design, when everybody designs. London, UK: MIT Press.
Penny, J., Slay, J., and Stephens, L. (2012). People powered health co-production catalogue. Retrieved
from http://tinyurl.com/onzpdku, (Accessed 12 August, 2015).
Slay, J., and Penny, J. (2013). Surviving austerity: Local voices and local action in England’s poorest
neighbourhoods. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/ohf9hg6, (Accessed 18 May, 2015).
Stephens, L., Ryan-Collins, J., and Boyle, D. (2008). Co-production: A manifesto for growing the core
economy. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/nhd6z57, (Accessed 7 August, 2015).
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Design for an Emphatic Society. The Netherlands: Bis Publishers.

About the Authors:
Rebeca Torres Castanedo is interested in the bottom-up approach
within the process of design, and its potential ability to drive positive
changes leading towards the generation of more sustainable
communities.
Paul Micklethwaite is interested in the impact of the sustainability
agenda on our theories and practices of design, and all modes of
design practice which are explicitly social. He is co-author of Design
for Sustainable Change (AVA Academia, 2011).

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On presenting a rich picture for stakeholder dialogue
Abigail C. Durranta*, Wendy Moncurb, David S. Kirka, Diego Trujillo Pisantya and Kathryn
Orzechb
a

Newcastle University
University of Dundee
*abigail.durrant@ncl.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.169
b

Abstract: In this paper we describe the design and use of a polyphonic picture book
for engaging public sector and industry stakeholders with findings from an academic
research project. The project combined interdisciplinary expertise to investigate how
UK citizens create and manage online digital identities at three significant life
transitions, aiming to deliver social, cultural and technical findings to inform policymaking and service innovation for enhancing digital literacy in online selfrepresentation. The picture book communicated empirical insights through the
presentation of multi-perspectival, fictional scenarios about individuals’ experiences
at the life transitions studied. We deployed the book with our project stakeholders
in two workshop settings to explore the efficacy of a novel visual format for fostering
stakeholder dialogue around the findings and their transferability. By offering an
account of this exploration, the paper aims to contribute methodological insights
about using visual storytelling to scaffold interpretative, dialogical contexts of
research engagement.
Keywords: visual methods; picture book; dialogism; stakeholder engagement

Introduction
Charting the Digital Lifespan (CDL) is a two-year UK research council-funded project
investigating how UK citizens create and manage their digital identities at three significant
life transitions across the human lifespan: becoming an adult, becoming a parent for the first
time, and retiring from work (http://www.digitallifespan.ac.uk). Combining expertise in
design, anthropology, cultural studies, and computer science, the project aimed to
understand how self-representation in a digital context, or ‘digital personhood’ (Baym 2015;
Lee, Goede and Shryock 2010), is experienced at the current time by different generations,
and how it is envisioned in the near future as individual citizens make sense of their changing

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Abigail C. Durrant, Wendy Moncur, David S. Kirk, Diego Trujillo Pisanty and Kathryn Orzech

lives mediated by new technologies. The overarching project goal was to generate social,
cultural and technical insights from this unique lifespan perspective, to inform UK policymaking and service innovation for enhancing digital literacy and enabling self-representation
online. To pursue this goal, the investigators sought to explore novel methods to
disseminate the project’s interdisciplinary outputs amongst its stakeholders (in industry,
Government and the public sector), thus increasing stakeholder engagement and the
potential for real-world impact and a demonstrable contribution to society.
These pursuits within the project were brought together in the design of a picture book
(Durrant, et al 2015) that was used as a key resource in two stakeholder workshops. The
researchers’ primary aim through this book was to capture and communicate a synthesis of
the project’s research findings that were of interest and relevance to the stakeholders, and
to foster discussion between the researchers and stakeholders about the potential value and
transferability of the research for making real world impact. An additional methodological
aim was to explore design practice in supporting collaboration between investigators to
consolidate their interdisciplinary outputs. The book presented qualitative, interdisciplinary
insights to stakeholders as a ‘rich local picture’ about individual citizens’ lives.
In this paper we, the CDL researchers, describe the design of the picture book for use in the
two stakeholder events. We provide the conceptual grounding of our visual-based
approach, and the new storytelling method we devised to produce a picture book for
research that draws upon multiple perspectives in the depiction of fictional, character-driven
scenarios, to present: stories of participant experience; analytic insights; and design
implications. We describe how the work of developing the multi-perspectival scenarios
constituted a dialogical, collaborative design process that we found valuable for
consolidating analytic insights from our studies. We go on to report feedback from
workshop participants and facilitators on the efficacy of the picture book as a resource for
communication, dialogue and further ideation. In closing we reflect on the methodological
insights gained from this case, intending to contribute to discourses within the DRS
community on visual, polyphonic storytelling methods for interdisciplinary research
communication and stakeholder dialogue within and beyond the academic context of study.

Interdisciplinary collaboration for future-oriented research
The CDL project engaged five partner institutions, combining expertise in different
disciplines. Our overall methodology was grounded in phenomenology (McCarthy and
Wright 2004; McCarthy and Wright 2015) establishing broad compatibility across the
differing approaches adopted by the partners. We focussed on three research populations:
young adults (18 to 21 years old), first-time parents (with children under two years), and
recent retirees (retiring within the last five years). The interdisciplinary team collectively
generated a multi-generational understanding about creating and managing digital
personhood from a lifespan perspective.

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The different partners investigated this subject matter in complementary ways. The
humanities-oriented partners (including this paper’s authors) employed qualitative methods,
including ethnography and experience-centred design (Koskinen, et al 2011; Wright and
McCarthy 2010; McCarthy and Wright 2015). Small sample sizes (up to 36 participants for
each population studied) were engaged for participant observation, interviews and focus
groups. Alongside this, ‘research through design’ studies were conducted (Blythe 2014;
Fallman 2003; Koskinen, et al 2011; Löwgren and Stolterman 2004), deploying design
artefacts to generate social, cultural and technical research findings.

Synthesising interdisciplinary outputs
Content for the picture book was developed from empirical materials generated by two of
the project partners, Newcastle University and University of Dundee, with expertise in
design and anthropology. Data was synthesised through collective, phenomenological
analytic sessions that took place quarterly in the second half of the project. This analysis
produced high-level themes that formed the basis for the ‘rich picture’ we would
communicate to stakeholders. To properly describe the project findings is beyond the scope
of this paper, but the themes we elucidated were: ‘Enablement through Digital’; ‘Digital
Social Norms’; and ‘Enacting and Nurturing Relationships’. Each theme provided an
interpretative frame for understanding accounts of lives lived online during a significant life
transition.
We aimed to design workshop resources that would invite discussion about the ways
stakeholders understand how citizens make sense of digital tools and media use – both
currently available, and envisioned. Ahead of designing the picture book and other
resources, we established criteria about our stakeholders’ known research interests, and
invited them to raise topics of concern to address. Before describing how we produced the
picture book, we first explain the concepts that informed our approach.

Picture book design for stakeholder engagement
Our experience-centred approach to the CDL project was grounded in philosophies of
pragmatism and dialogism (McCarthy and Wright 2004; McCarthy and Wright 2015). In turn,
the findings offered our stakeholders a qualitative understanding of the subject matter, a set
of rich, idiographic accounts of individual lives. We viewed this as potentially
complementary to the kinds of research understandings typically encountered by the
stakeholders, which are quantitative and mostly survey studies (Ofcom 2015; UK Office for
National Statistics 2015). We proposed offering them an alternative view that illuminated
detail in the felt life of individual citizens.

Communication through characters and scenarios
Given our focus, we set out to foster engagement around individual stories. There is a
tradition within interaction design research of communicating ethnographic insights in the
form of narrative vignettes (Orr 1996). There is also a long history of scenario-based

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communication for practicing user-centred design for human computer interaction (Carroll
2000). Both informed our approach. Scenarios provide concrete stories about user
experience, rather than presenting this in abstract terms and generalisms; scenarios focus
on the user’s needs, hopes, fears and activities, and let that drive analysis and ideation (ibid).
Carroll has demonstrated the value of scenarios – which often leverage visual storytelling –
to prompt envisioning as well as concretisation. Design fictions offer a more recent creative
method for envisioning, fabricating and contextualising near-future possible worlds;
storyworlds critically explore speculative design spaces, populated with conceptual design
proposals utilising ‘diegetic prototypes’ (Bleecker 2009; Kirby 2009; Stirling 2009). There are
now mature approaches and critical discourses in design research on the use of scenarios to
understand and ideate around subjective experience (e.g. Blythe 2014; DiSalvo 2012).
Indeed, scenarios have been critiqued for incorporating personae that may reflect
stereotypes and (unwittingly) reproduce generalisms, thus undermining the sense of
subjectivity that the scenario approach aims for (Nielsen 2002). Addressing this critique,
others have developed character-driven scenarios over plot-driven scenarios to retain
narrative focus on idiographic, felt life (Cooper 2002; Blythe and Wright 2006). Inspiration
has been taken from literary theory and scriptwriting in these endeavours.
Building on this for CDL, our consideration of scenarios for design research was most
centrally informed, after Wright and McCarthy (2005) and Blythe and Wright (2006), by a
dialogical reading of the polyphonic novel; this is a literary genre expressing human
experience in terms of multivoicedness and characters in dialogue. Wright and McCarthy
(2005) appropriate Bakhtin’s analysis of the polyphonic novel in relation to felt life to offer
useful insight for guiding researcher engagement with accounts of experience; this is based
on the Bakhtinian concept of the unfinalisability of experience: “the novel has the potential
to be a multi-voiced dialogic – a useful stance for expressing the open and continually
changing and developing nature of experience with technology” (ibid, p.14). What is
emphasised here, and taken on in our design process, is the function of character
perspectives within a narrative to express the potential for dialogue about a complex subject
matter or state of being.

Visual methods of communication and ideation
We now describe the conceptual grounding of our visual-based approach. Visual storytelling
is often at the core of scenario design methods (Buxton 2007; Moggridge 2007). The CDL
studies collected large amounts of visual data, mostly relating to the expression of identity
and selfhood through social media use; photographic and pictorial expression was found to
be of central significance in our studies of digital personhood, as we report elsewhere
(Trujillo Pisanty, et al 2014). It therefore seemed fitting to leverage visual communication in
our scenarios.
The picture book format has traditionally been associated with children’s storytelling
(Nikolajeva and Scott 2000). McCloud (1993) explores the medium of sequential art (that
combines images and prose), offering insight into the potential of picture books to

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communicate to adult audiences and their wide application as a creative form of expression
(see also Eisner, 2008). Picture books leveraging sequential art have been used for
interaction design research communication and argumentation (Durrant, et al 2011;
Rowland, et al 2010), and the value of the pictorial for disseminating research about humancomputer interaction is increasingly recognised (Blevis, Hauser, and Odom 2015). Our
decision to develop scenarios in a picture book format for engaging stakeholder dialogue
about our research aims to contribute to this growing body of work.

A picture book for our project

Figure 1 The CDL Picture Book, produced in digital copy plus as a soft-bound book, to afford personal
reading and reference in the context of round-table discussion and personal engagement.

The CDL Picture Book captures collective, interdisciplinary insights from the project,
depicted in the form of fictional, character-driven scenarios about individuals’ experiences at
the three life transitions we studied (Figure 1). Circulated to individual stakeholders in both
digital form and as a soft-bound book, the resource served to afford personal reading and
reference in both the context of workshop reflection and discussion, and afterwards.
The book contains three scenarios, each about one of the life transitions, and includes an
Introduction for the reader. The narratives were collaboratively developed taking
inspiration from individual participant accounts that (i) resonated with our analytic themes
and (ii) saliently featured details mapping to our synthesised findings. Some narrative
details in the scenarios’ design reflected actual content from the participants’ accounts. The
scenarios were populated with fictional characters that, rather than being seen as
archetypes or personas (in the traditional sense), reflected instead the unique individuals we
met in our studies, and their expressed understandings, hopes and fears about digital

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personhood in all its complexity. Narrative development was further informed by the
interests of stakeholders that we identified, directing a projective distillation of findings for
inclusion. The scenario development process required focused, face-to-face work by
researchers who had a deep, expert understanding of the research being represented, over
the course of two daylong sessions plus numerous email exchanges. In this sense, whilst
fictional, the scenarios were based on and grounded in empirical data – a strategy previously
used by other researchers employing narrative approaches (e.g. Blythe 2014).

Three perspectives on the research

Figure 2a CDL Picture Book spread, showing the three perspectives on the research (pages 6-7).

Figure 2b CDL Picture Book detail, showing the three perspectives on the research (page 6).

We devised a structure for the scenarios that is arguably innovative, and builds upon
previous explorations of the picture book format (Durrant, et al 2011). Directly inspired by
the concept of the polyphonic novel and multiple authorial voices (Wright and McCarthy,
2005), we set out to configure three perspectives on the scenario for the reader to engage
with: (A) stories of participant experience; (B) analytic insights; and (C) strategic design

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implications (Figure 2a and 2b). These three perspectives – or authorial voices – are
presented in the graphical layout as visually distinct from each other (Figure 3). The stories
of experience (A) are captured in sequential art form, through hand-drawn illustrations
accompanied by prose descriptions of narrative events. Taking further inspiration from
design fiction approaches (Bleecker 2009; Stirling 2009), the stories incorporate fictional,
near future products and services, devised to spark critical dialogue on potential design
directions and to motivate a generative process of ideation around the accounts of
experience (see also Figure 6). A series of empirical research insights from our collective
analysis (B) are captured as prose statements in a distinguishing typeface; each statement is
spatially juxtaposed with the corresponding narrative event that was inspired by it. These
insights reflect social and cultural understandings about the subject. A number of
implications for service and system design are presented in rectangular, round-edged boxes,
juxtaposed with the corresponding narrative event (Figure 3).

Figure 3 CDL Picture Book detail, taken from Young Adults scenario (page 10).

Our intention through the introduction of the multiple authorial voices was to offer an
engaging means (through (A)) to contextualise the research insights (B) and offer directions
for their real-world applicability and transferability (through (C)), (Figure 3). Juxtaposing the
voices enabled us to convey – in a relatively brief form – the idiographic nuance and
complexity of experience that was perceived to be a core value of our findings, whilst
delineating ‘fact’ from fiction (Figure 4).

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Figure 4 Another CDL Picture Book detail from page 10, showing the multiple authorial threads.

For example, in an early part of the Young Adults scenario, the depicted behaviour of the
character named darkAngel reflects behaviour reported by a number of research
participants across the two data sets (Figure 4). However, as the narrative in the fictional
scenario develops, the behaviour of the darkAngel character deviates from that voiced by and observed of – the research participants; darkAngel becomes the personification of many
of the participants’ fears about their manipulation by others in the course of online
interactions, via the construction and expression of false or alternative identities (Figure 5).

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Figure 5 Dilemma Card accompanying Young Adults scenario in CDL Picture Book, intended to foster
alternative readings of the scenarios and provoke new reflection on the research.

A key function of our multi-voiced picture book design was to open up stakeholder dialogue
and sense making on our research rather than simply present results. To enhance this
function, we additionally devised three Dilemma Cards (A5-sized and connoting playing
cards in form) – one corresponding to each scenario – that presented additional discursive

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content (using the multiple threads of (A), (B), and (C)) to extend each scenario with a
provocative narrative plot twist (Figure 5).

Stakeholder workshop design and analysis
We now describe using the picture book (and cards) within the stakeholder workshops. A
stakeholder workshop was planned from the project outset; and three of the identified
stakeholders had sat on a steering group panel in an advisory capacity across the project
timeframe. The stakeholders invited to the planned workshop held interests and expertise
ranging across crime, personal security, defence, taxation, personal data, media and design,
and had senior roles in Government, industry or the public sector. This workshop was
primarily positioned as an event for disseminating key project findings; however it was also
seen as a generative event through the delivery of a report afterwards that synthesised
workshop discussion and incorporated the additional input of the stakeholders in response
to the presented findings. The objective was therefore to create a discursive (dialogical)
context for discussing new empirical materials of direct interest and relevance to those in a
position to impact and shape services to UK citizens. The second workshop, whilst not
included in the original project plan, was opportunistically developed to extend discussion
with one of the stakeholder organisations.
The workshop agenda was structured by appropriating HM Government’s Futures Toolkit
‘Seven Questions’ method (Cabinet Office and GO-Science 2014), supported by the picture
book. The agenda was refined through consultation with Government and public sector
advisors. Critically, we limited the workshop to half a day, as the stakeholders were heavily
time-constrained. We also focussed explicitly on connections between the academic
findings and practical areas of known relevance for stakeholders, to ensure that the
workshop delivered satisfactory outcomes for them. Following a pilot, two workshop events
were then run: the first with a range of participants from Government, public sector and
industry; the second with an independent public sector organisation that had a direct
interest in the responsible use of UK citizens’ personal data.
Stakeholders were given details of the intended aims and outcomes of each workshop, and
invited to shape these to fit their own objectives more closely; they provided ethical consent
to participate in our methodological research on the workshop resources; their contact
details were kept confidential. They received digital copies of the picture book in advance,
but it was not assumed that they would necessarily have time to read it (note that the
dilemma cards were not presented in advance).

Workshop structure
The workshop was structured to maximise interaction between its participants. Following
introductions, the stakeholders were split up into three equal-sized round-table groups.
Each group was introduced to one picture book scenario (Young Adults, New Parents, Recent
Retirees) by a facilitator and was given an opportunity to read it individually, before
engaging in a group discussion. Following discussion and a break, participants were invited

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to move on to the next table, and engage with the next scenario. This was repeated twice so
that all participants discussed all scenarios.
Stakeholders were asked to address the following questions from the Futures Toolkit
(Cabinet Office & GO-Science 2014) about each scenario, through facilitated group
discussion:
1) What would you identify as critical issues for the future related to this scenario? (5
minutes)
2) If things went wrong what factors would you worry about? – What are the risks you
identify for your organisation? (6 minutes)
3) Looking at your organisation, how might processes need to be changed to bring about
desired outcome(s), maximising benefits and minimising risks? (7 minutes)
Additional questions that could be addressed if there was sufficient time were:
4) If all constraints were removed and you could direct what is done, what more would you
wish to include?
5) If things went well, what’s a desirable outcome?
6) What are the benefits you identify in this scenario for your own organisation?
Stakeholders were then introduced to the dilemma card for their scenario, and given time to
read it, before being asked Question 2 (above) again. Once the groups had discussed the
scenarios, everyone came together to summarise the findings and share the discussion
points and knowledge generated.
In Workshop Two, our host at the organisation led the final discussion. This focussed
explicitly on how to apply knowledge generated during the workshop to that organisation’s
practice for engagement with the public and with policymakers. Chatham House Rule
(http://tinyurl.com/oqdvs3s) was observed at both workshops. Discussions were
documented in note form on flipchart paper.
A paper-based evaluation was then carried out; each participant was invited to respond to
the following questions:
1) How did you use the picture book as a resource for supporting discussion with your
colleagues about the subject matter of the workshop?
2) How did the character-driven scenarios and accompanying research insights, captured in
the book, prompt discussion of potential policy directions and service design
opportunities?
3) What are your thoughts on how this picture book could be used to communicate
research insights within your organisation?
4) What do you see as the benefits and barriers to using this picture book approach as a
resource within your organisation?
Discussions at the first workshop were captured and subsequently distilled in a
‘Stakeholders’ Report’, circulated to attending stakeholders after the event.

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Analysis of picture book use
The first, second and third authors conducted a phenomenological analysis of the following
data: responses to the paper-based evaluation (constituting responses from 17 workshop
participants (P) and three facilitators (F)); participant observation by the first and second
authors; and autoethnographic reflection on the book in use. Our findings are organised
around a set of themes. These broadly map to the evaluation questions asked, and focus on
participants’ practical sense making around their workshop experiences.

Findings: Picture book use in the stakeholder workshop
Grounding and opening up discussion
The picture book was predominantly used in the round-table discussions “to understand the
scenarios under discussion, then as a reference for particular talking points” (P2). The book
was found to provide “a good starting point for discussion” (Facilitator 1), with the scenarios
working to contextualise the presented research: “it was useful as it instantly contextualised
things and made it easier to engage with the questions and aims of the debate” (P7); “It was
a good way to begin a discussion and make sure everyone was talking about the same thing
– gave context” (P11). “The format and structure introduced the range of concerns very
effectively” (P15); “It provided specific examples as a basis for discussion, which is more
helpful than starting from more general impression of people’s behaviour” (P13). The book
was “referenced throughout the session to identify key areas of discussion” (P14); it “kept
conversation grounded as everyone had examples to refer to in discussion” (P5). It also
helped open out discussion: “The book provided a useful prompt and encouraged further
consideration of issues beyond those directly referred to within it” (P6).

From the abstract to the particular: making real
The printed form factor worked well at the tables: “The tangibility and the narrative were
powerful cues for both personal reflection on the scenarios and discussion” (P15).
Participants made a number of comments about the interleaving of project research insights
with fictional characters and narratives. In graphic design terms, “the monotone style
worked well - its starkness and lack of colour invited the reader to think from the
perspective of those pictured” (P16). Participants described how the “link between the
scenarios and the findings in the ‘call out’ boxes worked well to make the research insights
seem clearer and more real” (P4).
The book and accompanying dilemma cards showed “examples of things that can happen in
practice, to stop conversation being too abstract” between the participating group members
(P1); “It enabled us to consider high level, potentially abstract concepts through the lens of
‘real life scenarios’” (P3). The book served to help the participants navigate between the
abstract and the particular: “I think it was a useful referral tool, as it allowed you to relate a
concept which you are trying to discuss at quite an abstract level to a more ‘real-life’
situation” (P7); it provided “specific names and stories, with which to discuss hypothetical

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situations” (P5). Anchoring the character-driven narratives in research data was also found
to give the material that was presented credibility with participants, whilst service design
insights were used as “hooks” (Facilitator 2) for discussion throughout the scenarios.
Moreover, the material presented in the picture book generated discussions on the
heterogeneity of UK citizens. Participants identified fresh opportunities to understand the
breadth of views on individual citizen experience, and suggested that they could engage with
these individuals through the resource.

Communicating complex issues in an understandable way
The workshop structure was found to give the Workshop Two participants time to reflect on
issues relating to the responsible use of UK citizens’ personal data, which was their core
focus as an organisation. Many participants identified the book’s communicative potential
within their organisation, as offering “a good discussion prompt” to foster internal dialogue
(P3, P6), and “to convey issues” (P12); “We could use specific examples like this to focus
policy discussions around privacy notices, consent, etcetera” (P13); “linked to future
guidance, this could form part of an internal learning session” (P14). The approach seemed
transferrable and had capacity to open up further dialogue: “We could produce a version
which supplemented your scenarios with issues from our own strategic concerns in this
domain, to embed the discussions in a more directly relevant place, but at the same great
level of insight” (P15).
The way in which the book content and format served to offer a projected distillation of
insight was appreciated: “It is refreshing and helpful to have a different means of
communicating findings which is brief – rather than a long discussion paper; we see a lot of
the more traditional, lengthy and discursive papers in the day job, and this helps to make
you consider things from the perspective of the public” (P4); “A quick and easy way to
impart the information contained within” (P10).
From a facilitator perspective, the book “made the research concepts easy for the
stakeholders to grasp, and allowed us to really maximise the time we had with them in one
afternoon – we could jump right in, and talk about issues” (F2), as it “invites engagement”
(F3).
The efficacy of the resource was also considered for outward-facing dialogue. Participants
also saw opportunities to integrate the different character views into advisory materials that
they produce, aimed at policymakers, corporations and citizens: “thinking about how we
present advice in an engaging way – again making helpful and practical points available to
different audiences” (P4); “We could also use this approach more in external
communications and guidance” (P13); for “communicating to the public complex matters in
an understandable way”; “simple, clear, visual” (P12); “people relate to visual, graphical
representation well” (P6).

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Concerns around scope and representativeness
There were, however, concerns voiced about the scenarios for conceptually limiting the
discussion space. One participant was concerned that the book was “fairly limited with
three stories” (P11). Another found the scenario constraining the “scope to expand further
to explain what people can do to remedy the issue or how to prevent it happening in the
first place” (P14); it was felt that the diegetic space (story world) could have afforded more
along these lines. And another participant was concerned “that in describing a specific
scenario you may stifle discussion on an issue that may be useful but is not mentioned”.
Other perspectives ameliorated such issues. One participant relayed: “it seemed narrow
that the scenarios all portrayed lone individuals in circumstances of some anxiety or risk,
however in practice this allowed the discussion to include critiques of the scenarios, which
was very useful” (P15).

Figure 6 CDL Picture Book: an extract from the New Parents scenario that incorporates fictional
products and services within the narrative events (page 16).

There were equally differing levels of comfort around the role of fictitious elements: “I found
it confusing when completely fictitious examples were used in the scenarios, for example, a
pregnancy text that set up an appointment with a GP [general practitioner] (Figure 6). It
would have been easier to understand if they were real life anonymised, but likely or
common scenarios for that group” (P19). An interesting criticism here is on a perceived lack
of clarity about the relationship between empirical evidence and fiction in the narrative
threads. This was caused by our inclusion, in places, of fictitious, near-future products and
services within the story world. Feedback from this workshop participant revealed that such
narrative components could be ‘confusing’ if not properly introduced.

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General reflections on the resource
Building on the last point, the facilitators reflected that the picture book needed a sufficient
presentational context to be adequately ‘read’ and understood. As F2 reflected, “I feel that
to hand it over to others it might need a bit of framing”. The facilitator went on to point to
the necessity of there being a dialogic process between the researchers, facilitators and the
participants around the presentation of the resource: “I think without the workshop part of
it, people might have difficulty walking away with the key points of the CDL project” (F2).
Other practical concerns were voiced, about the picture book production. Some considered
the investment of effort in production could be justified if it delivered on value: “It could be
time-consuming but worthwhile I think” (P1); “It involves more time and effort to prepare,
as compared to simply presenting facts and figures; it actually requires very detailed
research, to construct realistic examples, but is very powerful if done well” (P13). Our own
concern in reflecting on the book production is that the work of creating its content and
then providing the framing for its presentation necessitated, in the workshops conducted to
date, significant input and representation by the research team members who were also the
book’s designers – as experts on the book’s content and function. The extent to which this
picture book would work in a stakeholder workshop without the presence of at least one of
the researchers involved in creating it is an open question to explore in future workshops.

Discussion
In this paper, we offer a case of using picture books as a resource for design. Specifically, we
describe putting some of the polyphonic literary devices highlighted by Wright and McCarthy
(2005) into practice in the design of a visual storytelling resource for stakeholder dialogue
around research findings. We now reflect upon the picture book in use in the stakeholder
workshop context.
First, we revisit the purpose we wanted the book to serve in the workshop, to help us reflect
on its usefulness and potential appropriation by others (e.g. stakeholders, design
researchers). In its design, we oriented to it as a resource for enabling sense making and
productive dialogue around a set of research insights.
Based on our workshop feedback, the book proved efficacious in scaffolding this dialogical
space for stakeholder interaction. Reflecting more deeply on why, we suggest that our
research insights would always have to be grounded by the stakeholders themselves within
their own practices if they were to be made of sense to them and be usable. There was little
utility in presenting definitive statements about the research outputs. Consequently, we
saw the findings depicted in the book as constituting dialogic elements of a research space
that remained open for interpretation.
Arguably, the character-driven scenarios also helped create this interpretative frame. We
return to Wright and McCarthy’s reading of Bakhtin (2005) to elaborate. In a Bakhtinian
analysis of the polyphonic genre:

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“We see the world of the novel from multiple perspectives of different characters with
different value systems, and there is seldom one best way forward… Rather it is the
relations between these value systems that drive the novel on. … Furthermore,
characters’ actions are not causally determined by plot, a creative response can be
drawn out of them without destroying the coherence of the story.” (Wright and
McCarthy 2005, p.15)

In the Young Adults scenario, part of which is depicted in this paper (Figures 1 – 5), the
darkAngel character is positioned in empathic relation with the CDL research participants
whose accounts are represented; this is captured on page 10 (Figure 4) in the juxtaposition
of the pictorial depicting darkAngel’s gaming profile with the authorial voice of the
researchers talking about research findings (B). darkAngel presents herself to character
Matt (the young adult in this story) through different identities, at different events within
the narrative thread, (for example, as Emma through a social media friend request (Figure
4)). It is the relationship dynamics between Matt and darkAngel/ Emma that were intended
to invite stakeholder engagement because it is the concerns such as ‘wariness when getting
to know people online’ that were deemed of core interest for discussion and ideation in the
workshop context (Figure 5). Moreover, we see here how the characters in the stories are
actually operating, not just with each other, but in further dialogue with the other authorial
voices of the picture book.
Connecting this example to methodological discourse: another criticism of scenarios for
design research, aside from their historic use of stereotyped personae (Nielsen 2002), is that
they are often seen to close down interpretation by their readers about a design space of
possibility by presenting a ‘unitary vision’ of a technological future (Gaver 2011). Indeed we
received some critical feedback (above) about how the stories in the CDL picture book
constrained thinking to the represented subjects. Arguably, however, the unique, multiperspectival format of this picture book – or polyphonic picture book as it might be dubbed
– and the nature of its content, were found, by most at the workshops, to open up the
dialogic imagination of workshop participants around the presentation of research insights
and the possible design spaces that they suggest for consideration.
Our researcher positioning within the picture book design process and the workshop event is
also significant to reflect on methodologically. Thinking in terms of a dialogical exchange,
we, as a research team, collected new research data and analytic insight through the book
design process and the workshop discussions. The process of synthesising (and distilling)
collective insights from a complex, interdisciplinary project into something relatively brief,
pictorial, and accessible required significant collaborative dialogue between the disciplinary
partners in efforts to engage, analyse, and ideate around alternative perspectives on the
project and its outputs. On reflection, developing and editing the book was found to be
enriching for further analysing the CDL data as a collective process, for example, deciding on
research highlights and accommodating changes to story and character features to hone
representations. Also, we recognise that our insight as this picture book’s designers
contributed significantly to the running of the two workshops (although round table group
activities were in three cases facilitated by others). These are important considerations for

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On presenting a rich picture for stakeholder dialogue

the transferability of the method. We are currently using the picture book in further
stakeholder engagements with different workshop structures, framing devices, and reading
contexts, to deepen our understanding of its effectiveness and limitations.
In closing, we reiterate our intended contribution with this paper to offer a case study
account of the design and use of a novel, polyphonic picture book format to open up
stakeholder dialogue about the qualitative findings from an interdisciplinary research
project. Reflecting on this process, we have suggested how aspects of the book’s format,
content, and context of use offer methodological insights to the DRS community about using
visual storytelling techniques with particular dialogical features, for scaffolding
interpretative contexts of research engagement.
Acknowledgements: We thank our workshop participants and facilitators for their
interest and contributions to our research, and the anonymous reviewers who provided
valuable guidance. The Charting the Digital Lifespan (CDL) project is funded by RCUK
(EP/L00383X/1). The first author is supported by The Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2012-642).

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About the Authors:
Abigail Durrant is Leverhulme Fellow in Human-Computer
Interaction, with a longstanding interest in how digital interactions
support expressions of personal, social and cultural identity. Her
approach is design-led and practice-based, using design artefacts and
processes to understand and communicate ideas and experiences.
Wendy Moncur is Reader in Socio-Digital Interaction. Her
interdisciplinary research focuses on the design of digital
technologies to support lived human experience across the lifespan,
and is grounded in Human-Computer Interaction.

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David Kirk is Reader in Cultural Computing. His design research
explores the intersections of memory, data and materiality, utilising a
variety of qualitative methods, to support the human-centred design
of novel interactive computational technologies and services.
Diego Trujillo Pisanty is a researcher and visual artist exploring the
human elements within technological systems. He often employs
technological methods to address his research interests.
Kathryn Orzech is a research fellow interested in how online life and
connectivity change across the physical lifespan. Her research
focuses on the intersections of anthropology, digital technology, and
health

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Design and the Creation of Representational
Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving
Richard Cooneya*, Nifeli Stewartb, Tania Ivankab and Neal Haslemb
a

Monash University
RMIT University
*richard.cooney@monash.edu
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.289

b

Abstract: This paper highlights the role of design and designers in the creation of
visual artefacts as boundary objects to be used to facilitate social problem solving.
Many problems in human service systems can only be solved by purposive action
amongst the stakeholders of the system but each stakeholder has only a partial view
of the system. Boundary objects that present a multi-stakeholder perspective can
facilitate problem solving by creating representations of the system that are
meaningful to all stakeholders. In this study we used sensemaking (often a textual
practice) and visualisation to create a high complexity representational artefact to
enable shared understandings of an occupational rehabilitation system.
Keywords: visual sensemaking; social problem solving; complex multi-stakeholder service
system; boundary objects

Introduction
Designers have recently become interested in the contribution that design can make to the
solution of a wide range of social problems. This development has been facilitated by
managers and organisational development practitioners turning to design in their search for
new methods of service improvement. Design has entered into the search for innovation in
service delivery and, in particular, innovation in the delivery of health and education
services. Design methods – such as ethnographic approaches to understanding user needs
and the rapid prototyping of designs – have been employed to develop co-creation and coproduction with users in human service delivery (Bessant & Maher 2009, Bevan et al. 2007,
Ehn, Nilsson & Topgaard 2014).
Much work in human service delivery has focused upon service system functionality, but
there exists a role for designers in the creation of boundary objects that can communicate
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem

systemic properties. Carlile (2002, 2004) describes the role of boundary objects as that of
representing, learning about, transferring, negotiating, altering and creating new knowledge
to resolve the boundary issues that arise in complex systems.
Human service systems are multi-stakeholder systems. Stakeholders are all those individuals
and groups that affect or are affected by a service system. This definition covers a broad
range of individuals and groups, many of whom have differing roles at different points of the
system. Stakeholders are thus often sub-divided into those with a primary or direct interest
and those with a secondary or indirect interest. Amongst the first group, 'users' of the
system are those directly providing or receiving service, whilst the broader group of primary
stakeholders may include service regulators and others. Secondary stakeholders may include
employee unions and advocacy groups. In what follows we prefer the broader term
'stakeholder' to cover the divergent roles of the groups that we study (Freeman, Harrison &
Wicks 2007).
In multi-stakeholder and multi-user service systems no single stakeholder and no single user
is central to the functioning of the system. Social problems in such service systems are
usually resolved by interaction amongst the stakeholders. This interaction may be in a
political process as stakeholders negotiate the policies and procedures of service provision
(e.g. service charters) or it may be focused upon negotiating individual pathways for direct
users of the system (e.g. a treatment plan). This interactive problem solving occurs when
problems arising in the service system can only be solved by the purposive action of
stakeholders collectively, rather than by expert study and expert decision (Kelman, 2010).
In multi-stakeholder service systems where interactive problem solving constitutes a core
part of service delivery, representational artefacts that are meaningful to the stakeholders of
the system can play an important role in problem solving. The representation of problems in
diffuse service systems frequently overlooks the differences between the systemic
conceptualisations of different stakeholders. Thus, creating a meaningful artefact can act to
generate convergence in representation. This convergence aids participation in social
problem solving, facilitating the co-production of service and co-design of system
improvements (Morrison & Dearden, 2013).
To create representational artefacts that are meaningful to the diverse stakeholders of a
service system, the various meanings of the system for stakeholders must be explored. This
paper outlines the value of sensemaking for this task and the way in which sensemaking and
visualisation can be used jointly to create a meaningful representational artefact. The paper
then employs a case study from the occupational rehabilitation service system and reports
on the design methods used in the creation of the representational artefact as a boundary
object.

Sensemaking and Design
Sensemaking is a broad term that refers to the ways in which people construct meaning
from experience. It refers to the cognitive elements associated with the interpretation of

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experience but also to the socio-psychological elements of the invention of meaning, such as
the construction of identity. Sensemaking is concerned with social practice in the creation of
understanding and the enactment of social realities based upon that understanding (Brown
et al. 2015, Weick 1995).
The practice of sensemaking has much in common with that of designers, and though
perhaps unrecognised, has traditionally been a key aspect of design practice. Sensemaking
takes examples grounded in experience and – through the use of abductive processes –
seeks patterns of social behaviour and generalisations about motivations.
In the case examined here, sensemaking and the design practice of visualisation were
combined to create a meaningful artefact of an occupational rehabilitation system.
Stakeholders in the occupational rehabilitation system often have only a partial view of the
system, making the practice of sensemaking useful to this research. Occupational
rehabilitation is delivered through interactive social problem solving, with the employer and
the treating health professional, for example, attending jointly to the medical and psychosocial factors entailed in returning an injured worker to the workplace and reintegrating
them to work. Purposive action is required in the interactions between the parties, but each
stakeholder only sees action within their action domain. The challenge for the research was
to construct the multiple meanings of the rehabilitation system for stakeholders and
develop a representation of the system that would communicate multiple viewpoints. The
endemic problems in the system – such as miscommunication between employers and
health professionals, which we describe in more detail below – could only be understood
once the stakeholders could understand their systemic misrepresentations of ‘rehabilitation’
beyond their individual action domain.
Much of the practice of sensemaking is based in social discourse through the use of verbal
and textual narratives of experience. For the purposes of the research team, however, the
construction of a single narrative was problematic since it would likely be appropriated or
ignored by each of the stakeholders as a representation or misrepresentation of their
experience. Rather, a visualisation of the system of interactions in rehabilitation was
required so that each of their stakeholders could identify their location in the system and
identify the interactions that were preparatory to, or the consequence of, the interactions in
their own domain. In other words the visualisation supported multiple viewpoints and
narratives of the occupational rehabilitation service system.
Sensemaking through visualisation is an iterative process. The sensemaking informs the
construction of the visualisation, and the visualization itself informs the dialogue around the
sensemaking. This work became integral to the work of the research team, informing their
construction of the system of interactions in the rehabilitation service system. In this sense,
design can be said to aid the visualisation of the perspectives of different stakeholders,
promote dialogue about the social problem and lead to a shared problem statement ahead
of the work on solutions.

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The role of Visualisations
Visualisation is central to design practice and there exists substantial work on the role of
visual representation in the design literature. Ewenstein and Whyte (2007, 2009) highlight
the cognitive role of visual representations. These representations can overcome the limits
to an individual’s cognitive capacity, reducing cognitive load. Using multiple representations
side by side can elucidate different aspects of a problem that lead to unexpected discoveries
in the process of interacting with representation. The modes of expression in visual
representation can range from highly detailed and concrete to ambiguous and deliberately
vague. Lengler and Eppler (2007) describe visualisation studies as an emergent field, with
research emanating from scholars within diverse disciplinary practices such as human
computer interaction, graphic design, management and architecture. As yet this research
remains un-integrated across these practices, and the field risks further fragmentation and
loss of valuable insights that might be gained from such diverse disciplines (Ewenstein &
Whyte 2007, 2009, Whyte et al 2007, Segelstrom 2009).
Lengler and Eppler (2007) and Eppler and Burkhard (2004) are interested in the potential of
visualisations for the transfer and creation of knowledge and make a distinction between
knowledge visualisation, information visualisation and visual communication. They believe
that managers and organizational development practitioners – outside of advertising and
corporate identity visualisation – make very little use of visualisation methods in their work.
Managers have little awareness of other uses of visualisation methods, their requirements,
benefits and application areas. The widely accepted forms of visualisation in business are
internally focused, such as those that show achievement against performance measures
(cost, time etc.); show formal business processes and procedures (activity flow charts,
organisational charts, etc.), or; show process status (such as visual factory methods). Eppler
and Burkhard (2004) believe that the potential for visual representation is often lost because
there is little assistance for non-professional visualisers to make use of the power of
complex visualisations.
Ewenstein & Whyte (2007, 2009) and Whyte et al (2007) show the important roles that
visual materials play in project based work leading to the creation of new knowledge. They
explored how engineering and architectural project teams use visuals in their practice, how
these support different modes of decision making, and how different forms of visual
representation change the focus of the conversation with materials. They found that
visualisations are used extensively in both cases, but the nature of visual practice (types of
representations used, owners of the visual material, foci of attentions, and patterns of
interactions) differs significantly between the two contexts. The authors conceptualise this
as the difference between exploitation, where project visualisation is largely in commercial
and process terms (time and resources) and exploration, where the project uses a wide
range of visual materials to understand physical interdependencies and to create new
knowledge. The authors’ findings suggest that managers can make more deliberate choices
about how knowledge is made visible, thus shaping the nature of their project and the
desired trajectories of learning within and across projects. Key to this work is understanding

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Design and the Creation of Representational Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving

how visuals can be used to shape meaning and transfer knowledge (Ewenstein & Whyte
2007, 2009, Whyte et al. 2007).
This use of visualisation to create knowledge is less understood in many organisations
because of the extensive use of visualisation to represent quantitative data. The
representation of more qualitative data and the construction of meaning from that data is
less explored.
In the case explored here, visualisation was used to represent new knowledge about the
properties of the occupational rehabilitation system, knowledge that was then used to
develop shared understandings of this complex service system that has shared ownership.
Visualisation, in this project, fits well with more interpretative design practice. Visualisation
has been examined as a design activity for problem solving (Mendel & Yeager 2010) that
encompasses all phases of the design cycle, from understanding what is; deconstructing
what is; exploring what could be; and making what could be. Kolko (2011) discusses how
important it is for designers to make the design synthesis side of their work explicit, in order
for it to be valued by their more logical and linear thinking clients, and that visualisation
methods can help them do this.
Visualisation practice thus offers a good fit with sensemaking practice. This experimental
practice of sensemaking through visualisation enabled the research team to synthesise
qualitative data and abstract from the multiple narratives of the service system. This
produced what might be termed a high complexity representation of that service system.
High complexity representations highlight systemic properties that are not visible to the
stakeholders in the system, thus promoting further action to improve the overall
performance of the system.

Case Study: Occupational rehabilitation through a Workers’
Insurance Agency
The research was commissioned by the agency responsible for workplace safety in the state
of Victoria, Australia – WorkSafe Victoria. The agency has a dual role in the promotion of
workplace safety in Victoria. The agency is firstly the regulator of workplace health and
safety practice, with responsibility for accident investigations, the investigation of workplace
safety breaches and the launching of prosecutions against employers arising from these
investigations. Secondly, the agency is the regulator of the workers’ insurance scheme in
Victoria, with responsibility for the compensation and occupational rehabilitation of injured
workers.
In the first role the agency works with employers and employees to improve safety practice.
In the second role it works with a range of stakeholders – employers, injured employees,
insurance agents, treating health professionals and rehabilitation providers – to ensure the
Return to Work (RTW) and continuation in employment of those suffering a disability as the
result of a workplace injury. In each role the agency has promotional but also important
compliance and regulatory functions. These compliance and regulatory functions tend to

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Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem

dominate the work of the agency, as they are the activities more closely specified in the
legislation governing the agency.
WorkSafe Victoria has been very successful in its first role of harm reduction. It has overseen
a continual reduction of the rate of workplace accidents and injuries, to provide Victoria
with the lowest accident rate of any state in Australia; this despite the economic significance
of industries (such as manufacturing and construction) with traditionally high rates of
accidents. The agency has been less successful in its second role of rehabilitation, however,
with limited improvement evident in rates of Return to Work of injured workers following a
workplace incident. Around 20% of injured workers have not yet returned to work after six
months of absence from the workplace (WorkSafe 2015).
The research was commissioned by WorkSafe Victoria to better understand the wide
variation in RTW performance between employers. The proposal was to study the
rehabilitation practices of high performing employers, so that some insight might be gained
into reasons for such high performance. Qualitative research methods, drawing upon the
insights of grounded theory into the analysis of social phenomena (Glaser 1998) were used
to examine this, and involved the conduct of semi-structured interviews with key officers
involved in workplace RTW. These included: Human Resource Managers; Workplace ReturnTo-Work Coordinators and Supervisors.
Six Victorian organisations that have successfully implemented beneficial RTW practices
were chosen. Participating organisations were identified by WorkSafe Victoria on the
grounds that they had a substantial drop in their insurance premium in the past two years
and/or had won WorkSafe awards for their RTW practice.
Medium and large organisations were approached, as these are the organisations that tend
to have formal written policies, standard procedures and organisational systems for RTW.
They were also more likely to have current claims. No particular industries were targeted
and participating organisations came from the hospitality, manufacturing, building and
construction, health care and professional services industries.
Data was collected by means of:
1) Semi-structured interviews with responsible officers in the workplace (RTW
Coordinators, O.H.&S. Managers, HR Managers);
2) Interviews with other stakeholders (insurance agents, treating health professionals,
trade union officers and officers of the responsible authority);
3) Workplace observations; and
4) The collection and analysis of workplace documents (e.g. policies and procedural
manuals).
Injured workers were not interviewed as part of this project and this is one of the limitations
of our approach. Our focus was on employers, their policies and procedures for occupational
rehabilitation and not upon the progress of individual cases. Examining individual histories
and medical records raised many complex privacy issues and would have made for a larger

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and more extensive research project. Our focus was on the aggregate performance of the
employer in occupational rehabilitation and this is what is reflected here.

The social problem statement
The experience of workplace injury is traumatic for employees. Injury and rehabilitation
from injury can have significant health and social-psychological effects for the injured
worker. These effects are the more significant where workplace injury results in the loss of
employment. The loss of employment following a work disability is associated with a decline
in living standards and a rise in psychological disorders, such as depression, affecting
workers and their families. Re-entry to the labour market for such workers is made difficult
due to the loss of skills, the loss of work capacity and employer discrimination against the
claimants of workers’ compensation insurance. Over 12% of Australians experiencing a work
related injury or illness cease work each year and so there are a significant group of workers
exposed to such risks to their social and economic well-being (ABS, 2011; Harrison & Allen,
2003; Purse, 2000; Quinlan & Mayhew, 1999).
Occupational rehabilitation following a workplace injury covers the stages of treatment,
work re-entry and employment continuance. Most rehabilitation fails at the continuance
stage and this highlights the importance of re-integrative work for successful rehabilitation.
It is often not failures in treatment that lead to a loss of employment but rather failures in
the provision of re-integrative work (Berecki-Gisolf et al., 2012; Hodges et al., 2013; Young,
2010).
Occupational rehabilitation implies access to continuance of employment, but this is most
successful where absence from work is of relatively short duration. The longer the absence
from work, the more difficult is the re-entry to the workplace in the absence of reintegrative employment. The length of absence following work related disability is not
significantly related to the condition leading to disability, but is closely related to
organisational policies and procedures for the provision of re-integrative work and the
psycho-social factors in employment continuation (Friesen, Yassi & Cooper, 2001; Hunt et
al., 1993; MacKenzie et al., 1998; Tjulin, MacEachen & Ekberg, 2010).

Our Approach
The following section describes the process we took, from storytelling and iterative mapping
used for sensemaking, to developing visualisations that highlighted the key stories from
multiple viewpoints.

Visual sensemaking of the service system: storytelling and mapping
Sensemaking commenced with a four-hour workshop where the research team took on the
roles of narrator and audience. The narrator detailed the stories of the best practice of six
firms and the audience aided sensemaking by listening, mapping, questioning, seeking
clarification, and comparing the narratives.

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The narratives were mapped against a service blueprint as an initial framework, which was
chosen primarily to capture events occurring over time. The service blueprint is a common
methodology of service design practice. While there is hesitation in pinning down a single
definition of service design practice (Stickdorn & Schneider 2010, pp. 28–33) service design
literature generally focuses upon a user or consumer of a service where ‘…people enter into
relationships with professionals and service providers…’ (Polaine, Løvlie, & Reason, 2013,
p.36) and so the service experience is co-produced through the interactions between them.
Service blueprints and customer journey maps are usually constructed from the point of
view of the user of a service and their interactions with touchpoints over time (Kimbell,
2014, pp.86–89; Kolko, 2011, p.102; Stickdorn & Schneider, 2010, pp.158–161). This type of
mapping helps designers build an empathic understanding of needs to then inform redesign
of the system. Polaine et al (2013) draw attention to how staff support service delivery as
either touchpoint or as users of the system from the backstage or offstage (p.131–132).
They also discuss how blueprints should convey the essence of the service and specific
details of the touchpoints, but caution that:
“If you add other people interacting in roles, such as patient, nurse, doctor, and
administrative staff, you will find the blueprint becomes very complex very quickly.”
(Polaine et al 2013, p.102).

For the purposes of our research, we found it essential to engage directly with the
complexity of interaction between multiple users which we refer to as stakeholders in order
to visualise the complex system of occupational rehabilitation.
In our move from spoken and text sensemaking to a visual form of sensemaking we found
that the service blueprint model, with a focus upon a single user, addressed only one part of
the story. Rather than being bound to the conventions of the service blueprint, we let the
conversations and stories shape the visualisation. As seen in figure 1 below, we listed the
stakeholders of the system down the left hand side of the chart and along the RTW journey
we mapped the interactions of the various agents, systems and processes. We used Post-it
notes on the service blueprint frameworks to capture stories, the thoughts and feelings of
stakeholders in their engagement with each other in particular the emotional well-being of
injured employees and their relationship with managers, supervisors and co-workers all
contributed to the fears, concerns and psychological well-being of the injured employee.

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Figure 1 This photograph of the service blueprint mapping features additional explanations that help
communicate our sensemaking process. The grey blocks on the left highlight the multistakeholder nature of the system, and the blue speech bubbles across the map highlighted
key quotes and insights that helped us understand the relationships between stakeholders.

Individual and collaborative sensemaking: answering ‘so what’
The map created from our first workshop was translated into digital form and considered by
the research team for individual sensemaking and iterative questioning over a week. The
subsequent digital diagram was then reviewed in a second workshop, which allowed the
team to make sense of the insights and synthesise their understanding. In this workshop, the
team reflected on the map, checked their understanding and asked questions to elaborate
on the stories they had heard in the first workshop.
Colour coding was an important conceptual step that revealed a clustering of activities, and
helped to identify patterns in the structure of the system (see figure 2). Red was used to flag
RTW compliance activities and helped reveal the boundary (shown as a red border) around
what a company is required to do in managing workplace incidents. Blue highlighted best
practice activities by employers, many of which occurred outside the boundary of RTW
compliance activities. Black was used to flag ‘blackspots’ where the system would break
down, such as progress on claims being delayed, or stopped altogether.

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Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem

Figure 2 As sensemaking continued in digital form, colour coding helped reveal patterns in the
system: Red blocks are compliance activities, revealing a clear boundary between what a
company is required to do and the activities of best practice companies (marked in blue).
Black indicates ‘blackspots’ in the system.

Through the colour coding, a more complex picture emerged, illustrating details that could
not otherwise be seen by the regulator, WorkSafe. Under a regulation framework, problems
are seen as ‘non compliance’ with regulations; yet during interviews it became clear that
problems emerged even where employers were compliant. The mapping was not about
detailing touchpoints that need to be improved; instead it was about less tangible
relationships between stakeholders.
We needed to accommodate the different perspectives of the multiple stakeholders, the
interactions and relationships between them, and how these multiple stakeholders
interacted with different parts of the system. Boundaries were questioned and the role of
the employer was reframed. There was no ‘back end’ or ‘behind the scenes’ of the service
system, and the boundaries of the system, originally taken for granted as being those
defined by WorkSafe, were challenged. Through this a multitude of problems were revealed.
There was not just one problem, because different stakeholders are affected in different
ways, and the different problems are solved by different combinations of stakeholders.

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Design and the Creation of Representational Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving

Working with the visualisation, it became clear to the research team that there were three
main systemic problems. The first problem was that best practice within organisations
demonstrated attention to areas beyond the boundary of the work safe regulatory domain.
Secondly, there were multiple delays and recursive loops in the system that kept injured
people away from work longer than necessary. Lastly, there was a lack of attention from
government or business to what happens after RTW compliance activities are complete but
an employee has not returned to work fully. With these insights, the team developed ways
to draw attention to these problems within a visualisation of the RTW journey.

Selecting the stories to tell: keeping both the whole and the parts of the system
in mind
The final visualisations focused upon categories of events rather than a detailed micro
sequence of step-by-step activities normally featured in service blueprints or customer
journey maps. Iterations of the visualisation took us from the concrete details to the
abstract, enabling a more conceptual visual artefact. The visualisation shows that best
practice employers are proactive in managing employee well-being, whether the employee
is injured at work or has other, non-compensable injuries. If there is a compensable injury
under the workers' insurance scheme then these employers are also pro-active in
developing relationships with health professionals and insurance agents, to progress
rehabilitation quickly. The best practice employers do much more than is expected of them
in the compliance framework and hence, simply focusing upon compliance missed much of
what made employer practice effective.
Once the map was fine-tuned the key findings became clear. We found that there were four
main phases in the RTW journey, represented in a set of finished visualisations (figures 3, 4,
5):
1) Culture of health & well-being:
Employers worked to create a culture of health and well-being in the workplace, focused
on prevention of injury and well-being of employees at an everyday level (see figure 4,
left);
2) Managing incident & injury:
Employers cultivated and managed relationships with multiple agents, including doctors,
insurance agents and rehabilitation providers, not just during a claims process but long
before any injury occurred (figure 4, right);
3) Return to Work coordination:
Employers reduced or removed delays in the system, such as insurance processing and
recursive loops in the issue of certificate of capacity to return employees to the
workplace (figure 5, left).
4) Outcomes:
Better RTW outcomes and reduced insurance premiums

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Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem

Figure 3 The Return to Work experience map overview shows the four phases of the Return to Work
system from left to right: 1. Culture of health and well-being; 2. Managing incident and
injury; 3. Return to work coordination; 4. Outcomes. Within the grey space were the key
activities and below the grey space we wrote the best practice solutions and stories.

RTW compliance activities defined the boundary of the WorkSafe system (see figure 3,
framed in orange) and overlaps two phases: Managing incident & injury (phase 2); and
Return to Work Coordination (phase 3). Figure 3 shows the overview of the Return to Work
experience map, and each of the phases shown there are presented in more detail in figures
4 and 5.
Because the boundary of the WorkSafe system did not capture the full picture of employer
practice, much of what made a successful RTW outcome took place outside WorkSafe
compliance activities.

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Design and the Creation of Representational Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving

Figure 4 (left) detailed view of Culture of health and well-being, (right) detailed view of the
Managing incident and inquiry.

Figure 5 (left) detailed view of Return to Work coordination, (right) detailed view of Outcomes.

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Richard Cooney, Nifeli Stewart, Tania Ivanka and Neal Haslem

Conclusion: The final visualisation as boundary object
Meaningful representational artefacts of complex human service systems have an important
role to play in interactive social problem solving. In multi-stakeholder service systems,
representations cannot rely on the viewpoint of one stakeholder. To create representational
artefacts that are meaningful to multiple stakeholders in the system we needed to adapt our
design practice towards sensemaking and engage with the visualisation of relationships
between multiple stakeholders. Sensemaking is best done through visualisation rather than
textual analysis, as the visual highlights the different conceptions of service system
boundaries and service system interactions of different stakeholders.
While the service blueprint and journey map can be useful, and initiated our sensemaking
process, we found that they can also keep important dynamics hidden. As researchers we
needed to ask ourselves what was being kept hidden and what was being revealed through
the tools we use. We needed to allow the specifics of the occupational rehabilitation context
to emerge. In complex, multi-stakeholder systems, both the whole and its parts need to be
revealed in order to initiate the required conversations that lead to collaborative problem
sharing and solving. In the closing chapter of their book, Polaine et al. (2013) begin to discuss
the potential of service design practice to address complex social, economic and ecological
issues, thanks to its ability to break down complexity while still showing the bigger picture
(Polaine et al., 2013, p.189). Our research is an example of how to engage with and
communicate this complexity by moving beyond the primarily single user perspective
normally seen in service design, and related practice, to aid understanding of the complex
relationships of multiple stakeholders.
Through iterations of visualisation our process allowed for collective sensemaking –
something that is often hidden when completed visuals are presented to clients. The
visualisation becomes a boundary object that allows important conversations to take place
with multiple stakeholders. It does not point the finger at any one stakeholder or problem,
but focuses upon communicating relationships between multiple stakeholders, the
importance of social problem solving and reviewing how the boundaries are drawn around
the system. This promotes stakeholder ownership of the problems identified which leads to
action by the stakeholders to address those problems. This places design in a different role;
instead of designing the service system or solving the problems, the designer helps facilitate
discussion and action by making the complex simple to understand. The visualisation
facilitates dialogue between stakeholders by providing a common starting point and helps
initiate stakeholder improvement actions for better social outcomes from the service system
such as reduction in the time of return to work of injured workers.
Acknowledgements: A copy of the complete report ‘The Implementation of Beneficial
Return to Work Practices in Victorian Organisations: Policy and Governance
Considerations’, which features the visualisations presented in this paper, is available
from: http://preview.tinyurl.com/rtw-drs-2016

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About the Authors:
Dr Richard Cooney (PhD Melb.) studies occupational skill
development, employee safety and well-being. Richard has over 20
research publications and his most recent book, Trade Unions and
Training, examines the union role in workplace training. Richard is
currently studying service innovation in attendant care.
Dr Nifeli Stewart has spent 17 years in industry and 8 in academic
design research. Her PhD explored the challenges of project
implementation and drew upon the fields of design and systems

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Design and the Creation of Representational Artefacts for Interactive Social Problem Solving

thinking in developing new models and tools to address these
challenges.
Tania Ivanka’s research interests include systemic thinking and
design, permaculture, transition design, codesign, design
ethnography and sustainability. She just commenced her PhD
exploring the use of systemic thinking and design principles to inform
collaborative sensemaking of complex social situations.
Dr Neal Haslem’s practice-led research involves one-to-one
relationships with people, enabling futures through communication
design action. Ultimately he aims, through design research,
education and discourse, to initiate an ‘intersubjective turn’ within
communication design action and research.

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Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to
Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design
Tasman Munro
University of Technology
Tasman.Munro@uts.edu.au
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.271

Abstract: This paper outlines an approach to Social Design that departs the practice
of design as ‘problem solving’ and advocates for Appreciative Co-design, an approach
that seeks to nurture strengths and co-construct empowering stories that give life to
living systems. As Social Designers we’re working with increasingly vulnerable people
in immensely difficult circumstances, and sometimes their lives become constructed
around a ‘problem story’. These participants can be difficult to engage in the codesign process, they can be resistant to change or find it difficult to envision positive
future alternatives. And as Social Designers it’s now our role to shift their
perspective. This involves facilitating a process of social transformation within the
design process itself, which is a new task for our practice. For guidance this paper
explores Psychotherapy and Organisational Development which are other
transformative practices that offer valuable strategies on shifting problem oriented
mindsets and motivating people to construct new empowering narratives.
Keywords: Social Design; strength-based; narrative; re-authoring

Introduction
As Social Designers we’re working with vulnerable people in increasingly difficult
circumstances, and our ambitious practice is demanding more of them and more of us.
At times we find ourselves working with communities that have long histories of adversity,
to the point that the narrative of the community itself becomes constructed around a
“problem story”, this can influences people’s language, behaviour and even identity.
Participants in these circumstances can sometimes be difficult to engage in the co-design
process, they may be resistant to change or struggle to envision a positive future reality. And
as Social Designers it’s now our role to shift their perspective, which is a new task for our
practice. Previously we worked on the basis of designing products or environments that
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Tasman Munro

would bring about social change, but now we’re needing to facilitate social transformation
within the design process itself. In this position we’re adopting the role of Social Worker,
Applied Behavioural Scientist and sometimes even Therapist, and although we’re equipped
with toolkits to deliver positive outcomes we’re untrained in the psychological complexities
of these new demanding relationships. How do we disarm problem oriented stories that
have taken hold of participant’s lives and shift their mindsets in a process that is supported,
meaningful and productive?
This paper attempts to explore this challenging question by drawing on other transformative
practices that have greater experience in stimulating change through direct engagement
with the social environment. It will first look at Psychotherapy which has a long history of
collaborating with vulnerable people and offers valuable strategies on shifting the mindsets
of “difficult clients”. The field of Organisational Development will then be explored as it
offers comparable theories on motivating groups to adopt new social patterns.
In their efforts to shift unproductive mindsets both practices have begun to depart problem
solving approaches and are moving toward strength based narrative inquiry. Here the focus
shifts from solving the challenges in a problem story toward nurturing strengths and coconstructing a more empowering narrative. The value this could bring to design will be
discussed in the final section before proposing an agenda to develop comparable
approaches within Social Design practice. But first, I offer an introduction to Social Design
and the difficult client.

Social Design and the difficult client
For decades academics and practitioners have called for designers to turn their efforts
toward those in social need (Melles, de Vere, & Misic, 2011; Whiteley, 1993). Papanek
(1972) instigated the initial call for designers to turn their gaze toward the “huge population
of the needy and the dispossessed” who “suffer design neglect” (Papanek & Fuller, 1972, p.
59), amongst which he mentioned those who are disabled, disadvantaged, suppressed by
racism, incarcerated or living in poverty. More recently Margolin and Maroglin identified
that Papenek’s efforts “provided evidence that an alternative to product design for the
market is possible, but they have not led to a new model of social practice” (Margolin &
Margolin, 2002, p. 24). In response they offer a “Social Model” of design which is
comparable to Social Work; a method of “ethological” intervention that seeks to understand
the interactions between client and their physical and social environment. However they
offer little guidance on the daily interactions of a Social Working approach, or little
recognition that vulnerable clients may be more challenging to work with.
If people have a long history of difficult experiences they can develop a mindset that
problems are the status quo, within Psychotherapy White & Epston (1990) refer to this as
resignation to a ‘problem-saturated story’. I have experienced this within the last 7 years of
Social Design practice, I’ve collaborated with people in immensely difficult circumstances,
including men in maximum security prison, refugees and indigenous families in remote social

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Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design

housing. At times I’ve met whole communities who seem stuck in problem-saturated stories.
In some contexts this can also stem from risk aversion as well as adversity, like prison or
nursing homes which are prone to incidents and the consequences can be serious. As a
result the language, practice and environmental design all become constructed around the
potential of problems occurring.
I’ve experienced that participants in these circumstance can be difficult to engage in the codesign process. Their problem oriented mindsets often inhibit them in envisioning positive
future states, and groups can easily find themselves in downward spirals of problem listing.
The co-design methods available to Social Designers often draw on Design Thinking which is
a problem solving process capable of producing rich knowledge and transformative
outcomes (Cross, 2006). However, the language used and focus of inquiry is often problem
focused in itself, which can be unhelpful in efforts to shift participant’s deficit thinking. The
fields of Psychotherapy and Organisational Development have recognised the limitations of
problem solving approaches and have thus developed practices that seek to disarm problem
oriented stories through the co-construction of new empowering narrative.

Narrative in Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a transformative process that involves practitioners guiding clients through
personal and social transformation. Modernist psychotherapy involved the diagnosis and
treatment of cognitive dysfunction, but in 1990 American Psychologist Kenneth Gergen
called for a Post-Modernist approach, he argued that the language and setting of former
practices were oriented around deficit based storytelling, which created un-empowering
hierarchies between client (presenting inadequacy) and practitioner (as problem solver).
Instead he introduced the Constructivist concept of a “Generative Theory” which would
disrupt the clients’ habitual assumptions and “open new alternatives for action” (Gergen,
1990, p. 33). Leahy later described the Constructivist approach as “the co-creation (with the
therapist) of new meaning structures.” (Leahy & Dowd, 2002, p. 22).
Psychotherapy has extensive experience of collaborative with vulnerable people, and thus
offers valuable definitions of the “difficult client” and strategies for shifting problem
oriented mindsets. Beyond the challenges of specific psychological conditions difficult clients
are discussed as those resistant to change or hard to engage in transformative processes
(Ellis, 1985; Hanna, 2002; Kottler, 1992). Many factors contribute to resistance but a
common theme relates to clients’ reluctance to challenge habitual world views (Mahoney,
1991; Meichenbaum & Gilmore, 1982), and if people have conscripted to problem saturated
stories they can develop mindsets that are particularly rigid and resistant to change (Strupp
& Binder, 1984). Before we discuss strategies for shifting mindsets I offer a more detailed
outline of the problem saturated story.

The construction of a Dominant Story
Constructivist Psychotherapy believes that develop life stories based on experiences, linked
in sequence, across time:

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Tasman Munro

Figure 1: Linking events into a good storyline: “Lonely boy” (Denborough, 2014, p. 2)

People construct meaning around these experiences and order them into a “dominant” life
story (Russell, 1992; White & Epston, 1990). Once conclusions are drawn on the nature of
this story it’s easy for people to collect new experiences that support their perceived
narrative, and eventually these narratives influence perceptions, behaviour and identity.
This can be challenging for participants if their dominant story is one that is problem
saturated. Morgan (2000) describes that:
“These thin conclusions, drawn from problem-saturated stories, disempower people
as they are regularly based in terms of weaknesses, disabilities, dysfunctions or
inadequacies” (Morgan, 2000, p. 13).

If people internalise these oppressive ideals then stories of strength and resilience take a
back seat and soon people find themselves stuck in “self propagating vicious cycles” (Strupp
& Binder, 1984, p. 73).

Re-authoring in Narrative Therapy
Narrative Therapy emerged as practitioners noticed the “generative” and “ingenerative”
nature of different clients’ stories within Psychotherapy (Neimeyer & Stewart, 2001, p. 134).
A practice of “re-authoring” (White & Epston, 1990) emerged as a way to disarm problem
stories and establish space for clients to author new stories that are more likely to increase
well-being and empower a positive future (Freedman & Combs, 1996; McLeod, 1997; Russell
& Van den Broek, 1992). Within this process clients are encouraged to reinterpret
experiences, draw new meanings and develop new perspectives.
“As the person becomes aware that there are more ways to tell the story, as the initial,
‘stuck’ narrative is deconstructed, he or she becomes to adopt a story that is more
satisfying, meaningful or tolerable than the original” (McLeod, 1997, pp. 109-110)

The concept of “Re-authoring” originates in the work of Myerhoff (1982) but was formalised
in practice by White and Epston (1990). The process seeks to detach clients from a problem
story, identify moments of strength and resilience, reconfigure new truths into a “counter
story” and then thicken the counter story through supported implementation. Within this

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Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design

process White and Epston explain that a valuable way to detach clients from their problem
story is to ‘externalise the problem’ (White & Epston, 1990). When people enter therapy
their problem story is usually internalised; for example “I am depressed” (M. M. Gergen &
Gergen, 2006, p. 114), the process of externalising encourages participants to frame the
problem as a separate entity - “the depression”. This allows people to objectively see their
relationship with the problem, map its occurrence and identify strengths which have gone
unnoticed (White & Epston, 1990).
The process is less focused on solving the client’s problem story and more concerned with
nurturing a counter story. As clients recalls their experiences the practitioner listens for
“unique outcomes” (Goffman, 1968), which are moments of strength and resilience in the
face of the problem story. Questioning strategies helps clients to string these unique
outcomes into a new counter story, and then encourages them to draw new meanings from
the alternative perspective – “How could this new story affect your life and relationships?”.
The construction of new meaning within this process is through iterative reflection, where
new knowledge is developed gradually rather than a drastic shift into unfamiliar territory
(Gergen, 1990; McLeod, 1997). White describes that “every telling or retelling of a story,
through its performance, is a new telling that encapsulates, and expands on the previous
telling” (White & Epston, 1990, p. 13). Ungar (2001) offers a graphic representation of this
iterative construction of new meaning, which cycles through three stages:

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Tasman Munro

Figure 2: Building Narratives of Resilience (Ungar, 2001, p. 65)

Leahy (2002) suggests that difficult clients may need more iterations to detach from their
problem story and that visual tools can provide further assistance:
“[if problem] schemers are very entrenched and resistant to change, more repetition is
required than in traditional cognitive therapy...In general, these techniques depend
less on verbal (left brain) processing and more on imaginal (right-brain) processing”
(Leahy & Dowd, 2002, p. 20).

Narrative Therapy (NT) practitioners thus draw on visual tools like life maps populated with
symbols (Ungar, 2001), flashcards, “Two Chair” dialogue (conversation between client and
problem story) (Young & Brown, 1994) and certificates to award graduation from problem

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Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design

stories (White & Epston, 1990). These tools assist clients to map the influences of problems
and constructively produce new perspectives.
In improving the adoption of new narratives Russell (1992) outlines that the type of counter
story is important. He offers two precursors - it must be more compelling than the problem
story, portraying achievement and generally more useful behaviour. Secondly it should seem
achievable and somewhat familiar, ie. not fall too far from clients’ current meaning structure
(Russell & Van den Broek, 1992). The practitioner does not provide a different frame, the
client is guided to construct a new story from within. Morgan (2000) agrees that it’s “not just
any alternative stories, but stories that are identified by the person seeking counselling as
stories by which they would like to live their lives” (Morgan, 2000, p. 14). This is why coconstruction is important as clients are given full agency in the re-authoring process.
Practitioners are aware that Psychotherapy is often daunting, it questions clients’
worldviews and challenges them to construct an unknown reality (Newman, 2002).
Practitioners are therefore trained to guide clients through this process in ways that are
supportive, meaningful and productive.

Narrative in Organisational Development
Organisational Development (OD) is an Applied Behavioural Science and another practice
which seeks to facilitate social transformation (Huntington, Gillam, & Rosen, 2000). The field
has also recognised the transformative abilities of narrative:
“Usually, dominant storylines, or macronarrative, is used to understand the past,
present, and future of an organisation, and a change in that storyline can occur as
dozens of micro narratives are collected and told that allow a new dominant storyline
to emerge” (Busch & Kassam, 2005, p. 168)

Narrative techniques within OD also emerged within the early 90’s, following Morgan’s
Images of the Organization which explored the ability to shift organisational meaning
through the application of different metaphors; he applies various frames to the
organisation, like a “machine” or “family” and discusses the effects these narratives could
have on it's workers (Morgan, Gregory, & Roach, 1997). Following this, a practice called
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) emerged, with specific focus on stimulating organisational change
through the co-construction of new narratives. The “Appreciative” focus seeks to draw out
strengths and empowering experiences that are built into a “positive core”, it’s described as
inquiry into aspects that “give life” to living systems (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2011) or into
“the best of what is, in order to imagine what could be” (Bushe, 2013, p. 1). AI was
developed as a way to replace the judgemental nature of problem solving approaches with
more uplifting methods of inquiry (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2011).
“In AI, the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and
innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery,
dream, and design”. (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2001, p. 3)

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Figure 3: Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2001, p. 28)

We see here a similar process to NT. Discovery (into the best of what is) Dream (envisioning
new empowering narrative), Design (constructing and richly describing the counter story),
Destiny (implementing and strengthening the counter story).
Within this process strategic positive questioning seeks to draw out strengths and
empowering experiences (Gergen & Gergen, 2006). The questions aim to shift mindset in
similar ways to NT with the disruption of a former story and adoption of a counter story.
However it doesn’t begin with reflection on a problem story, instead the counter story is
constructed from the beginning, the very first question is appreciative and thus invites
change from the onset (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2011). The invitation to try on new
perspectives is the act which disrupts the prevailing mindset. Cognitive scientist Francisco
Varela refers to this as “suspension, removing ourselves from the habitual stream” (Senge,
Scharmer, Jaworski, & Flowers, 2005, p. 45). This is not an attempt to forget the problems
that exist but sheds light on our assumed perspectives. Then like in NT, the act of performing
the new narrative encourages it’s adoption (Pourdehnad, Warren, Wright, & Mairano, 2006).
In improving the likelihood of participants adopting new narratives AI offers similar
guidelines, the counter story should be both compelling and built around familiar qualities
found within the organisations’ positive core. This removes the need for incentives or
coercion, and instead generates enthusiasm (Bushe, 2013; Gergen & Gergen, 2006) and
mobilises people via the heliotropic principle – an observation that people naturally move
toward things that give them energy (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2011).

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Cooperrider also uses the term “generative metaphor” and discusses it’s particularly helpful
in “circumventing common resistances to change” (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2001, p. 10).
During the use of Appreciative Inquiry in prison research Liebling (1999) also recognised the
approach’s value in collaborating with difficult client groups:
“This positive approach may be useful within the environment fraught with negative
interactions and relationships and much focus on the problem” (Liebling, Price, &
Elliott, 1999, p. 75).

She highlights that within the prison people can feel persecuted, misunderstood or
undervalued, challenges are well explored and meaning is constructed around problems.
Within this context AI offers opportunity to enter a cognitive territory that’s rich and often
under-explored. Liebling explains this encourages participants to “re-read” their scripts,
through which she witnessed the adoption of new narratives:
“The inquiry revealed not only a remarkable richness of data but also a change of
dynamic, from dependency to self-reliance, as the interviewees began to see
themselves not as victims but as responsible actors” (Liebling et al., 1999, pp. 78-79).

Here we see another practice where the process of strength based narrative inquiry is
transformative in itself, having the ability to construct “social architecture” (George, Farrell,
& Brukwitzki, 2002, p. 38) which is open to new language, practice and identity.

A closer look at Social Design:
The practice of Social Design aims for transformative objectives which are similar to NT and
AI - moving participants through a process of disrupting the status quo, then designing and
implementing a new reality. However unlike NT and AI Social Design has less experience in
the complexities of managing social transformation within the process itself. As we tackle
increasingly ambitious challenges in more complex social systems we are finding ourselves
needing to re-design the social architecture within the process of re-designing the physical
architecture (Dorst, 2015; Norman, 2010). For instance the Co-design process may need to
align stakeholder views and generate a collective future narrative as well as design the
artefacts or environment to support that vision.
To illustrate this process I offer reflection on a recent project at the Designing Out Crime
Research Centre, Sydney, to co-design an Intensive Learning Centre within a maximum
security prison. A brief was provided by Corrective Services New South Wales (CSNSW) to
design a space that would contrast the social and physical architecture of maximum security
prison and stimulate a motivation to learn through a space that felt like an adult education
environment. It was the first purpose-built education facility within a NSW maximum
security prison and it called for new practice and new facilities. At times, maintaining an
optimistic co-design process was challenging within a prison which is commonly a problem
oriented context – the physical and social environment are constructed around the
punishment of past problems, the management of present problems and the prevention of
future problems. At times we were met with resistance, particularly from inmates who saw

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little value in the project, were sceptical it would happen and didn’t believe their
contributions would be listened to. However the co-design process involved the construction
of a current social architecture which would support the project (control groups, champions,
inmate delegates and a culture of optimism and innovation). It then involved developing a
collective vision of a future social architecture (the nature of new practice, language and
manifestoes on 21st century learning and relationships within a Therapeutic Community).
Throughout this process there was iterative development of design concepts that
materialised and questioned the developing social architecture.
Here we see design practice entering a new realm which combines Product Design and
Organisational Development. Social change is intertwined throughout the process and
outcome, and learnings occur in conversation between the simultaneous growth of social
and physical architecture. In this new era of design practice Norman (2010) reflects that
“designers have become applied behavioral scientists, but they are woefully undereducated
for the task” (Norman, 2010). The focus of Design literature is still primarily oriented toward
problem solving processes that generate a desired outcome. We seldom discuss the
experience of vulnerable participants within the process of social change, or are we fully
aware of the influence our language and focus of inquiry has on participants’ relationship
with problem oriented stories.

The language and focus of inquiry in design practice
Despite the solution focused nature of design thinking it’s conventional practices are based
on a series of problem solving activities (Cross, 2006). Designers spend most of their project
time focusing on the problem (Dorst & Kovari, 2012) the language we use and our topics of
inquiry are also generally problem oriented; Designers are given a brief containing a problem
statement (hard ones are “wicked problem”), they then try to understand, define or frame
the problem before developing a range of potential solutions, these solutions are developed
iteratively and implemented before an evaluation tests their ability to solve the problem,
reflection then offers new understanding of the problem they began with.

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Figure 4: The Design Process (discoverdesign.org)

Despite co-design practices which place designers as facilitators (Sanders & Stappers, 2008)
a process that revolves around problem solving may still establish a hierarchy between
designer as problem solver and community as problem holder. Particularly in the case of
difficult clients groups, we’re attempting to shift social architecture away from a problem
oriented story, toward the adoption of a new empowering language, narrative and identity.
In achieving this, I suggest there is need to develop further knowledge on strength based reauthoring techniques within Social Design practice. There are some examples of strength
based and/or re-authoing practices beginning to emerge within design and broader fields of
social development. Although the discussion is still in it’s infancy a valuable dialogue is
growing between problem solving and strength based approaches.

A broader look at similar approaches
A few strength-based approaches are briefly outlined below, with particular interest given
to their use of narrative, interaction with the physical and social architecture and interest in
problem oriented participants.

Positive design
Positive Design is a practice which combines Sociology’s “Positive Lens” with Design
Thinking, it seeks to design for human well-being, and stems from the practice of

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Appreciative Inquiry (Avital, Boland, & Lyytinen, 2009; Cooperrider, Avital, Foster, & Forster,
2004). It’s primary focus is still in the social realm of Organisational Development and is
concerned with transformative processes (Avital et al., 2009; Cooperrider et al., 2004). In
occasions where Positive Design is applied to the development of physical outcomes the
discussion returns to the impact of the artefacts (Desmet & Hekkert, 2007; Desmet &
Pohlmeyer, 2013; Jordan, 2002; Tiger, 1992) rather than transformation through the codevelopment of both physical and social, “[the intention is] to result in designs that
stimulate human flourishing” [italics added] (Desmet & Pohlmeyer, 2013, p. 5).

Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) is a strand of design practice which
also seeks to instigate social change. It’s objectives and processes are often considered
similar to Social Design, however Manzini attempts to separate the two with the following:
Firstly Social Design is usually concerned with vulnerable people who face “particularly
problematic situations” (Manzini & Coad, 2015, p. 64) whereas DESIS is concerned with
social change for any community, and secondly the term “social” is used differently within
each practice. In Social Design it refers to broad social problems which are “not dealt with by
the market or the state” (Manzini & Coad, 2015, p. 65), whereas the term social within DESIS
refers to the practice’s method of instigating change via social innovation - interventions
which alter the way a social environment operates. Although he does conclude that the line
between them is blurry:
“Social design is increasingly oriented toward social innovation, recognising that this
offers the only chance for solving the problems it traditionally deals with. In turn,
design for social innovation, facing the extension of the economic crisis, is more and
more frequently involved in initiatives that involve socially sensitive issues” (Manzini &
Coad, 2015, p. 65)

It is this type of Social Design discussed herein this paper, one focused on participants in
particularly problematic situations, but one which seeks to instigate change via social
innovation – ie. it moves beyond problem solving through the design of technical physical
solutions to a process which simultaneously seeks to alter the social environment, allowing
new perspectives, behaviour and relationships to emerge. The two realms are however
closely interrelated. Manzini discusses this interrelation within DESIS; “social innovation
occurs when people, expertise, and material assets come into contact in a new way that is
able to create new meaning and unprecedented opportunities” (Manzini & Coad, 2015, p.
77). He thus defines DESIS as a process of generating new meaning structures, and as
discussed in NT and AI this is achieved by disrupting “normal” perspectives and social
patterns and creating enabling ecosystems which are likely to foster alternative behaviour.
Focusing on the design of enabling ecosystems allows participants to adopt more meaningful
roles within the design process, they become people with assets rather than people with
problems, but this requires a paradigmatic shift in the way designers face the development
process (Manzini & Coad, 2015).

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Manzini discusses the role of storytelling in navigating future realities. He suggests that
stories are particularly helpful in “reconstructing identity” through the “rebuilding of
relationships between people and the space they live in” (Manzini & Coad, 2015, p. 126). He
does however urge designers to be mindful of the way stories are handled, and ensure
participants understand the role stories play within the process. Especially where future
gazing is concerned we should be mindful of participant’s capabilities and expectations and
not engage them in story telling that may be ‘manipulative’ or merely ‘rhetorical’, he
suggests constructing broader “design oriented scenarios” rather than personal narratives,
as they are more open to reinterpretation and can be seen as objective tools to further
discussion (Manzini & Coad, 2015). Although DESIS’ is not a process of strength based reauthoring it offers valuable insights on the use of narrative within design and reminds us
that participant capabilities and expectations should be carefully considered.

Asset Based Community Development:
Asset Based Community Development (ABDC) is a form of sustainable development which
primarily focuses on the economic growth of low income communities. It seeks to develop
services, programs and policy that better link the resources within a neighbourhood
(Kretzmann, McKnight, & Network, 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). Although the need
for new physical infrastructure may arise it’s typically not a design process and is usually
concerned with the social realm (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003).
The approach was developed by McKnight and Kretzmann (1993) as an alternative to needsbased approaches that they found had “devastating consequences for residents”
(Kretzmann et al., 1993, p. 4), including dependencies on external support and the
reinforcing of deficit perspectives. ABCD begins with a detailed survey of a community’s
existing assets which are collated into a ‘Capacity Map’ that plots the skills, resources and
capacities of individuals, associations and institutions (Kretzmann et al., 1993). People are
then mobilised toward development through a plan which enables more efficient use of
community resources. In this regard Mathie and Cunningham (2003) liken ABCD to AI in it’s
mobilisation of people through the heliotropic principle, which they explain can have
transformative abilities, providing a community the opportunity to “outgrow a problem”
(Mathie & Cunningham, 2003, p. 479). Story telling is used to discover strengths and assets
(Kretzmann et al., 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003; Cunningham & Mathie, 2002) but is
seldom discussed as a tool to construct future realities. With a development focus on the
linking of assets it’s the Capacity Map which primarily supports future planning (Kretzmann
et al., 1993; Mathie & Cunningham, 2003; Cunningham & Mathie, 2002). In a more recent
paper however, Ennis (2010) discusses that ABCD enables communities to see what they
have rather than need, which he likens to Narrative Therapy in it’s ability to rethink
community narrative (Ennis & West, 2010). Unfortunately it’s difficult to find subsequent
examples which implement re-authoring approaches within ABCD.

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Frame Creation
Frame creation is an approach to design practice developed by Dorst (2003), and in effect, is
a process of re-authoring. It has been implemented within Social design and DESIS projects
and although it’s based on a problem solving it’s concerned with shifting narratives that are
‘stuck’ (Dorst, 2015). It seeks to develop social and physical architecture simultaneously
(produce novel outcomes along-side shifts in organisational practice) as physical outcomes
will only “make sense” if supported by deeper social transformation (Dorst, 2015, p. 117).
The process’ approach to “re framing” (Dorst, 2003, 2015; Lawson & Dorst, 2013) builds on
the work of Schön who introduced the value of “frames” (Schön, 1983) and “generative
metaphors” (Schön, 1993) to design practice. Dorst has formalised the concept into the
Frame Creation approach and expresses that:
“The quality of design work produced depends as much on the ability of the designer
to frame the problem relevantly and productively, as on the ability to arrive at an
interesting solution from this standpoint” (Lawson & Dorst, 2013, p. 50).

The process begins with a stage called “Archaeology”, which like NT maps the problem story
in order to “delve deeply into the world of the problem owner in order to understand the
past history of the problem” (Dorst, 2015, p. 74). The process then steps back from the
original framing and gathers insights on participants’ needs and values, these are then
clustered into themes that inform the development of a new frame. The new frame offers
an alternative “problem situation” to solve (Dorst, 2003, 2006, 2015). Dorst discusses that
organisational change can be difficult if focus remains on the original framing of the
problem, as attempts to generate solutions draw on well-worn language and rituals which
offer little opportunity for innovation. Reframing provides a different problem to solve and
may therefore free organisations from habitual thought patterns.
Despite similar objectives of re-authoring unproductive stories Frame Creation is still
presented as a problem solving process, this establishes a number of key differences when
compared to the strength based re-authoring practices of NT and AI:
Language: is still oriented toward problem solving
Focus on the problem: spends the majority of time understanding the problem rather than
developing a solution
Location of problem: Unlike NT which seeks to detach the problem from the client Frame
Creation refers to participants as the “problem owner”
Orientation of counter story: Frame Creation offers a different “problem situation”, rather
than a strength based counter story.
Nonetheless the approach illustrates that re-authoring is valuable within the design process
and is able to stimulate social and physical transformations in situations that are stuck in
habitual patterns.

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Discussion:
In exploring a range of transformative practices we have seen that strength based and/or reauthoring approaches have the ability to shift language, perspectives and roles that are stuck
in problem oriented mindsets. Within community development some problems do require
quick resolution through technical physical solutions, and here, as designers our problem
solving skills serve us well. But as we begin to engage with the social architecture directly
our problem solving approaches can be limiting, we now take on new challenges of
designing social ecosystems which enable life to flourish…which requires an entirely
different approach.
By learning from other practices we see that strength based re-authoring approaches offer
meaningful and empowering ways to co-construct the stories people live by. These practices
cover some bases which are relevant to Social Design but few clearly articulate a practice
which specifically take a re-authoring approach to co-developing physical and social
architecture, within a design process intending to move problem oriented participants
toward social transformation. I call for the development of such an approach, and offer
some initial guiding principles.

Towards Appreciative Co-design: A strength-based re-authoring
approach to Social Design practice
Further development is needed to detail an Appreciative Co-design approach, but in essence
it’s activities will aim to shift problem oriented stories through the co-construction of new
empowering narrative. It’s more than a focus on strengths to guide change, the key lies in
understanding the stories people live by, why they get stuck on certain narratives and the
role new stories play in mobilising people toward social change. In this regard storytelling is
not simply a tool to identify strengths and successes it seeks to drive social innovation by
encouraging communities to re-design the stories themselves. It’s a facilitated design process
which enables participants to navigate these alternative ways of being alongside the
construction of new systems, tools and environments that allow their counter story to
flourish. It will move away from deficit based language and focus of problem solving and
seek to nurture strengths and qualities that give life to participants. In doing so it hopes to
disarm problem oriented mindsets which are resistant to change, and encourage the
adoption of new narratives. A process of re-authoring which may be transformative in itself.

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Figure 5: Shifting mindset through positive intervention of Appreciative Co-design activities

I propose some initial guiding principles:
 The approach will be a process of strength-based re-authoring
 It will seek to disarm habitual problem oriented stories by:
 Externalising the problem - encouraging participants to detach from their
identity as problem owner
 Shifting from deficit to appreciative language which is life nurturing
 Focusing inquiry around affirmative topics such as strengths and empowering
experiences which mobilise people through the heliotropic principle
 Actively constructing a new counter story
 The counter story isn’t simply a “different” perspective but specifically a story
which brings life, and is one which is compelling, constructed from familiar
affirmative topics, achievable and not too far from current meaning structures
 The cyclical nature of design practice will allow new meaning to be constructed
iteratively around the counter story
 The process will not seek to “solve a problem” but to simultaneously construct
a new social and physical architecture that enables the counter story to
flourish
 It will consider the process and outcome as change agents and thus seek to
move participants through the change process in ways that are supportive,
meaningful and productive
 It will manage expectations by considering participant and contextual
capabilities during periods of future gazing

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Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design

The challenges in departing a problem solving approach:
More practice is needed to understand the place of problems within a strength based reauthoring approach. It will not attempt to deny the existence of problems but will
endeavour to develop practice that allows designers to glean needed insights without
allowing the oppressive energy of problem saturated stories to dominate the co-design
process. NT’s approach of “externalising the problem” may be helpful in achieving this
balance, as challenges can still be heard without reinforcing the participants’ identity as
problem owner. Visual tools used within co-design processes may be helpful in externalising
the problem with participants; external representations such as sketches, maps and
prototypes could allow participants to explore and reinterpret the problem in a realm
physically outside themselves. New perspective would therefore be shaped in
“conversation” between participants and the external representations (Schön, 1983) in a
similar process as the “two chair” dialogue within NT (Young & Brown, 1994).

Conclusion
This paper has outlined the value an Appreciative Co-design approach could bring in shifting
problem oriented stories and supporting participants through a process of social
transformation. In future research I intend to develop Appreciative Co-design in practice,
draw on the experiences of other designers and continue to borrow insights from
neighbouring practices. I hope that contributions made will give back to these practices and I
welcome researchers to join the conversation. In offering this agenda it is not my intention
to discredit design’s well-established problem solving approaches but merely highlight that
as designers we know more about solving problems than nurturing narratives that give life
to living systems. As our practice begins to engage with the social architecture directly this is
an essential skill to develop. In other practices strength-based re-authoring approaches have
created conditions for more meaningful and motivating engagement, let’s see what they can
bring to Social Design.
Acknowledgements: A warm thankyou to my dedicated and knowledgeable PhD
supervisors Rohan Lulham and Kees Dorst.

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About the Author:
Tasman Munro After graduating from Industrial Design in 2007
Tasman Munro has been a practising Social Designer. The majority of
work has been within remote Australian communities and regional
Correctional Facilities. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Strengthbased re-authoring approaches to Social Design Practice.

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Design Tools for Enhanced New Product
Development in Low Income Economies
Timothy Whiteheada*, Mark Evansb and Guy Binghamb
a

De Montfort University
Loughborough University
* timothy.whitehead@dmu.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.467

b

Abstract: In order to alleviate poverty throughout the World government and nongovernment organisations provide aid in the form of essential household products.
These products typically include cook stoves, water filters and LED lights. However,
evidence suggests that these products are not always suitable for Low Income
Economies (LIEs) which has resulted in a number of high profile product failures. In
response to the growing need for appropriate New Product Development (NPD), this
paper presents the development of a tool to assist industrial designers create
appropriate and long lasting solutions for those in poverty. Data was collected from
the analysis of existing products, a survey, interviews with NGOs & industrial
designers and a field trip to Myanmar. The results were used to identify attributes
required for effective, long-lasting product design. This was used to create a tool for
designers which was found to enhance understanding of appropriate NPD for LIEs.
Keywords: Industrial Design, Low Income Economies, Developing Countries,
New Product Development, Design Tools

Introduction
Throughout the World the poor suffer from; hunger, deprivation and powerlessness which
has compelled government and non-government organisations to work towards reducing
poverty. Current estimates state that 896 million people live on less than $1.90 a day (World
Bank 2016), which demonstrates a critical need to raise the living standards of those in Low
Income Economies (LIEs) and provide them with essential household products such as cook
stoves, water filters and solar powered lighting to help them escape the trap of poverty.
Initiatives aimed at facilitating the design of these essential products could be described as
sporadic during the last few decades, which appear to have lacked momentum or direction.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

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Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

However, recently there has been renewed interest in the design of these products and
design students are reported to be “chomping at the bit” (Pilloton, 2009) to design socially
beneficial products. In part this interest has been due to the rise and availability of design
methods and awareness of current global issues such as poverty and sustainability. These
issues represent today’s biggest wicked problems, making it timely for industrial designers to
contribute with new innovative ideas (Kandachar 2012). Despite this renewed interest, there
are a limited number of design tools, which specifically focus on the design, and assessment
of a product. Most current design tools focus on employing user centred design methods,
the development of products for micro-enterprise (Austin-Breneman & Yang, 2013),
investigations into cross culture design (van Boeijen 2015) and Designing for the Base of the
Pyramid (Castillo, Diehl, & Brezet, 2012). Each of these approaches provides significant value
to designers, and helps them understand users, cultures and enterprise, but there are no
tools, which provide guidance to designers during the development process. The inherent
visual nature of industrial designers means they would benefit with tools that they could use
during the design process to ensure their products are effective and long lasting.
Consequently, this research aims to enhance New Product Development (NPD) and assist
designers understand the unique requirements of products for these markets. It is expected
that this new knowledge will enable industrial designers to; evaluate product concepts
during the initial design phase, evaluate existing products when re-designing or improving
the solution and evaluate multiple products to understand which is most suitable. To
achieve this, the following research questions have been created to guide the study:
1. What attributes create long lasting and effective products for LIEs?
2. How can this information be used to assist designers create and evaluate products for Low
Income Economies?

1.1. Historical Context
The first well-known advocator of design for these markets was Victor Papanek in his
publication ‘Design for the Real World’ which challenged designers to work on products for
Low Income Economies and move away from the traditional purely profit-oriented
commercial ventures. Papanek (1985) believed that industrial designers should “Design for
people’s needs rather than for their wants, or artificially created wants” (Papanek, 1985)
This concept was later mirrored by the economist F.E. Schumacher (1973) who believed that
providing an intermediate technology could solve the problems of the poor, by creating
products requiring less capital investment. During this time Bonsiepe (1977), a design
thinker and academic, took this further by proposing that for design to successfully help LIEs
it must be embedded in the technology policy of the country. Bonsiepe (ibid) believed that
the traditional ‘hardware/artefacts’ focused industrial designer could do very little to satisfy
the needs of millions in poverty. However, if designers were able to distribute their
knowledge to others that could have a profound effect on LIEs (Bonsiepe, 1977). These
discussions culminated in 1979 during a joint conference between the International Council
of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) and the United Nations Industrial Development

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Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

Organisation (UNIDO), which resulted in the Ahmedabad declaration stating, “design [to] be
a powerful force for the improvement of the quality of life in the developing world” (ICSID
and UNIDO, 1979). This declaration recognised the importance industrial design had to the
growth of a country and aimed to embed design into national development plans for LIEs
(Coward & Fathers, 2005). However, little happened in the preceding years and it was not
until 1982 during the Design Policy Conference at the Royal College of Art, London, that
Mohammed Loos argued that designers were not having a positive impact on LIEs. Instead of
assisting people in LIEs, some western designers were reducing the confidence of indigenous
people by the way they promoted and sold their own products (ibid). Again, there was little
evidence of progress to the conference and there remained limited literature published
regarding the design of products for LIEs (Margolin, 1989). The few articles that were
published between 1980 and 1990s focused mainly on technology transfer and the
development of an LIE into NewIy Industrialised Country (Er, 1993). However, during the late
1990 and 2000s there was a resurgence of interest in the field with contributions from Er
(1997), Coward & Fathers (2005) and Donaldson (2008) who proposed an update of
Bonsiepe’s original design model, a review of design of LIEs discourse and the analysis of
products for LIEs. Interest in this area has slowly continued to grow.

1.2. Current role of Industrial Design in International Development
Since the Millennium, industrial design as a profession has moved away from solely creating
“objects that grace the pedestals of art museums” (Brown, 2008) and instead has applied its
methods to solve bigger issues. This has enabled designers to imagine the world from a
different perspective and help solve complex problems, sometimes known as Design
Thinking. At the same time, approaches to international development have also begun to
change, because some large aid initiatives have historically done little to raise living
standards. In some cases aid programmes have resulted in a reduction of government
accountability because “governing elites no longer need to ensure the support of their
publics […] they do not need to raise revenues from the local economy, as long as they keep
the donors happy” (Moss, Pettersson & van de Walle 2006). This reliance on donor support
and lack of public engagement can also be seen in a number of products distributed by
NGOs, because “unlike most [other] market transactions, the recipient of aid goods often
has no ability to signal their dissatisfaction by discontinuing the trade of money for goods”
(Polak & Warwick, 2013). This means that Non-Government Organisations (NGO) can deliver
any product, regardless of the quality, or appropriateness, because often there is no
feedback loop for the users to express their dissatisfaction (Donaldson 2006). In order to
avoid these problems, Prahalad (2006) presented an alternative approach where products
and services are sold to users in small packet sizes using microfinance schemes. This market
based approach encourages local entrepreneurs and large multinationals to make a profit by
selling essential products. These products are typically sold to the survival market that earn
less than $3,260pa living at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The adoption of a marketbased approach is attractive in that they can simultaneously alleviate poverty while making a

2243

Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

profit (Diehl 2007). Despite some reservations, this represents a fundamental shift in the
approach of the aid sector, and one that industrial design can add value. One important
element for industrial designers is that NGOs have begun to recognise users as consumers,
as opposed to charity recipients. This has meant that leading design consultancies such as;
IDEO, Frog and Fuseproject are being employed to use user centred design methods to help
create new solutions. This approach puts an emphasis on user involvement during the
design process. A UCD methodology highlights the importance of working with key
stakeholders prior to beginning the design process and involving them in design decisions.
International Development Enterprise (iDE), use this method and have consequently, helped
thousands of people out of poverty by selling essential products (treadle pumps and
agriculture tools) using micro financing schemes and loans. According to Polak (2008) the
founder of iDE, the advantage of this approach is that it creates a sustainable business
model in which the user has greater attachment to the product as they have invested their
earning into it. This also means that the manufacturer can reinvest profits in further
developments, which support the local economy.

Methodology
In order to answer the research questions three data collection methods were used which
enabled the researcher to triangulate the findings. The first was a systematic review of 64
existing products, followed by a survey of 34 NGOs and industrial designers and 18 semistructured interviews. The final data collection method was a case study with a Social
Enterprise in Myanmar (Burma), this involved a field visit to the organisation and
observations of the product design and development process. Each method has been used
to explore the subject in greater depth, providing a complete picture of the structure of NPD
for LIE products, see Figure 1.

Survey
Designers and NGOs

Depth of study

34 responses

Semi Structured Interviews
Designers and NGOs

18 responses

Case Study

Designers and NGOs
in Myanmar

Figure 1 Depth of primary data collection

Thematic analysis was used to interrogate the data, which involved identifying codes and
grouping them together into themes, these themes form the basis for interpretation (Braun

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Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

& Clarke, 2006). The results of this analysis led to the creation of a design framework which
was converted into a design tool and trialled with 30 undergraduate design students at
Nottingham Trent University, UK. This was part of a wider study investigating approaches to
enhance product development. The study adopted a grounded theory approach allowing the
subject to be studied from multiple perspectives and expand on existing research to create
new insights (Robson, 2011). The exploratory nature of grounded theory meant that analysis
and interpretation was conducted at an early stage. Allowing the researcher to draw
conclusions and inform further study as it progressed (Charmaz, 2006).

Results
Evidence from the analysis showed a number key attributes which can lead to an effective
design. It was found that if an industrial designer takes these into account during NPD the
final product will last for longer. To visually show key themes a word cloud was created,
Figure 2.

Figure 2 Product analysis word cloud of commonly occurring themes

The main attributes required for a successful product were Affordability and Usability.
However, data gather from the case study suggested that other attributes such as;
Acceptability, Convenience and Quality were just as important to the uptake of the product.
Further thematic analysis, consisting of the grouping of codes into themes resulted in the
identification of eight key attributes. According to the data products, which display these
characteristics, appear to be longer lasting and have greater impact than those, which do
not. These were arranged in no particular order;







Affinity
Desirability
Reparability
Durability
Functionality
Affordability
Usability
Sustainability

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Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

Table 1 Indicators for Products Designed for LIEs.
Attribute
Affinity

Desirability

Reparability

Durability
Functionality

Affordability

Usability

Sustainability

Description
Affinity is the connection users have with a product, primarily on an
emotional level. Interviews with NGOs highlighted that purely functional
products resulted in lower uptake and a lack of consistent use, compared
with products which provided an emotional attachment.
Designers who were interviewed stated that as well as being aspirational
products needed to be aesthetically desirable. The nature of a global
economy means that users in LIEs are equally exposed to the styles,
fashion and types of products seen in the developed world.
Products purchased by LIE consumers represent a significant investment.
It is therefore important that when failures occur, products can be
repaired or returned. Two approaches to this have been found in
interviews with NGOs and designers; either products are designed to be
repaired by local craft or tradesmen, or alternately, they can be supplied
with a warranty to receive a replacement.
The hostile nature of LIEs typically means that wear rates are higher and
products need to be designed and built with a higher level of durability
and robustness.
Functionality is an important factor to consider according to interview
data and product analysis. Typically, users neglect products which fail to
provide their functional expectations.
Interview data highlighted that the price of a product is crucial, not only
to the users but also the NGO. The literature suggested that there is a
trend for NGOs to move away from donating products and instead
providing micro-finance, micro-credit and loans which enable users to
buy their own products. Although still in the early stages of adoption this
can affect the design approach and it is important to establish who the
consumer is at the start of a project.
Product analysis revealed that many products come with picture
diagrams showing how they work and how to use them. This is effective,
but it is important to embed usability into the core design of the product.
Designers interviewed stated that by including the user in the initial
design phase enabled enhanced input into product usability.
Sustainability has been split into two parts; firstly, it is important to
consider environmental sustainability in terms of material choice, end of
product life and overall environmental costs. Secondly, the product
distribution needs to be sustainable in the existing economic market.
Evidence from interviews suggests that if products are distributed for
free in the same markets where locals sell similar items this skews the
markets and reduces the demand for sold products.

The inherent visual nature of designers and the need for a method of product analysis during
NPD meant that a spider diagram was used to display the attributes. The eight attributes
were arranged around the spider web and given values from zero to five (five being the

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Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

highest). These enabled designers to rate products and concepts against each of the
attributes and shade in the middle. This method provides an overall evaluation of the
product concept and highlighted strengths and weaknesses of the solution see Figure 3.
AFFINITY
Is the product something users will
be proud to own and take care of?

DURABILITY

DESI RABILITY

Is the design robust enough to
withstand the environment?

Is the product desi rable for the
users?

REPARABILITY
Can the product be maintained and
repairedby local tradesmen, or is it
coveredby a warranty?

USABILITY

5

4

3

2

1

Is the product easy to understand and
use correctly within different cultures?

SUSTAINABILITY

FUNCTIONALITY

Is the product environmentally sustainable
and does it promote good beh
aviour?

Are the products functions
adequate?

AFFORDABILITY
Is the product affordable for locals
or supporting o rganisations?

Key:
1. Very Bad
2. Bad
3. OK
4. Good
5. Very Good

Figure 3 Product Analysis Spider Diagram

It is expected that this method can be used in three ways,

To evaluate product concepts during the initial design phase

To evaluate existing products when re-designing or improving the solution

To evaluate multiple products to understand which is most suitable

In addition to the eight attributes, thematic analysis revealed a number of further
considerations deemed by the interview participants to be important when designing for
this market. It was decided that these were not suitable for inclusion in the spider web as
they were not directly related to the design of a physical item, but were found to contribute
to the effectiveness and up take of the overall product. These were (in no particular order)
Funding, Users, Need, Distribution, Scale, Manufacturing Location, Quality and Convenience,
and can be seen in Table 2.

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Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

Table 2 Further Considerations for Products Designed for LIEs.
Consideration
Funding

Users

Need

Description
Funding represents a significant challenge to industrial designers and
NGOs, according to participants understating the aims and objectives of
the funding body is critical to creating successful products. As a designer
it is important to understand the business model which surrounds the
project.
There is currently little evidence of UCD in the majority of products
designed for LIEs. This is therefore an important aspect to consider when
designing a product.
Identification of a real need is critical to the product effectiveness.
Participants believed that often the need for the product was not well
researched or understood and accounted for a number of failures.
Furthermore, participants were wary of solutions which aimed to tackle
multiple needs as they felt that these products were often unsuitable
and did not provide an optimum solution for any of the needs.

Distribution

A high number of participants spoke of last mile distribution and the
impact of a product on local markets. Therefore, when designing it is
important to consider how easy the product will be to distribute in terms
of size and weight, sometimes described as the ‘lumpiness’ of a solution.

Scale

In order to make a significant impact of poverty many of the participants
believed that reaching large scale was important.
The manufacturing location of a product is an important factor to
consider. Evidence shows that there was little difference in the uptake of
a product if is manufactured locally or internationally. There are
advantages and disadvantages of each method, if a product is
manufactured internationally; the design process is typically quicker and
more efficient, which can result in higher quality outcomes. However,
shipping, import tax and the availability of spare parts becomes more
challenging. Alternatively, if product is manufactured locally, the
development of skills can help to skill the workforce and provide them
with an income. However, this can result in a slower development
process, where a high percentage of time is spent educating locals and
can lead to reduced product quality.

Manufacturing
Location

Quality

Users are looking for products which are of high quality, yet still an
affordable price.

Convenience

Participants stated that users often neglected products which were not
easy to use and incorporated into their daily routine, especially if the
solution has been designed to promote behaviour change.

Interview participants were exposed to a draft version of the spider web to get feedback. It
was found that they liked the simplicity of the model; but were concerned that the
attributes could be ambiguous, if clear definitions were not provided. To overcome this and
create a useable design tool which could be disseminated to designers it was decided that a

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Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

set of assessment cards should be created to support the spider web and provide users with
a detailed explanation of each attribute. Cards are becoming a common format for design
research tools, as they are a quick and easy reference for designers (Evans 2013).
The analysis of existing design cards which included; IDEO Method Cards (IDEO 2002),
iDCards (Evans & Pei 2013), Design with Intent Cards (Lockton 2010), Crossing Cultures Cards
(van Boeijen 2015) and the Social Issue Cards (Lofthouse, 2014) highlighted four attributes
which are commonly used in design tools.



A thought provoking leading question
Further information and or detailed descriptions of issue
Case studies to show examples of good practice
Strong images to illustrate the focus and draw attention

These insights have been used to guide the creation of a set of cards to explain in detail each
of the indicators and additional considerations. The card, seen in Figure 4, has a primary
question on the front face, with follow up questions to reflect on during the design process.
On the reverse face a case study has been briefly described as an example of best practice,
this approach was adopted for all the cards.
Indicator title

Product name

Case Study

Affinity

Primary question
relating to indicator

Rabbit Water Filter

Is the product something
users will be p roud to own
and take care of?

Main image
of case study

Questions to think about or ask users

Will users aspi re to own the p roduct?

Secondary questions
to think about or
ask users

Is the p roduct culturally acceptable?

The Rabbit water filter was re-designed to take into
account users aspirations. Originally it sold for $12
but the price was inc reased after the re-design to
$22. The new model outsold the original 3/1 and
inc reased user uptake by 42%.

Is the quality of the design equivalent to
that seen in developed countries?

Front

Description of case
study, example of
good practice

Back

Figure 4 Card Design

The complete set consists of 16 cards; eight attribute cards for use with the product
assessment spider web and eight additional considerations to be used throughout the design
process. The full set of cards can be seen in Figures 4 and 6.

2249

Questions to think about or ask users

Will users aspi re to own the p roduct?

Is the p roduct culturally acceptable?

The Rabbit water filter was
account users aspirations.

Is the quality of the design equivalent to
that seen in developed countries?

re-designed to take into
Originally it sold for $12

but the price was inc reased after the re-design to
$22. The new model outsold the original 3/1 and
inc reased user uptake by 42%.

Case Study

Affinity

Rabbit Water Filter

Case Study

Functionality
Is the product something

Case Study

Desirability

ReMotion Knee

One Laptop per Child

Is the product desirable for
the users?

Are the products functions
adequate?
Questions to think about
or ask users

ReMotion Knee

Are the products functions
adequate?

Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham
users will be p roud to own
and take care of?

Case Study

Functionality

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

Are the functions desi red by the user?

Is the p roduct aesthetically pleasing?
Will users aspi re to own the p roduct?

Is the p roduct culturally acceptable?
Questions to think about or ask users

re-designed to take into
Originally it sold for $12
but the price was inc reased after the re-design to
$22. The new model outsold the original 3/1 and
inc reased user uptake by 42%.

Is the quality of the design equivalent to
Areseen
the functions
desicountries?
red by the user?
that
in developed

Has it been well designed and enginee

Case Study

Affinity

Rabbit Water Filter

Are the number of functions app
the task?

ReMotion knee is a functional p rosthetic leg which
uses multi-pivot joints. This gives it165 deg
rees of
range, enabling the users to kneel, squat and
One Laptop per Child
Case Study
swing the leg naturall y.

ropriate for

Case Study

Affordability

Is the product affordable for
locals or suppo rting
organisations?

The Rabbit water filter was re-designed to take into
account users aspirations. Originally it sold for $12

Is the quality of the design equivalent to
that seen in developed countries?

but the price was inc reased after the re-design to
$22. The new model outsold the original 3/1 and

One Laptop per Child

One Laptop per Child, combines function with a
high level of design. It has been recognised by a
number of inte rnational design awa rds.

Will it imp rove the social status of the user?
What is the initial cost of the p roduct?

roduct

The t readle pump is a human powe red suction
pump for irrigation. It costs between $20-$100
(depending on the region) and inc reases a
household
Freepl ayTypically
Radio the
Case
Study income by $50-500.
payback period for the p roduct is one yea r.

Usability
Affinity

Is the product easy to
understand and use cor rectly
within different cultures?

Case Study

Chulha st ove

One Laptop per Child, combines function with a
high level of design. It has been recognised by a
number of inte rnational design awa rds.

Will it imp rove the social status of the user?

Will the p roduct easily fit into the everyday
life
of the
users? and packaging is used
What
materials
within the p roduct?

Freepl ay Radio

How will the p roduct be re-used/ recycled
at the end of its life?

Questions to think about or ask users
Are the number of functions app ropriate for
the task?
Can the p roduct be repai red using local a
tradesman?

retu rn the p roduct?
Affordability

Case Study

Reparability

d-light

Case Study

Funding

Is the design robust enough
to withstand the
environment?
What is the initial cost of the p

regions?

Can the p roduct be repai red using local a
tradesman?

What
is thewill
average
incomelast?
of users per day?
How long
the p roduct
Is the p roduct durable enough to withstand
the envi ronment?

D-light solar powe red lante rn comes with a f ree
Users

Users
If a warranty is available how easy is it to

2-year warrant y. It is estimated that it has a 5 year
lifetime with no replacement parts needed. Local
village sales people uphold warranty scheme.

retu rn the p roduct?

Can the p roduct be secu red to p revent it
being stolen?

Case Study

What materials and packaging is used
within the p roduct?

Distribution

Can the users be part of the design p

Questions to think about or ask users

Will it be distributed by locals or charity
members?
What will the lea rning curve be for users?

What materials and packaging is used
within the p roduct?

rocess?

What will be the social implications of
int roducing the p roduct into the market?

How long will the p roduct last?

Scale

Is the p roduct durable enough to withstand

the envi ronment?
Need
Affinity

Distribution
How will the p roduct be re-used/ recycled

Need

The Q Drum is a 50l drum for transporting wate r, it
has been designed to be pulled along
rough
unpaved roads. Made f rom 4mm LLDP in a
rotational moulding p rocess, the Q Drum is highly

Philips Chulha is a low smoke stove design for
indoor cooking using biomass fuel. The stove is
Distribution
manufactu red locally using local materials and

Scale

Quality

How can scale be achi eved to
make a significant dif ference
to poverty?

What is the p roduct quality
like?
Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users
Questions to think about or ask users

What a re the desi res and aspirations
of the users?
Is it suitable for mo re than one region?

Will it be distributed by locals or charity
members?
Is the quality equivalent to a weste

Have you spent time with users understanding
their needs?

rocess?

Can the design be scaled?

What is the size, weight and lumpiness of
Questions
to think about or ask users
the
p roduct?

What a re the cur rent needs within the
envi ronment?

Can the design be scaled?

Can the users be part of the design p

Scale

processes.

at the end of its life?

Quality
How do the p roducts get to
the end user?

What need is the p roduct
meeting?

Questions to think about or ask users

Who is the custome r, the funder or the user?

processes.

What is the size, weight and lumpiness of
the p roduct?

Questions to think about or ask users

Howthe
can
scale be
achi eved to
Who are
product
users?
make a significant dif ference
to poverty?

regions?

Philips Chulha is a low smoke stove design for
indoor cooking using biomass fuel. The stove is
manufactu red locally using local materials and

Distribution

How do the p roducts get to
the end user?

Is the product environmentally
sustainable and does it
promote good beh aviour?

How involved a re the users with the p roject?

Is the p roduct designed for one of many

How will the p roduct be re-used/ recycled
at the end of its life?

The Q Drum is a 50l drum for transporting wate r, it
has been designed to be pulled along
rough
unpaved roads. Made f rom 4mm LLDP in a
rotational moulding p rocess, the Q Drum is highly
Chulha
sttons.
ove
Case
durable
andStudy
can take a maximum load
of 3,7

Q drum

Questions to think about or ask users

Is the p roduct being sold or donated?

What will be the social implications of
int roducing the p roduct into the market?

The t readle pump is a human powe red suction
pump for irrigation. It costs between $20-$100
(depending on the region) and inc reases a
household income by $50-500. Typically the
payback period for the p roduct is one yea r.

durable and can take a maximum load of 3,7 tons.

Who is funding the p roject?

Chulha st ove

Questions to think about or ask users

Can the p roduct be secu red to p revent it
being stolen?

Questions to think about or ask users

Case Study

Questions to think about or ask users

roduct?

What is the total cost of the p roduct
Questions
to think
about or ask users
including
its maintenance?

Who is the
custome
r, the
funder
or the user?
Questions
to think
about
or ask
users

Is the design robust enough
to withstand the
environment?

Users

Users
Scale

household income by $50-500. Typically the
payback period for the p roduct is one yea r.

Is the product environmentally
sustainable and does it
promote good beh aviour?

Q drum

Questions to think about or ask users

What a re the desi res and aspirations
of the users?

What will the lea rning curve be for users?

Funding
been designed with the users to be use
r-friendly
and simple to operate.

The t readle pump is a human powe red suction
pump for irrigation. It costs between $20-$100
(depending on the region) and inc reases a

How involved a re the users with the p roject?

Lifeline radio is a wind up and solar powe red
radio which picks up th ree f requencies. It has

Will the p roduct easily fit into the everyday
life of the users?

roduct

Sustainability
Affinity

village sales people uphold warranty scheme.

Is the product affordable for
Durability

Questions to think about or ask users

Will it be distributed by locals or charity

Is the p roduct designed to p revent misuse?

roduct?

What is the total cost of the p
including its maintenance?

What is the average income of users per day?

2-year warrant y. It is estimated that it has a 5 year
Treadle Pump
Case
lifetime
with Study
no replacement parts needed.
Local

members?r, the funder or the user?
Who is the custome

Do the users need to lea rn new skills to
interact with the p roduct?

What is the initial cost of the p

swing the leg naturall y.

locals or suppo rting
organisations?

Who are the product users?

Is the p roduct being sold or donated?
What is the size, weight and lumpiness of
the p roduct?
Is the p roduct designed for one of many regions?

ReMotion knee is a functional p rosthetic leg which
uses multi-pivot joints. This gives it165 deg rees of
range, enabling the users to kneel, squat and

D-light solar powe red lante rn comes with a f ree
If a warranty is available how easy is it to

Funding

Funding

Durability

Questions to think about or ask users
Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

red?

Sustainability
Affinity

Figure 5 Product Assessment Cards
Questions to think about or ask users

d-light

by

Are spa re and replacement parts available?

processes.

do the p roducts
Who isHow
funding
roject? get to
the end user?

Is the product easy to
understand and use cor rectly
within different cultures?

been designed with the users to be use
and simple to operate.

Are spa re and replacement parts available?

Philips Chulha is a low Funding
smoke stove design for
Distribution
indoor cooking using biomass fuel. The stove is
manufactu red locally using local materials and

Funding
Distribution

Case Study

Lifeline radio is a wind up and solar powe red
radio which picks up th ree f requencies. It has
r-friendly

Will the p roduct easily fit into the everyday
life of the users?

Is the p roduct designed for one of many

Lifeline radio is a wind up and solar powe red
radio which picks up th ree f requencies. It has
been designed with the users to be use r-friendly
and simple to operate.

What will be the social implications of
int roducing the p roduct into the market?

Usability
Affinity

Is the p roduct designed to p revent misuse?

Questions to think about or ask users

Do the users need to lea rn new skills to
interact with the p roduct?
Is the p roduct designed to p revent misuse?
Questions to think about or ask users

Does the p roduct fit with local design and
trends in the region?

Treadle Pump

Is the product affordable for
locals or suppo rting
organisations?

local tradesmen, or is it

Can the p roduct be
maintained and repaired by
local tradesmen, or is it
Is the p roduct being sold or donated?
covered by a warranty?

Is the p roduct environmentally
sustainable and does it
promote good beh aviour?

Is the p roduct aesthetically pleasing?

Case Study

Case Study

Affordability

Arecovered
the functions by
desi a
redwarranty?
by the user?

Who is funding the p roject?

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

ReMotion Knee

adequate?

Has it been well designed and enginee

Sustainability
Affinity

Is the product desirable for
the users?

Are the products functions
Reparability

Do the users need to lea rn new skills to
interact with the p roduct?

What is the average income of users per day?

Case Study

ReMotion knee is a functional p rosthetic leg which
uses multi-pivot joints. This gives it165 deg rees of
range, enabling the users to kneel, squat and
swing the leg naturall y.

Case Study

Functionality

maintained
Questions
to think aboutand
or ask repaired
users

Questions to think about or ask users

inc reased user uptake by 42%.

Desirability

ropriate for

Can the p roduct be

Does the p roduct fit with local design and
Questions
about or ask users
trends to
in think
the region?

What is the total cost of the p
including its maintenance?

Freepl ay Radio

Is the product easy to
understand and use cor rectly
within different cultures?

Is the p roduct aesthetically pleasing?

Is the p roduct culturally acceptable?

Case Study

Usability
Affinity

Is the product desirable for
the users?

Will users aspi re to own the p roduct?

Are the number of functions app
the task?

high level of design. It has been recognised by a
number of inte rnational design awa rds.

Will it imp rove the social status of the user?

Treadle Pump

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

red?

One Laptop per Child, combines function with a

red?

Desirability

Is the product something
users will be p roud to own
and take care of?

Has it been well designed and enginee

Does the p roduct fit with local design and
trends in the region?

The Rabbit water filter was
account users aspirations.

Is it suitable for mo re than one region?
rn p roduct?

Can the design be simply adapted for
different regions?

WhatIswill
lea and
rningstyling
curveofbe
for users?
thethe
design
equal
quality?

Can the design be simply adapted for
different regions?

What unexpected needs have you identified?
Would you be p roud to own this p roduct?

Users

Users

Who are the product users?

Need
Affinity
Manufacturing Location
Affinity

Quality

Quality

Questions to think about or ask users
What a re the cur rent needs within the
envi ronment?

What a re the desi res and aspirations
of the users?

Is the p roduct being locally or globally
manufactu red?
Have you spent time with users understanding
their needs?
rocess?

What is the p roduct quality
like?

Need
Affinity

Manufacturing Location
Affinity

Manufacturing Location

Convenience

Where is the p roduct
manufactured?

product?

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

Questions to think about or ask users

Can the design be scaled?
Is the quality equivalent to a weste

Is the p roduct being locally or globally
manufactu red?

Is the p roduct easy to incorporate in the
users lifestyle?

rn p roduct?

Is it suitable for mo re than one region?
Is the design and styling of equal quality?

What a re the constraints / advantages of each?

Can the p roduct enhance their quality of life?

What a re the constraints / advantages of each?
What unexpected needs have you identified?
What a re the import/distribution costs of each?

Convenience
How can scale be achi eved to
make a significant dif ference
to convenient
poverty? is the
How

Questions to think about or ask users

How involved a re the users with the p roject?

Scale

Scale

Manufacturing Location

What need is the p roduct
Where is the p roduct
meeting?
manufactured?

Questions to think about or ask users

Can the users be part of the design p

Need

Can the design be simply adapted for
different
Is theregions?
p roduct simple and easy to use?

Would you be p roud to own this p roduct?

What a re the import/distribution costs of each?

Need
Convenience

Convenience

What need is the p roduct
meeting?

How convenient is the
product?

Manufacturing Location
Affinity

Manufacturing Location

Where is the p roduct
manufactured?

Questions to think about or ask users
Questions to think about or ask users

Figure 6 Additional Consideration Cards
What a re the cur rent needs within the
envi ronment?

Questions to think about or ask users
Is the p roduct easy to incorporate in the
users lifestyle?

Have you spent time with users understanding
their needs?

Can the p roduct enhance their quality of life?

What unexpected needs have you identified?

Is the p roduct simple and easy to use?

Is the p roduct being locally or globally
manufactu red?

What a re the constraints / advantages of each?
What a re the import/distribution costs of each?

These cards were prototyped at Loughborough University, UK and used with a copy of the
spider web printed on a separate page.

Evaluation of Design Tool
The tool (which included the spider web and cards) was evaluated at Nottingham Trent
University (NTU) with 30 second year BSc Product Design students. NTU was chosen for the
study as the students were embarking on an Engineer without Borders Challenge during part
of a module in Sustainable Design. Engineers without Borders (EWB) are an international
organisation which aims to empower new engineers to remove barriers to human
development by designing solutions to alleviate poverty (EWB-UK, 2013). During the second
week of the project the students were divided randomly into six groups of five and asked to
analyse two products from the 64 products used during the product analysis. Each group
was asked to use the spider web and cards during the analysis to evaluate the design.
The products chosen were:
 Delagua Water Filter
 Lifestraw
 Lifesaver Bottle
 NoKero LED solar powered light
 Tough Stuff LED solar powered light
 Adspects self-adjustable glasses

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Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

Every attempt was made to ensure the products represented an even spread of categories
and each group was given a physical product along with an information page about the
design (the information on the page was used as a prompt see Liamputtong (2011)). Each
group was asked to use the cards and complete a blank spider web. After the first product
analysis the products were swapped and each group was asked to analyse a second product,
providing two data sets per product. Following the analysis of products, each student was
asked to individually complete a questionnaire in which they discussed their opinion of
designing for LIEs and if they felt their focus had changed as a result of the exercise and
tools.
The results of this evaluation have been divided into two sections, the first provides an
analysis of the spider web, and the second investigates the student’s opinion of the tool and
if it changed their approach to design for LIEs.
The results shown in Figure 7 highlight the difference between the two groups in the analysis
the same product. In some cases, for example, Tough Stuff, Lifesaver and the Life Straw both
groups produced a similar result. In particular, the students believed that the Lifestraw and
Tough Stuff were durable, usable and functional products but they lacked the ability to be
repaired easily and were not considered sustainable. When these results are compared to
findings from the product analysis, there was a relatively high degree of similarity results.
For example, in the product analysis of the Life Straw it was reported by Boisson (2010) that
some users broke the product in half, while trying to repair it and that the product had to be
thrown away after one year. This highlights the inherent lack of reparability and
sustainability in the product and proves that the students were accurate in their analysis.
However, it was also evident that not all groups provided a similar result for product scores.
This can be seen in the assessment spider webs for Nokero where the two groups produced
very different scores. In this case Group 1 gave a conservative score between 2-3, whereas
Group 2 scored higher in the region of 4-5 for each of the indicators. It is expected that there
will be differences in the two sets of results, as the spider web method is relatively
subjective and not all the students had a great depth of knowledge of each product.

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Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

Figure 7 Evaluation of products using Spider web method

Following this assessment each group was asked to present their finding to the rest of the
class. This allowed the researcher to make notes on the reasons they gave for the score of
each indicators. It was initially evident that students liked using the spider web as an analysis
tool, making reference to the cards to justify their decisions, see Figure 8. The students
described how they carried out the analysis which typically involved looking at materials, the
strength of the design, testing the functions and commenting on the visual and aesthetical
elements. References were made to using the assessment cards during the process,
especially if the students were unsure of an indicator. However, it was also observed that in
some cases the scores were given without much consideration and highlighted the
subjectivity of the method.

2252

Design Tool for Enhanced New Product Development in Low Income Economies

Figure 8 Group presentations at Nottingham Trent University

The second part of the evaluation involved asking students a series of questions, based on
their experience using the tools. Initially the students were asked about their previous
experience designing for, or background knowledge of LIEs, 58% stated they had limited or
no experience designing for LIEs and equally limited background knowledge. When asked if
using the tools had increased their knowledge, 85% responded that they had ‘learnt more
about designing for these regions’ with 78% believing they were now better equipped to
design products for LIEs. Students were then asked if they believed the tool was accurate
and providing them with helpful information which would result in an improved design. 57%
agreed that the information was effective and found that it was useful at highlighting areas
for improvement, however some participants (13%) believed that there were some
‘ambiguous’ results and it was sometimes ‘difficult to know how to rate a product’ this
ambiguity was likely to be caused by the subjective nature of the assessment tool.
Further questions were asked about the presentation of tool and if the students thought it
was an appropriate design. 63% liked the design, finding it ‘simple’, ‘quick and easy to use –
especially the cards’, however, some students commented that it would be better to have
an online version of the analysis which could ‘work out the score automatically’.

Discussion
This study formed part of a wider investigation which demonstrated the need for greater
understanding into what constitutes an effective design of products for LIEs. The
identification of 16 indicators (cards) and the subsequent creation of a design tool (16 cards
and spider web) helps to enhance current NPD. When the tool was trialled it was found to
be effective in educating designers and enabling them to get a greater understanding of
current products. The spider web was easy to use and participants were confident at
assessing existing products. It is expected that this form of assessment will be used during
the design and development stage enabling designer to evaluate their designs. This will
support existing methods such as user centred design methodologies and cross culture
studies carried out by van Boeijen (2015).
One of the unique elements of the tool was the emphasis desirable products, which was
highlighted by participants and in line with publications from Polak (2008). The tool helps
designers ensure that products are not just technically suitable but also include aspirational
and desirable features. However, during the study it was found that the spider web was
quite a subjective method and did not always provide a robust analysis of the product. This

2253

Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans and Guy Bingham

was particularly evident in areas of desirability, usability and reparability, students struggled
to rate these areas. Although this could be seen as a hindrance, when used in conjunction
with the assessment cards and other user centred design methods, it is predicted that the
analysis will be more reliable. Even if full user centred design is not possible, the cards
provide case study examples of exemplary solutions, which will act as a memory aid for
designers (see Bevilacqua, Emanuele, & Giacchetta, 2012) to ensure they have considered
each aspect of the design if designing remotely.

Conclusion
This study highlighted there is a lack of knowledge about the appropriate design of products
for LIEs. This can have a direct effect on the product outcome and ultimately the livelihood
of people living in poverty. Consequently, this study investigated factors required to create
long lasting, effective products which resulted in the identification of eight assessment
indicators and eight additional considerations. When these attributes are considered during
the NPD process evidence suggests that products have a greater long-term uptake. The
visual nature of designers and rapid adoption of design tools provided an opportunity to
disseminate these findings into a set of cards and assessment spider web, creating a design
tool. The initial tool was prototyped at Loughborough University, UK and evaluated by
students at Nottingham Trent University, during an Engineering without boarders’
competition. It was found during this study that the spider web and cards were effective in
guiding and educating designers how to design for these markets. Although part of a wider
study this investigates demonstrates how design tools can be created as a form of
dissemination that can be utilised by designers. Further study is required to develop and
refine the tool.
Acknowledgements: The author would like to thank the participants who were involved
in the interviews, staff at Proximity Design in Myanmar and Dr Matthew Watkins at
Nottingham Trent University.

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Brown, T. (2008) Design thinking. Harvard Business Review

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projects.
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Moss, T., Pettersson, G., & Nicolas van, d. W. (2006) An Aid-Institutions Paradox? A review essay on
aid dependency and state building in sub-Saharan Africa. Centre for Global Development.
Papanek, V. (1985) Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Thames and
Hudson.
Pilloton, E. (2009) Design Revolution: 1000 products that Empower Eeople. Thames and Hudson.
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About the Authors:
Timothy Whitehead is a Lecturer in Digital Product Design at De
Montfort University. Timothy is a member of the Design and New
Product Development research group and has an interest in the
appropriate design of products for developing countries.
Mark Evans is Reader in Industrial Design and leader of the Design
Practice Research Group at Loughborough University Design School.
Mark’s Research interests are in in design methods, digital tools and
practice-based research.
Guy Bingham is a Senior lecturer and Programme Director for the
postgraduate Industrial Design programme at the Loughborough
University Design School, specialising in the delivery of Engineering,
Mechanics and Design practice.

2256

Redesigning governance – a call for design across
three orders of governance
Tanja Rosenqvist* and Cynthia Mitchell
University of Technology Sydney
* tanja.rosenqvist@uts.edu.au
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.423

Abstract:
Designers are increasingly engaged in solving large-scale societal issues and the
interest in the potentially activist role of design is growing. These new roles call for
judicious approaches to designing and, importantly, for designers to be critically
aware of how their work influences, not only our physical, but also our social worlds.
This paper explores how designers can take part in rethinking governance structures
by facilitating a process of questioning and re-imagining how, for example, public
services are governed and importantly - by whom. This involves articulating people’s
day-to-day experiences of governance and making explicit the institutional
arrangements and the often embedded and unarticulated societal values that govern
these experiences. This paper shares preliminary findings from an on-going research
project, in which low-income communities and government stakeholders in
Indonesia are involved in critically rethinking wastewater governance and their
deeply held assumptions about how public services should be governed.
Keywords: design; governance; politics; activism

Introduction
The role of design in society is rapidly changing. Designers are increasingly involved in
finding practical solutions to large-scale societal issues, such as climate change, poverty
alleviation or rethinking public service delivery. When Victor Papanek, 40 years ago
published his seminal book Design for the Real World, the design discipline was different
(Papanek, 1971). Designers were mainly concerned with shaping our physical world, while
today emerging fields of design such as service design, social design and political design,
means designers to at a larger extent are influencing social realities. Hence, Papanek’s call
for more morally and socially responsibility designers is still relevant today. The new role of

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

designers not only calls for new approaches to designing or new forms, it also urges
designers to be critically aware of how their work influences, not only our physical world,
but also our social world and within this society’s inherent and often invisible power
(im)balances.
The role of government is also changing. Governments are today increasingly under pressure
to deliver better and more cost-effective public services (Bason, 2014). Many governments
are therefore considering how citizens might take part in co-producing public services. The
idea of co-production is that citizens, rather than being viewed as recipients of public
services, should be conceived as potential resources and take part in the production and
delivery of services (Brandsen & Pestoff, 2006; Ostrom, 1996). Co-production experiments
have been conducted in several countries, including Finland (Botero, Paterson, & SaadSulonen, 2012), Wales (Public Health Wales & Co-production Wales, 2012), Australia (Briggs,
2011) and UK (Design Commission, 2013). In many developing countries, co-production has a
longer history and in this context is often considered crucial for achieving higher levels of
welfare - particularly for the poor (Ostrom, 1996). Government’s increasing attempt at
‘downloading’ responsibility for service delivery onto citizens, can according to Julier (2011)
be seen as an opportunity for designers.
This paper explores how designers can and to some extent maybe should, go beyond
(re)designing services and artefacts and question how public services and even society more
generally is governed and by whom. It draws learning from the Governing Futures – Voices
and Wastewater project, which seeks to engage communities and local government
stakeholders in questioning and rethinking how urban wastewater services for poor urban
communities in Indonesia are governed. The project is part of a trans-disciplinary PhD
project, which combines the fields of design, international development and public
administration.
This paper has four sections. In the first section the three orders of governance (Kooiman,
Bavinck, Chuenpagdee, Mahon, & Pullin, 2008) and their relationship with design are
introduced. This is followed by an introduction to wastewater governance in Indonesia, and
a description of the three initial phases of the Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater
project; and a discussion section suggesting that the redesign of governance could be a new
space for exploring a broader notion of design activism. The paper ends with a short
conclusion.

Design and Values in Public Service Governance
Design and governance are intrinsically intertwined. Ultimately both are about solving
problems and creating opportunities. For example, Kooiman defines governance as:
“All those interactive arrangements in which public as well as private actors participate
aimed at solving societal problems, or creating societal opportunities and attending to
the institutions within which these governing activities take place.” (Kooiman, 1999)

2258

Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance

It is through the design of artefacts, experiences and environments that citizens meet their
government (Tunstall, 2007) and other institutions that govern their everyday. How such
artefacts, experiences and environments are designed is therefore no trivial matter. As
suggested by Tunstall, these designs hold the power to mediate the trust citizens’ hold in the
practices of government (Tunstall, 2007). Design can therefore be said to make the
governance tangible to people (Tunstall, 2007). This leads Tunstall to argue, that design also
opens governance up to the potential redesign by those people.
Designers, be that interaction designers, service designers or people who would not
characterise themselves as designers, such as policy makers, embed their vision of the world
into their designs. Akrich termed this process ‘inscribing’ and the result a ‘script’ (1992).
While Akrich was concerned with the design of technological objects, the concept of
‘inscription’ is also relevant for other types of design. For example, when community-scale
wastewater systems in Indonesia are designed to be easy to maintain by unskilled operators,
this can be seen as an inscription of a vision of urban communities as ideally self-reliant. The
design of all artefacts, experiences and environments through which citizens meet their
government, hold such scripts, inscribed visions of the world as seen by their designers,
whom most often are policy makers or civil servants.
In the governance literature, visions are considered governed by values. According to
Kooiman and Jentoft and the idea of Interactive Governance, norms, principles and values
“underpin all decisions since they inspire those who govern how to think and make
judgements” (Kooiman & Jentoft, 2009). These norms, principles and values sit at what they
term ‘third order governance’ or ‘meta-governance’, which governs the governance
activities that happen at first and second order. First order governance deals with day-to-day
affairs. This is where problems are solved and opportunities created (Kooiman et al., 2008).
The designed artefacts, experiences and environments through which citizens meet their
government can therefore be seen as part of first order of governance. Second order
governance includes the institutional arrangements in which day-to-day affairs (first order
governance) take place (Kooiman et al., 2008). It is here the visions and rules that govern
first order governance are formed and where roles and responsibilities of the institutions
that take part in governing are defined. The visions of the world, inscribed in the artefacts,
experiences and environments through which citizens meet governments, can therefore be
said to lie within the second order of governance. Importantly, both artefacts, experiences
and environments at the first order and the institutional arrangements at the second order
are governed by meta-governance, which “deals with the principles which 'govern'
governance itself” (Kooiman, 1999).
First

Second

Third

Artefacts
Experiences
Environments

Visions
Rules
Institutions

Values
Principles
Norms

Figure 3 The relationship between design and governance

2259

Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

Designing how public services or other elements of society are governed, means moving
beyond designing the artefacts, experiences and environments citizens meet. While Turnstall
argues, that design, by making governance tangible to everyday people, also opens
governance up to participatory redesign by people, the notion of meta-governance suggests
that the possible solution space will be restricted by what is reasonable within the values
found at the meta-governance level. Redesigning artefacts, experiences and environments,
might therefore lead to changes in the day-to-day affairs of governance, but will only
indirectly influence what happens at second and third order. If designers seek to create
more fundamental change in governance structures, they could consider engaging more
directly at second and third order. However, these orders of governance are highly invisible,
which prompts the question – how might designers make the elements found at these
orders of governance more explicit and thus open them up for collaborative re-design by
citizens and their government?

The State of Wastewater Governance in Indonesia
In Indonesia, domestic wastewater has historically been considered a private matter
(BAPPENAS & WSP, 2007). Public investments in wastewater services have been limited
(Wibowo & Legowo, 2010) and today only 2% of Indonesia’s 250 million people are
connected to centralised sewerage (WSP, 2013). The lack of government initiative has left
households to find their own solutions and the majority of urban dwellers today rely on
household-based tangki septik (septic tanks). These are often poorly constructed and do not
prevent wastewater from seeping into and polluting nearby water bodies used for drinking
and cooking. The poor sanitation conditions in Indonesia currently result in approximately 6
million cases of diarrhoea, 20.000 deaths and the loss of 2,3% of GDP every single year
(WSP, 2008a) (WSP, 2008b).
There has in recent years been an increasing push on Government of Indonesia to improve
access to wastewater services. International donors have specifically urged Indonesia to
improve the institutional arrangements for wastewater, which currently lacks a clear
institutional home at both national and local government level (WSP, 2011). While local
governments officially gained responsibility for wastewater services in 2001, the new
responsibility was not followed by sufficient changes to the regulatory framework
(Djojosoekarto et al., 2013), clear service delivery standards (WSP, 2009) or sufficient
capacity building (WSP, 2009). Many local governments therefore today remain unsure what
their responsibility is and how they might fulfil it (Winters, Karim, & Martawardaya, 2014).
Despite the remaining challenges at local government level, the political prioritisation of
wastewater in Indonesia has increased. There has been a massive increase in funding from
both national and local governments (World Bank & AusAID, 2013) and Indonesia today has
a clear political commitment to ensure 100% wastewater service coverage by 2019
(BAPPENAS, 2015). Part of the strategy to reach full coverage, is to provide 7.5% of the
Indonesian population access to community-scale wastewater systems. These systems and
how they are governed is the topic of this paper.

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2.1. Community-scale wastewater systems
Community-scale wastewater systems are a fairly recent phenomenon in Indonesia. The first
systems were implemented in 2002 as part of a pilot program under the name SANIMAS
(Sanitasi Berbasis Masyarakat – Sanitation Based in the Community). In following years, the
Government of Indonesia funded the implementation of 50-100 systems per year. By 2009
Indonesia had 420 community scale systems (WSP, 2013) and by 2012 a total of 1700
(Mitchell, Ross, Abeysuriya, Puspowardoyo, & Wedahuditama, 2015). Funding has since
continued to increase and by 2015 13.600 systems had been funded for implementation
(Mitchell et al., 2015). To reach the planned 7.5% of the population an additional 100.000
community-scale systems are however needed (Mitchell et al., 2015).
The systems typically provide wastewater services for 50 to 100 households and are
generally implemented in densely populated low-income urban and peri-urban communities
(WSP, 2013). Three types of systems are found in Indonesia; MCK, SSS and mixed systems.
MCK’s (mandi, cuci, kakus or bathing, washing, toilet) consist of a communal toilet, bathing
and washing facility and an underground treatment system. SSS stands for simplified
sewerage systems. These systems have a pipe network, which connects household
bathroom and toilets to an underground treatment system. Mixed systems combine the
qualities of MCK and SSS systems and therefore have both a communal toilets and a pipe
network.

Figure 1 From left: MCK; SSS; mixed system. Red parts are below the ground.

The systems are funded by aid donors or national and local government, while communitybased organisations (CBOs) are expected to take full responsibility for their ongoing
operation, maintenance as well as regular user fee collection.

2.2. Community-management and long-term sustainability
A recent study has questioned the long-term sustainability of community-scale wastewater
services under community management. CBOs often do not function as assumed. Members
loose enthusiasm and struggle to collect enough user fees to fund major repairs or

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Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

desludging (WSP, 2013). The study therefore concluded, that the assumption that
communities can and will manage community-scale sanitation systems without external
support has been overstated (WSP, 2013).
Several local governments are currently rethinking wastewater governance. They specifically
explore how roles and responsibility among government agencies can be organised and are
developing new wastewater by-laws. These changes will however only affect householdbased and centralised services, while community-scale services will remain fully managed by
CBOs. This is largely due to a dominant paradigm brought in by donors through the SANIMAS
pilot program – i.e. that communities can and should be empowered to take on full
responsibility for ongoing service provision.

2.3. Institutional arrangements in community-scale wastewater
Bogor, a city of nearly one million people about 60 kilometres south of Jakarta, is one of the
cities where local government is currently rethinking wastewater governance. The
Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater project follows this process and attempts to
inspire local government to think of alternative governance models for community-scale
wastewater services. Below is a short introduction to the current institutional arrangement
in Bogor.
The implementation of a community-scale wastewater system in Bogor is initiated when the
Planning department applies for funding. There are several funding paths, which differ in the
details, but generally the Implementation department receives funding to build systems
from the national government budget. The Implementation department selects which
communities will receive funding. This decision should officially be based on a detailed City
Sanitation Strategy, prepared through collaboration between the Planning and
Implementation departments. The City Sanitation Strategy prioritises communities ranked
high in an Environmental Health Risk Assessment performed by the Health department.
When communities have been selected, the Implementation department hires and trains
Social and technical facilitators to support the selected communities while implementing the
system. The facilitators arrange community meetings to give community members
information about the health benefits and the technical functionality of the system and also
provide ongoing support during the design and construction of the system. After the system
has been installed and inaugurated, the facilitators are no longer involved and the full
responsibility is handed over to the community. To handle operation, maintenance and user
fee collection, the community selects 3-4 people to form a CBO and appoints an operator.
In Bogor, three additional stakeholders are involved in community-scale wastewater service
governance. Health City Forum (HCF) was established by a mayoral degree in 2005 as part of
larger program funded by national government to improve health condition across Indonesia
(Director of Bogor HCF, personal communication, 2015). The national association of
community-based organisations, AKSANSI, was established in 2006 and supports its
members (the CBOs) to sustain community-scale wastewater services. For example, AKSANSI
monitors new systems one year after commissioning, facilitates communication between

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Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance

CBOs and local governments and provides capacity development opportunities for CBOs.
The District government is a sub-level of local government, structurally located between
community and local government. In practice the District government has no specific
responsibility in relation to wastewater, but can generally be seen as a mediator between
communities and local government.

Figure 2 Simplified overview of the institutional arrangement for community-scale wastewater
service provision in Bogor.

The Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater project explores how designers might
engage communities and local government stakeholders in questioning and rethinking
institutional arrangements for public service provision such as the ones described above.

Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater
The Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater project explores how to make the
institutional arrangements for community-scale wastewater service provision in Bogor
explicit and open for redesign. The project specifically seeks to question the assumption that
communities can and should be responsible for ongoing service provision and provide lowincome communities the opportunity to take part in co-designing alternative futures
together with local government stakeholders. The project draws from the fields of
participatory design and service design. Participatory design has an explicit emancipatory
commitment to ensure the voice of marginalised groups are being heard and involved in
decision-making (Simonsen & Robertson, 2012) and since it emerged in Scandinavia in the
1970s a wide range of tools and methods have been developed to fulfil this particular
purpose. The Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater project specifically draws on the
concept of design games (Brandt & Messeter, 2004; Brandt, 2006; Møllebæk Larsen &
Lindegaard, 2009), a form of collaborative design activity which by shifting focus to a game
can help downplay power relations (Brandt & Messeter, 2004). Service design is concerned
with how people experience services and relationships between people, specifically the

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Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

relationship between service user and service provider (Polaind, Lovlie, & Reason, 2013). The
concept of service blueprints, a tool for mapping relationship as they happen over the
course of the service journey and influence peoples service experience, is central to service
design (Moritz, 2005; Shostack, 1984). By combining the two fields of design, a range of
design games have been developed to facilitate the engagement of low-income
communities and local government stakeholders in rethinking service governance.
The participants are engaged in questioning one order of governance at a time. In the first
phase, community-members were invited to map their experiences designing,
implementing, operating and maintaining community-scale systems. The focus was on the
day-to-day elements of governance at the first order. In the second phase, community
members mapped the current institutional arrangements for community-scale wastewater
service provision and envisioned alternative arrangements. In the third stage, stakeholders
from local government were invited to map the ideal institutional arrangements as seen
from their perspective. To explore which values at the meta-governance level governed their
visions, the researcher suggested an alternative future, prompting strong reactions from the
stakeholders. These three phases were recently finalised. In the coming months, the last
phase of the project will be completed. In this phase community leaders and local
government stakeholders will be engaged in co-designing new governance models for
community-scale wastewater service provision.
Three communities are involved in the project. Two of these implemented mixed systems in
2010 and the third community is currently waiting for funding to begin implementation.

Figure 4 From left: Location of MCK in two communities and the future location of an MCK in the
third community.

4.1. Mapping community experiences at the first order
In the first phase, community-members mapped their day-to-day experiences of communityscale wastewater governance. This was done through a tool turning the concept of service
blueprints (Parker & Heapy, 2006) into a design game (Brandt, 2006). It consisted of: a
timeline, a range of cards describing different plausible events such as ‘meeting with local
government staff’ and a collection of random pictures participants could use to describe an
experience. It allowed community-members to map the process of implementing, operating
and maintaining community-scale wastewater services and consider how they experienced
each separate event. The mapping was performed either individually or in groups up to five
participants and took place in participant’s own homes or in community meeting places.

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Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance

Figure 5 A community leader maps his experience of designing, implementing, operating and
maintaining the community’s community-scale wastewater systems.

The mapping exercise made explicit influential power dynamics. For example, from one
community it became clear that the Healthy City Forum has a powerful position and is able
to decide when they receive the funding and whether it is enough for a small or large
system. Officially such responsibilities sit with the Implementation department, and
decisions should be based on the City Sanitation Strategy and Environmental Health Risk
Assessment. In practice, the Healthy City Forum seems to have significant influence and
possibly even some degree of control over the process, despite not having line responsibility
and staff not being public servants.
The mapping exercise also made explicit the importance of personal relationships with
people working within or close to government. One of the communities recently received
funding to extend their pipe network, because of close personal relationship with the local
AKSANSI representative. The community leader mapped how funding had come from an
international donor, who had asked the local AKSANSI representative to select the receiving
community.
The exercise furthermore made explicit that local government departments can be
inaccessible for low-income communities. Leaders from two communities mapped how they
previously have asked for support from local government to maintain infrastructure. They
went to District government, but never received any reply on their inquiries. The leaders of
both communities thought their request had never moved on to the relevant local
government agency. As one leader said: “I already told the kelurahan (District office), but

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Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

they haven’t told Wasbangkim (the Implementation department). So far kelurahan hasn’t
said anything yet”.
In another community, the mapping exercise led to a conversation about how community
leaders felt government projects became a burden for them as leaders. They felt stuck
maintaining the government-funded infrastructure without support from either government
or their communities. In the last community, the exercise led to the community leader
revealing his frustration and impatience after waiting nearly two years to receive funding to
implement the system they have been promised.

4.2. Mapping and questioning institutional arrangements at the second order
In the second phase of the project community members were invited to map the
institutional arrangements for community-scale wastewater as seen from their perspective
and suggest potential alternative arrangements. For this purpose they were provided with a
design game consisting of 10 coloured game pieces, each with the name of stakeholder
involved with wastewater. They were first asked to organised the stakeholders into current
arrangements and afterwards re-organise them into more desired arrangements.

Figure 5 A community leader is mapping the institutional arrangements for community-scale
wastewater service provision in Bogor as seen from his perspective.

Through the mapping exercise, it became clear that community leaders were seeking easier
access to local government agencies. For example, community leaders mapped District
offices and Healthy City Forum as roadblocks, slowing down or completely obstructing
application and funding processes. When mapping alternative arrangements community
members suggested circumventing the District office and Healthy City Forum by establishing
more direct lines of communication between them and local government departments,

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Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance

specifically the Implementation department. One community leader specifically suggested a
direct phone number to the Implementation department, while a leader in another
community suggested an assistant at the District office could be responsible for bringing
community members to relevant local government agencies in person.

4.3. Influencing local government stakeholders’ intrinsic norms and values
In the third phase of the project, local government stakeholders were engaged in mapping
the institutional arrangements for community-scale wastewater service provision. This was
done one by one and took place in their offices or in a nearby café. In addition to the 10
coloured game pieces given to community-members, they were also given 17 pieces
symbolising specific responsibilities. They were asked to place each of these responsibilities
on the stakeholder they thought ideally would take this on. All government stakeholders
placed all day-to-day responsibilities, such as ‘user fee collection’ on the CBO, but
maintained a few responsibilities, such as ‘health campaigns’ among government agencies.

Figure 6 A member of local government is mapping current institutional arrangements for
community-scale wastewater service provision in Bogor as seen from her perspective.

When a participant had organised the responsibilities, the researcher suggested an
alternative set of arrangements, by moving the game pieces around. The researcher took the
majority of responsibilities placed on the CBO and relocated them onto various appropriate
local government agencies. The purpose was to provoke the local government stakeholder
and start a conversation about why such arrangements would not be feasible. In other

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Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

words, explore which values and norms at the meta-governance level govern the current
arrangements.
From this exercise the strength of the values supporting the notion of communitymanagement became explicit. One stakeholder referred to it as the ‘spirit of SANIMAS’ - the
foundation of the entire SANIMAS program. All engaged government stakeholders
categorically refused the potential of seeing the suggested government-led arrangements
implemented. They instead suggested that community awareness should be increased
through ‘socialisation’ to ensure they understand the importance of collecting user fees and
sufficiently operate and maintain the systems.

A call for design across orders of governance
Designers, consciously as well as unconsciously, can take part in reinforcing how society is
governed and by whom. For example, when designers are involved in ensuring public
services can be co-produced by citizens, they might unintentionally be promoting a
‘neoliberal hype’ as suggested by Brandsen & Pestoff (2006). Designers inscribe their visions
into artefacts, experiences or environments, and thereby can implicitly reinforce or even
construct values and norms at the meta-governance level; for example, the idea that lowincome communities should deliver their own wastewater services. If designers (both
trained and untrained) do not critically reflect on the impact of their work, they might
inadvertently promote unintended values and norms.
Designers can, if they are aware of the three orders of governance, actively use their
practice to question and redesign governance. As exemplified by the Governing Futures –
Voices and Wastewater project, designers can play an important role in uncovering elements
of first, second or third order governance and open them up for participatory redesign.
Through the use of design games hidden power dynamics, the importance of personal
relationships and the inaccessibility of local government agencies were in this project
revealed. By making the institutional arrangements for wastewater services visual and
changeable, these became open to the participatory redesign by community-members, who
suggested circumventing HCF and district government to get direct access to local
government agencies. Lastly, by mapping how a shift of responsibilities from communities to
local government may look, the underlying values and norms associated with the ‘spirit of
SANIMAS’ were made explicit. This exemplifies how, by uncovering the elements of the
three orders of governance, designers can help explore how some of the most fundamental
structures of society, such as the roles and responsibilities of state vis a vis citizens, are
configured and could be reconfigured.
While designers have little training in the functioning of government or the structure of
political systems, it could be argued that they not only have a unique opportunity, but also a
moral and social responsibility, to go beyond (re)designing our everyday, to facilitating the
expression and inclusion of citizens’ voices in the process of deciding how public services and
in fact society more generally is governed. Designers, with their ability to make the invisible

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Redesigning governance – a call for design across three orders of governance

explicit and their vast field of emancipatory tools, are well placed to open up the three
orders of governance for the potential redesign by people whose voices are most often not
heard in governing decision-making. They might even take on an activist role and in
designerly ways, such as through design games, present the voice of disadvantaged groups
to decision-makers and begin to influence the norms and values at the meta-governance
level.
Governance redesign might provide a new space for activist designers to explore a wider
notion of design activism and bring it closer to decision-makers. While designers are
increasingly involved in solving large-scale and complex societal issues, design activism is still
mainly focusing on the design of ‘things’. For example, Markussen describes design activism
as the introduction of material objects and artefacts into the urban field of perception and
sees design activism as a ‘disruptive aesthetic practice’ (Markussen, 2013). This form of
activism, sits at the first order of governance. Activist designers could consider expanding
the notion of design activism and explore it across all three orders of governance. Design
activists today mainly speak to other activists (Fuad-Luke 2009) and design activism is often
reduced to exhibition material and thereby held back from bringing about meaningful
change (Kaygan & Julier, 2013). Bringing design activism directly into the second and third
order could bring it out of the galleries and into governments. This would mean exploring
the potentially activist role of the variety of objects and artefacts designers employ
throughout the design process. Fuad-Luke (2009) has already suggested, that the typology of
artefacts for design activism is not sufficiently understood and further research is needed.
Exploring the potential use of design activism across the three orders of governance could
be useful in this regard.

Conclusions
Designers can play an important role in questioning and redesigning how public services and
even society more generally is governed. This role might, as was the case in the Governing
Futures – Voices and Wastewater project, involve helping citizens reveal hidden power
dynamics or the inaccessibility of government agencies. It could also involve making
normally invisible institutional arrangements explicit, especially to disadvantaged groups, to
allow them to engage in exploring alternative governing futures. Designers, with their ability
to make the invisible explicit and a range of emancipatory tools and methods, such as the
design games explored in the Governing Futures – Voices and Wastewater project, have a
unique opportunity to take on this role.
Redesigning governance can provide activist designers a new space to explore a wider
notion of design activism and bring their activist practice closer to decision-makers. Further
research is however needed into the use of design activism across the three orders of
governance and the potentially activist nature of the range of objects and artefacts
designers apply throughout the design process.

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Tanja Rosenqvist and Cynthia Mitchell

Acknowledgement: This research is part of the project Strengthening Governance for
the Successful Long-Term Delivery of Community Scale Wastewater Services in Indonesia,
funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and led by the
Institute for Sustainable Futures, at the University of Technology Sydney, in partnership
with Government of Indonesia, BORDA Germany, and other collaborators.

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About the Authors:
Tanja Rosenqvist is a third year PhD candidate at Institute for
Sustainable Futures. Her research into the governance of communityscale wastewater services in Indonesia is trans disciplinary and falls
within the intersection between design, international development
and public administration.
Cynthia Mitchell has international reputation for her trans
disciplinary work for economic, environmental, and social
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infrastructure and water and nutrient recycling systems.

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional
design
Annet Kempenaar
Wageningen University
annet.kempenaar@wur.nl
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.189

Abstract: Regional design is a means to develop integrated spatial plans with a long
term perspective in close collaboration with stakeholders. In doing so, regional
design shows similarities to participatory design. In this paper, a regional design
process is compared to the basic principles and values of participatory design. The
regional design process showed strong signs of mutual learning, embeddedness in
actual situations, using participatory tools and techniques, and opening up to
alternative visions. The democracy oriented principles equalizing power relations and
committing to democratic practices were also present in the regional design case, but
not in a emancipatory or empowering way. The regional design case showed the
signs of a fraternalistic approach to participatory design, in which multiple voices and
perspectives grapple with each other. Regional design can learn from participatory
design theory and practice, as it resonates with the principles and values of
participatory design.
Keywords: Regional design, participatory design, workshops, landscape architecture

Introduction
Designing (urban) landscapes on a regional scale has gained momentum in landscape
architecture and urban planning and design over the last decades (Kempenaar et al. 2016;
Meijsmans and Beelen 2010; von Seggern, Werner and Grosse-Bächle 2008). This practice is
referred to as regional designing and is a means to develop integrated strategic spatial plans
for a region with a long term perspective (Oosterlynck et al. 2011). The responsibility for
regional developments is typically distributed over various stakeholders with interdepend
relationships (Albrechts and Balducci, 2013), making regional designing a collaborative and
deliberative effort that exhibits strong similarities to participatory design approaches.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Annet Kempenaar

In participatory design, democracy and genuine participation are central values (Bratteteig,
Bødker et al. 2013; Robertson and Wagner 2013). It aims to give participants a real say in the
design process and wants to empower them (Kensing and Greenbaum 2013). In regional
designing, the engagement with stakeholders seems to be based on more pragmatic
motivations, like the disclosure of useful stakeholder knowledge and the need for
collaboration to deal with networked regional problems. In this paper we compare a
regional design process to the basic principles and values of participatory design. We
examine a regional design process and its final product to see how stakeholders influenced
the design process and outcome, and how the workshops shaped the perspective for future
use and application of these design outcomes. Our case concerns the design of a landscape
perspective for the Three Countries Park, a cross-border region located in Belgium, the
Netherlands and Germany.

Regional designing: a participatory design process?
Regional design is rooted in both landscape architecture and urban planning and design and
envisions the future arrangement of settlements, infrastructures, water features, nature
reserves and other land-uses in a region, including their relationships and their aesthetic
appearances (de Jonge 2009; Neuman 2000). However, regional designing is not aimed at
changing the physical environment directly, it is a form of second order design that is
“engaged in designing the decision environment within which others (sometimes these are
other design professionals) make decisions to alter or add to the built environment” (George
1997, p. 145). The resulting designs seek to accommodate change over a long period of time,
have a strategic character and provide a context for smaller scale decisions. Regional designs
are no blueprints, but take other forms like frameworks, visions or guidelines that provide
direction for future development and change, which can be used as navigation devices in the
uncertain and unpredictable regional process that lies ahead (Langner 2014).
In regional design, the term regional is used to indicate the supra-local scale on which the
design is focussed, which can vary from the scale of a couple of municipalities up to the scale
of a nation state. The size of the region concerned in regional design is predominantly
determined by the issues that are addressed in regional design. For example, when the
regional design is concerned with flood-prevention, a logical sub-system of the watershed
will be taken into account. These large scale representations are accompanied by
suggestions for small scale and short term interventions to make the long term vision and
the pathway towards the desirable future tangible (Neuman 2000).
In a region multiple stakeholders are involved in the planning, making, shaping and
maintaining of the region, but it often lacks a designated regional planning authority
(Albrechts and Balducci 2013). The stakeholders have a shared responsibility and various
interdepend relationships. For example, the value of real estate is related to its connectivity
to schools, shops, and its location to forests, nature reserves and valuable cultural
landscapes. A regional design project is often commissioned by a group of regional
stakeholders that invite other stakeholders to join in in the project. Designers engage with

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design

these stakeholders in the design process to make use of their knowledge, but also to
exchange ideas, to build collective perceptions of possible regional futures, and to create
ownership of the ideas to improve the perspective for future action. To organise such
interaction between designers and stakeholders, workshops, ateliers or other interactive
events are organised as part of the regional design process.
Participatory design is a design methodology that involves future users as co-designers in the
design process, and includes a collection of design practices (van der Velden and Mörtberg
2014). Democracy and genuine participation are strong values in participatory design
(Bratteteig et al. 2013; Robertson and Wagner 2013). Based on these values a series of
principles have evolved that characterise participatory design practices: equalizing power
relations, committing to democratic practices, embeddedness in actual situations, mutual
learning, using participatory tools and techniques, and opening up to alternative visions
(Kensing and Greenbaum 2013; van der Velden and Mörtberg 2014). Participatory design
considers the design process and product equally important. The inclusion of future users or
stakeholders in the design process, and the structure and design of this process influence
the final design product as well as the future use and value of these design products
(Simonsen and Robertson 2013). This implies that designers take other design-decisions then
without participation, and that stakeholders look at the end result differently after
participating in a design process. Participatory design results are a true co-production of
designers and stakeholders. In this paper we investigate to what extend these values and
principles also account for regional designing.

Methods and materials
The regional design case described in this paper concerned the design of a landscape
perspective for the Three Countries Park, a cross-border region located in Belgium, the
Netherlands and Germany (Figure 1). The regional design was part of a larger project on
developing a landscape policy for the Three Countries Park that started in March 2012 and
finished in May 2014. The development of the landscape perspective was phase two in the
project and included a series of three one-day stakeholder workshops which were held in
October 2012, November 2012 and in March 2013. The role of these stakeholder workshops
in shaping the design outcome and the perspective of future use of the design results was
central in our investigation.
The case was researched by reading and analysing:
 maps, sketches and collective notes produced during the workshops,
 workshop minutes,
 other project documents, such as intermediate reports, committee meeting
minutes and project team minutes,
 the regional design products which were presented in the final project reports
(Houwen, Blokland and Wirth, 2014; Lohrberg et al. 2014a, 2014b, 2014c).

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Moreover, the author was part of the design team that drew up the landscape perspective
and could also build on personal observations and experiences in the analysis of the case.
Below we give a short introduction of the regional design case.

Figure 1 The Three Countries Park area.

Designing a landscape perspective for the Three Countries Park
The Three Countries Park covers an area of cultural landscape between the cities of Hasselt,
Liège, Maastricht, Heerlen, and Aachen with a diameter of around 50 km. The landscape is
crisscrossed by several streams and has been inhabited since 4500 BC. Over the last
centuries, agricultural use and innovations, economic developments, and demographic
changes influenced and shaped the use of the land and the landscape, and made it what it is
today: a varied landscape where attractive rural areas alternate with valuable nature
reserves, cultural heritage and a polycentric urban network (Figure 2).
The Three Countries Park covers an area, in which three different languages are spoken:
French, German and Dutch. Furthermore, the region encompasses four different
administrative and institutional settings: Germany, the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia.
The Three Countries Park was first named in 1993 in the MHAL Spatial Development
Perspective (Internationale Coordinatiecommissie 1993), a spatial vision for the
development of the cross-border region including the cities of Maastricht, Hasselt, Aachen
and Liège (hence the MHAL abbreviation). In 2001, as one of the follow-ups on the MHAL
perspective, the Three Countries Park initiative started, a collaboration of nine public
partners stemming from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Their aim is to protect,

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design

develop and manage the Three Countries Park in a functional, sustainable and attractive
manner. In 2012 they commissioned with the financial support of ESPON (www.espon.eu) a
project to develop a cross-border landscape policy, which included the design of the Three
Countries Park landscape perspective.

Figure 2 Views on the Three Countries Park landscape

Designer – stakeholder interaction in the design process
The design process for the Three Countries Park landscape perspective centred around a
cycle of three one-day workshops with regional stakeholders (Figure 3). The first workshop
focussed on the collective exploration of the structure, problems and issues of the Three
Countries Park. The second workshop explored principle solutions, and the third workshop
focussed on the testing of the draft results. The workshops were prepared, organised and
facilitated by the regional design team.
Besides representatives of the nine organisations involved in the Three Countries Park
initiative, several other regional stakeholders participated. For each workshop a balance was
sought in stakeholders from different countries and institutional settings. Next to the design
team and stakeholders, the other members of the project group that worked on the
landscape policy project also participated in the workshop. This resulted in 18 participants in
the first workshop, 24 in the second and 15 in the third workshop. English, a foreign

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language to all participants including the design team and the project group, was the agreed
language for the workshops, minutes and reports. Below we describe the aim, preparation
and organisation of each of these workshops more in detail, and reflect on their outcome
and effect on the development of the design ideas.

Figure 3 Impression of the workshops

Workshop one: Working on storylines
The first workshop for the landscape perspective was held in October 2012 and aimed to
elaborate and discuss trends and developments that would affect the landscape of the Three
Countries Park. In preparation for the workshop, the landscape of the Three Countries Park
and its history were analysed by the design team to gain a deeper understanding of the
landscape and how it has come about. Furthermore, the design team developed three
storylines for possible future developments in the region that built on the research of the
first phase of the project on trends and developments:
1) new rural dynamics of the Three Countries Park landscape,
2) resilient and climate proof Three Countries Park landscape,
3) the attractive Three Countries Park metropolitan landscape.
The workshop started with a short presentation of the landscape analysis and an
introduction of the three storylines. In the afternoon, three sub-groups consisting of
representatives from Germany, Flanders, Wallonia and the Netherlands, each discussed and
elaborated one of the storylines.
This workshop resulted in a deeper understanding with the design team of the landscape
issues and developments across the Three Countries Park. It also enhanced the teams’
understanding of the cultural and institutional differences between different parts of the
region, and the value that the stakeholders attached to these differences. Not only the
design team benefitted from the workshop, the stakeholders also broadened their
perception with the long term and large scale trends and developments incorporated in the
storylines. Moreover, issues, values and perspectives were also shared amongst the
stakeholders, which improved both their knowledge and understanding of situations on the
other side of the border.

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design

The composition of sub-groups in the afternoon with representatives of Germany, Flanders,
Wallonia and the Netherlands enabled this exchange of knowledge and a detailed
exploration of the three storylines, which led to a specification of issues. For example,
several stakeholders argued that although the overall accessibility of the Three Countries
Park for walking and cycling is good, the access to attractive landscape elements like water
features and historic sites is very poor in the region. Other important issues that arose in the
discussions concerned the mutual relationship between the urban and rural parts, and the
rich cultural variation within the region. The stakeholders expressed that the design team
should include these urban-rural relationships and celebrate the cultural differences
throughout the Three Countries Park in the landscape perspective.

Workshop two: principle solutions
The second workshop was held one month later in November 2012 and focussed on the
collaborative exploration of desirable future landscape developments. In preparation of this
workshop the design team identified five core qualities of the Three Countries Landscape
and elaborated how these characteristics added to the landscape quality in the various parts
of the Three Countries Park. The core qualities built on the outcomes of the discussion
during the first workshop as well as a series of interviews with the nine commissioning
stakeholders on the qualities of the landscape. Next to the core qualities, the design team
had prepared a longlist of possible aims and ambitions for the landscape perspective.
In the morning, the design team presented an analysis of the core qualities of the Three
Countries Park landscape, which were then discussed. After this discussion, the focus turned
to the aims and ambitions for the Three Countries Park landscape, and the main challenges
that should be addressed. At the end of the morning session all stakeholders (design team
and project group excluded) were invited to mark two challenges, which he/she thought the
landscape perspective should focus on. This indicated the management of an attractive,
diverse and historic rich landscape as the primary challenge with the development of a
continuing cross border ecological network as a secondary challenge. Tourism and water
management were also indicated as important topics to take into consideration.
The aim of the afternoon session of the second workshop was to discuss and explore options
for the enhancement of the core qualities of the Three Countries Park landscape. The design
team had selected four different locations within the Three Countries Park landscape to
initiate this discussion. The participating stakeholders were divided into four groups, each
consisting of stakeholders from one institutional setting (Flanders, Wallonia, Germany, the
Netherlands). In four consecutive rounds, the groups discussed possible landscape measures
and realisation options for the four locations. The design team and project group members
hosted the four tables, reporting the ongoing discussion. These discussions showed that
each area or site has its own specifics and high lightened the need to combine the
development of ongoing landscape structures with tailor made, place based solutions that fit
the local context.

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The main result of the second workshop comprised a communal idea on the points of
departure and focus of the landscape perspective. The morning discussion confirmed the
shared value of connected and continuing landscape structures across borders, while the
afternoon session illustrated the differences between specific sites in the region, and the
value of developing place-based solutions.

Workshop three: testing draft results
The third workshop was held four months later and focussed on the evaluation and testing
of the draft design result: a landscape framework based on a series of guiding principles for
landscape development. In the period between the second en third workshop the design
team developed a draft landscape perspective aimed at balancing the values of landscape
unity and diversity. This perspective combined the value of ongoing and connected
landscape structures, such as river valleys, slopes and plateaus with the rich cultural
diversity of the Three Countries Park region. The design team developed a series of guiding
principles for landscape development that would result in a landscape framework, which
secures the value of ongoing landscape structures, but also leaves room for local variations.
In the morning, the design team presented these draft result, which were then discussed
with the stakeholders. An important comment that arose from the morning discussion
concerned the need to make local culture and identity equally important to the
development and management of the ongoing landscape structures. The stakeholders
stressed that this value should be more explicitly addressed and stressed in the final result.
Moreover, the stakeholders made some detailed comments and had valuable suggestions to
improve the guiding principles, including their representation.
In the afternoon, three groups were formed with representatives of different institutional
settings. These groups discussed the potential use and value of the guiding principles in local
projects with members of the design team. Each stakeholder was asked beforehand to bring
documentation on one or more recent local landscape related projects. The groups
compared these projects with the draft landscape framework and guiding principles and
discussed whether the framework and guiding principles would have helped and fitted with
these projects. Most projects turned out to have already included several of the guiding
principles, but the majority also could have been enhanced with additional ones.
The stakeholders found the guiding principles very helpful in connecting the regional
landscape quality ambition with local situations. The general perception was that the guiding
principles for landscape development were more valuable than the landscape framework
map as part of a shared landscape policy. This insight proved to be a very important
outcome of the third workshop. The design team chose to put the guiding principles at the
heart of their proposal, instead of the landscape framework map as was their original
intention. Moreover, the design team realised the need to explain how the regional guiding
principles for landscape development related to local situations, and could be used in the
elaboration of place-based solutions.

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design

How the workshops helped to shape the regional design outcome
Balancing unity and diversity in future landscape development of the Three Countries Park
became the heart of the landscape perspective. This reflects the discussion that arose
multiple times during the workshops on the values of both connected and ongoing
landscape structures and the rich cultural diversity within the Three Countries Park. ‘Unity
and diversity’ were represented in two maps of the Three Countries Park, one that
represents the underlying geomorphological basis or landscape structure, and a map that
identifies the various identities throughout the region (Figure 4). These maps were
presented as a diptych in the final publication of the project (Houwen et al. 2014, p. 42-43),
representing the equal importance of unity and diversity for future landscape development
in the Three Countries Park.

Figure 4 Landscape structure and the Regional identities in the Three Countries Park

The landscape perspective furthermore provides 13 guiding principles for the preservation
and development of the Three Countries Park landscape (Figure 5), which are related to the
relief elements in the Three Countries Park (Figure 6). The guiding principles are based on
the one hand on existing reports and policy documents on the landscape in different parts of
the region, and on the other hand on the discussions on specific landscape issues and the
core-qualities of the landscape in the first and second workshop. This is for example
illustrated by guiding principle 13 ‘Improved access to heritage and nature sites’ , an issue
that was addressed and discussed in the first workshop.

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Annet Kempenaar

Figure 5 Thirteen guiding principles for future landscape protection and development in the Three
Countries Park.

Figure 6 Cross section with the main relief elements in the Three Countries Park

A consistent application and use of these principles in future projects, decisions and physical
adjustments to the landscape is expected to lead to, and reinforce a regional green-blue
framework (Figure 7). However, the guiding principles have a general character and need to
be elaborated into place-based solutions that take local spatial and economic developments
into account, and include local knowledge and customs. These place based solutions will
ensure the continuance of landscape diversity and local character in the three Countries
Park, a value that was expressed multiple times during the workshops. This envisioned
process was represented with a flow chart in the final report (Figure 8).
As the described before, the third workshop was important in determining the final order of
presenting the design outcomes. The design team made the guiding principles central stage
in the landscape perspective based on the discussions in this workshop, and added a flow
chart to illustrate that these general principles needed to be worked out in local place based
solutions. Furthermore, several of the guiding principles were adjusted and altered based on
the workshop discussion, just like that discussions on the maps led to improved
representations of these maps.

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Involving stakeholders in cross-border regional design

Figure 7 Green-blue framework

Figure 8 Flow chart for the local application of the guiding principles

Expected future use of the design outcomes
The ‘testing’ of the guiding principles for landscape development in the third workshop – by
comparing them to multiple existing projects – illustrated that these principles fitted various
local situations throughout the Three Countries Park. This ‘testing’ resembles use-before-use
in participatory design (Brandt, Binder and Sanders 2013), and strengthened the idea that
the principles could be useful and applicable in the different the institutional settings in
Germany, the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia.
However, the actual landscape of the region is a continuous co-production of local
stakeholders, such as farmers, municipalities, water boards, citizens etc. These numbers
supersede the involved stakeholders in the workshops by thousands. It will take time, effort
and long term perseverance to get all these stakeholders involved in landscape

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management, protection and enhancement based on the guiding principles for landscape
development. This critical issue for the success of the proposed ideas was only briefly
touched upon in the project and not properly addressed.
The third phase of the landscape policy project elaborated four strategies for active
landscape preservation and enhancement in the Three Countries Park. One of these
strategies, the development of a green-infrastructure programme for the region is currently
taken up by the nine public partners joint in the Three Countries Park initiative. Moreover,
the city of Aachen announced it is going to use the guiding principles as a starting point for
their new landscape plan. These follow ups confirm that the design of the landscape
perspective touched upon a concept – guiding principles – that is useful and applicable for
landscape management, protection and enhancement in different settings. It also shows
that the involved stakeholders take ownership of the regional design results and use them.
However, cross-border collaboration remains difficult as borders keep hindering cooperation
(Fricke 2015) and much will depend on the available resources for cross-border – landscape
– developments (Kempenaar, Brinkhuijsen and van den Brink, in review).

Discussion and conclusion
The analysis of our case shows that the principles of participatory design resonate in regional
designing. Mutual learning for example, clearly took place during the regional design
process. The design team could not have dealt with the complexity of the multiple
institutional setting in three countries without the input of the stakeholders. In that sense,
the interaction with stakeholders was a necessity. The stakeholders also learned from the
workshops, exchanged ideas, values and perspectives, and developed insights in how to
apply the regional design results. Also concerning embeddedness in actual situations, using
participatory tools and techniques, and opening up to alternative visions our case fits with
the principles of participatory design (Kensing and Greenbaum 2013; van der Velden and
Mörtberg 2014). The regional design concerned the question of the group of stakeholders
concerned with the Three Countries Park landscape, it was embedded in a real-life context.
Furthermore, the workshops as well as the techniques used in the workshops aimed at
genuine participation of the stakeholders in the design process. And finally the cross-border
setting of the Three Countries Park in different institutional and cultural settings enforced
both the design team and the stakeholders to be open to the different perceptions and
visions concerning landscapes, and landscape management, protection and enhancement.
Concerning the principles equalizing power relations and committing to democratic practices
our regional case shows less direct fitness with ‘classic’ participatory design conceptions.
Emancipation and empowerment of groups of people, and giving them a real say in the
design process, have been important values in the early days of participatory design
(Robertson and Simonsen 2013; van der Velden and Mörtberg 2014), and still can be
important. This however does not fit with our case. We argue our case shows characteristics
of a ‘fraternalistic’ approach of participatory design, in which ‘an equitable, mutual and
caring concern for and between actors in a project, and towards the project itself’ (Thorpe

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and Gamman 2011, p. 222) is central. The regional design process then becomes a platform
for true dialogue (de Jonge 2009) in which diversity is fundamental, and multiple voices and
perspectives can grapple with each other (van der Velden and Mörtberg 2014), resembling
the ideas of ‘radical democracy’ (Laclau and Mouffe 2014). The role of the design team in
our case was to facilitate this dialogue, and to add to this conversation their ‘expert’ design
knowledge. The design teams’ focus during the project was on helping the stakeholders in
developing and designing the landscape perspective they had requested themselves.
Regional designing is rooted in landscape architecture and urban planning and design. These
disciplines have a strong tradition in designing for public values, in designing the living
environment of people, and in engaging with people during the design process. However, in
landscape architecture and urban design academia there seems to be little attention to the
values, methods and techniques concerned with involving future users in the design process
(de Jonge 2009; Kempenaar et al. 2016; Roggema 2014). We argue these disciplines can
learn a lot from participatory design research, for example on reflecting on the values
concerned with participatory designing, and on the methods and technique used in
participatory design in different phases of the design process and with different goals (e.g.
Brandt et al. 2013; Bratteteig et al. 2013). Regional design has some specific design
characteristics, but at the same time shares many basic principles and values with
participatory design, making it worthwhile to share and compare experiences and ideas.
Acknowledgements: This paper reflects on phase two of the LP3LP project which was
financed by ESPON (www.espon.eu). The author would like to thank the project team
and stakeholders involved in this project for their inspiration for this paper.

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Brinkhuijsen, M. (2014b) LP3LP Landscape Policy for the Three Countries Park, Atlas of Maps.
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About the Author:
Annet Kempenaar has held several positions as a landscape architect
before she joined the Landscape Architecture Group of Wageningen
University in 2012 to start her PhD. Her research interests concern
regional designing, design approaches in planning, and participatory
design methods.

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From the specificity of the project in design to social
innovation by design: a contribution
Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson*, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin
University of Nîmes
Sorbonne Paris
*marie-julie.catoir@unimes.fr
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.143

Abstract: This contribution aims to understand the specificity of thinking and making
social innovation, within and through the design field and its practice. The first part
of this paper frames the relationships between project and design, characterising
their definitions and goals. Design is presented as a discipline and field of action,
where both thinking and the project process are directed at reaching a sustainable
change in society. The second part of the paper presents how social innovation by
design leads to new epistemological questions and dimensions within design’s
practices and challenges. Consequently, the University of Nimes’ pedagogical and
research-driven design initiative illustrates how a commitment to social innovation
by design has fostered new productive practices and knowledge, in turn leading to
new forms of participation, collaboration and interaction between actors and users.
In our experience, mixed methods and interdisciplinary dialogues are key elements in
achieving social innovation by design.
Keywords: design; project; social innovation; project-grounded-research.

Introduction
This paper seeks to define the specificity of the project in design as well as elaborate upon
the University of Nîmes’ approach to social innovation by design, via both its pedagogical
strategy and its Projekt team, focused on “project-grounded research” (Findeli, 2015). Our
question is twofold: what is the specificity of the project in social design? How might
universities develop pedagogical and research projects devoted to social innovation through
design?
Our inquiry calls upon knowledge from several branches of the humanities and social
sciences: the philosophy of design, sociology, semiotics, and the anthropology of
communication. This paper consists of two parts. The first will focus on the specificity of the
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin

project in design; the second aims to demonstrate how social innovation through design is
addressed, at the University of Nîmes, through both design education and the research
team.

The specificity of the project in design
On the one hand, for a designer, nothing seems more natural than the “project” concept. It
is as if there was a fundamental and founding assumption summarized in the equation:
“design making = project making.” As confirmed by the most comprehensive literature
‘design’ and ‘project’ are seen as somehow synonymous (Findeli & Bousbaci, 2005, p.38).
Also, this concept calls forth the Anglo-Saxon design project, and the Italian progettazione, in
which design’s “project culture” finds its roots in the engineering and architecture schools
where the first designers were trained.
On the other hand, over the past few decades, as a figure, the project has become the
organisational matrix of most human activities in contemporary postmodern societies. In his
monumental work Anthropologie du projet (1990), which Alain Findeli and Rabah Bousbaci
rightfully describe as “the richest theory of the project available” to this day (Findeli &
Bousbaci 2005, p. 47), the psychologist Jean-Pierre Boutinet gave a complete and nearexhaustive overview of the project, as a concept, and how it has become a social reality or a
‘culture’ (Boutinet, 1990).
However, Boutinet discussed the concept of project in a very broad sense. By project, he
meant any socially observable conduct of anticipation, whether individual or collective.
“Speaking of an anthropology of the project is in the end questioning how individuals,
groups, and cultures experience time” (Boutinet, 1990, p. 5). Whereas traditional societies,
considered ‘hors-projet’ (projectless) or ‘sans-projet’ (without project) (Boutinet, 1990, p. 2)
focus on the preservation of the past and the ritualization of the present (especially due to
religious fatalism), contemporary postmodern societies wish to control the future and
actively seek to anticipate, predict and prepare.
Boutinet’s entire argument consisted in the quest for a sort of anthropological constant
within the ‘variety of project situations’ (Boutinet, 1990, p. 8), that is, to: “identify the
different functions performed by any project in our culture compared to what can happen in
other cultures” (Boutinet, 1990, p. 5). His immense work led to a typological analysis of the
various forms of observable anticipation, and culminated in an extensive taxonomy of
projects (Boutinet, 1990, p. 127; Boutinet, 1993, p. 56).
In this ‘society of project accumulation’ (Boutinet, 1990, p. 126), everything becomes the
(subject or matter) of a project. Though this is quite noteworthy from an anthropological
point of view, it nevertheless creates an epistemological dilemma for design.
Does the design project have a meaning and value of its own, which transcend the general
determinisms of our hyper-projective era? In a word, what is the design project’s status
within a widespread culture of anticipation? If it does indeed exist, what is its specificity?

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From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution

Which of design culture’s characteristics are inherited exclusively from design or exclusively
from architecture or engineering? Although they may share the project, as a fundamental,
defining element. But, obviously, a particular way to be involved in and progress within a
project in design that is characterized by its finality, its methods, its philosophy. The practice
of the design project probably distinguishes itself from that of engineering by its mastery of
formal language, its sensitivity to usage and its concern for the user experience. It may
distinguish itself from architecture by the subject addressed (design was created mostly by
architects), although construction is a highly specialized field of design involving specific
project management. Finally, the practice of the design project differentiates itself from art,
which is not a culture of design, notably due to the former’s social purpose. One can
therefore consider design as a particular culture of conception. To this end, without
pretending to be exhaustive, we suggest below five distinctive characteristics of the culture
of conception specific to design. These are the hypotheses to which our reflection has led,
but which, to verify their relevance, would need to be developed and tested through further
research:
1) Design is a project-grounded discipline, as are architecture and engineering.
2) Design is a project-grounded discipline founded upon a specific creative culture, which
cannot be reduced to that of architecture, the decorative arts, engineering, or
marketing. By this we mean a creative culture sui generis, possessing its own
‘epistemological originality’ (Findeli, 2003, p. 168) and, more generally, belonging to the
‘third culture’ as defined by Archer and Cross (Cross, 1982, p. 221). According to Bruce
Archer, refinement and complexity notwithstanding, only three skills essential to the
foundation of any education remain: reading, writing and arithmetic — the ‘three Rs’ in
English, Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic (Archer, 1979, p. 18).
Reading and writing refer to the essential skills that founded the field of Arts and
Humanities (literary culture), while arithmetic is the essential skill that founded the
field of science (scientific culture). The “third way of thinking” is the skill upon
which is based on modelling or giving shape (creative culture). If the essential
language of science is mathematical notation, and that of the humanities is natural
language, then “the essential language of design is modelling” (Archer, 1979, p.
20). More recently, the following definition of the design project emphasizes this
aspect rather well: “In design theory (as in architectural theory where the concept
originated), a project refers both to the sequence of actions required to produce a
new artefact and the means usually used to represent the different stages of
development of this artefact (sketches, drawings, plans, models, prototypes).”
(Léchot Hirt, 2010, p. 29).
3) Design is a project-grounded discipline with its own mode of knowledge or
understanding through which it contributes to the contemporary episteme. The idea that
there is a ‘mode of knowledge’ exclusive to designers is based, according to K. Baynes, on
the intuition of Herbert Read (Art and Society, 1945) according to whom there is “a
‘mode of knowledge’ distinct from mathematics, science or literature (Baynes, 1974, p.

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47). If design is a ‘third culture,’ then it is not only a way to design and build artefacts but
also, through them, a way of knowing and understanding the world (Findeli 2003, 2006,
2010).
4) Design is a project-grounded discipline that is philosophically committed to an ideal for a
better and sustainable future, whose goal is to improve the ‘habitability of the world’
(Findeli, 2010, p. 292). However, this idea is quite antiquated and dates back to Herbert
Simon, who, in 1969 and in The Sciences of the Artificial, wrote: “Everyone designs who
devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”
(Simon, 1969, p. 111). More recently it has been said that design is fundamentally futureoriented because “Designers are people who are paid to produce visions of better
futures and make those futures happen” (Koskinen et al, 2012, p. 42). This is why we
have shown elsewhere that design creates ‘idealects’ (Vial, 2015b) or methodical and
reasoned concepts that formulate desirable and achievable ideals describing the world
as it must be.
5) Design is a project-grounded discipline “in progress” in which the concept of project
changes over time. For Findeli & Bousbaci (2005), three successive models of the design
project exist: the object-centred model (until the beginning of the modern movement),
the process-centred model (since 1950) and the agent-centred model (since the 1990s).
One must also note that this development gradually attests to an “eclipse of the object
as a focus of design project theories” (Findeli & Bousbaci, 2005, p. 47).
These are the five criteria, though worthy of further research, that allow us to confirm our
hypothesis: there is indeed a specificity of the design project. To complete our argument, we
propose the following definition:
Engaging in a design project means designing, in reference to an ideal of the world, a
complex artefactual and/or service device that gives form to usages while producing
knowledge, in response to a request or dissatisfaction, and through a constantly
evolving rigorous methodology that aims at, improving the habitability of the world, in
a creative and innovative manner.

This definition that highlights the articulation between design and project is the cornerstone
from which we lead applied research and educational experimentations at the University of
Nîmes.

Social innovation by design at the University of Nîmes
Theoretical roots and scientific positioning
In order to transcend the idea of innovation that its multiple available iterations (political,
technical, popular, and scholarly) currently convey, we will discuss the notion of social
innovation that has resurfaced of late in academic debate, particularly in the field of design.
Social innovation might be defined as “an interference initiated by social agents in an
attempt to offer a response to an aspiration, to provide for a need, to suggest a solution, or
seize an opportunity to act, in order to modify social interactions, transform the framework

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From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution

for action, or consider fresh cultural orientations.” (Laville, Klein, Moulaert 2014). The
scientific debate surrounding social innovation reveals two points of view: one focuses on
the capacity to create social wealth (philanthropy, social capital, social economy); the other
seeks to validate social innovation as a contributing factor to democratisation (knowledge
society, new governance). Thus conceived and deliberated, social innovation is either
contextualised, selective action, or structuring and systemic. Within this polarised debate, it
seems important to establish our own position, one rooted in design and the project
dynamic.
Improving the “inhabitability of the world” (Findeli, 2010) is a central issue design seeks to
address. Hence, the social element is fundamental to any design approach. In his writing,
Munari truly insisted upon the projector’s function in bettering daily life, using his/her own
creative skill to transform in a concretely innovative capacity (Munari, 1981). Social design
seems especially inclined to coax design back towards its roots, reflecting, in part, the will of
a number of researchers and designers to distance themselves from industrial design in
order to underscore the fact that “the design process’s ultimate priority should not be, by
nature, commercial” (Vial, 2015a, p.74). As such, social innovation stands in opposition to
technology-based and economy-based innovation. Social innovation by design “restores
design’s inherent nature,” that is, a project-grounded discipline, as works by the Bauhaus,
Roger Tallon, Victor Papanek, or even Alain Findeli, have demonstrated.
At this juncture, it seems opportune to describe the five principles stated in the “Manifesto
for a social and critical renewal of design.” First, “an authentic design act is a social and
critical act.” Second, design, when positioned in favour# of social innovation, should function
towards “improving the lives of others and the community.” Such practice “inevitably
participates in the definition of an enhanced mutual understanding within a community.”
Furthermore, designers’ training must include “a reasonable acquisition of the conceptual
framework shared with the social sciences and the humanities.” Finally, design is first and
foremost invested in “the relationships that exist between human beings, each other, and
their environments, as well as the means of enhancing the quality of their shared existence,
expressions of contemporary cultures, and notions of the common good.” (Gauthier, Proulx,
Vial, 2015, p.121-122).
It seems interesting to inquire into the conditions of this revival of an ethical approach to
design. What, within the current anthropological, sociocultural, economic, and ecological
context, has encouraged this resurgence? Our hypermodern societies are experiencing a
transitional period wherein sustainability is both a concern and an imperative. This context
has encouraged increased consideration for social innovation by design. Greater awareness
of our planet’s limits has inspired fresh approaches to working, living, cohabitating, and
producing both objects and knowledge, thereby leading us to explore new models linking
design and value for society. This paradigm shift is rooted in the fundamental values that
define what we call progress and quality of life. Such progress is no longer perceived as
something that can be apprehended on the scale of the individual, such progress must be

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concerned with the greater good, or at the very least, some form of common good (Deni,
2014, p.133).
This context is fertile ground for the development of a design culture that marries the local
and the global (Enzio Manzini calls this cosmopolitan localism) and generates “a resilient
infrastructure capable of requalifying work,” improving our shared existence (by offering
different types of co-working and co-living), “bringing production closer to consumption
(distributed systems)”, and even allowing us “to make better use of the connectivity that is
available to us” (Manzini, 2015, p.2). Positioning design thus towards social innovation also
finds its roots in citizens’ struggles to resolve everyday issues. It has urged us to “(re)discover
the power of collaboration” and “new forms of organization” (Manzini, 2015, p.3) focused
on users, and it has encouraged the production of artefacts and services related to their
daily lives.
In this light, we should distinguish between social design and social innovation by design.
Where social design refers to design’s ability to resolve “particularly problematic situations
(such as extreme poverty, illness, or social exclusion)” (Manzini, 2015, p.64), social
innovation by design focuses on “everything that expert design can do to activate, sustain,
and orient processes of social change toward sustainability” (Manzini, 2015, p.62).
Thus, social innovation by design is related to other forms of design such as “sustainable
design, non commercial service design, and public policy design” (Manzini, 2015, p.3). This
positioning of design transcends industry and relates to emerging community and individual
actors, with the involvement of a global community of user-citizens. There is an increasing
number of co-design projects, in which users are actively involved in the project’s
conception. Human-centred-design has thus evolved towards stakeholder-centred-design,
(Manzini, 2007). In this, social innovation implies a socio-political dimension that recognizes
the individual and the community’s power to act.
Nonetheless, we feel it is important to underscore the designer’s role as a coordinator in
these co-design projects, similar to that of a director in a cinematographic or audio-visual
project. In such a nascent context, where both human and material resources are precious,
the projector-designer figure distances itself from an industrial design maestro, where a
single author embraces a project’s responsibility. A designer implicated in social innovation
becomes a sort of skill hub or coordinator (Deni, 2014). Providing for today’s needs urges us,
inspired by T. Maldonado, to view the designer as an intellectual technician whose wideranging and complex skillset is essential in overcoming the diverse challenges faced in a
variety of fields (Deni, 2014). As underscored by Enzo Manzini, design’s vocation is to
accompany the manner in which individuals redefine their existence in self-initiated,
singular, or collective projects. The designer’s role is therefore to encourage social change by
creating favorable conditions for collaborative work. Fablabs, as emerging phenomenon in a
number of cities globally, are an interesting example of free experimentation. Designers,
alongside researchers in social sciences and the humanities and ordinary citizens, have an
important role to play in developing projects that cater to populations’ needs while

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From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution

simultaneously, and in a horizontal dynamic, sharing their skills and knowledge. These new,
citizen-initiated, projects also question the mediation and regulation roles public institutions
have traditionally held. It is now up to the latter to fully measure their populations’ ability to
self-organize, via empowerment and agency practices such as grassroots democracy and
new governance.
Social innovation by design is built upon four fundamental pillars: creative communities,
collaborative networks, multi-local society, and new government tools (Manzini, 2007). We
believe these four values afford pertinent leads for following through with design projects
that can be meaningful to all involved. Nonetheless, previous experiences in the field of
social innovation are of invaluable counsel, providing insight into “what works and what
could work better” (Mulgan, 2014), particularly when it comes to public policy and services.
“A majority of public service design has failed to call upon designers or multiples design
methods” (Mulgan, 2014). Furthermore, beyond the existing movement towards
incorporating design into public policy, designers must become part “of teams that bring
together complementary skillsets” (Mulgan, 2014). This implies a need for designers to
adapt to the specific context of public policy and services, accepting both to learn from usercitizens and decision-makers. This particular sector’s history must also be taken into
consideration such that social innovation by design is brought in gradually, as designercoordinated interdisciplinary teams are progressively entrusted with projects. Moreover,
“teams engaged in design need a combination of skills to ensure awareness of
organisational, economic, political and social contexts, and they need project managers who
are genuinely polyvalent across a range of fields and disciplines” (Mulgan, 2014).
These theoretical roots serve as the basis for our description of our pedagogical and
research projects within the University of Nîmes undergraduate and graduate level
programs, as well as those of our research team, Projekt, as they collectively embody our
approach to social innovation by design.

Innovation by design in our educative and research team
From an educational perspective, the University of Nîmes’ teaching staff strives to train
designers that are conscious of the responsibility inherent to designing as an act, via an
interdisciplinary design approach and a strong social sciences and humanities culture. This
explains the overhaul of our undergraduate model to include social science and humanities
courses into our Licence Design1 curriculum. Revising our educational framework in this
manner is in fact in keeping with the Bauhaus tradition. Design is no longer viewed as an
“applied art” but as an “involved, situated or embedded science” (Findeli, 2001, p.10).
Designers-in-the-making are taught design’s ethical values, in order for them to be conscious
of the expectation for them “to act rather than to make” and that “each time they engage
themselves in a design project, they somehow recreate the world” (Findeli, 2001, p.14).

1

Licence Design web site: http://lid.unimes.fr

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Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin

Furthermore, the University of Nîmes offers the first French Masters in Design, specialized in
social innovation, implemented by Alain Findeli and Georges Schambach in 2011. In both the
graduate (Masters) and undergraduate (Licence) programs, students are taught diversified
project-management methods, most often the result of real commissions from our partners
(Departmental Council, the PACA Region, Marseille public hospital system, University
hospital of Nîmes). Projects are the result of a close collaboration with all stakeholders. The
University of Nîmes hopes to offer a complete degree program in design, from
undergraduate to doctorate level. At the Licence and Masters level, students are trained
within workshops that form a sort of experimental laboratory of the design project, in order
to conceive and then test projects in association with our partners and projects’
stakeholders.
The Master DIS proposes several projects directly solicited by various partners. These design
projects last usually one semester. Each project is managed by a designer and supervised by
the coordinators of the master. During the duration of each design project, the majority of
the Master courses converge on the same project. As in many programs, these courses cover
both theoretical lessons - here in the field of the humanities and the social sciences - and
practical tools or techniques for design. Nevertheless the master DIS finds its originality and
specificity to allow students to integrate users and all stakeholders directly and indirectly
involved in the problem to solve. Furthermore, our project partners help us identify suitable
field of study at once by giving us access to relevant services and facilitating us the
opportunity to approach the users. The diagram below helps to visualize the synergies
between the educational process and its implementation in projects made by students with
professional partners around the public domain.

Figure 1 Diagram of the relationship between the research team and teaching activities in the project

Here are a few examples of projects undertaken in our Masters program in 2014-2016.

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From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution

The “MON AVENIR NUM’ERIC” (MY DIGITAL FUTURE, with a play on words involving the
name ERIC – an acronym for Regional Internet Citizen Spaces) project endeavored to create
tools for the staff working in the ERIC, allowing them to reach out to local youth, assess their
potential, certify their skills and endorse them to local employers. Students therefore
generated a digital potential and proficiency assessment tool for untrained youth. Another
project, “RENDONS SERVICE À1” (Let’s be of service to), aimed at tackling social and
professional integration in the Gard department. The project sought to rethink the possible
relationships between the relevant authorities (employment centers, health centers,
welfare, etc…) and the Actions Collectives d’Insertion (Community Integration Associations)
who provide assistance to those who receive the RSA (state welfare stipend). Additionally,
this last project was part of a partnership with the Gard Departmental Council and has led to
further collaborations with the University, including projects slated for 2016 (such as a
project focused on elder day care in nursing home), as well as several internships for
students, as designers operating within Council’s public services. The objective of another
project, “WHAT’HEALTH”, was twofold: increase vaccination rates and allow users of the
vaccination clinic to make informed choices. Here, the research phase was essential and
enabled an immersion in the medical field, in order to fully seize its complexities and an
understanding of all the actors’ and stakeholders’ interests. These different phases led to
two distinct, yet complementary, projects. The first, “Taquine ta santé” (or ‘Tease your
health’, refers to the name of a French game, le taquin, which consists of sliding puzzle
plates to be arranged in a specific order), a specially-conceived taquin game was placed in
waiting rooms. Both educational and amusing, it provided patients with health information
as they slid the puzzle pieces around. The patient acquires information crucial to his/her
wellbeing and reclaims control over his/her healthcare choices. The second project is
“Healthcare,” cards, similar to reminder notes, are laid out in the medical offices. These
prompt the patient to bring up sensitive or overlooked topics with his/her doctor. An
interactive application is also available, helping to simplify the process of managing one’s
health. One more project is “AMENAGER L’HÔPITAL POUR” (Developing the hospital for),
focused on hospitality and care for families in hospitals, which was the result of a
commission from the APHM2 (Marseille’s public hospital system). Finally, let us cite the
project due to the partnership with Paca Labs (Regional Council PACA) “L’INITIATION À

1

The «Rendons Service À» project was the result of a partnership with the Conseil Départémental du Gard,
during a course taught by Yves Voglaire (service designer et founder of ORIGINN), Michela Deni and Alain
Findeli. Participating students were: Rania Amami, Fanny Blanquier, Baptiste Boucourt, Emmanuelle Coutton,
Marjorie Damaye, Elodie Deleglise, Domitille Desrippes, Yvan Ferault, Marie Gatefossey, Guillaume Hoguet,
Kevin Kermer Sandrine Pirolles.
2 This project was undertaken in partnership with the APHM during a course taught by Marie Coirié (designer
specialized in the development of healthcare tracks, co-founder of Care & Co., ), Michela Deni and Alain
Findeli. Participating students were: Rania Amami, Fanny Blanquier, Baptiste Boucourt, Emmanuelle Coutton,
Marjorie Damaye, Elodie Deleglise, Domitille Desrippes, Yvan Ferault, Marie Gatefossey, Guillaume Hoguet,
Kevin Kermer, Sandrine Pirolles.

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Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin

L’INNOVATION CENTRÉE USAGER”. The aim of this project was to introduce to companies
design methods for innovating1.
To explain the interplay synergies between the stakeholders within the projects managed in
our Master program, we propose the diagram below. The objective of this visualisation is to
synthesize the key actors interplaying in every project that can be realised by the students
with our partners.

Figure 2 : Visualization of the synergies between the stakeholders within the projects

On the research end, the Projekt team is currently being established within the University of
Nîmes. Initiated in 2012 by Alain Findeli, the project to form a design research team is close
to completion. Teacher-researchers from a variety of social science and humanities
disciplines (design science, philosophy, sociology, language sciences, semiotics,
communication and information sciences, anthropology, art history) contribute alongside
designer-researchers, temporary lecturer-researchers, doctorate and post-doctorate
students. The team favours a project-grounded research approach (Findeli, 2015, p.43),
which implies research projects grounded in design projects done in collaboration with our
socio-economic partners (regional and local authorities, both public and private firms, public
administrations and institutions). Thus considered, « Design research is a systematic search
for and acquisition of knowledge related to extended human ecology considered from a
designerly way of thinking, i.e. a project-oriented perspective » (Findeli, 2010, p.293).
Projekt is resolutely open to research and development (R&D) and action research, via the
project in design. Its main concern is the progress of fundamental research based upon the
definition of social innovation as it relates to: service design, co-design, and policy design.
These fields are approached from an epistemological, practical, ethical, aesthetic,
1

This project in partnership with the Paca Labs during a course taught by Fabrice Pincin (designer), Michela
Deni and Georges Schambach. Participating students were: Rania Amami, Fanny Blanquier, Zoé Bonnardot,
Baptiste Boucourt, Emmanuelle Coutton, Marjorie Damaye, Elodie Deleglise, Domitille Desrippes, Forian
Domergue, Mareva Faucheux, Stacie Petruzzellis, Yvan Ferault, Marie Gatefossey, Guillaume Hoguet, Sandrine
Pirolles, Camille Senaux.

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From the specificity of the project in design to social innovation by design: a contribution

technological, and pedagogical perspective, and are purposefully rooted in the social
sciences and the humanities1.
The team’s broad research interests are human beings and their relationship with the
environment (human ecology), the project as a concept, and service design. Projectgrounded research, and social innovation by design form the team’s common axis, which
also feed into to two other axes: “design, territories, public policy” and “design, mediation,
digital culture.” Research programs developed within the team set a shared goal: to
contribute to reflections on ways to humanize services, to incite an overhaul of the
perceived authority to conceive and act, and to encourage user-appropriation of services.
Programs currently underway include the following projects. A research project associated
with the DIS Masters’ pedagogical framework, in partnership with local authorities, citizens,
and organized groups (companies, associations), that will generate requests for devices,
actions, and programs dedicated to new lifestyles and contemporary individual tracks
(residential, personal, professional). Determined to appreciate the relationship between
lifestyles and contemporary habitats, Projekt has initiated research focused on
understanding the emergence and synergy of services and initiatives in the development
and management of alternative habitats. This research is affiliated with social and
participative design, and undertaken in connection with public territorial action and local
actors (networks, organizations, users).
Furthermore, we should mention the methodological influence of semiotics, communication
anthropology, and other social science and humanities disciplines, as they relate to health
and service design, especially when working with the elderly.
In association with designer-researchers, the team also foresees the development of other
tracks in the field of digital technologies, rethinking the interaction between users,
interfaces, and their environment. This calls forth issues of information ecology, and digital
ecology from both an environmental and social standpoint. An example of project-grounded
research in this field would be the transfer of control of Big data (on an individual level) over
to user-citizens, in projects related to the digital city, common interest projects, and
healthcare, all of which call forth digital design as well as public policy and service design.

Conclusion
Several elements from this contribution can be emphasised to serve as a conclusion. The
paper opened with a reflection on the specificity of the project in relation to design,
reframing the theoretical milestones of the research-project intention. Epistemological
questions associated with design practices illustrated designers’ intentions and obligations in
the project process. Where the latter frames general intentions and formulates desires, it is
design’s disciplinary language and field of action that is aimed at improving the
1

Selected elements of this paragraph are based upon Alain Findeli’s 2012 words when he created the Projekt
team, being rewritten today by the current team.

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Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin

“inhabitability of the word” (Findeli, 2010). The specificity of the design-project relationship
engages the practice and its actors in a responsible, social orientation of their role in society.
Considered through the social lens, this idea of sustainability grounds the work and episteme
of design.
In the second part of this paper, we specified the importance and pertinence of social
innovation by design within project intention and action. Based upon the University of
Nimes’ Design department’s pedagogical and research orientation towards social innovation
by design, this paper illustrates several potential imperatives and approaches. Pedagogical
commitment to social innovation by design involves multiple tools and disciplines (from STS
to all the social sciences and humanities). Additionally, social ideals based upon a grounded
view of contemporary world and society drive both research questions and design projects.
Via an array of actions, building social innovation by design irrigates many sectors and social
spheres: it orients public policies, recognizes local communities, sustains philanthropic and
solidarity initiatives, defends users and rights of use, and fosters trust and quality of life in
cities.
This said, where should we go from here? The use of the word ‘contribution’ in this paper’s
title outlines the intentional framework of a potential manifesto based upon the University
of Nimes’ research and educational vision. Therefore, we hope this paper’s outline of social
innovation by design for the research-project action might serve as a starting point for a
future constructive dialogue between design pedagogy, theory and practice.
Acknowledgements: This article has been made possible, financially, thanks to the
University of Nîmes. It owes a great debt to the work of Alain Findeli, professor emeritus
of the University of Nîmes, as well as to the pedagogical activities undertaken alongside
our students in the Licence Design (lid.unimes.fr) and Master Design Innovation Société
(dis.unimes.fr) programs within the University of Nîmes.

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Munari, B. (1981) Da cosa nasce cosa, Laterza, Bari.
Simon, H. A. (1969) The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Vial, S. (2015a) Le design, PUF, Que sais-je.
Vial, S. (2015b) Philosophy applied to design: A design research teaching method, Design Studies,
Volume 37, March 2015, Pages 59–66.

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Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson, Stéphane Vial, Michela Deni and Thomas Watkin

About the Authors:
Marie-Julie Catoir-Brisson works on media, new media and cultural
identities. Her recent works deal with digital interfaces, connected
objects, information and interaction design, which she approaches on
a critical perspective, from several knowledges: design, semiotics,
intermediality, communication’s anthropology, visual methods.
Stéphane Vial is involved in design and digital media. His research is
grounded in phenomenology of technology and deals both with
Digital Age & Internet Studies as well as Design Research & Design
Studies. As an editor-in-chief of the new french-speaking research
journal ‘Sciences du Design’ (PUF), he is currently focusing his
research on publishing design and design for digital humanities
Michela Deni works on semiotics of design projects. Her publications
deal with everyday things, interfaces, values and valorisation in
corporate identity, service design, social design and methodology in
design projects.
Thomas Watkin works on urban transformation, social relations and
inequalities. As an urban sociologist with a background in urban
planning and architecture, his topics of research is mainly involved in
housing (“habitat”) and contemporary social conditions.

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SECTION 14
EFFECTIVE INFORMATION DESIGN

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Introduction: Effective Information Design
Alison Black and Sue Walker*
University of Reading
* s.f.walker@reading.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.603

Abstract: Information design seeks to make complex information clear. It embraces
approaches and methods that go beyond purely visual design. Successful information
design means people can understand and respond quickly to information they
receive (sometimes in critical situations), select options that are right for them,
follow instructions in complex tasks, fill out forms appropriately and so on. It
underpins people’s engagement and participation in civic society and, although it
sounds simple it’s surprising how often it goes wrong, with consequences and costs,
both for the public and for organisations. Information design as a specialist academic
discipline has been developing since the 1960s and 1970s, with a growing research
literature and critical tradition. This introduction draws attention to some of the
literature that creates a context for the papers in our Information Design Matters
theme.
Keywords: information design; user-centred design; design history; typography and
language

What is information design?
“The info designer structures and arranges information elements and provides
orientation aids to enable the user to find a way through the maze of information. In
this situation the graphic designer becomes an information manager. This shift
presupposes cognitive and organisational competence that is generally neglected in
design education today.” (Bonsiepe 1999, p. 59)

Information design is an academic discipline that began to have a university presence in the
UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Nevertheless, despite having a history and track-record,
information design tends not to be recognized and understood as a category within design
research, nor externally by decision-makers who might improve information presentation by
drawing on research findings.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Alison Black and Sue Walker

Information design makes complex information clear with the needs of users in mind. It may
use words or pictures, on paper, digital devices or public information displays, such as
directional signs. Information designers consider the selection and presentation of the
information provider’s message in relation to the purposes, skills, experience, preferences
and circumstances of the intended users. Ideally, design solutions are tested and modified
repeatedly to take account of users’ responses and, in some cases, suggestions for
modification. Sometimes testing is local and informal; sometimes, where safety or efficiency
are implied, a project justifies formal and extensive usability testing and evaluation.
Organisations stand to benefit from good information design that communicates messages
clearly to their members or consumers. Failures in information design may incur costs due,
for example, to forms that are completed incorrectly or are laborious to process;
instructions that cause frustration, even danger, and that may damage the reputation of the
provider; or websites or smartphone apps that are difficult to navigate, miscue interactions
and lead their users to seek phone or face-to-face interactions to get the service they need.
The classic cases of the poorly designed ‘butterfly’ ballot paper in Florida in the 2000
presidential elections (Bederson et al. 2003), the miscuing of the decision to launch the
space shuttle, Challenger, in 1986 due to poor data presentation (Tufte 1997) and the public
(and public services’) misinterpretation of the US National Weather Service’s forecast of the
path of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (Cox, House and Lindell 2013), all testify to the need for
research and expertise in information design and the organizational and societal
consequences of sub-optimal information presentation.

A cross-disciplinary field
Information design is cross-disciplinary, and includes typography and graphic design, applied
linguistics, applied psychology, ergonomics, systems engineering, design methods. Its
interdisciplinarity was recognised in an academic context in 1979 when Rob Waller and
Bryan Smith launched Information Design Journal (IDJ), which aimed to ‘reach beyond
traditional boundaries for an appreciation of a wider range of approaches to
communication.’ They aimed for dialogue ‘between the researcher and the designer, the
technologies and the social scientist, the psychologist and the educationalist, the specialist
and the layman.’ IDJ, now edited by Carla Spinillo, continues to be the leading international
journal in the field.
As well as a recognized peer-reviewed journal, information design research has been
reinforced by what might be called classic collections in the field, emanating from a series of
NATO conferences. The earliest collections, Paul Kolers, Merald Wrolstad and Herman
Bouma’s conference proceedings The processing of visible language Volumes 1 (1979) and 2
(1980) reflected the interdisciplinary contributions at conferences in Eindhoven, The
Netherlands (1978) and Niagara-on-the-Lake (1979). Ronald Easterby and Harm Zwaga’s
Information design (1984) followed, arising from papers presented at the NATO conference

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Introduction: Effective Information Design

on Visual Presentation of Information, Het Vennenbos, 1978. This collection clearly
articulated the benefits of cross-disciplinarity for those involved in working with information;
“. . . information presentation involves a wide range of professional interest groups
concerned with its development and use; graphic designers, industrial designers and
typographers are primarily concerned with design but will acknowledge the
importance of evaluation; psychologists and ergonomists have an interest in
evaluating the effectiveness of displayed information and some, but not all, will
acknowledge the importance of graphic design; architects, planners and engineers
have a professional interest in using information as a component in the artefacts they
create for society – buildings, roads, industrial machinery and consumer products – but
may not be prepared to acknowledge the importance of design and evaluation of such
information.” (Easterby and Zwaga 1984, p. xxi)

The papers included research by specialists in human factors, psychology and design. They
covered wayfinding and signs, instructional text, forms design, legibility, safety information,
symbols and design process, setting the scene for topics that continue to interest
information design researchers today. Charles Duffy and Rob Waller’s Designing usable texts
(1985) subsequently focused particularly on the design of documents, and also took an
interdisciplinary approach, as did Karen Schriver’s widely acclaimed Dynamics in document
design (Wiley 1997).
While the information presentation challenges of document design are acknowledged, many
people associate information design (especially its history) with the visual presentation of
particular kinds of information. Arthur Lockwood’s Diagrams (1969) introduced a compelling
range of statistical and explanatory diagrams and maps, and Edward Tufte’s more recent
books (1983, 1997), for example, contained beautiful, intriguing and often complex
examples of information visualisations across time and place, and earlier. William Playfair
and Otto and Marie Neurath have inspired research in various forms, as have visual
representations, topics and genres such as time, maps and forms (eg Costigan-Eaves (1990),
Burke, Kindel and Walker (2013), Roseberg and Grafton (2010), Boyd Davis (2012), Stiff,
Dobraszczyk and Esbester (2010). Paul Stiff’s essay about information design history (2005)
maps key documents, people and events that have shaped information design, reminding us
of the cross-disciplinary nature of the field.

Designing for public good
David Sless (1992, p. 1) summarized the processes involved in the quest to manage the
‘relationship between people and information so that the information is accessible and
usable by people’:
 define the problem
 involve all stakeholders
 observe and measure the current state of things
 develop and text prototype solutions
 iteratively develop and test prototypes until an optimum solution is found

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Alison Black and Sue Walker

 implement and monitor the solution in use

Sless made a strong connection between information design and public good thereby
reinforcing the significance of the information designers’ role in making a difference to
people in their everyday life. This connection between information design, everyday life and
public information has always been compelling for information designers. ‘Design for public
good’ and was promoted by Harm Zwaga, Theo Boersema and Henriëtte Hoonhout’s
collection of papers, Visual information for everyday use (1999), from the Lunteren
symposium, ‘Public graphics’, in 1994:
“. . . information design, especially the design of public information, has become an
area in design that needs a special approach. An increasing number of designers admit
that the complexity of current products, facilities and social structures intended to
make life for everybody more comfortable can out excessive demands on people’s
cognitive abilities.” (Zwaga et al, p. xxxii)

Zwaga, Boersema and Hoonhout were writing just as the impact of early web browsers, and
the access they provided to information and services through the worldwide web, was
beginning to be felt. This was before the launch of Web 2.0 with its capacity for usergenerated content, and long before access to information on hand-held devices. Each
technology shift has brought new modes of access to and interactions with information for
users and new challenges, but also new opportunities for solutions, for information
designers. However, the methods described by Sless, and evident in the literature cited
above, are routine among information designers, working to make considered, researchbased design decisions that will create easy access and transparent and efficient use for all,
whatever the medium and mode of access.

Information design matters at DRS 2016
The provision of information to support health care represents an area where information
designers have much to contribute to the public good and where they have been engaged in
research projects ranging across health promotion, through clinical practice, to medicines
safety. So it is not surprising that our session includes three health related papers. Myrto
Koumoundouro, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny Darzentas write about their work on
patient information leaflets for mobile devices, with reference to Fentanyl patches, affirming
that conventions for the organisation of patient information on paper are not directly
transferable to mobile devices. A team from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the
Royal College of Art and British Red Cross present their project about a smartphone app that
helps to raise the awareness of issues connected with ‘balance health’ as an aid to prevent
falls in people over the age of 65. David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi discuss approaches to
creating and understanding meaning in communication design, working with the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research.
The London Underground map is both familiar and intriguing to residents and tourists and
exemplifies the systematic visualization of a complex system. It forms the basis of usability
study by Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng that compares objective measures of performance

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Introduction: Effective Information Design

and subjective ratings of design effectiveness in two variants of the map, and finds
differences in the two methods of approach. Continuing the visualization theme, Joanna
Boehnert presents her Mapping Climate Communication project which introduces discussion
around impact and power in data visualisation.
Finally, Eden Potter identifies some of skills and personal qualities that information
designers need to successfully undertake a project. This reinforces that information design is
as much about process as it is about artefact.
As people navigate information as part of their everyday lives, ease of access, usability and
confidence in their transactions continue to be critical. The forthcoming Information design
research and practice (2016), edited by Alison Black, Paul Luna, Ole Lund and Sue Walker
joins the other collections mentioned in this brief introduction and shows how complex and
multifaceted the history, the methods and the practice of information design are. This
collection has continuity with its predecessors, indeed with some of the same authors, but
also an encouraging number of contributions from more recent scholars. In his foreword to
the book, Erik Spiekermann highlights the relevance of information design to everyday life:
“Identifying the problem and analysing the context and audience before shaping the
message: this used to be what information design was all about. And whatever the
medium, substrate or location, this is what we are still called upon to do. Information
design can show the way through and perhaps out of the jungle that is our modern
world. Applied properly, it can turn data into information and information into
effective communication and appropriate action.”

This is precisely the agenda we see reflected in the papers of this conference session, which
we hope will help establish information design as a stronger presence in the wider field of
academic design research.

References
Bederson, B. B., Lee, B., Sherman, R. M., Herrnson, P. S and Niemi, R. G. (2003) Electronic voting
system usability issues. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing
systems, New York: ACM, 2003, pp. 145–152.
Black, A., Luna, P., Lund, O. and Walker S. eds (2016) Information design research and practice.
Oxford: Routledge.
Bonsiepe, G. (1999) Interface: an approach to design. Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie
Boyd Davis, S. (2012) History on the line: time as dimension. Design Issues, 28 (4), pp. 4–17
Burke, C., Kindel, E. and Walker, S. eds (2013) Isotype design and contexts 1925–1971. London:
Hyphen Press.
Costigan-Eaves, P. (1990). Some observations on the design of William Playfair’s line graphics.
Information Design Journal. 6 (1) pp. 27–44.
Cox, J., House, D. and Lindell, M. (2013) ‘Visualizing uncertainty in predicted hurricane tracks.’
International Journal for Uncertainty Quantification 3 (2), pp. 143–156.
Duffy, T.M., and Waller, R. eds. (1985) Designing usable texts. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press.

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Alison Black and Sue Walker

Easterby, R. and Zwaga, H. J. G. eds (1984) Information design: the design and evaluation of signs and
printed material. Chichester: Wiley.
Kolers, P. A., Wrolstad, M. E. and Bouma, H. (1979) Processing of visible language, vol. 1. New York:
Plenum.
Kolers, P. A., Wrolstad, M. E. and Bouma, H. (1980) Processing of visible language, vol. 2. New York:
Plenum.
Rosenberg, D. and Grafton, A. (2010) Cartographies of time, New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Schriver, K. A. (1997) Dynamics in document design. New York: Wiley.
Sless, D. (1992) What is information design? In Penman R. and Sless D. eds Designing
information for people. Canberra: Communication Research Press, pp.1–16.
Stiff, P. (2005) Some documents for a history of information design, Information Design Journal,
13 (5) pp. 216–228
Stiff, P., Dobraszczyk, P. and Esbester, M. (2010) Designing and gathering information:
perspectives on nineteenth-century forms. In Toni Weller ed Information history in the modern
world; histories of the information age. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Tufte, E. R. (1983) The visual display of quantitative information. Second edition. Cheshire,
Connecticut: Graphics Press.
Tufte, E. R. (1997) Visual explanations: images and quantities, evidence and narrative. Cheshire, CT:
Graphics Press.
Zwaga, H. J. G., Boersema, T., and Hoonhout, H. C. M. eds (1994) Public graphics: visual information
for everyday use. London: Taylor and Francis.

About the Authors:
Alison Black is Professor of User-centred Design at the University of
Reading’s Department of Typography & Graphic Communication and
Director of its Centre for Information Design Research. A psychologist
by training, Black has worked for almost 30 years in information
design, both as a practitioner and a researcher.
Sue Walker is Professor of Typography at the University of Reading
and Director of the AHRC-funded Design Star Doctoral Training
Centre, administered at Reading, working with colleagues at
Brighton, Goldsmiths, Loughborough and the Open University. Her
research interests include analysis and description of graphic
language, in particular the relationship between prescription and
practice in everyday documents, typographic design for children and
information design in public service.

2308

Informing the design of mobile device-based patient
instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches
Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas*
University of the Aegean
* jennyd@aegean.gr
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.326

Abstract: Patient Information Leaflets accompanying medicine are heavily regulated
by European and individual national legislation in the way they need to be designed,
written, and produced. Further, the design of these leaflets is still firmly anchored in
a printed document-based paradigm. This means that transposing them for use by
mobile devices, such as smart phones or tablets is a process that is not well
understood. This paper shows how Information Designers can offer insights to a
problem that will become increasingly prevalent, as the demands on the ‘message’
surpass the medium of the paper-based document and seek to harvest the potential
of mobile devices to offer hypertext, multimedia and tailored information. This paper
investigates the problem via a case study examining pain relieving (Fentanyl)
transdermal patches and offers some lessons learnt from this experience, in order to
open up and shed light on this emerging aspect of information design practice.
Keywords: Information Design, Patient Information Leaflets, Mobile devices

Preamble
Fentanyl is one of a small number of drugs that may be especially harmful, and in some
cases fatal, with just one dose, if used incorrectly. It is used for the management of chronic
and intractable pain. For home use, patients are prescribed the drug in the form of
transdermal patches, that is, adhesive patches that are stuck on the skin, so the drug is
absorbed in this way. In 2010, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory
Agency (MHRA), showcased the manufacturers’ Patient Information Leaflet as an example of
‘best practice’ (MHRA, 2010). Yet, only a few years after, the same agency issued a safety
warning via the UK government offices (MHRA 2014) noting that there had already been
three reports of serious incidents, two of them involving children, and strongly urged
advising patients and carers to follow the instructions on the carton and in the
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

accompanying leaflet. Given this state of affairs, the questions must be asked about how
effective is the leaflet; about what should we be doing to increase its effectiveness, and
more generally, to increase the health literacy of patients and carers.

Introduction
Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) refer specifically to the printed paper-based information
that accompanies medicinal products. These leaflets are found in the carton that contains
the medicine. The instructions for the patients should leave no margin for error, since
correct usage can be extremely critical. Patients who do not take their medicine correctly
may not respond to therapy and get no relief from symptoms, but they may also place
themselves at great risk.
Due to the critical nature of the information contained in the leaflets, the information design
and presentation are heavily regulated by bodies, such as the MHRA, the European
Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Federal Drug and Food Agency (FDA) in the USA. There is a
recommended format of headings and order in which the information is presented. These
measures are laid down, in order to ensure “clarity, consistency and accuracy of the
medicinal product information.” It is mandatory for PILs to accompany every medicine
package: the authoring of PILs is the responsibility of the manufacturer, while the leaflets for
new medicines must undergo readability tests for a licence to be granted. Typically, in
readability tests, testers are asked to read the leaflets and perform certain tasks, e.g. find
the correct dosage for a certain patient. Pictograms (Katz et al, 2006) are also subject to the
some readability criteria. The criteria are metric based and require a high success rate
(between 80-90%) on the tasks’ accomplishment. The purpose of these tests is to
demonstrate that the leaflet is
“..written and designed to be clear and understandable, enabling the users to act
appropriately, when necessary with the help of health professionals.” (European
Commission, 2001 and 2009)

This level of regulation is a considerable achievement and represents over three decades of
work from various actors including: consumer organisations; regulatory bodies;
pharmaceutical companies; marketing and communication experts; academic pharmacists
and information designers. It is a continuous process including considerations, such as
include information in braille on the packaging (European Commission, 2005).
However, regulatory frameworks can only offer a basis on which to work, and information
designers can offer input into creating more attractive and usable layouts and writing styles
(Waarde, 1998; Bohm, 2014; Dickinson et al. 2010). The limits of regulatory frameworks,
especially where compliance with regulations is mandated, can be seen in other cases,
notably web accessibility, where following the guidelines does not automatically guarantee a
good user experience (Petrie & Bevan, 2009). Nor should regulatory frameworks be
expected to cope with every contingency, and while readability tests may be carried out,

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

users in real life situations may need more support to find crucial information at the
moment they need it.
In addition, advances in the ways that drugs are dispensed, such as nasal sprays and
transdermal patches, and even wearable insulin pumps mean that knowledge and training
(Gani et al. 2001) is critically needed by patients and carers to help them understand how to
handle these new pathways and avoid dangers. Although the guidelines of PILs can be
adapted, a regulatory framework cannot be expected to cope with every instance. Some
manufacturers collect frequently asked questions (FAQs) and include answers to them in the
leaflet, thus adding this information at the end of the mandated format. This is actually a
feature of the version of PIL for fentanyl patches in the USA. When a drug is particularly
problematic, the regulation agency may take extra measures to inform the public. In the
case of Fentanyl patches, the FDA has released information in a number of formats, such as
warnings and advisories including two videos, because it
“has continued to receive reports of deaths and life-threatening side effects in patients
who use the fentanyl patch […] the reports indicate that patients are continuing to
incorrectly use the fentanyl patch..." (FDA 2013)

Drug companies routinely publish the leaflet online in portable document format (.pdf), so
that it retains all the characteristics of information presentation as the paper-based
documents. In this way the online version is consistent with the paper version. But the .pdf
of a document is linear, and may not transform gracefully to a small screen of a mobile
phone. Anecdotally, many people in our survey report needing to use the official patient
information online, because the paper leaflet gets lost or damaged, while others simply
expressed a preference to access information online. A recent study (Hammerschmidt &
Spinillo, 2014) tested the use of mobile devices to access the .pdf of the patient leaflet.
Interestingly the test participants, although they performed more poorly using the .pdf on
tablet devices than with the paper-based .pdf, firmly believed that the mobile devices would
be their preferred way of interacting and obtaining such information. They also expressed
the opinion that this would be the preference of other people as well.
Modern digital technologies now offer us new ways to access information, but also new
means to communicate information. However, it is not always clear what and how to
present it. On the other hand, it is important to have access to mandated formats.
This paper presents the results of a case study that investigated transposing the
authoritative .pdf version of the manufacturer’s PIL for Fentanyl transdermal patches into an
interactive presentation rendered for a tablet device. The idea was that, apart from having
access to the .pdf, patients could use the new rendering to go quickly to the information
they wanted, rather than have to read through information that was not appropriate to their
situation; in addition, some information visualisation techniques and graphical elements
were tested. The purpose of the study was to answer the research question regarding the
contribution of Information Design to this situation by creating a prototype and evaluating it
with a variety of stakeholders.

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

Case Study
An overview of the research undertaken, in terms of the literature review, data collection
and analysis, the creation of a prototype, and its evaluation is given. In all the activities, the
involvement of stakeholders was heavily emphasized, since this is a complex problematic
area, where there are many human centred interests and activities.

3.1 Literature review phase
The main tasks in the literature review phase were to carry out a general investigation into
patient error in medication use, which reveals the worrying extent of the problem –
between 30-50% of those prescribed medicine are not taking it correctly (Barber, 2002) and more specifically, a review of work regarding patient information, especially in terms of
PILs. This included studying the design rational behind the formats for PILS set out in various
legal frameworks with regard to the content and presentation of PILS, especially in terms of
the rendering the equivalent information online. This revealed that there are no suggestions
in the regulatory framework about how newer ways of consuming information with the use
of mobile devices, such as tablet and phones, should be handled. There is an underlying
assumption that the leaflets should be transposed to electronic formats in exactly the same
way as it was on paper. However, in the general literature there are suggestions for
pictograms (Katz et al. 2006, Mansoor & Dowse, 2004) and other visual aids (Waarde, 1998),
as well as many other studies on improving PILs (Bouayad-Agda et al., 1998, Dickinson et al.,
2001; Dickinson et al., 2010; Dickinson, 2014; Dixon-Woods, 2001; Maat & Lentz, 2010,
Harris et al, 2015). Finally, elsewhere, in computing literature, there are attempts to provide
support to health information seekers by determining the context of use, so that the
information can be better tailored to needs (Schmidtke et al., 2014).

3.2. Investigating problems with Fentanyl transdermal patches
A series of semi-structured interviews with seven healthcare professionals from a provincial
hospital located in Sparti, Greece, were undertaken, during six visits to the hospital and
related premises. In terms of their roles: three of those interviewed were doctors and four
were nursing staff, and all were involved in offering training to patients and carers regarding
the use of the patches.
It was not possible to interview patients and carers, because of ethical constraints. Instead,
research was carried out looking at the most commonly encountered problems mentioned
in online support groups of patients, users of Fentanyl, and their carers. In addition, an
online survey was carried out, with 253 respondents. Briefly, the profile of the respondents
were more women than men (64% women and 36% men), with age range from 18 to over
65. The bulk of the respondents aged between 18-34 (64%) and 35-65 and above (36%). 81%
had finished tertiary education.
The healthcare professionals were asked what they felt were the main difficulties for
patients and their carers. A sample of the most common questions they answer for patients

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

(who, in their experience, either a) do not consult the leaflet; or b) do not find the
information on the leaflet; or c) do not recognise the information as applicable to their case)
are listed below:
 How do I stick it on?
 How often should I change it?
 Which parts of the body are the best to use /are there specific parts which are
better than others?
 How can I bathe, if I have a patch stuck on me?
 The plaster came off, what should I do when that happens?
 What do I do about the side effects of itchiness, diarrhoea?
 Is the sticky part the actual drug (how does it work?)?
The most common mistakes on the part of the patients and their carers as reported by the
healthcare professionals (in approximate order of frequency) were:




Applying the wrapper of the plaster onto the skin, instead of the plaster itself
Applying the plaster in difficult to stick places, e.g. where there is body hair
Applying the plaster without having swabbed the skin to prepare it
Forgetting to remove the old plaster before applying the new one
Applying the plaster in inappropriate places, e.g. where it will rub on clothing,
or come into contact with objects, etc.

Some of these questions and mistakes were found in the topics of concern to patients and
carers in the online support groups. Their topics of concern were analysed and categorised
into the following groupings (in order of perceived importance):
 Issues regarding the application of the plaster: Frequent reports of difficulties
for the patches to stay stuck; how to correctly apply the patch again when it
has come unstuck; exactly which parts of the body can help with the unsticking
problem
 The importance of ambient temperature: Patients record experiences of using
the patch in high temperatures and having signs of overdosing. Others noted
that wearing the patch during very long and hot baths have also caused the
same signs
 Dosage instructions: Concern over accidental death of a carer from fentanyl
overdose caused by mishandling of patches; uncertainty about how the dosage
of the patches can be lowered
 Can the dosage be lowered? People report experimenting with the dosage, by
cutting the plaster in half and sticking half a plaster, does this really work, how
dangerous is it?
 Stopping the use of Fentanyl patches: Withdrawal symptoms are common
after cessation of the use of patches, and patients and carers draw attention to
this, and emphasise the importance of gradual lessening of use.

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

 Storage: Because of the opiate content of the patches, patients and carers are
concerned about the security of storage especially from substance abusers
 Interaction with other drugs or substances: Since the patches are used by
people with a wide range of health problems, of which pain and its
management is but one manifestation, patients and carers are particularly
worried about interactions with other drugs.
With regard to the correspondence of these concerns to the kind of information provided by
the manufacturer of the PIL, some information, for instance the secure storage of the
medicine, regards an issue that is beyond the remit of the PIL. However, other concerns, like
whether it was possible to halve the dose or interfere with the frequency of patch
application by cutting one dose in half, require serious responses in the PIL discouraging
tampering with the product, and clearer information about how the product ‘works’.

3.3 PILs for Fentanyl transdermal patches; the opinions of stakeholders
It is recognised that, with regard to PILs, there has to be a trade-off between the amount of
information in the PIL and how much patients really need. Comparison of PILs for the same
product and same manufacturer but conforming to different regulatory frameworks (i.e.
from Greece that conforms to the European standard, from the USA and from Australia)
revealed differences in length and in organisation. Even though the Greek one was far
shorter than its US counterpart, the healthcare professionals still felt that some parts of the
PIL were not needed for the patient. As an example, they felt that details regarding the
action of the drug were not understandable by the patient. Further they felt that people
were probably not paying much attention to the PIL and that just the length of the
document would discourage some. Results from the online survey corroborated some of
these opinions. Of the 253 replies:



59.3% replied that they always read PILs
25.9% replied that they frequently read PILs
12.4% that rarely read PILs
2.4% choose never to read PILs

To these quantitative results, the respondents added comments to the effect that they
wanted the information, even if they choose not to read it always. Those who replied that
they rarely read PILs noted that they got the information from other sources, such as verbal
advice from healthcare professionals and pharmacists. Amongst those who always read PILs,
they complained that they were not written in a way they could understand; that there was
too much information that probably was of no use to them, even if they could understand it;
and that often they did not find the information they wanted, or did not find it easily.
However, when both the professionals and patients and carers were asked to rate different
groupings of information into 3 categories of ‘very important’,’ important’ and ‘less
important’, the results show a mixed picture, with some clear agreement and some strong
disagreement. Figure 1 below shows the consolidated results of this exercise.

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

Figure 1: Comparison of ratings from healthcare professionals and online survey respondents to PIL
headings.

The qualitative comments that accompanied the ratings showed that both healthcare
professionals and online survey respondents had difficulty rating the information according
to the headings. In some cases the rated importance of the heading did not correspond the
rated importance of the information under the heading, or the sequence of headings were
not meaningful to them.

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

Accordingly, an iterative card sorting exercise was carried out to understand what kind of
headings and their information contents helped the stakeholders. Figure 2 below shows the
results of the card sorting; the information of the 26 cards was drawn from the 3 versions of
the fentanyl transdermal patches PILs that were studied. The main information to be gained
from this were the seven groupings of information for patients and their carers (shown in
blue at the top of each information box).

Figure 2: Final results of the card sorting.

An interesting result from these exercises was the importance non-medical professionals
gave to information that medical professionals felt was not useful for patients. Such

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

information is side effects and interactions with other drugs. The health professionals in our
study felt that this information was not needed by their patients and their carers, because
each patient was under the care of a team of doctors and nurses. However, the online
survey respondents felt they wanted all the information. The doctors were of the opinion
that patients spent too much time and effort on these information units, and neglected to
pay deep attention to the important instructions for using and disposing of the plasters.

3.4 PILs in other renderings
A number of alternative ways of presenting the information, especially videos which are a
popular means of presenting such information were studied. The range here was from the
authoritative to the amateur, with some carers and patients feeling strongly enough about
the subject to create their own explanations of what to use to help fellow sufferers and their
families. A further source of instructional material was from blogs, support group
newsletters and other informal sources.
In addition, a small review of literature was carried out to discover the trends in online
health information seeking. The 253 respondents in the online survey were also asked to
state, whether they used mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) and if so, what they
used them for:



To have access to email (90%)
To have access to the Internet (78%),
To get news (76%)
To take photographs (71%)

When asked if they would like to download PILs, in case they were available, 76% of those
who used mobile devices, answered positively.
This result agrees with the finding (Hammerschmidt & Spinillo, 2014) that people are very
open to electronically based information. Of course, the fact that many people search
generally online for health information in a browsing mode should not be confused with
looking up a PIL for dosage instructions at a critical moment.

3.5 Creating a prototype of a tablet based PIL
Taking the results of the research and associated analyses, along with general guidelines for
accessibility and usability of web based information, and more recently mobile web based
information, and retaining recommendations and best practice examples results from paper
based information design regarding layout, typeface and general content design, a
conceptual model of a prototype was built. A conceptual model presents a visualisation of
the organisation and the functions of the prototype, along with basic meanings and activities
of the system, in order to communicate it to other parties. It is by no means technically
accurate, as the aim is to present a system to potential users and for them to understand
what it is for. As shown in Figure 3, the model allows for visualising screen contents,

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

navigation through content and gestures for interacting with the content displayed on the
device.

Figure 3: Conceptual model of the prototype tablet device based PIL for Fentanyl Transdermal Patch

To build the prototype, Use scenarios were also created, as shown in Figure 4, to trial typical
uses of the system, as perceived from our research, as well as the information categories
derived from the card sorting exercise.

Figure 4: Part of the scenario for persona

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

In terms of presentation, following the work of van der Waarde (1998), Dickinson et al
(2010), Bouayad-Agha et al. (1998) regarding the ease of use of PILS, there was an attempt
to reduce the amount of text with the use of visualisations, as well as the graphical elements
inside the text (borders, colours, typographical elements) to make the information easier to
scan, since it is acknowledged that this is the dominant reading style on the internet (Kress,
2004, Nielsen, 2007). It also makes easier to understand the relationships between blocks of
information and the degrees of importance of information. Figure 5 shows the “artists’
impression” of the tablet with the application active, while Figure 6 shows a typical screen
from the application.

Figure 5: The tablet application open showing the start of instructions for applying the patch.

Figure 6: A screenshot showing deeper levels of patch application instructions and explanations.

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

3.6 Evaluating the prototype
The resulting designs were implemented on a nine inch tablet device, and underwent both
formative and summative evaluations. Formative evaluations, which allow corrections
during the design process, are used to test systems, while summative evaluations take place
after the completion of the system’s design. Five evaluators helped with the formative
evaluations: three were design students, two of whom were tablet users of more than one
year’s standing; the fourth evaluator was a student with no knowledge of design; the last
evaluator was a doctor doing his residency practice in a rural community.
Once the changes and corrections had been made according to their recommendations, a
more substantial summative evaluation was carried out with ten new evaluators, to identify
usability issues, as well as to carry out tests similar to the reading tests performed on PILs.
Two of these new evaluators had been carers in the past and had administered fentanyl
patches. Not all the evaluators were users of tablet devices. In this way we hoped to capture
both expert opinion and that of less specialised users, both in terms of content and of use of
the content presentation device.
To attempt to simulate real life contexts of use, each evaluation session was carried either in
the home of the tester, or outside in a simulation of a travel situation. The user was given
the tablet with the application.
For each session, the participants were first informed about the application, and it was
emphasised that they were evaluating it, rather than being tested on their aptitude.
Participants were invited to ask questions and then were left to ‘play’ with the application
for a short time. This gave participants who were new to tablets a chance to try out the use
of the device.
The session proceeded as follows: participants filled out a short ‘entry’ questionnaire, then
carried out seven tasks using the tablet and the information presented there, and filled in an
‘exit’ questionnaire. The tasks concerned dosage, application, safe disposal, etc. At the
beginning of each task the participant read out aloud the task description and then began to
search using the tablet, while doing a Concurrent Think Aloud (CTA) protocol, whereby the
participant describes what s/he is doing as s/he does it. This was a valuable exercise, as it
captured qualitative reactions of the evaluators, including their emotional reactions. After
the completion of the tasks and before the exit questionnaire, the participants were asked
to reply to questions about their experience of using the application using a Retrospective
Think Aloud (RTA) protocol. Finally, the exit questionnaire asked participants to comment on
their overall experience of the application in terms of usefulness and usability.

3.7 Evaluation results
The quantitative data from the evaluation were derived from the time taken to complete a
task, combined with the degree of successful completion of the task and the number of
mistakes. The time-based data were used only as an indication, as the participants were also
doing CTA, which would slow them down, but provide useful qualitative results. More

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

interestingly, errors were considered as critical or non-critical, depending upon whether the
user could recover from them. Generally speaking, the evaluators were able to complete the
tasks reasonably quickly, and with a low amount of irrecoverable mistakes.
Content

The evaluators felt that the amount of informational content was a good starting point, and
that in future developments, users may want to have access to more information. Some
evaluators commented favourably on the filtering mechanisms (gender and age), employed
in the application, so that only information relevant to the chosen profile was presented,
thereby lessening the cognitive load. This was gratifying as reducing the quantity of
irrelevant information was one of the original aims of the application, since it had surfaced
strongly in the research phase in the online survey.
Operation

There were a number of problems that surfaced, some were trivial to fix, and were a
consequence of the implementation, such as the interactive elements not being clear.
Interestingly this problem was not evident to the inexperienced user, who managed to
complete tasks by using a trial and error method of tapping on everything, rather than
looking for indications of interactivity. However, a more serious consequence of this was
that some evaluators did not realise that by tapping on a sketch, they could activate a box
with explanatory text related to that specific part of the sketch, or that specific sketch in a
series of sketches. Having understood this, they retracted some statements about the need
for more than just pictures to explain the content.
Despite these problems, the evaluators appreciated features like the possibility of scrolling
using the vertical bar to find the information which corresponds to the choice made by a
user. This is another way to reduce user effort in information seeking. This feature in
combination with the horizontal bar, that depicted the seven categories of information,
helped to reduce ‘time to target’ and showed that there was no need to have these in a
central place on the screen, as they can remain in peripheral vision.
Aesthetics

In terms of aesthetics, the participants did not report any particular problem. But they found
that the design was not particularly pleasing. Also, it did not communicate a strong identity
or brand. The latter was the intent of the design team, so that it could either function as an
application interface onto a set of PILs from different manufacturers, or as a template for
manufacturers to adopt with their own online versions of PILs.
Overall

Generalising the results regarding the usefulness of the application, its operation and its
aesthetics, the evaluators found it a useful tool to support rapid and easy information
seeking for medicine usage instructions. They found particularly valuable the notion that
they could access the information at any time and from any device that had the application
running on it. They commented on the use of the QR code to scan in the barcode on the
packaging as being highly valued, as medical names are not easy to spell and many variants

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Myrto Koumoundourou, Panayiotis Koutsabasis and Jenny S. Darzentas

in terms of different combinations of drugs, as well as drug strengths may exist for one type
of medicine.

Conclusions
This case study looked at a specific medicine classed as a ‘high alert’ medicine. That is, in a
table of fifteen such medicines most commonly reported to have caused serious harm or
death, it ranks seventh in order of magnitude (Barber, 2002).
Our studies showed that there were discrepancies between what patients and medical
professionals perceived as important parts of PILs for Fentanyl products.
Some unexpected results are that this work was carried out using a population that is not
English speaking, and who are not heavily exposed to technological solutions. The internet
penetration in Greece lags behind other countries in Europe and use of internet based
devices is also less widespread. In spite of this, the use of interactive devices to access
information was felt to be more effective than paper-based information.
Participants in the evaluation study expected the application to make more use of the
dynamic information presentation formats. They would have liked to see the use of
multimedia, for instance the application of patches as a video. They felt this would be a very
appropriate way to use even an animation of the existing sketches. It was explained that this
would be quite a departure from the balance of keeping the paper-based leaflet consistent
with the tablet-based information.
The evaluators also suggested a forum for patients to exchange information regarding best
practices and practical tips, as long as such features could be filtered by some authority,
perhaps the manufacturer, and not disorient the user. This finding was consistent with the
new trend in health literacy and information, known as Medicine2.0 or Health 2.0. (Belt et
al., 2010) where users have a say in the quality of content from a collective ‘bottom-up’
approach, which reflects current needs for knowledge and experience sharing in promoting
health literacy.
The main lessons learnt from this experience were that the use of interactive devices to
access patient information is welcomed. Users immediately saw the benefit in having access
to information on their mobile devices rather than relying on a leaflet that gets misplaced,
dirty or damaged. Further, we saw that information presented in this way, while it requires a
restructuring that still recalls the paper information layout, can offer an architecture that is
transparent to the users; allowing them both to navigate and to experience graceful
degrading of information that is irrelevant to them. This irrelevant information is moved into
the periphery, and surfaces more prominently relevant information. Thus, it allows direct
access to desired information, and obviates having to navigate, albeit via scanning headings,
through a linear based document.
Overwhelmingly, our case study showed that there is a need for more information and
guidelines, including good practice, with regard to the information design of ‘instructions for
use’ on mobile media. Having ‘just-in-time’ access to such information can be a powerful

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Informing the design of mobile device-based patient instructions leaflets: the case of Fentanyl patches

tool, if it can be used comfortably and quickly by those in need. Such media offer
opportunities for embedding videos, for multi-tasking in the sense of listening to instructions
whilst actually carrying them out, and other, as yet, mostly unused potential. Our results
show that patients and carers are ready for such renderings. Swiping through ‘pages’ of
‘brochureware’ is no longer an acceptable experience for users, however neither is badly
designed web based information that is scattered over many screens with embedded videos
and other features, where users may be swiping through in a haphazard way in the hope of
landing on something useful or required.
We believe the lessons learned from this study are interesting to information designers
involved in designing general ‘Instructions for Use’, as well as to further information design
research in this highly critical area. The intention is not to replace PILs, but to add value to
them by transposing the paper-based document into new delivery channels. This gives to
information design the opportunity to provide some principled responses to the question of
what information should ‘float to the top’ and allows for a new information to be fed back
into mandated paper templates.
Acknowledgements: The case study described in this paper was carried out by Myrto
Koumoundourou as part of her final year project in the Department of Product and
Systems Design Engineering of the University of the Aegean. We wish to thank the
medical staff of the General Hospital of Sparti, for their help and permission to use this
work publicly. We acknowledge the contributions of the respondents in our online
survey and our two groups of evaluators. We have no association with the manufacturer
of the transdermal patches.

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European Commission (2001) Article 63(2)) of Directive 2001/83/EC
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Hammerschmidt, C., Spinillo, C.G. (2014) Reading Digital Medicine Leaflets in Mobile Devices an
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Harris, K., Dickinson, R., Raynor, D.K., MacDonald, J., Knapp, P. (2015) Changes in Side Effect Risk
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About the Authors:
Myrto Koumoundourou graduated from the University of the
Aegean, Greece (2015). She received a diploma in Product and
Systems Design Engineering. She is interested in user interface
design, information design and interaction design in the field of
healthcare.
Panayiotis Koutsabasis is assistant professor of human-computer
interaction (HCI) at the University of the Aegean, Greece. His
research interests are wide-ranging, including: HCI design and
evaluation methods; usability, accessibility and user experience; HCI
education; natural interactions and 3D user interfaces.
Jenny S. Darzentas is a lecturer in the Department of Product and
Systems Design Engineering, University of the Aegean. Her interests
are in Information Design; Universal Design (practices-policies);
Service Design (self-services for vulnerable populations); Learning
Technologies; Standards for Accessible Design.

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a patientoriented health research case study
David Craib a* and Lorenzo Imbesi b
a

Carleton University
Sapienza University, Rome, Italy
*Canada, david@parable.ca
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.249

b

Abstract: Communication designers encode messages into verbo-visual
presentations to be decoded later by message receivers. This demands that designers
choose what meanings to encode. Various tools enabling the exploration and
understanding of meaning have been developed through the disciplines of
psychology and semiotics, but generally have been used as meaning-analysis tools to
analyse texts, and not primarily for meaning creation. Do tools exist to empower a
designer to determine the meaning of a message they are tasked to create? Are
these tools scalable, able to be used iteratively, and are they efficient? We explore
various meaning-analysis tools and apply one of these tools to create meaning,
within a real-world design project, within a limited timeframe, for the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Keywords: design tools, meaning creation, semiotic square, communication design

Introduction
Designing is a mental act, supported through the use of the mind’s design’s tools – the most
basic of which are the pencil and the sheet of paper. The sketchbook evolves the sheet of
paper, adding possibilities of iterative design thinking, and the cataloguing of concepts.
These tools have brought designers flexibility, scalability, and portability, offering them the
freedom to design where and how they wish. With a pencil and sketchbook, a designer can
work in an office, a park, or an airplane, envisioning a corporate logo, a hospital bed,
building, or the design of an international network. Once made truly portable, the computer
has added to the magnitude of this freedom by emulating the pencil, the sheet of paper, the
sketchbook, and even some aspects of the mind.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

But an elusive challenge has been hidden behind the scene, evading the computer,
challenging the sketchbook, and the pencil. How do these tools – any design tools – help us
understand how to design meaning?
Prior to, and after the turn of the 20th century, the field of semiotics was envisioned, melding
linguistics and psychology into a universal study of meaning. Charles Sanders Peirce, and
Ferdinand de Saussure conceived and described the basic mental units, postulating the
mechanics of meaning. In the 1950’s, George Kelly and Charles Osgood discovered tools to
analyse meaning through the lens of psychology, and afterwards, semioticians such as
Algirdas Julien Greimas added their chapter to this cannon.
Today, the speed of business, research and academia, thwart designers’ efforts to regroup
and reconstruct the discoveries of the measurement of meaning, and bring effective tools
into the design domain, but nonetheless, communication designers – all designers – need
tools for meaning creation. This paper aims to test the viability of certain tools in their
relation to design. It asks if existing tools for discovering meaning, can be tailored for
current design use, where the efficiency, scalability, iterative use and portability of tools is
mandatory. This paper challenges the tools that have been historically used for analysis, to
be repurposed for creation.
Focusing on communication design, we acknowledge the role of visual designers as visual
message encoders, engineering visually meaningful presentations through verbo-visual
means. We pose the question, what tools can designers use to determine the meanings
they visually encode?

Semiotics, meaning and opposition
This research is based on theories of semiotics, the study of signs. For the purpose of this
discussion, Sless’s (1981, p.6) definition is used; a sign is “anything which can be used to
convey meaning, including such diverse cultural phenomena as language, pictures, fashion,
architecture and ritual”. Charles Hockett’s (1958, p.307) description of a simple sign-system
stands as a compelling illustration. “Paul Revere and his unnamed friend agreed that one
light in the Old North Church should signify that the British were approaching by land, two
lights that they were coming by sea.” Hockett’s example shows that anything that can be
controlled or predicted, and can be seen, heard, or sensed in any way, can be adopted as a
sign and used in a communication system.

2.1 Semiotics and opposition
In semiotics, opposition plays a critical role in defining the specific meaning of signs.
Saussure believes that these differences are between the various signs of the sign-system
itself. Therefore, a sign-system creates meaning through conceptual differences between
the complete set of signs of the system, and the specific signs being considered (Saussure,
1966, p.120). It is also important to realize that signs “stand for” meanings, not purely
equating to, but representing them (Sless, 1981, p.184).

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Floch (2001) describes the nature of Saussure’s “differences” stating that “the value-added
offered by semiotics – at least to the extent it attempts to produce it – is to demonstrate
that there are different and complementary things, or rather positions, as well as others that
are different but contradictory (p.10). Floch emphasises this, describing the product of the
semiotic mechanism as the “transition from the apprehension of differences to the definition
of relations” (Floch, 2001, p.10). This concept is echoed in visual learning studies, where
Sless notes that, similar to semiotics “meaning is never a property of objects but always a
property of relationships” (Sless, 1981, p. 184).
In Floch’s mind, semiotics is concrete – an approach to understanding the real world.
Semiotics, born through the study of linguistics, has a much wider application in interpreting
and creating meaning. Not just about the meaning of language or text, it may be used to
understand the behaviour of people in certain situations, or the meaning of a film, or the
image of a corporate brand (Floch, 2001, p.1).
Floch describes three basic principles that guide his concept of semiotics and its use:
1) Intelligibility: semiotics is primarily concerned with the “production and apprehension of
meaning.”
2) Analysis of signs: the objective of semiotics is “to ascertain the system of relations that
causes signs to signify.”
3) Semiotics is structural: semiotics strives to analyse sign-systems through differences and
hierarchies of signification.
(Floch, 2001, p.3)

2.2 Opposition’s role in the analysis of meaning
Before exploring the design development process of meaning creation within
communication systems, we must first present a usable definition of the word “meaning”.
There are many, yet, for this paper we will borrow from Osgoode, Suci and Tannenbaum’s
(1957) working definition that they proposed in their book, The measurement of meaning.
“The meaning of ‘meaning’ for which we wish to establish an index is a psychological
one – that process or state in the behaviour of a sign-using organism which is assumed
to be a necessary consequence of the reception of sign-stimuli and a necessary
antecedent for the production of sign-responses.” (Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum, 1957,
p.9)

At this point, it is valuable to illustrate several approaches to meaning analysis, and what
they can accomplish. Three methods of such analysis that offer unique areas of insight
include the repertory grid, the semantic differential, and the semiotic square. Each of these
tools can be used to interpret the meaning of things; each of these tools employs opposition
to do so.
The repertory grid is based on personal construct theory, developed by George Kelly. Kelly’s
theory hypothesises that what we see as reality, is built up on oppositions rather than
absolute meanings (Jankowicz, 2004). Thus, a person builds sets of contrasts, which Kelly
calls personal constructs, and these are used to interpret and build each person’s reality. On

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

interviewing a subject, the repertory grid analyses various topics (such as, kinds of images),
within groups called elements (such as photography) by numerically rating sets of constructs
(contrasting pairs, such as looks less realistic vs. looks more realistic). What the grid
accomplishes, is a snapshot of the personality or “psychological space” of a person (Kelly,
1955, p.146). An example grid is shown in Figure 1. In order to understand the meaning
captured by the grid – the person’s psychological space as it relates to the grid’s topic – the
grid information must be processed and analysed, and a full factor analysis of a specific topic
can be a complex process.

Figure 1 A repertory grid taken from an interview with an instructor (Jankowicz, 2004, p.17)

The semantic differential offers another form of meaning analysis, allowing the researcher
to measure a subject’s attitudes. In order to measure the connotative meaning of things,
the researcher creates sets of rating scales – each with opposing adjectives – in 3 different
dimensions of meaning, termed EPA dimensions. The EPA dimensions of meaning represent
adjectives of 1) evaluation, such as tasty vs. tasteless, 2) potency, such as strong vs. weak,
and 3) activity, such as quick vs. slow (Heise, 1970, p.237). Although the semantic
differential is capable of measuring the meaning of a thing, it does this by measuring a
person’s attitudes towards things. While the semantic differential and the repertory grid
share common elements, both requiring factor analysis to accurately describe meaning, the
key difference is that while the semantic differential measures constructs delineated by the
interviewer, the repertory grid inspires the interview subject to create their own constructs.

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

Figure 2 The semantic differential: Casual dining analysis. Retrieved from
http://survey.cvent.com/blog/customer-insights-2/semantic-differential-reprise.

A third tool for the analysis of meaning is the semiotic square. We can think of the semiotic
square as a device that enables a researcher to create and encapsulate a discussion about
the signification (meaning creation) of a given topic or situation (Greimas, 1987; Floch,
2001).
As an example of how the semiotic square works, we will follow Floch’s example, analysing
the term good (see Figure 3). To understand if a situation is good, we must also consider
that it may be bad. This kind of relation is known as a “semiotic axis” and specifically the
axis of contrariety. As shown in Figure 3, Greimas places this (type of) relationship of
contrariety along the top horizontal axis of the square (Greimas, 1987, p.49; Floch, 2001,
p.22).

Figure 3 The semiotic square (Greimas, 1987, p. 52 modified).

If only meaning were that simple. Something surely may be good or bad, but it may also be
“not bad” instead of “bad”. Likewise a situation may be “not good” as opposed to “good”.
These are relationships of contradiction and Greimas depicts this type of relationship along
the diagonal axis of the square (Greimas, 1987 p.49; Floch, 2001, p.22).
As shown in Figure 3, the locations of the relationships of contrariety and contradiction form
a third relationship between the vertically opposed pairs in the square (such as a situation
that is “not bad”, while not being “good”). This is the relationship of complementarity
(Greimas, 1987 p.49; Floch, 2001, p.22).
Due to the simple form of the semiotic square and its ability to be used as a tool in the
analysis of meaning directly by a single researcher or designer, it was chosen as the

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

preferred tool for the ensuing research. By illuminating three kinds of opposition –
contrariety, contradiction and complementarity – the semiotic square would enable the
researcher to create and encapsulate an analysis of a given topic or situation, and ultimately,
to understand its meaning (Floch, 2001). However, several key questions remain
unanswered regarding the meanings described by such opposition, and what Floch means by
“real-world” research and design. Is the semiotic square applicable to all project types? Is it
scalable, and therefore applicable to large and small projects, quick and long-term
development cycles, and can it be used iteratively? How practical is it as a tool for design
creation, rather than analysis – its typical application historically? Floch himself had shown
the semiotic square could be applied to large-scale marketing research projects, but could it
have a place in a designer’s sketchbook?

Employing the semiotic square to design an at a glance
presentation
The scope of this paper will allow us to research the performance of the semiotic square by
applying it to a “real-world” strategic communication design project, first, in two subsequent
iterative phases where several versions of the square will be quickly developed to help the
researcher to conceptualise the design challenge – an at a glance presentation – then
secondarily to create a proposed design solution.
An at a glance presentation is a succinct, visually-conveyed overview of an organization or a
key issue, explained graphically and textually, often forming introductory, context-setting
sections of complex documents such as annual reports, or used as brief stand alone
overviews of complex ideas or issues. The proposed project was to create a corporate at a
glance presentation using the semiotic square to drive its strategic development.

Figure 4 At a glance presentations, from 2014 BD on-line annual report (left), and University of New
South Wales 2014 print annual report pdf (right). Retrieved from www.bd.com/ar2014, and
annualreport.unsw.edu.au/2014/, Oct 5, 2015.

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

Finding a willing client was difficult, so several of the researcher’s existing clients were
considered. Two of these clients were contacted and the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) accepted to participate in the at a glance development project, as they saw
a potential need for such a communication tool.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) was created in 2000 by the Canadian
parliament, currently reporting to government through the Minister of Health. CIHR’s key
focuses include:

identifying and targeting key priorities in health research

Identifying and improving under-developed health research activities

funding health research training for upcoming generations of
Canadians

knowledge sharing, that informs the public and government
(retrieved from
http://www.rso.ualberta.ca/en/Applying/SponsorsPrograms/TriCouncil.aspx
(Nov 3, 2015)
The internal project development group selected by the manager of creative services
included herself and the senior writer, the production coordinator and CIHR’s internal
graphic designer. The team agreed to meet several times over the following five weeks to
create the fundamental design approach for a new at a glance presentation for use in their
upcoming annual report, using design criteria and tools studied by the researcher, but as of
yet untested in an actual design project. Initially, the goal was to develop a rough prototype,
able to be used in the future to inform the development of a new at a glance presentation
for the organization.

3.1 Prototype design process
To plan the design development, the researcher set up meeting themes for the upcoming
design sessions. The themes were:
1)
2)
3)
4)

A general at a glance discussion and brainstorming session,
Defining the target of the CIHR at a glance presentation,
Establishing the project meaning using the semiotic square,
Establishing the look of the design based on the output of the semiotic square.

The first meeting focused on the client’s general opinions of what CIHR should be
communicating in an at a glance presentation. CIHR had decided that the at a glance
presentation would not become part of the annual report, but would be used by CIHR’s
President in face-to-face meetings as a presentation tool for a major new CIHR program
(CIHR manager, personal communication, March 5, 2013). The team had mentioned that
CIHR was developing a new strategic direction, and the at a glance presentation would
announce and support this CIHR initiative, to be known as the Strategy for patient-oriented
research (SPOR). SPOR’s goal was to aid in future health research by making it more
practical, specifically by bringing health research to the patient’s “point of care”, increasing

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

health research access. SPOR also represents a health network partnership, comprised of
academic institutions and researchers, health practitioners, provincial governments, policy
makers and authorities, healthcare recipients, their caregivers and Canadians in general, and
other health care-related partners (retrieved from http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html,
Oct 5, 2015).
The second meeting focused on analysing the structure of a typical presentation in which
the president would use the at a glance presentation. There were several kinds of meetings
in which the President was involved, but we focused on two specific ones; SPOR-oriented
meetings where he could be looking for potential funding partnerships, possibly with
provincial health or industry departments, and meetings focused on CIHR funding reforms,
where he would be presenting to university representatives and researchers. In these
meetings the president would hold the SPOR at a glance presentation face-to-face, in front
of the presentees and explain the system, with the visual support of the presentation tool.
The at a glance had to be a strong and clear introduction to SPOR. The at a glance could not
cater to any specific audience, but had to be meaningful to a broad stakeholder group.
Before the third meeting initial design work was completed to enable discussion on the
various health system processes that were critical to CIHR’s at a glance message. The
content of the design tools stemmed from discussions from the initial meetings and from
knowledge previously known to the researcher, who had public health system design
experience. The meeting tools were used to help the team to understand the at a glance
presentation requirements and to develop a communication strategy.

3.2 Iterative design use: putting the semiotic square to use
For the third meeting, rough semiotic squares were constructed to describe various aspects
of the Canadian public health system, public health system participation and health
knowledge sharing, some of which are shown in Figure 5. This iterative development proved
to be relatively efficient, but many of the squares did not reveal promising results, as can be
seen in the top right and bottom left squares. The others reveal significant relationships but
were not refined enough to become strategic communications solutions, or did not relate
directly to the project communication goals.

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

Figure 5 Initial rough iterative semiotic square explorations of Canadian heath system presented in
the third meeting

The most promising squares were developed and refined, resulting in the examples shown in
Figure 6. Once the relationships of contrariety, contradiction and complementarity align, a
further level of information can be derived from the squares, as shown in the red text in
Figure 6. These relationships are called metaterms (Hebert, 2006, p.19). Simply stated,
these terms arise by combining adjacent terms, such as 1) what we want to know, and 2)
what we don’t know; forming the metaterm, not knowing. Metaterms create vertical and
horizontal axes that help in understanding the semiotic meanings invoked by the square.

Figure 6 The semiotic square: iterative exploration of aspects of the Canadian health system,
presented in the third meeting.

One semiotic square was constructed to explore the meaning of funding the public health
system as it related to CIHR (see Figure 6 (right figure) and Figure 7). The upper relationship
of contrariety described the funding and the non-funding participants in the health system,
which were: 1) CIHR’s various federal and provincial government-funding partners, and 2)

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

the researchers and universities who required this funding. The contradictory pairs in the
lower corners of the square were positioned as: 3) those not currently funding the system,
who were seen to CIHR as potential partners, and 4) those who do not take money from the
funding system, who were termed health consumers. This breakdown, offered by the
semiotic square, differed to CIHR’s own breakdown of the various health system partners,
shown below. It is possible the researcher’s use of the semiotic square was organizing the
list into groups. CIHR’s partner list included the following:







patients and caregivers
researchers
health practitioners
policy makers
provincial/territorial health authorities
academic institutions
charities
pharmaceutical sector
(retrieved from http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html, Oct 5, 2015)

This semiotic square in Figure 7 also described the level of participation in the funding the
health funding system, and levels of funding the health system. The titles in each corner of
the square represented four of CIHR’s stakeholder groups (as the top right corner had two
stakeholders), and the fourth corner, their target group for further funding (potential
partners).

Figure 7 The semiotic square constructed to describe public health system funding.

This semiotic square was reinterpreted as a typographic health continuum diagram, shown
in figure 8, with the four stakeholder groups in an unending process of using healthcare
services, funding, researching, and providing healthcare services.

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

Figure 8 Healthcare continuum diagram: one of the discussion tools for the third meeting.

After the third meeting, the health continuum diagram was again reinterpreted, this time as
an infographic of illustrated figures representing each stakeholder group, but represented in
the groupings from the original semiotic square, with the health researchers and health
providers shown in the same group. The illustration showed the Canadian health consumers
as red figures, the government and private sector funding partners as blue figures, and the
health researchers and healthcare providers as green figures – then the continuum
repeated. The client team felt the infographic could enable the President to locate any
potential funding partner or stakeholder that he was presenting to, within the infographic,
thus inspiring and validating their participation in the SPOR program. The infographic is
shown in figure 9.

Figure 9 Canadian healthcare continuum infographic – before the implementation of SPOR: with the
health researchers and health providers shown in the same (green) group.

The infographic was developed further, to represent the health system before and after
SPOR, diagrammatically illustrating the SPOR program. The first infographic would describe
the healthcare system as it exists today, with the various stakeholders in silos, and the
subsequent one, shown in figure 10, would describe the future healthcare system, after the
implementation of the patient-oriented research approach, where health consumers are
integrated with the researchers, health providers, and other stakeholders.

Figure 10 Canadian healthcare continuum infographic – after the implementation of SPOR.

The viewer is enabled to distinguish the separate groups in the infographic through colour
differences. The viewer can immediately distinguish the change from the before to the after

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

infographic through the preattentive cue of colour hue, but also colour intensity, as the red
seems to “pop out” (Ware, 2013, p.152).

3.3 Prototype development
In advance of the fourth meeting, the researcher prepared an initial prototype, shown in
figure 11, incorporating the before and after versions of the health system infographic. The
presentation was to be in print format, to use in face-to-face presentations, so various
physical versions of the design had to be considered. Several approaches were evaluated,
and an eight-panel gatefold format was finally chosen which allowed the before SPOR
infographic to be presented on a two-page spread, then each half could fold outward
exposing the after SPOR graphic, functioning well in face-to-face meetings. It would also add
another page to each outer side of the after infographic that could be used for two success
stories of patient-oriented health research solutions.

Figure 11 Initial prototype used for discussion. Cover is shown in upper left, first internal pagespread
is shown in upper right, with inside four-panel pagespread at bottom.

The final design presented at the fifth meeting is shown in figure 12 and should be compared
to the initial design in figure 11. Various changes were made based on client requests
between meetings four and five, including adding CIHR’s existing SPOR program logo, and
reducing visual noise by muting the colours and simplifying the cover image. The client had
also requested that the infographic break out the health researchers and health providers
into separate colour areas, thus the infographic would represent Canadians, government

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

funders, health researchers and health providers, matching the original health continuum
diagram (Figure 8).

Figure 12 Final prototype showing new cover, upper left, and outside and inside pagespreads with
reduced visual noise.

Once the project development had ended, the group reflected on the process of using the
semiotic square in concept development. As noted by the project manager, “using the
semiotic square when you did made a big difference in our thinking of the evolution of the
product – the idea changed” (CIHR manager, personal communication, April 30, 2013). The
team felt the semiotic analysis had quickly identified an effective communication structure,
yet, with the possibility of major changes to a project’s strategic concept, caused by the
semiotic square’s ability to redefine a communication strategy, it suggested the tool was
best used at the initial stages of project research and development. As shown in Figure 13,
the project had incorporated five meetings over a seven-week period. On final reflection,
the team felt the Floch-based use of the semiotic square proved to be effective and helped
to define the central communication concepts and the target audience.

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

Figure 13 The final five-stage prototype development timeline, which was adjusted to meet the
availability of CIHR’s four-member project team. Design meaning development was
completed within the first three weeks.

Conclusion
Focusing on communication design, this paper acknowledged the role of visual designers as
visual message encoders, engineering visually meaningful presentations through verbovisual means. We posed the question, what tools can designers use to determine the
meanings they visually encode?
It asked if existing tools for probing meaning, could be tailored for current design use, where
they must be efficient, scalable, iterative and portable. It asked if tools used primarily for
research could be effective tools for creation.
Tools such as the semantic differential and the repertory grid have proven to be effective in
measuring the opinions of a person, or groups of people, and the repertory grid has offered
a glimpse into their mental space. Through information processing such as factor analysis,
these tools are made more effective, but fail to meet the requirements of efficiency,
immediacy and portability required by communication designers. It was therefore left up to
the semiotic square to be researched to see if, as Floch claimed, it could be used in “realworld” design problems. We asked if it could be scalable and used iteratively.
Our findings indicate that the semiotic square performed well as an exploratory tool for
discovering the meaning of aspects of the Canadian health system, and CIHR’s specific
communication challenges in communicating the essence of SPOR, the strategy for patientoriented research. It could be used relatively quickly (relative to the semantic differential or
repertory grid methods), although it was found that tailoring its use so the opposing terms
aligned properly, and that its metaterms could be meaningful, could be more time
consuming. Arguably, the semiotic square could, for example, be sketched in a sketchbook
at work, or in a café and, after an hour or so of design thinking, produce various results of
value to the designer. With a few more hours of fine-tuning, the square could yield potential
design solutions.
We must acknowledge, however, the nature of this design exploration. Firstly, this research
was part of a suite of research projects in which the various results were triangulated
producing several general findings, but this specific research project incorporated one case
study only. The effectiveness of using meaning analysis tools – specifically the semiotic
square – to help develop a meaningful design, produced positive results, yet it was not
possible within the scope of the study to have a control design process that didn’t use the

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Design methods for meaning discovery: a case study in patient-oriented health research

semiotic square, and there was no knowledge generated about the degree of effectiveness
of the final solution – simply that it was considered a strong conceptual solution by the
client. Future research could be undertaken in an educational setting, where student
researchers, armed with the semiotic square and knowledge of its use, could explore
meaning creation through several design tasks, while a control group of student researchers,
unfamiliar with such tools, could explore meaning creation on the same tasks without these
tools.
Secondly, our attempt to define patient-oriented research was somewhat structural, in that
it searched for relations within various structures of the Canadian health system. Would the
semiotic square prove a useful tool in non-structural meaning exploration? Other
communication challenges may not align as well with the functions of the semiotic square,
evading the approach of meaning discovery, being suitable for exploratory tools such as the
semantic differential or repertory grid, or require tools that are currently undeveloped or
unknown. As our research has indicated that the semiotic square produces usable results in
structural explorations of meaning creation, and that it is relatively efficient, scalable,
iterative and portable – what we still don’t know is – where does it fail?

References
Canadian Institutes for Health Research. (2015) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. Retrieved
forom http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html
Floch, J-M. (2001) Semiotics, marketing and communication (R. O. Bodkin, Trans.). London: Palgrave
Macmillan.
Greimas, J. G. (1987) On meaning: Selected writings in semiotic theory. (W. J. Berg, trans.) Redlands,
CA: Esri Press. (Original work published 1967).
Heise, D. R. (1970) The semantic differential and attitude research, in Attidute measurement, Gene F.
Summers (ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally & Company
Hébert, L. (2006) The semiotic square. In Tools for text and image analysis: An introduction to applied
semiotics. Retrieved from http://www.revue-texto.net/Parutions/LivresE/Hebert_AS/Hebert_Tools.html
Hockett, C. F. (1958) A course in modern linguistics. New York: MacMillan.
Jankowicz, D. (2004) The easy guide to repertory grids. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Kelly, G. A. (1955) The psychology of personal constructs. Vol. 1. A theory of personality. New York:
W. W. Norton & Company
Osgoode, C. E., Suci, G. J., Tannenbaum, P. H. (1957) The measurement of meaning. Urbana, IL:
University of Illinois Press
Saussure, F. d. (1966) Course in general linguistics. (W. Baskin, Trans.). New York: McGaw-Hill.
(Original work published 1916).
Sless, D. (1981) Learning and visual communication. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
University of Alberta. (2015) Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC). Retrieved from
http://www.rso.ualberta.ca/en/Applying/SponsorsPrograms/TriCouncil.aspx
Ware, C. (2013) Information visualization: Perception for design (3rd ed.). Waltham, MA: Morgan
Kaufmann.

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David Craib and Lorenzo Imbesi

About the Authors:
David Craib has been a professional communication designer for over
30 years, and, since 1994, has operated Parable Communications in
Ottawa, Canada. David is a part-time professor at Carleton
University, probing into fundamental aspects of visual
communication design perception.
Lorenzo Imbesi, PhD, is an Architect and Professor of Industrial
Design at Sapienza University, Rome, Italy (previously Associate
Professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), an ICCS fellow
(Canadian Government) and member of the Research Board of Italian
and European Programs.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements
of schematic map effectiveness
Maxwell J. Roberts* and Ida C.N. Vaeng
University of Essex, UK
* mjr@essex.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.123

Abstract: A usability study is reported in which objective measures of performance
were compared with subjective ratings of design effectiveness for two novel
schematic London Underground maps. One of these was designed conventionally,
but was deliberately intended to have complex line trajectories. The other was a
novel curvilinear design, prioitised similarly. The selection of designs was motivated
by a previous usability rating study in which the curvilinear map had received the
lowest scores. For the current study, people planned a series of journeys using both
designs. The curvilinear map yielded superior performance in terms of time to plan
each journey. Despite experience with both designs, the curvilinear map still received
poor usability ratings. It is suggested that expectations and prejudices about design
prevent people from making accurate subjective evaluations of usability.
Keywords: schematic maps; familiarity; usability study; rating study

1. Introduction
Schematic maps, such as the London Underground diagram, first published in 1933 and
designed by Henry Beck (Garland, 1994; Roberts, 2005) have become particularly associated
with urban rail networks worldwide (Ovenden, 2015). Typically (as per London) these are
highly stylised, with routes shown as straight lines – horizontal, vertical, or 45º diagonals –
joined by tightly radiused corners. Mathematically, this is known as an octolinear design.
Topography may be considerably distorted, and most, if not all, surface details omitted, so
that the focus of such designs is on the routes, stations, and inter-connections between
lines. This method of information presentation can be amongst the most complex that
members of the public are likely to be expected to use in everyday life. Indeed, with everincreasing network complexity worldwide, a mathematical analysis (Gallotti, Porter, &
Barthelemy, 2016) suggests that there is cognitive limit to the understandability of large
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

transport networks. The challenge for designers – the creation of legible, effective network
maps in an attempt to tame the complexity – therefore increases year-by-year. Despite the
proliferation of journey-planning software, the network map remains an important source of
information. Indeed, many applications for hand-held devices are merely standard network
maps with extra functionality added, such as options to add additional layers of information
to a base design.
A number of suggestions have been made for optimising schematic map design, although
these often take the form of lists of sometimes-conflicting criteria that are only rarely
supported by evidence from usability studies (e.g., Nöllenburg; 2014, Ovenden, 2008).
Roberts (2012, 2014) attempts to organise the various criteria for effective design into a
broad framework of five categories, with simplicity and coherence of particular importance
here. Simplicity refers to the line trajectories: the key-most requirement for a schematic map
is that complex routes are converted into simple line trajectories on the diagram. Coherence
refers to the need to relate the elements of a network to each other so that the overall
design has good shape. Failure to address the simplicity criterion can result in routes
comprising numerous short zig-zagging segments: reality has not been simplified, instead
the shape of the complexity has merely been changed. The coherence criterion can be
violated, for example, if the number of angles on a map is increased, and no effort is made
to keep the lines parallel (see Figure 1). The worst-designed examples in these respects
impact on the overall intelligibility of a map, making the elements of a network hard to
identify, concealing its underlying structure, and reducing the effectiveness of a design for
planning journeys and learning about the system.
It is suggested by many commentators that octolinearity by itself should be a design
requirement (e.g., Nöllenburg & Wolff, 2011; Ovenden, 2005, p. 39). Hence, adherence to
this will result in a more effective design than any other possible method of configuration.
This has been named the octolinearity as a gold standard conjecture but Roberts et al.
(2013) argue that there is little evidence in its support. Roberts (2012) suggests that
different networks worldwide have different properties, and that some may have line
trajectories and interconnections that are a poor match for octolinearity, causing difficulties
for optimisation by preventing the simplification of line trajectories. The gold standard
conjecture was refuted in a series of usability studies investigating alternative Paris Metro
map designs (Roberts et al., 2013). For this network, the highly interconnected lines have
very complex trajectories, and the official octolinear schematic reflects this, with the result
that the underlying network structure is difficult to discern. The usability study investigated
the times required to plan complex journeys, and a curvilinear design (i.e. no straight lines at
all) consistently outperformed the official version, with planning times up to 50% faster
across experiments.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

Figure 1 The nine London Underground maps from the internet-based rating task reported
by Roberts (2014). Image copyright Maxwell J. Roberts, www.tubemapcentral.com,
all rights reserved, reproduced with permission.

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

One difficulty faced by those who wish to produce well-motivated innovative schematic
maps is that these may violate people’s expectations about effective design. Informally, this
can be observed in commentaries on internet sites worldwide. Roberts (2014) discusses
these in terms of the lay-theories of design that underlie them, and notes that these can be
entrenched, and yet subject to considerable individual differences. This can result in costly
mistakes when unexpected public reaction causes the premature withdrawal of a design.
More formally, Roberts et al. (2013) noted that the correlations between an objective
measure of performance (planning time) and subjective measures (map preference, and a
score derived from questionnaire responses) were effectively zero. Despite the superior
usability of the novel curvilinear design, only 50% of people preferred it.
To investigate lay-theories of design in more detail, an internet rating study has been
implemented, in which people were asked to assess the usability and attractiveness of nine
different specially-created London Underground maps (see Figure 1). These were presented
as a matrix of nine designs, which varied by configuration (octolinear, curvilinear, multilinear
– a linear map with any angle permitted, and hence at a disadvantage in terms of the
coherence criterion) and also by design priorities. The stylised maps were optimised in terms
of having the simplest line trajectories, the geographical maps were intended to have high
accuracy in this respect, with the inevitable consequence of more complex line trajectories,
while the compact maps were intended to have the most complex line trajectories of all, but
without any requirement for geographical accuracy. A preliminary analysis of data from the
first one-hundred respondents (Roberts, 2014) indicated a considerable octolinear bias, with
usability ratings greater for octolinear maps than for curvilinear or multilinear designs by a
far higher margin than would have been expected from usability studies. However, people
were sensitive to line trajectory simplicity, with map ratings within trios with shared design
rules always favouring the simpler designs.
Having identified the usability ratings for nine different maps, the next logical step is to
conduct studies using these designs to compare subjective and objective measures. Roberts
et al. (2013) organised their study such that each person planned journeys using just one
map (a between-subjects design) with the consequence that when people subsequently
made a selection from these, only one of the alternatives familiar to them. A more powerful
design administers multiple maps to each person, so that each of these is experienced
directly before evaluation, and the relative ease of use for each individual can also be
identified, and related directly to their subjective assessments and choices. For the internet
rating study, the maps were merely assessed visually, and so it is necessary to ask whether
direct experience at using the designs (1) enables a better calibration between overall
subjective ratings of usability and actual measures of objective usability; and (2) enables a
better assessment of the relative usability of particular designs, so that after experience at
using both, even for the novel or unusual versions, this enables a better judgement of their
relative merits.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

Figure 2 The London Underground compact curvilinear map selected for the current study Image
copyright Maxwell J. Roberts, www.tubemapcentral.com, all rights reserved, reproduced
with permission.

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

Figure 3 The London Underground octolinear map selected for the current study, intended to match
the curvilinear map for design priorities – complex line trajectories without geographical
accuracy. Image copyright Maxwell J. Roberts, www.tubemapcentral.com, all rights
reserved, reproduced with permission.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

It would not be practical to administer all nine designs to one individual, but pilot studies
have shown that it is possible to administer two or even three maps without measurable
crosstalk between versions. For the usability study reported here, the worst-scored map
from the internet study was identified. This was the compact curvilinear design (see Figure
2), which was rated as easy to use by only four out of 100 individuals (71 rated the design as
hard to use). In contrast, the equivalent compact octolinear design (see Figure 3) was rated
as easy to use by 37 people, and overall it was rated as third in terms of usability – only the
ratings of the other two octolinear designs exceeded it. It is indeed possible that the
difference in usability ratings between compact octolinear versus compact curvilinear will
match objectively measured usability: the octolinear design uses tried-and-tested rules
(albeit with poor optimisation). Alternatively, the ratings might simply be a reflection of
expectations and prejudices, and there is no reason to give adverse ratings to the curvilinear
map. This possibility was investigated via a journey planning task. Subjective ratings of the
maps were collected after this, to see whether direct experience at the two designs would
result in a close match between objective and subjective measures.

2. Method
2.1 Sample
Twenty-two people took part in this experiment, 6 males and 16 females. They were all
unpaid volunteers from the University of Essex with a mean age of 21.6 years (SD 1.1). All
had at least some experience of travel in London by Underground, rating their frequency of
use as, at the very least, a few times a year.

2.2 Materials
The maps for the journey planning task were printed to fit A3 sheets and laminated. Two
sets of five journeys were assembled as follows:
Set A – practice trial: Moor Park (Metropolitan Line) to East Acton (Central Line)
Crystal Palace (London Overground) to West Harrow (Metropolitan Line)
Queeensbury (Jubilee Line) to Crouch Hill (London Overground)
Colliers Wood (Northern Line) to Finchley Road & Frognal (London Overground)
Acton Central (London Overground) to Arnos Grove (Piccadilly Line)
Deptford Bridge (DLR) to Wembley Central (Bakerloo Line)
Set B – practice trial: South Ruislip (Central Line) to Hatch End (London Overground)
Heathrow Airport Terminals 1/2/3 (Piccadilly Line) to London City Airport (DLR)
Vauxhall (Victoria Line) to South Acton (London Overground)
Wanstead Park (London Overground) to Greenford (Central Line)
Imperial Wharf (London Overground) to Northwood Hills (Metropolitan Line)
Colindale (Northern Line) to Anerley (London Overground)

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These were chosen such that they would be difficult to plan, with distant start and
destination stations, a requirement to cross London, and many alternative options. At least
two interchanges were required to complete each journey. An attempt was made to
represent all lines/regions of the map equally between item sets. Each journey was shown
on an individual A4 laminated sheet with the map greyed out except for the start (arrowed)
and destination stations.
A 21-item questionnaire was used, based on Roberts et al. (2013). Most questions were
answered using seven point rating scale. For these, statements were given along with seven
options ranging from strongly agree through neutral to strongly disagree. For each question,
an answer or a decision was required for both of the maps. The full set of questionnaire
items was as follows.
Questions 1 to 15 were seven-point rating-scale questions as described previously. Asterisks
denote questions that directly ask for opinions about usability aspects of design.
*1) I found journeys easy to plan using this map
*2) Routes were difficult to discriminate (identify) using this map
*3) Station names were easy to identify using this map
*4) Station interchanges were difficult to negotiate using this map
*5) Line trajectories were easy to follow using this map
*6) I found this map disorientating to use
*7) I would be happy to use this map to plan real-life journeys around London
8) I preferred a direct-looking route, no matter how many interchanges required
9) Some parts of the map looked complicated, and I planned journeys to avoid them
10) This map is intended for planning journeys but I think it is also geographically accurate
*11) With this map, I would rather walk or take a taxi than use the London Underground
12) The best routes for me had the fewest station stops along the way
*13) I found the map visually disturbing
*14) I found the map clean and uncluttered
*15) I would look for another design of London Underground map to use at the earliest
opportunity
Questions 16 and 17 requested brief sentences, i.e. qualitative responses, separately for
each map.
16) Briefly, what, if any, aspect of this map did you like the most?
17) Briefly, what, if any, aspect of this map did you like the least?
Question 18 was a forced choice item, one map or the other preferred.
18) Of the two designs you have used, which one do you think you would prefer for everyday
use?
Question 19 queried frequency of travel and gave a number of options.
19) Roughly how often do you travel by rail to make a journey in London?
Every day/A few days every week/A few times every month/About once a month/A few times
a year/Once a year or less/Never, or not for years

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

Questions 20 and 21 repeated the map rating task reported by Roberts (2014). All nine
London maps were presented (see Figure 1) and people were asked to rate each map for
usability and attractiveness on a three point scale; Easy to use/Neutral/Hard to use; and
Attractive/Neutral/Unpleasant.

2.3 Design
All people planned journeys using both maps, five journeys for one design, then five
journeys for the other. Eleven planned journeys using the octolinear map first, the remaining
eleven received the curvilinear map first. Ten people received journey Set A paired with the
curvilinear map (and hence Set B with the octolinear Map) and Twelve people received Set A
paired with the octolinear map.
This was primarily a within-subjects design, with Map Type (two levels, Octolinear versus
Curvilinear) as the independent variable. Measures of map performance included the time
taken to plan a journey, and an estimation, made by the experimenter, of the duration that
the planned journeys would have taken had they been implemented. Questionnaire data
provided a means of measuring people’s subjective assessments of map usability.

2.4 Procedure
People were tested individually in quiet surroundings. They were informed that they would
be asked to plan a series of journeys using two versions of the London Underground map.
They were to assume that the network was fully operational and that there were no cost
considerations. They were given no guidance as to journey criteria or priorities, it was simply
stated that they should devise the journey that they would choose if they were actually to
undertake it in real life. They were also informed that they should only change between lines
at designated interchanges shown on the map.
People were given an opportunity to view the first map while the initial instructions were
given. The practice journey was administered, then the five test journeys for that map,
presented in a random order. Each trial commenced with the experimenter placing the
journey sheet indicating start and end stations above the A3 laminated map, and
immediately commencing timing using a stop-watch. The subject was asked to plan the
journey as requested, using a dry-wipe marker. Once satisfied with the plan, a verbal
announcement was made, timing stopped, and the final chosen route was transcribed onto
an A4 paper map, overseen by the experimenter. Following this, the experimenter cleaned
all marks from the laminated map and the next trial commenced. Once all journeys were
completed, the process was repeated with the second map.
When all journeys had been planned, the questionnaire was administered. There was no
opportunity to view the maps for this, except for the final two questions, where the two
original maps were re-presented, along with the seven previously unseen, so that the rating
task could be completed.

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

3. Results
For each person, mean planning times were calculated from the five test journeys for each
map. For each journey, its duration was estimated by allowing two minutes per station and
ten minutes per interchange. This is comparable with the heuristics that passengers
themselves use (e.g., Vertesi, 2008) and ignores the variable interchange quality within most
metro networks, which is virtually impossible to communicate via maps. There were just two
planning errors (both involved a proposal for an interchange where none was shown), both
for the octolinear map. Estimated journey durations were simply averaged over the
remaining four trials for the two people concerned. Mean journey planning times and
estimated journey durations are given in Table 1.
The difference in mean journey planning time between maps is significant. Using withinsubjects analysis of variance, F(1,21) = 7.60, MSe = 192.4, p < .05. On average, journeys
required less time to plan using the curvilinear map. There was no evidence that the
superior planning time was associated with less efficient journeys, with no significant
difference between maps, F(1,21) = 0.09, MSe = 18.7, p > .05.
Table 1 Performance for the two maps showing objective measures and aggregate questionnaire
ratings, overall, and by map choice. Means in bold, standard deviations in itallics.
Octolinear
Map

Curvilinear
Map

Mean journey planning time
(seconds per journey)

65.6 (23.0)

54.1 (20.4)

Mean estimated journey duration
(minutes per journey)

68.7 (4.2)

69.1 (4.2)

Mean aggregate questionnaire score
(range 11 to 77)

55.2 (10.5)

49.9 (12.9)

Mean planning time for people who chose
the curvilinear map (seconds per journey)

75.8 (27.2)

58.3 (28.6)

Mean planning time for people who chose
the octolinear map (seconds per journey)

59.8 (19.0)

51.7 (14.7)

Mean aggregate questionnaire score for people
who chose the curvilinear map (range 11 to 77)

47.8 (10.7)

60.1 (2.0)

Mean aggregate questionnaire score for people
who chose the octolinear map (range 11 to 77)

59.5 (7.8)

44.0 (12.8)

The superiority of the curvilinear map was not reflected in the questionnaire ratings of
usability. Aggregate rating scores were created by using the 11 asterisked questions that
were relevant to usability (see section 2.2). The questions were bi-directional, so that
agreeing with the statements in some indicated positive assessments of a map, but agreeing
with the statements of others indicated adverse assessments. Scores on the latter were

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

reversed (so that a rating of 1 became 7, 2 became 6, etc.) and the scores for each person
for each map were then totalled separately. This gave aggregate rating task scores, in which
77 indicated the highest possible rating of a design, 11 the worst possible, and 44 a neutral
score. Table 1 shows that the octolinear map was given a higher aggregate rating than the
curvilinear design, the opposite to the difference in the objective measure of performance,
but the difference in means was not significant, F(1,21) = 1.60, MSe = 197.6, p > .05.
The poor usability ratings of the curvilinear map, previously identified by Roberts (2014) are
not justified by the results here. However, two maps were administered to each person
here, so that it is possible to determine whether individuals are sensitive to relative
differences in their own performance when evaluating the different designs. Of the 22
people in this experiment, eight chose the curvilinear map when asked to express a
preference, and fourteen chose the octolinear version. If people were deciding on the basis
of their performance, then those who chose the octolinear map should have better planning
times for this compared with the curvilinear map, and those who chose the curvilinear map
should have better planning times for this compared with the octolinear map. The means in
Table 1 show that this is not the case: irrespective of map choice group, mean planning
times for the curvilinear map were better. The statistical test for this hypothesis is to
determine whether there is a significant interaction in a two-factor mixed design Analysis of
Variance, in which Map Choice is the between subjects factor, and Test Map is the withinsubjects factor. There was no significant interaction, F(1,20) = 1.18, MSe = 190.8, p > .05.
Despite the lack of a relationship between map choice and the objective measure of
performance, the basis of the choice is not arbitrary, and has a clear relationship with the
aggregate questionnaire score evaluation of the maps. People who gave the octolinear map
a higher rating then the curvilinear map were more likely, subsequently, to select this in
preference. Conversely, people who gave the curvilinear map higher ratings then the
octolinear map were more likely, subsequently, to select this in preference. This time the
interaction, between Map Choice and Test Map, is significant, F(1,20) = 18.2, MSe = 108.6,
p < .01.
There were no other aspects of individuals that could be related to map choice. Three of the
six males selected the curvilinear map, and five of the fourteen females. Also, categorising
people into low use (used the Underground once a month or less) versus high use (a few
times each month or more), three of the seven high use individuals selected the curvilinear
map, compared with five of the fifteen low use individuals.

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

Figure 4 Difference scores for planning times, for individuals, rank ordered in size, also showing map
preference and usability/attractiveness ratings. There is little evidence for a relationship
between subjective ratings of map effectiveness and the objective measure of usability.

The lack of any clear relationship between objective performance and map selection is
shown in Figure 4, where individual planning time differences between maps are plotted,
rank ordered. There graph hints at the possibility that, for people who find the octolinear
map particularly difficult to use, with the most adverse difference scores of all, there might
be some awareness of this, so that the curvilinear map is chosen in preference. A larger
sample size would be required in order to be able to test for this. Conversely, looking at the
differences in questionnaire scores between the two maps (Figure 5), the findings are clearcut, and the map that is relatively positively rated is almost always selected in preference,
even where there is only a slight difference in the rating scores.
Unsurprisingly, the correlation between planning time advantage for one map over the
other, versus questionnaire aggregate advantage for one map over the other, was low and
not significant (r = – .12, p > .05) but was at least in the expected direction. People who had
a curvilinear map planning time advantage were likely to score the curvilinear map more
highly than the octolinear version on the questionnaire.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

Figure 5 Difference scores for questionnaire ratings of map effectiveness, for individuals, rank
ordered in size, also showing map preference and usability/attractiveness ratings. There is a
clear relationship between the subjective measures, with differences in questionnaire
evaluations for the two maps clearly related to preference/selection.

The final analysis concerns the single-question usability and attractiveness ratings for all nine
maps. Ratings were combined and scaled so that if every person rated the usability of a map
as hard to use (or unattractive for the other rating) then it would receive an overall score of
zero. Conversely, if every single person rated a map as easy to use (or attractive for the
other rating) then it would receive an overall score of 100. Usability ratings are given in
Table 2, and attractiveness ratings in Table 3.
Table 2 Overall usability ratings for the nine maps. The two that were used for journey planning in
this current study are in bold. Data from Roberts (2014) are also included, in itallics.
Octolinear
Map

Curvilinear
Map

Multilinear
Map

Stylised
(simple line trajectories)

100%
93%

55%
32%

59%
53%

Geographical
(intermediate line trajectories)

73%
60%

39%
28%

30%
38%

Compact
(complex line trajectories)

86%
53%

46%
17%

36%
32%

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

Table 3 Overall attractiveness ratings for the nine maps. The two that were used for journey
planning in current study are in bold. Data from Roberts (2014) are also included, in itallics.
Octolinear
Map

Curvilinear
Map

Multilinear
Map

Stylised
(simple line trajectories)

84%
86%

55%
51%

34%
41%

Geographical
(intermediate line trajectories)

64%
54%

39%
42%

18%
25%

Compact
(complex line trajectories)

71%
55%

52%
36%

7%
18%

Overall, the results are similar to those reported by Roberts (2014), including the tendency
for linear maps to receive much higher usability ratings than attractiveness ratings. The
curvilinear maps do not show this trend, and together this implies a general expectation that
maps based on straight lines, irrespective of their angles, have usability advantages which
are not shared by curvilinear designs. Interestingly, compared with Roberts (2014), the
multilinear map scores for both attractiveness and usability are similar, and sometimes
reduced, whereas the octolinear and curvilinear scores are generally raised, with particularly
high gains for the two designs tested here. This might imply some sort of familiarity effect,
or else a confidence effect – having succeeded with these designs during the testing phase,
they now receive a more positive response – and yet the gap between the curvilinear and
octolinear designs, both for attractiveness and usability, is almost identical to previously,
with a 40% difference in rated usability, despite the curvilinear map yielding better
performance during the testing phase.

4. Discussion
The key finding of the research discussed here is that there is no relationship between
subjective ratings of map usability and the objective measure of time required to plan
journeys. The curvilinear map actually had a statistical advantage over the octolinear design
in this respect, and yet none of the subjective measures (choice of map, detailed rating
question by question, single direct question) reflected this, with the curvilinear map
generally receiving adverse scores.
The dissociation between objective and subjective measures has been reported previously
(e.g. Roberts et al., 2013) but for the research described here, everyone had experience with
both designs and, therefore, in theory, should have been able to identify from their
performance that the curvilinear design was not putting them in difficulty. However, this
lack of self-awareness is a common finding in psychology. People tend to be poor observers
of their own performance, and have little insight into their own cognitive processes (e.g.,
Chabris & Simons, 2010; Kruger & Dunning, 1999). Without explicit or obvious feedback, a
user would simply be unaware of his or her own performance in terms of a difference in
time of a few seconds required to plan each journey.

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Expectations and prejudices usurp judgements of schematic map effectiveness

The suggestion that expectations and prejudices are determining usability ratings is
corroborated by the written statements in the questionnaire. Half of the respondents
explicitly referred to the familiarity with the octolinear version and/or lack of familiarity of
the curvilinear version, as a reason to like/dislike a design. Again, this is entirely in line with
findings in the psychological literature. For example, the mere exposure effect is welldocumented (e.g., Bornstein, 1989). Repeated exposure to, and increasing familiarity with
stimuli, results in more positive ratings compared with less familiar material. Furthermore,
an important finding in the expertise literature is that novices in any domain tend to
evaluate items according to superficial surface properties (e.g., Chi, Feltovich, & Glaser.
1981). Hence an octolinear map might be over-favourably evaluated by a person who is
familiar with such designs but not an expert at usability issues. In terms of the other
comments, these generally did not add useful additional information; both maps were
praised for being simple, clean and clear, and both were criticised for being messy,
disorganised and cluttered.
It is interesting to note, however, that experience at using the maps in the current study
does seem to have had some impact on perceived effectiveness of the designs. (Tables 2 and
3). Ratings of the multilinear maps, which were not directly experienced in this study, are
comparable with Roberts (2014), whereas ratings for curvilinear and octolinear designs, in
general, are higher, and are particularly elevated for the two designs tested here. In part,
this might be explained as a familiarity effect, but this also might indicate an appreciation, in
the light of experience, that the two designs are at least adequately usable, more so than
their initial appearance might suggest. However, the gap in ratings between the curvilinear
and octolinear designs was almost identical to previously, indicating that a familiarity effect
is the more likely explanation. Any acquired rationally-based self-awareness about the
relative usability of the designs would have been expected to close the rating gap between
them.
One important caveat concerning the results of the current study is that, similarly to Roberts
et al. (2013), a curvilinear map was found to be easier to use than an octolinear version. It is
essential not to over-generalise from this finding. The official Paris Metro map is poorly
optimised for simplicity of line trajectories, but this does not rule out the possibility that this
aspect of the design could be improved while maintaining octolinearity. In the current study,
the curvilinear map was superior, but both designs were intended to be poorly optimised,
and it is possible that this was more successfully implemented for the octolinear design than
the curvilinear one. In general, as per Roberts (2012), it is likely that different networks are
suited to different design techniques, and it certainly should not be concluded that one
particular new approach (curvilinear maps) will always be superior to conventional
octolinear designs.
Overall, the findings highlight the dangers in choosing between competing designs on the
basis of, for example, a public vote or similar competition (Boston Globe, 2013). A familiarlooking design that conforms to expectations is more likely to be chosen than one that does
not, even if the latter is the more effective design. The subjective measures gathered in the

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Maxwell Roberts and Ida Vaeng

current study were internally consistent and powerful. This is important considering the
suggestion by Roberts (2012) that networks have structural differences so that, when
creating a schematic map, non-conventional design rules might sometimes be appropriate in
order to create a coherent design with simple line trajectories. In order to counter potential
adverse public reaction to a radical (and supposedly more effective) innovative design, at the
very least its introduction should be supported by objective data from sound usability
studies. Even then, it might be advisable to have a transition period in order to boost
familiarity with new designs, before phasing out old ones.

5. References
Bornstein, R. F. (1989). Exposure and affect: Overview and meta-analysis of research, 1968–1987.
Psychological Bulletin, 106, pp 265–289.
Boston Globe (2013). MBTA map-making contest garners 17,000 votes.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/09/21/map-making-contest-garnersvotes/egeCO7x7Q8rbfciGVHaSyI/story.html [accessed 01/06/2015]
Chabris, C., & Simons, D. (2010). The invisible gorilla. New York: Crown Publishing.
Chi, M. T. H., Feltovich, P. J., & Glaser, R. (1981). Categorization and representation of physics
problems by experts and novices. Cognitive Science, 5, pp 121–152.
Gallotti, R., Porter, M. A., & Barthelemy, M. (2016). Lost in transportation: Information measures and
cognitive limits in multilayer navigation. Science Advances, 2, e1500445.
Garland, K. (1994). Mr Beck’s Underground map. Harrow Weald, UK: Capital Transport Publishing.
Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it. Journal of Personality & Social
Psychology, 77, pp 1121–1134.
Nöllenburg, M. (2014). A survey on automated metro map layout methods. Schematic Mapping
Workshop 2014, University of Essex, April.
https://sites.google.com/site/schematicmapping/Nöllenburg_survey.pdf [accessed 29/05/2015]
Nöllenburg, M., & Wolff, A. (2011). Drawing and labeling high-quality metro maps by mixed-integer
programming. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 17, pp 626-641.
Ovenden, M. (2005). Metro maps of the world (2nd ed). Harrow Weald, UK: Capital Transport
Publishing.
Ovenden, M. (2008). Paris Metro style in map and station design. Harrow Weald, UK: Capital
Transport Publishing.
Ovenden, M. (2015). Transit maps of the world (2nd ed). New York: Penguin.
Roberts, M. J. (2005). Underground maps after Beck. Harrow Weald, UK: Capital Transport
Publishing.
Roberts, M. J. (2012). Underground maps unravelled, explorations in information design. Wivenhoe,
UK: Published by the author.
Roberts, M.J. (2014). What’s your theory of effective schematic map design? Schematic Mapping
Workshop 2014, University of Essex, April.
http://www.tubemapcentral.com/articles/roberts_theoretical_2014.pdf [accessed 09/11/2015]
Roberts, M.J., Newton, E.J., Lagattolla, F.D., Hughes, S., & Hasler, M.C. (2013). Objective versus
subjective measures of Paris Metro map usability: Investigating traditional octolinear versus allcurves schematic maps. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 71, pp 363-386.

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Vertesi, J. (2008). Mind the Gap: The London Underground map and users’ representations of urban
space. Social Studies of Science, 38, pp 7–33.
About the Authors:
Maxwell Roberts has a PhD in psychology from the University of
Nottingham and is a lecturer at the University of Essex. His research
interests include human inference personal web page is
www.tubemapcentral.com
Ida Vaeng graduated with a degree in psychology from the University
of Essex in 2015. The data here were collected as part of her finalyear dissertation.

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Data Visualisation Does Political Things
Joanna Boehnert
University of Westminster
j.boehnert@westminster.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.387

Abstract In this paper I advance the theory of critical communication design by
exploring the politics of data, information and knowledge visualisation in three
bodies of work. Data reflects power relations, special interests and ideologies that
determine which data is collected, what data is used and how it is used. In a review
of Max Roser’s Our World in Data, I develop the concepts of digital positivism,
datawash and darkdata. Looking at the Climaps by Emaps project, I describe how
knowledge visualisation can support integrated learning on complex problems and
nurture relational perception. Finally, I present my own Mapping Climate
Communication project and explain how I used discourse mapping to develop the
concept of discursive confusion and illustrate contradictions in this politicised area.
Critical approaches to information visualisation reject reductive methods in favour of
more nuanced ways of presenting information that acknowledge complexity and the
political dimension on issues of controversy.
Keywords: data visualisation; controversy mapping; datawash; discourse mapping

Introduction
Data visualisation makes big data and other information accessible and meaningful in ways
that reflect both the explicit intentions and the implicit assumptions of designers. Despite
efforts some designers make to be neutral and objective interpreters, all information design
is embedded with suppositions. When data visualisation illustrates trends and presents truth
claims it privileges certain perspectives. We all rely on accurate information that effectively
captures the complexity of contemporary conditions but neither data itself nor data
visualisations are politically neutral. Data reflects power relations, special interests and
ideologies in terms of which data is collected, what data is used and how it is used. In this
paper I will advance critically informed approaches to data visualisation. Due to the inherent
reductionism in data visualisation it can easily be used in ways that obscure complex

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Joanna Boehnert

phenomenon. For this reason, in many instances knowledge visualisation is a more effective
and honest approach. This is especially true on issues of controversy.
I explore these ideas by examining the politics of data, information and knowledge
visualisations in three bodies of work. Firstly Max Roser’s Our World in Data project presents
charts of economic, social and ecological phenomenon. Reviewing this work I develop the
concepts of digital positivism, datawash and darkdata. Next, Climaps by Emaps elegantly
captures the complexity of climate debates. With this work I describe and develop the
concepts of knowledge visualisation and relational perception. Finally I present my own
Mapping Climate Communication research. This work uses of systems and discourse
mapping to capture controversy in this politicised area. The three sets of work display highly
reductive methods (Roser) and then more nuanced and critically aware ways of presenting
information that acknowledge the political dimension on issues of controversy.

Theorising Critical Data Visualisation
In order to understand how meaning is constructed with data visualisation and what can go
wrong, it helps to theorise the various practices involved. Communication design selects and
orders information. Visualisations are interpretations that can only capture partial
information. Data visualisation is created in a process involving multiple decisions. The
decisions involving which data to collect, which data to illustrate, how to illustrate it and
where to illustrate it are decisions that reflect assumptions, unstated (often
unacknowledged) ideological perspectives and subjective judgments. With these choices,
some information will always be missing. Catherine D’Ignazio claims that
“Even when we rationally know that data visualizations do not represent ‘the whole
world’, we forget that fact and accept charts as facts because they are generalized,
scientific and seem to present an expert, neutral point of view” (2015, para.1).

For this reason data visualisation must be understood as “one more powerful and flawed
tool of oppression” (D’Ignazio 2015, para. 2). Data visualisation reveals certain phenomenon
while simultaneously concealing more complicated realities. In a world with dramatic power
imbalances, some people’s interests are represented at the expense of others.
Within data visualisation meaning is constructed by both the designer and the audience.
Cultural theorist and sociologist Stuart Hall (1973) describes how communication is encoded
by a producer and then decoded by an audience in ways that are processes of cultural
translation. In both instances, interpretations occurs. Designers construct data visualisation
by selecting relevant datasets and organising data to tell a particular story and to reveal
certain elements about a situation. Audiences decode data visualisation by interpreting the
visual strategies and codes according to cultural conventions and their own assumptions.
Approaching data visualisation critically involves recognising which story is being told and
also anticipating what stories are not told about the same situation. Why are some
perspectives communicated while others are not? Furthermore, it is necessary to consider

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Data Visualisation Does Political Things

how narrative, style and approach reflects on the content. The methods used to
communicate content matter in subtle ways that are not always clear.
Data visualisation often uses information encoded with numbers. Numerical data is an
abstract type of information captured with quantitative values. Identified elements are
counted with others of the same type in order to facilitate comparison with quantities of
different types. While this type of quantitative reasoning has obvious virtues, its hegemony
has dramatic consequences in the manner that the society is organised. Sociologist
Boaventura de Sousa Santos explains:
“To know means to quantify. Scientific rigour is gauged by the rigour measurement.
The intrinsic qualities of the object, so to speak, do not count, and are replaced by
quantities that can be translated. Whatever is not quantifiable is scientifically
irrelevant…[thus] the scientific method is based on the reduction of complexity” (2007,
p.18).

This reliance on quantitative reasoning flattens out all phenomena to what can be captured
by numbers. By reducing observable facts to numbers the “act of measurement loses more
information than it gains” (Wheatley 2006, p.65). Purely quantitative approaches to
information design often fail to capture power relations, ideologies, attitudes, motivations
and behaviours that cannot be reduced to a number.
For these reasons, data visualisation that is purely quantitative and numerical is often
reductionist and over-simplistic. Clearly empirical and quantitative methods are a necessary
foundation for analysis in many instances – but these modes of analysis are not the only way
of knowing relevant to complex and controversial problems. The dominance and overreliance on empirical and quantitative reasoning is problematic. Qualitative and critical
approaches often offer more nuanced understanding of the full set of relationships within
phenomena under investigation.
Digital methods and numerical data can give data visualisation an unwarranted veneer of
objectivity and legitimacy. Communication theorists Vincent Mosco (2014) and Christian
Fuchs (2015) describe how digital positivism advances a false certainty and an over-simplistic
understanding of how data mediates knowledge. Digital positivism refers to the ways that
digital methods can assume an authority associated with empirical work and the hard
sciences. Digital positivism prioritizes “quantitative over qualitative data, arguing that the
former provides the best opportunity for meaningful generalizations and that, when
necessary, qualitative states can be rendered qualitatively” (Mosco 2014, p.196). The danger
here is not only that complexity is reduced to numbers, but that the certain types of
knowledge are prioritised as the expense of others. This reductive approach results in
distorted meanings.
“It is uncertain what is worse: that big data treats problems thorough oversimplication or that it ignores those that require a careful treatment of subjectivity,
including lengthy observation, depth interviews, and appreciation for the social
production of meaning.” (Ibid., p.198).

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Data visualisation is all too often made with a digital positivist approach. Pretenses to
objectivity with numerical data can be deceptive. Digital positivism fosters a false sense of
epistemic certainty that can be a risky on issues of the environment, technology and science;
and unethical on issues of justice. Data displays embody values, perspectives, ideologies and
political propositions that are obscured by the authority of digital positivism. David Brookes
explains that
“data is never raw; it’s always structured according to somebody’s predispositions and
values. The end result looks disinterested, but, in reality, there are value choices all the
way through, from construction to interpretation... This is not to argue that big data
isn’t a great tool. It’s just that, like any tool, it’s good at some things and not at
others.” (2013, para. 14).

The data visualisations described below are examples the dangers of digital positivism. They
demonstrate why data visualisation must be approached critically.

Our World In Data
Our World in Data is a research project conducted by economist Max Roser at the Institute
for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. The project offers overviews of
global trends with dozens of charts and data visualisations on a wide variety of topics posted
on the project website. The website claims it is “visualising the empirical evidence” and the
headline over many charts reads: “an empirical view”. On May 10th 2015 Max Roser tweeted
“Declining Racial Violence in the US since 1882” (@MaxCRoser) and embedded a line chart
in the tweet displaying decreasing numbers of lynching in the United States over the past
century (figure 1). On Roser’s website there is a detailed bar chart on the number of
lynchings (figure 2). These charts are not a reliable summary of racial violence in the USA.
Roser has cherry picked particular datasets and then made a sweeping claim about racial
violence in America. By visualising antiquated data while ignoring more relevant data (such
as police killings of black people) these charts bolster a political perspective and serve a
particular narrative.
Activists mobilising to highlight police violence towards black and brown people claim that
racial killings have been systematically dismissed in the American justice system. The FBI
admits that it does not collect complete information on USA law enforcement police killings
and so these statistics are only collected by newspapers and activists organisations (Swaine
& Laughland 2015). Decisions with political implications have been made at all stages: the
necessary data is not counted by official bodies, the choice to use the lynching data to make
charts, the choice to label the chart as representative of racial violence, etc.

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Figure 1 ‘Declining Racial Violence’, Tweet by Max Roser, 10 May 2015 with embedded line chart.

Figure 2 ‘Lynchings in the United States, 1882-1969 – Max Roser’. Published online at
OurWorldInData.org. Note the ‘Empirical View’ headline.

This example is relatively easy to deconstruct (since work has been done to gather the
missing data on police killings and activists have politicised this issue). Representations of
the environment are also politicised but typically it is harder to identify exactly how these
hyper-complex issues are obscured in communication processes. For example, Figure 2
‘Global death rate from natural catastrophes (1900-2013)’ supposedly illustrates the
significant improvements in humankind’s capacity to survive natural catastrophes. The data
here could be accurate if the approach to data collection is very narrow in its boundary
conditions. Considering the ways that deteriorated environmental circumstances trigger
conflict and war and the current refugee crisis – how survival is defined and measured in the
wake of natural disasters must also be a contested issue. While the data could suggest that
there are more survivors of natural catastrophes per capita in the short term, more extreme
weather events are happening more often. The impact of climate de-stabilisation is already

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dramatic. The damage to livelihoods by extreme weather is a point of contention at yearly
United Nations climate conferences. Nations on the frontline of climate impacts fiercely
contest the narrative that natural catastrophes are less of a problem now than in the past
(as whole island disappear under the sea).

Figure 3 ‘Natural Catastrophes: Annual global death rate (per 100,000) per decade from natural
catastrophes, 1900-1913 – Max Roser’.

These charts can be understood as datawash. Datawash is a concept that refers to data
visualisation that conceals or obscures knowledge on issues of controversy. Datawash oversimplifies, cheery picks and de-contextualises information in order to present sweeping
claims that obfuscate (Boehnert 2015). The associated concept of darkdata refers to the fact
that what isn’t measured or tracked is often as important (or more) than what is (Corby
2015). Dark data is the missing data. Where certain data is not collected this is often due to
the epistemic and ideological assumptions of powerful constituencies – or simply where the
communication of certain data is blatantly against their interests. For example, in the case of
the charts above (figures 1 and 2), the darkdata is the dataset on police killings of black
people. In cases involving the environment, darkdata can be associated with ‘unintended’
consequences as the implications of new technologies and development are not investigated
and thus data on risks is missing.
The concepts of datawash and darkdata open discursive space by focusing attention on what
is obscured, neglected and unknown. Roser presents his work as ‘the empirical view’ (see
figure 3) but his favourite datasets are by no means the authoritative datasets. The datasets
he illustrates are those that suit his particular ideological perspective. It is worth repeating:
data is not neutral. It is instead an assemblage of infrastructures, laws, social discourses,
technologies and politics (Corby 2015). It reflects the concerns and interpretations of social
science research and the institutions that collect data. Data emerges
“from various social concerns and practices. It is informed by history, culture, and
society, and these help define, reproduce, and shape the use of this data. What interest
us here are the social and organizational conventions, values, and structures that provide

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the ‘infrastructure’ through which concepts like data and information are constructed
and gain legitimacy and power” (Rasanen & Nyce 2013, p.659)

Values, sensibilities and ideologies are reflected in choices about which data is collected and
selected, as well as the methods, media and styles used to communicate and use data.
Decisions to use data (in a plethora of different ways) serve political priorities and agendas
that must be recognised.

Climaps by Emaps
Climaps by EMAPS: A Global Issue Atlas of Climate Change Adaptation was a 3-year
collaborative project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. The
working group was coordinated by Sciences Po Paris. The Emaps working group published 33
issue-maps on climate change and the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference.
According to the Climaps by EMAPs summary report, the project was the largest yet
experiment with the method of controversy mapping:
“Controversy mapping is a research technique developed in the field of Sciences and
Technology Studies (STS) to deal with the growing intricacy of socio-technological
debates. Instead of mourning such complexity, it aims to equip engaged citizens to
navigate through expert disagreement. Instead of lamenting the fragmentation of
society, it aims to facilitate the emergence of more heterogeneous discussion forums”
(Venturini et al. 2014, p.1).

The figures below (4-8) illustrate themes in the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of all Parties (COP) negotiation process; top climate
issues according to the Internet; and funding priorities by various donor countries. The data
visualisations in this series illustrate patterns over time with visual strategies including
network visualisations, flow diagrams, treemaps, scatter plots, and other (often interactive)
emerging strategies.
We live in an information rich world but information alone does not necessarily lead to
understanding or the capacity to act in effective ways. For example, we have an abundance
of data on climate change but we have not created effective means to adapt much less
mitigate impacts of a de-stabilised climate system. Data visualisation on climate change does
not necessarily support effective action or politics to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Sometimes data driven methods can do more to obscure the problem than facilitate actual
solutions (datawash and darkdata facilitate this process). On the other hand, communication
design can and often does help audiences move from processing information to developing
deeper understanding and new capacities for action.
Knowledge visualisations aim to create deep and actionable understanding of new
information. According to information theory, there is a hierarchy of four categories of
communication: data, information, knowledge and wisdom:

“Data are the pure and simple facts without any particular structure or organization,
the basic atoms of information,

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Information is structured data, which adds meaning to the data and gives it context
and significance,

Knowledge is the ability to use information strategically to achieve one’s objectives,
and

Wisdom is the capacity to choose objectives consistent with one’s values and within
a larger social context” (Logan and Stokes 2004, pp.38–39 quoted in Logan 2014,
para. 35).

Communication and learning occurs at different levels. Data is reductive in that it is
composed of individual atomised elements. Knowledge is supported by understanding
context, relationships, patterns and interdependence. Knowledge visualisation
communicates trends while also supporting more integrated understanding that potentially
enables agency.
In the Climaps series, the visualisations support an overview of the issues. The issue maps
shift “the focus from single parts to the whole” and thereby enable “the perception of the
system as an integrated structure, and understanding which properties characterise the
whole system, rather than belonging to any one specific component” (Valsecchi, Ciuccarelli,
Ricci and Caviglia 2010, p.2). This approach engages relational perception or ecological
perception, i.e. the noticing of relations. (I use these two terms interchangeably as each has
connotations I would like to emphasize).
Relational / ecological perception refers to perceptual habits and ways of seeing that
emphasize relationships, context and patterns. Visual communication can be created with
the explicit intention of nurturing relational perceptual practices by focusing attention on
relationships. It is the focus of attention that “often means the difference between seeing
and not seeing” (Sewall 1995, p.204). Through repetition we develop “visual systems
structures, or neural networks, [which] determine our perceptual tendencies” (Ibid, p.207).
Typically we see what we think we are looking for and what our attention trains us to see
(Bateson 1972; Sewall 1995, 1999). In this way perceptual habits are culturally constructed;
they are a result of perceptual habits that are encouraged within a particular culture. This
understanding of the malleability of perception is significant for communication design.
Since perceptual attention and perceptual habits are a basis for our way of seeing, designers
have the potential to nurture changes in ways of seeing through directed selective attention
(Boehnert 2012, 2014, 2017).

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Figure 4 ‘Climaps by Emaps: Rise and Fall of Issues In UNFCCC Negotiations, 1995-2013’. Published
online http://climaps.eu.

Figure 5 ‘Climaps by Emaps’, Sectorial Specialization Of OECD Member Countries: Filter showing only
top donor country of each sector.

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Joanna Boehnert

Figure 6 ‘Climaps by Emaps: Sectorial Specialization Of OECD Member Countries’, Filter showing only
the top area of each donor country.

The Climaps project reveals patterns and offers an overview of climate change adaptation
debates. What is not evident here are the intense conflicts including outright contradictions
in this highly contentious area. Within climate communication the same language is often
used when referring to very different sets of interests and policy proposals. The meaning of
language on politicised issues such as climate change differs according to its context. For
example, the word ‘sustainability’ is often rendered virtually meaningless due to its use by
actors who do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Obfuscations in this
area have serious consequences. Policy is developed based on perspectives, interpretations
and ideologies. Currently policy on climate change enables industrial systems that are
undermining the stability of the climate system. My own work with controversy mapping has
lead me to believe that since ideologies, power relationships and contradictions are rarely if
ever evident in the available datasets, controversial issues cannot be effectively
communicated with data visualisation alone.

Figures 7-8 ‘Climaps by Emaps’, top 17 sub-issues and issues on the international climate change
issue agenda according to the web.

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Mapping Climate Communication
This project was created during my CIRES Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Science and
Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder. As the first
communication designer to work as a researcher in the social science wing of the
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences I was keen to demonstrate the
ways in which design methods could be used to address climate communication challenges.
The Mapping Climate Communication project offers an overview of how climate change is
communicated in the public realm. It contextualises actors, events, strategies, media
coverage and discourses influencing public opinion in ways that respond to some of the
most severe climate communication challenges. I used two primary visualisation methods: a
timeline and a network visualisation. The Climate Timeline visualises the historical processes
and events that have lead to the growth of various ways of communicating climate change.
The Network of Actors illustrates relationships between institutions, organisations and
individuals participating in climate communication in Canada, United States and the United
Kingdom. The large-scale knowledge visualisations and a Poster Summary Report were
published on-line October 2014. The mapping process serves to investigate the issues,
stimulate interest and build awareness. In this case it also serves as a conduit of theory.

Figure 9 ‘Mapping Climate Communication, No. 1 The Climate Timeline’, J.Boehnert, 2014

5.1 Research Question
My research proposal described a process that not only maps events, actors, discourses and
dynamics within this area but also harnessed design as a problem-solving practice to address
communication challenges. Clearly climate change is not a problem anyone can solve with a
communication design research project, but designers can attempt to identity problems and
address these with design methods, tools and practices. Unlike posters created to present
previously conducted research, this work uses design methods to explore the research
question:
How can this research facilitate collaboration, support learning, inform analysis and build
capacity within the climate communication community and beyond?

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Figure 10 ‘Mapping Climate Communication, No. 2 Network of Actors’, J.Boehnert, 2014

The problem this question addresses is obvious. Greenhouse gas emissions in North America
and abroad continue to rise despite the significant work by the climate science community
and the environmental movement over more than four decades. In what ways can
knowledge visualisation and mapping strategies help?
I spent several months gathering data on the history of climate communication and the
current major actors. This included working with Maxwell Boykoff’s media monitoring group
that captured data from 50 global newspapers for monthly mentions of ‘climate change’
over 15 years. During this time I refined my research question while investigating relevant
debates, actors and strategies. After an extensive review of the literature in this area and
consultations with climate communication researchers, I decided the most meaningful way
to organise the information was to contextualised it as much as possible within five major
discourses.

5.2 Background and Rationale: Discourse Mapping
Discourses are shared ways of understanding the world. They are also concepts that frame a
problem. Discourses provide the basic terms for analysis and define what is understood as
common sense and legitimate knowledge (Dryzek 2013, p.9). Diverse values, vested
interests, critical perspectives and insights are embedded within discourses. These both
reflect and construct attitudes towards the natural world and associated issues such as

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climate change. I identified five dominant climate discourses motivated by science (or not)
and ideology: climate science, climate justice, climate contrarian, neoliberalism and
ecological modernisation. Mapping these discursive positions illustrates similarities and
differences between various ways of communicating climate change. Discourse mapping is
an interpretative method that captures nuances and meaning while revealing the fluid
relationships between discourses as they relate to each other and change over time.
In this project climate communication refers to all of the ways in which public understanding
of climate change is developed through social communication processes. Since
communication happens at the level of rhetoric as well as the level of action, discourses in
this project include explicit messages on climate change and also messages that are implicit
within political, corporate and non-profit organisational activities and policy. In other words
it includes communication by omission, i.e. what is communicated by the denial or ignoring
of climate change in places where it is relevant.

Figure 11 ‘Network of Actors: placement of five discourses on the matrix’, J.Boehnert, 2014.

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Joanna Boehnert

Figure 12: ‘Environmental Discourses: a matrix of theories’, J.Boehnert, 2014. Placement of discourses
as characterised in other texts.

This approach reveals tensions in climate communication by exposing contradictions
between what was said and what was done about climate change. Using this approach I
developed the theory of discursive confusion and used visual strategies to illustrate it.
Discursive confusion describes a situation where there are contradictions between explicit
and implicit communication. Institutional actors claim that climate change is a serious threat
but continue to support carbon intensive development. Following debates over four decades
it is clear that obscuring rhetoric masks a lack of action. Since it is easier to say that lower
emissions are necessary than to do the political work that will make this possible, this
conflict between explicit and implicit messaging is important. The discursive confusion that
results from contradictory communication is theorised as central to the ongoing slow
progress (or according to some, a deadlock) in climate policy.

5.3 Methodology: Systems and Discourse Mapping
This project uses systems and discourse mapping to explore the research question. It is
inspired by system oriented design (Sevaldson 2013) and visual cognitive mapping (Horn
1998; 2001; 2005). Cognitive maps are tools for communicating complex, multi-dimensional
information that illustrate the “logical structure and visual structure of the emerging
arguments, empirical data, scenarios, trends and policy options... and help keep the big
picture from being obscured by the details” (Horn 2001, p.5). System mapping provides an

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overview of the whole and make complexity accessible with strategies that capture as much
meaningful information as possible while revealing hidden connections. System mapping
supports relational perception by illustrating a concern with relationships:
“The systems oriented designer is initially less concerned about hierarchies and
boundaries of systems and more interested in looking at vast fields of relations and
patterns of interactions. She is geared towards looking at as many interrelations as
possible and working with a ‘field-feel’ and holistic overview, while making details
accessible” (Sevaldson 2013, p.3).

System maps display the structure of complex issues and reflect on issues from a wide range
of perspectives. System mapping is a method well suited for environmental communication
since it can reveal relationships, patterns, dynamics and causality in complex socioecological-political systems. In these ways system mapping enables insights across
disciplines and sectors on hyper-complex issues.
In the Climate Timeline events are placed within the five discursive streams. The timeline
displays how the five discourses evolve over time. Quantitative data on media mentions of
climate change in over 50 global newspapers (visible in the bottom right figure 9 and figure
13) is mapped alongside events.

Figure 13: Detail of ‘The Climate Timeline’. Media monitoring: world newspaper coverage of climate
change or global warming. Monitoring 50 sources across 25 countries in 7 different
regions. This detail of the line graph displays data from the seven regions (7 coloured lines)
over a decade.

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Joanna Boehnert

Figure 14: Detail of the ‘Network of Actors’.

The accompanying Network of Actors (NoA) displays data on institutions, organisations and
individuals. The actors are contextualised by their placement on the matrix (figure 11, 12
and 14). The discourse analysis and mapping is interpretation based on rhetoric, alliances
and actions associated with each actor. Using visual codes the NoA also displays specific
information on each actor (relative to the type: funding, audience, internet presence, etc.).
In total six variables are illustrated for each actor:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

name
location (Canada, USA, UK)
discursive position: location n on framework + colour
relative influence: size of the circle
type of actor: circle circumference line (see legend: figure 15)
Internet traffic: width of circle circumference line (see legend: figure 15)

This work displays the wide variety of actors engaged with climate communication (twelve
types – see legend: figure 15) as well as the relationship of actors to each other and within a
discourse map.

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Figure 15: Detail of the ‘Network of Actors’. Actor types and Internet influence: coded circle nodes.
Displaying the 12 types of actors (circle style) and the Internet traffic of each actor (circle
circumference width).

Placement on the matrix was a qualitative judgment based on my interpretation of the
discourse emerging from this actor. This work displays the wide variety of actors engaged
with climate communication; the relationship of actors to each other and within five
discourses; and specific information on these actors (relative to the type of actor: funding,
audience, internet presence, etc.). It also opens discursive space for the marginalised climate
justice discourse by making space for these small but significant actors. I used timelines,
bubble charts, network visualisations, strategies maps and other strategies in the
construction of these posters. Combining quantitative comparisons and qualitative
interpretations made it possible to capture power relations in this politicised area.
The method was developed after experimenting with various data-driven approaches.
Overtime it became obvious that reducing the scope of the inquiry to variables that could be
collected and visualised with the available datasets, by means of algorithmic network
visualisation software (with accompanying reductive methods) failed to capture the
complexity of ideologies and power relations significant within climate communication. A
more subtle approach was necessary.
The maps explore the impact of neoliberal governance on climate communication. This
analysis reveals why emissions continue to rise despite the significant work by the climate
science community and the environmental movement over four decades. All three climate
discourses that acknowledge the need for dramatic emissions reduction (climate science,

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Joanna Boehnert

climate justice and ecological modernisation) must be aware of the ways in which the
neoliberal discourse appropriates their rhetorical positions. Neoliberal actors often use the
language of the environmental movement to gain and maintain legitimacy and public trust.
The danger here is that the climate movement’s work in creating awareness and policy
opinions responding to climate change is simply used as convenient rhetoric and public
relations messaging for continued and even exacerbated carbon intensive development.
Unfortunately, acting according to climate imperatives is difficult or even impossible within
the ideological scaffolding of the neoliberal political project. With these dynamics in mind, it
is evident that contrarians are not the only ones preventing action on climate change.

Conclusion
With an understanding of the malleability of perception (i.e. perceptual habits are learned
and culturally constructed) and the politics of representation (i.e. certain groups have more
power to create representations than others) truth-seeking visualisations must move
beyond the presentation of data as the foundation for analysis. Information design guru
Edward Tufte states that “excellence in presenting information requires mastering the craft
of spurning ideology” (1990, 35) – but all communication embodies ways of knowing,
perspectives and ideologies whether one is aware of our own ideological premises or not. In
many cases on issues of controversy, the most relevant fact is that powerful groups are able
to communicate perspectives that support their own ideological commitments and interests.
Data visualisations embody values, worldviews and ideologies that are reflected in which
data is collected and selected, as well as the methods, media and styles used to
communicate information. These decisions often serve political priorities and agendas. This
is especially true for politically loaded issues. Critical data visualisation and information
design questions what is being communicated and how it is communicated. The concepts of
digital positivism, datawash and darkdata are building blocks for critical information design
literacy. Obviously quantitative data displays have value – but power and ideology hide
behind the presentation of data such that some interests are presented and others are
obscured. Articulating the limits of data visualisation opens discursive space for more
nuanced approaches such as knowledge visualisation. With this awareness designers can
support knowledge transfer and avoid de-contextualised over-simplified datawash that
serves a highly ideological function while appearing to deliver only the facts.
Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Maxwell Boykoff and to the Cooperative Institute
for Research in Environmental Sciences for the opportunity to spend a year as a CIRES
Visiting Research Fellow. I would also like to thank the AHRC for the funding my PhD at
the University of Brighton and Jonathan Chapman and Julie Doyle for their support as
my supervisors.

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About the Author:
Dr. Joanna Boehnert is a Research Fellow in Graphic Design at
CREAM, University of Westminster. She completed an AHRC funded
PhD in 2012 at the University of Brighton. She is writing a book titled
Design/ Ecology/ Politics and tweets as @ecolabs and @ecocene.

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The information designer through the lens of design
for learning
Eden Potter
AUT University, New Zealand
eden.potter@aut.ac.nz
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.490

Abstract: All effective information design helps people to access, understand, and
use information, but not all information design is intended to help people learn. This
paper examines instructional design—the activity of creating and developing learning
experiences that meet learners’ needs—and places it as a lens through which to
identify the key skills and personal attributes that information designers need to
succeed in their field.
Keywords: Information designer; Instructional designer; Skills; Attributes

Introduction
Instructional design uses information design to help people learn. Like all forms of
information design, its outputs need to be accessible and usable, and it must meet people’s
needs. Instructional design creates experiences for learners that promote behavioural and
cognitive change.
In this paper, I examine both the high-level content design and the visual design aspects of
instructional design to evaluate the information designer’s role in designing educational
experiences for people. First, I discuss findings from an investigation into instructional
designers’ roles, workflow, collaborative activities, skills, and personal qualities. For this I
conducted two separate semi-structured, face-to-face interviews to elicit the opinions and
attitudes of instructional design practitioners—a senior instructional design consultant and a
graphic designer who has worked in instructional design. Since these were both ‘expert
interviews’ from the perspective of practitioners with two very different skill sets, a broader
survey was unnecessary (Muratovski, 2015, p. 61). Interview data were coded and
categorized, and then compared with information design and instructional design literature
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Eden Potter

to suggest which general ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills and attributes are essential for an
information designer to possess.

The situation
The interdisciplinary approach from which information design has emerged means that
many fields claim ‘information design’ as a core activity. Some of these are data
visualization, interaction design, technical communication, user experience design, and
instructional design. With such a range of fields, many still at a relatively nascent stage,
definitions of information design vary widely. This is in part due to the personal biases and
backgrounds of those adopting the title ‘information designer’ to describe what they do
(Albers, 2003, p. 3; Redish, 2000, p. 163). Practitioners—including instructional designers—
tend to adopt an identity around the practices and processes within their field.
In 2003, Beth Mazur suggested that “information design is in motion” (p. 33), with research
and professional activities shaping the discipline and how it is defined. In 2016, increasing
globalization and the rate of technological change means that information design is still on
the move. Information designers recognize that people are using technology differently than
they did 10 years ago. Mobile devices, cloud computing, and Web 2.0 offer designers new
opportunities and challenges (Carliner, 2009, p. 130). Globalization has created a need for
international information products, so designers must be even more aware of cultural
preferences and perceptions when designing for various audiences. Information designers’
on-the-job challenges are more complicated, because new trends are appearing, and
designers’ essential skills are becoming more extensive (Zaballero, A.G., Tutaleni, I. A. &
Briskin, J., 2015, para. 1).
As information designers’ core competencies evolve, designers in some fields are suggesting
they redefine their job title and roles (Moss, 2014). In instructional design, a growing
number believe that the job title ‘instructional designer’ no longer represents their roles and
responsibilities. A recent study showed that 31 per cent of instructional designers surveyed
thought that a more generalist title would reflect their additional roles in organizational
development, coaching, and communications (Zaballero, A.G., Tutaleni, I. A. & Briskin, J.,
2015, para. 3). Others are using the term ‘learning experience designer’ (or LX designer).
Instructional design author and critic, Connie Malamed advocates using this title. She claims
it is more user-centric, that it suggests ‘learning’ rather than ‘instruction’, and that it puts
more emphasis on designing experiences than designing things (Malamed, 2015). But
despite changing roles and nomenclature, particular skills and personal attributes are critical
to being a successful information designer. This paper examines these using the ‘lens’ of
instructional design.

Instructional design: models, stages and products
Design fields that use information design, such as user experience/user interface design and
technical communication employ user-centred design to understand the needs of people

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who will use their products, and to guide the design process. User-centred design focuses on
understanding a particular audience’s attitudes, behaviours, environment, needs, and goals.
It also involves testing and evaluating how people interact with a given design product with
the aim of optimizing its performance. It is a multidisciplinary, iterative process of initial
project planning, understanding the user context, identifying user requirements, designing
potential solutions, and testing and evaluating the design against user needs and
requirements (Zaharias & Poulymenakou, 2006, p. 89). Examples of user-centred approaches
to information design include formalized models for testing and measuring a design
artefact’s performance (Sless, 2004, p. 5; Tyers, 2008, p. 204; Nini, p. 4), and user testing to
develop internal information products within public sector agencies (Martin, Gregor & Rice,
2008).
Instructional design draws on user-centric models to guide the process. Out of all of the
Instructional Systems Design (ISD) models used to design learning solutions, ADDIE (Analyze,
Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) is regarded as one of the most effective and
responsive (Branch, 2009, p. 1). Although some criticize ADDIE as being staid and formulaic,
(Hokanson, B., Miller, C., & Hooper, S. 2007), while others argue that its solutions are
imposed upon, rather than designed with learners (Carr-Chellman & Savoy, 2004, p. 702),
ADDIE remains a starting point for other ISD models (ADDIE model, n.d.). ADDIE is
comparable to other user-centric information design models with its focus on the user, and
their performance in a given task. However, with instructional design, the content, and how
this meets learning outcomes is the most important factor (E. Vella, personal
communication, 21 October, 2015).
Like other user-centric information design fields, instructional design involves knowing what
information the audience needs and how they will use it to achieve their goals. Information
design activities are team-based, where internal and external stakeholders and subject
matter experts contribute to the process. The term ‘instructional design’ encompasses the
end-to-end process involving these stakeholders, not only the visual execution aspects in
much the same way that ‘service design’ describes the design of an organization’s service
components and experiences.
The following section discusses instructional design outcomes, and elaborates on the design
team’s structure and key roles. This provides a context for my findings about the essential
skills and personal qualities of an information designer.

3.1 What instructional design produces
Some instructional design outcomes are designed for an educational setting; for example,
teaching manuals and student guides, full course materials, entire curricula for face-to-face
instruction, online distance education, or blended courses. Many instructional design
consultancies work in the corporate sector—for financial, retail, manufacturing, and
agribusiness clients—or in the government sector.

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In commercial and government environments, instructional design resources include
(“Services,” n.d.):









paper based study resources
e-learning modules
online games
m-learning (mobile learning) solutions
quick reference guides
inductions
training courses
animated communications
webinars
information graphics

The instructional design consultant I interviewed suggested that company induction
resources made up 40 to 50 per cent of the commissioned projects she and her team work
on (E. Vella, personal communication, 21 October, 2015). Three-yearly changes to
organizational policies and processes, as well as new people coming on board create
demand for induction material. These are mainly e-learning modules. Apart from product
systems training programmes for institutions like banks, there is little information
documentation produced, because most organizations already have them in-house. Instead,
they “deal more with the tools and instructions that send people off to those resources” (E.
Vella, personal communication, 21 October, 2015).
One of the tools described during the interview was a product systems training programme.
This was designed to help bank employees to learn the processes involved in dealing with
transactions, separating customer’s money, and understand the journey that money takes
through the bank and back to customers. Scoping and analysis indicated that bank staff
needed to understand how their individual accuracy and system use on the job had impact
on other employees’ roles. The instructional design team broke down the various processes
and tailored the systems training components into quick reference, succinctly worded
information products that worked to troubleshoot on-the-job situations. A series of elearning modules and animations supported the tools.
Another information product, induction resources are not role specific. A New Zealand
government agency needed to help new employees to understand the scope and breadth of
their activities (the big picture), build anticipation about their new job while showing them
where they fitted in, and cover compliance issues such as codes of conduct. Three e-learning
modules were developed. The first was a welcome module, where employees shared their
experiences. The second module aimed to help new employees to understand the
organizational structure. Instead of a ‘where do I fit in?' structure diagram, the instructional
design team produced a narrative ‘roadmap’ in live action and animated video form,
showing the government agency’s touchpoints that a customer might interact with, using
quiz style information. The third module was scenario-based, where an array of social and

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workplace situations took users through what were and were not acceptable codes of
conduct. A planner outlining the new employee’s larger induction journey supported these
modules.

3.2 Key stages in an instructional design project
ANALYSIS

For any instructional design project regardless of the model used, the first stage is analysis.
This is critical to the project’s success (“How we work,” n.d., para. 15). Often learning design
consultancies are commissioned to do some training needs analysis; working out where an
organization’s staff need to be, and comparing this to what they can do now. Other times,
there will be an initial meeting with the client to gain a sense of what they need (E. Vella,
personal communication, 21 October, 2015).
This is followed by a couple of scoping meetings, where project managers, instructional
designers, a subject matter expert, and client stakeholders will determine the following:



learning needs
objectives and outcomes
learners’ experience
scope and scale of this project—whether it’s a ‘just in time’ solution, or a longlasting one
 deliverables and their possible components
 budget
After the analysis phase is completed, a project plan brings together all the information
gathered in the discovery phase. This can be described as “the scaffold of your solution” (E.
Vella, personal communication, 21 October, 2015). It includes “what we’ve captured in
terms of what the deliverables are, what the objectives are and what needs to be covered
under each of those objectives, and how we’ll do it”. Once the client signs off the project
plan, the design phase starts.
DESIGN

For e-learning module  Draft 1: initial high level storyboards of all deliverables in
PowerPoint  client sign off  Draft 2: full draft of the solution with all content, scripts,
and visual design applied, created using authoring tools such as Storylines or html  client
signs off draft to go to development phase (feedback meetings or document tracked
changes).
For paper-based learning resources  Draft 1: initial high level in Microsoft Word 
editing and proofing  client sign off  Draft 2: full draft of the solution with all content
and applying visual design and branding using InDesign, or Word, depending on the project
 client signs off draft to go to production phase (feedback meetings or document tracked
changes).

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Eden Potter

Sign-off involves feedback meetings or document tracked changes. Depending on the
changes involved, there may be more feedback loops than detailed above.
DEVELOP

Using an iterative process, programmers work closely with subject matter experts to develop
the content assets into the finished resource. They then conduct performance testing.
IMPLEMENT

This is a client hand-over phase, where online and print publishing, and workshop facilitation
happens (“How we work,” n.d., para. 24). Instructional design consultancies may also give
assistance with an organization’s Learning Management System.
EVALUATE

Clients are interested in their return on investment and how effective the learning resource
is. As well as assessing each design stage, learning design consultancies evaluate learner
performance after the resource is implemented, and coach their clients’ in-house evaluators
(“How we work,” n.d., para. 27).

3.3 Project teams and stakeholders in the instructional design process
Multidisciplinary teams are integral to the successful development of an instructional design
solution. Technical communicators spend between 20 and 80 per cent of their time working
in teams through a variety of roles and specializations (Hart & Conklin, 2006). Instructional
design teams include instructional designers, editors, online and print developers, graphic
designers, and IT support.
In the learning design consultancy I examined, project managers act as team leaders, and
each key project is assigned a project manager. Senior consultants project manage much of
the work, with a couple of other instructional designers taking on project management work
as well. All project managers are also instructional designers, yet at the instructional
designer level, roles are not strictly demarcated:
We’re all doing the work, it’s just there are a few key people who are mainly managing
the project, but we kind of divvy it all up evenly and at any one time one of us could be
managing a large portion of small projects, or it’s all one massive one and three
smaller ones” (E. Vella, personal communication, 21 October, 2015).

Baehr (2015, p. 116) claims technical communicators’ ability to manage complexity in
general makes them good organizational team leaders. This means instructional designers
can easily move into managerial or team leadership roles within their consultancy.
Although project managers act as quality control, there is fluidity in the working process and
lines of communication in the design phase. Project managers and instructional designers
consult with the graphic design team, editors, and online developers about the solution’s
feasibility at early draft stages. Not all client liaison needs to go through project managers,
however. Instructional designers sometimes work directly with clients to prepare the full
draft.

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The graphic designer’s role in instructional design projects is primarily execution at the end
of the design process. This means taking what the instructional designers has drafted,
applying the client’s brand identity, and ensuring the design is clean, clear, and makes sense.
A former graphic designer at a learning design consultancy claims:
…because we had the instructional designers acting as the project managers and the
key contact with the clients, usually it had all been sort of locked down by the time it
came to the graphic design team and our role was really just the design work… We
would go back if we felt like this content’s too wordy to fit here, or we need to simplify
this, or we need to do something with this diagram, but generally our role was
executing (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015).

If some work does not need an instructional designer’s input—like amendments or ‘raw’
graphic design—it is passed directly to the graphic design team to manage.
In the instructional design process, subject matter experts are brought in at the initial
scoping stage, and are consulted throughout the design process (E. Vella, personal
communication, 21 October, 2015). This entails collecting the information from the subject
matter experts and consulting with them throughout the entire design process to check
factual and contextual accuracy (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015).
Working with clients involves, ‘bringing them with you’ so that they understand the process
and the designers’ advice. At the same time, instructional designers must listen to clients
and take their feedback on board (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015).
Branch (2009, pp. 16–17) suggests that working with subject matter experts in an ethically
sound manner—representing their ideas accurately in the finished product, respecting the
value of their time, and acknowledging their contributions—builds cooperation and
partnership. Prioritizing the subject matter experts’ concerns can also be challenging for the
design team. Designers need to be patient with subject matter experts to draw what they
need from them (personal communication, 16 October, 2015). Subject matter experts focus
on the detail; they typically can’t see the big picture in terms of content. They may regard all
of what they tell you as being equally important (Bean, 2014).
The way a design team works with their client or primary stakeholders often determines a
project’s success. Instructional design teams provide a service for clients and stakeholders,
while subject matter experts and other content specialists are partners in the design
process, working with the design and development team (Branch, 2009, p. 15).

Essential skills and qualities for an information designer to have
The following section outlines the personal qualities and skills that contribute to an
information designer’s success in producing effective information design outcomes. The
focus is on what they know and can do, as well as their ‘soft’ skills and attributes.

4.1 An information designer’s practical skills
BEING ABLE TO ASK QUESTIONS

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Information designers must ask the right questions at the right time when talking with
subject matter experts and clients. The range of subjects that information designers often
work with is vast, so designers need to understand what they’re working with (O. Tomlinson,
personal communication, 10 July, 2014) and be willing to move from the process of not
knowing to knowing. Sometimes this also means asking the ‘dumb’ questions when you’re
trying to understand something: “If you’re assuming stuff you can’t do a good job” (I. Parry,
personal communication, 16 October, 2015).
COMMUNICATION SKILLS

This includes excellent verbal, written, and visual skills to communicate with the client,
stakeholders, and your audience (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015). It
means having the "skill to not only listen but also synthesize what's being said" (Zaballero,
A.G., Tutaleni, I. A., & Briskin, J., 2015, para. 5).
BEING MULTI - SKILLED AND AGILE

Information designers need to be adaptive, resourceful, and agile. They are multi-specialists
who perform diverse roles (Baehr, 2015). At an individual level, it helps to have “mental
agility to be able to switch between things, and remember what’s been said…” (E. Vella,
personal communication, 21 October, 2015).
ABILITY TO ORGANIZE AND STRUCTURE INFORMATION

This is “the practical skill of going: this goes with that” (E. Vella, personal communication, 21
October, 2015), and “learning to scaffold information in its purest form” through written and
visual editing (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015).
PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS

Information designers must “be good with numbers and to be really clear about who’s doing
what at what time in the project” (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015). This
is particularly important as designers move into hybrid roles through organizational change
(Baehr, 2015).

4.2. An information designer’s personal qualities
EMPATHY

Having empathy in information design practice means, “recognising what it feels like to not
understand, and to be confused and overwhelmed” (I. Parry, personal communication, 16
October, 2015), while overcoming your own prejudices, affinities, and needs (Albers, 2003,
pp. 7–8). Empathy means having a “shared deep connectedness” with people who will use
the information and being aware of people’s barriers to learning, “enabling people to seek
the information they want in the way they can” (E. Vella, personal communication, 21
October, 2015). It is understanding “how people will interpret our designs, seeing the world
through their eyes” (O. Tomlinson, personal communication, 10 July, 2014). Empathy in

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design, defined as a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are
designing for” (IDEO, 2009, p. 89), is critical to user-centred design.
CURIOSITY

Being curious is where it starts for many information designers. In practice, this means being
curious about:
 the situation – “asking why over and over again, and being really curious about
this information and who needs to use it and what they need to use it for.
Really getting curious about that scenario” (E. Vella, personal communication,
21 October, 2015).
 other people – “I’m endlessly interested and curious about other people’s
jobs” (E. Vella, personal communication, 21 October, 2015).
 the world – including other fields, people, influences, and phenomena
(Raymer, 2013, para. 13), because “nobody can do their job removed from
what’s happening around us” (E. Vella, personal communication, 21 October,
2015).
HUMILITY

Information designers should not believe that their job is “to fix the scenario for people” (I.
Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015). Frascara (2010) echoes this viewpoint,
claiming that he doesn’t believe that designers can solve problems, only reduce them.
PATIENCE

When working with clients and subject matter experts, designers need to be patient with the
process that takes them from not understanding to understanding, logically working through
until you gain clarity (I. Parry, personal communication, 16 October, 2015).
CULTURAL AWARENESS

With increased globalization and internationalization through technological advances, “…it is
no longer sufficient to design based on one's cultural prism or in favor of a dominant culture.
Training programs are now consumed cross-culturally and must be designed to respect other
cultures” (Zaballero et al, 2015, para. 7). Increasingly, information products need to be
localized—altered so that they can be used internationally, or globalized—created so that
they don’t need to be modified for other cultural contexts (Hoft, 1995, p.18).
CREATIVITY

Bean (2014) and Malamed (in Raymer, 2013, para. 9) regard instructional designers as
creative practitioners in the way they pull the user in, tell compelling stories, and engage
people to help them to remember information and learn.

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Discussion and conclusion
This paper investigated the skills and personal qualities needed to be successful as an
information designer, by focussing on the instructional design field and identifying skills and
attributes that are common and general for practice.
An information designer’s skill that did not appear in the research was competence with
digital technologies. Carliner (2003, p. 39) has identified a shift in the field, increasingly
moving from a focus on tools to a focus on content; this may explain the low priority on
technological skill acquisition.
I suggest that well-developed ‘soft’ skills are essential for an information designer. In a
recent study of key instructional design skills, ‘soft’ skills were ranked as the most important
(Zaballero, A.G., Tutaleni, I. A. & Briskin, J., 2015, para. 5). These include being a life long
learner, knowing instructional design methods, principles, and adult learning theory, and
being an excellent multimodal communicator. Information designers need to be curious
about—and interested in—people. Information designers must know how and when to ask
questions, and yet be humble enough to not be the ‘expert’. Creativity is less important, but
without it, information design solutions are less likely to engage and delight.
A key personal quality was found to be empathy; the most commonly identified personal
attribute in this research. Having empathy helps information designers to ‘step into the
shoes’ of their target audience, to understand them better, and to make ethical decisions.
User-centred design is underpinned by designers’ ability to orient their thinking and process
towards people’s needs. An empathetic approach improves designers’ awareness of cultural
considerations. It encourages information designers to care about the effects of their work,
and to help their audiences reach a place of understanding.

References
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About the Author:
Eden Potter is an information designer and design educator. She
teaches on the Communication Design degree at AUT University,
New Zealand, where her research interests include information
design, branding, and design for learning.

2392

A user centred approach to developing an actionable
visualisation for ‘balance health’
Shruti Grovera*, Simon Johnsonb, Ross Atkina and Chris Mcginleya
a

Helen Hamlyn Center for Design
British Red Cross
*shruti.grover@network.rca.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.330

b

Abstract: More than a third of people over the age of 65 fall every year in the UK
(Department of Health, 2009). General gait problems and weakness are amongst the
most common specific precipitating causes for falls. (Rubenstein, 2006). Qualitative
research conducted by the investigators (Jan - May 2014) indicates that people do
not consider balance health to be an actionable component of their overall health.
This is because they do not have the vocabularies or tools to objectively define it on
an everyday basis.
We designed an application which can be used to quantify postural sway in the home
setting, and conducted a drawing study to explore visual perceptions of balance. The
emerging forms were used as inspiration to develop three categories, which
communicate four core attributes in different ways. The aim is to distill an elegant
information strategy, which can lead to balance health being considered as
actionable rather than unalterable.
Keywords: human centred design; preventative healthcare ; provocation; visual literacy

Introduction
How is your balance? Would you say you are a clumsy person or do you have the stability of
a ballerina? Can you simply define it as good or bad? If yes, then is it consistently good or
consistently bad? Have you noticed it changing in the past few years?, , Pertinent questions
such as these rarely feature within conventional health conversations. Balance or the
symmetry of muscle control is a separate actionable component of an individual’s health. It
is also one which gradually “declines with age due to lack of use” (Kate Sheehan,
Occupational Therapist, personal communication, October 2013).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Shruti Grover, Simon Johnson, Ross Atkin and Chris Mcginley

Tracking the gradual decline in balance can be achieved through the measurement of
‘postural sway’ (PS). PS is defined as the phenomenon of constant displacement and
correction of the position of the centre of gravity within the base of support during quiet
standing. It reflects the interplay between destabilising forces acting on the body, and
actions by the postural control system to prevent a loss of balance. Hence, balance
impairments caused by altered sensory, motor, or central nervous function related to such
factors as older age and pathology (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy) are
reflected in altered characteristics of postural sway. Two independent factors have been
found to explain 92% of the variance in 14 time-and frequency-domain measures across
59,049 simulations of postural sway. One factor is sway amplitude, the other is sway velocity
(Pavol, 2005).
Over the course of the past two years, we have designed an iOS application that uses an
accelerometer in a smart phone to compute postural sway and give feedback in the form of
four attributes which define the Balance Footprint of an individual. This paper presents the
background to the field of balance quantification; the journey of the development of this
application; introduces the reader to the results of a quantitative study wherein we defined
the said attributes; finally the paper concludes by presenting three categories of
visualisations, which can lead to balance being considered as an actionable component of
health.

Background
2.1 The context of balance health
Balance is an essential component of our health, and contributes to the occurrence of falls.
According to the Department of Health’s (2009) study more than a third of people over the
age of 65 fall every year in the UK and those who fall once are two or three times more likely
to fall again. Falls represent over half of hospital admissions for accidental injury, particularly
hip fracture (Department of Health, 2009). Half of those with hip fracture never regain their
former level of function and one in five die within three months. Falling in older age can lead
to increased anxiety and depression, reduced activity, mobility and social contact, higher use
of medication and greater dependence on medical and social services and other forms of
care. Of those older people who enter falls prevention programs, most do so only after they
have fallen, by which time they may have suffered serious consequences (AgeUK, 2012).
Primary prevention of falls is a neglected research subject in the UK as “a lot of the NHS
delivered care currently relates to rehabilitating someone who has already fallen, so there is
massive gap around evidence base regarding primary prevention of falls in older people,
whether that be young older or oldest old.” (Sarah Teague, Clinical Lead for falls and bone
health, CLCH NHS, personal communication, October 2013)

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2.2 Current balance quantification practices
In the research setting, Force Platforms are validated devices to quantify a person’s Postural
Sway. Force platforms or force plates are measuring instruments that measure the ground
reaction forces generated by a body standing on or moving across them, to quantify balance,
gait and other parameters of biomechanics. Advancements in technology have allowed force
platforms to take on a new role within the kinetics field. Traditional laboratory-grade force
plates cost (usually in the thousands) have made them very impractical for the everyday
clinician. However, Nintendo introduced the Wii Balance Board (WBB) in 2007 and changed
the structure of what a force plate can be. By 2010, it was found that the WBB is a valid and
reliable force plate when directly compared to the "gold-standard" laboratory-grade force
plate, while costing less than $100 (Clark, Bryant, Pua, McCrory, Bennell & Hunt, 2010); this
has been verified in both healthy and clinical populations. (Holmes, Jenkins, Johnson, Hunt &
Clark, 2013) (Hubbard, Pothier, Hughes & Rutka,2012). Force platforms traditionally
generate stabilograms, while plot the time-varying coordinates of the Centre of Pressure
(COP) (Collins & De Luca, 1993), medial lateral (MP, side to side) and anterior posterior (AP)
displacement (forward and backward) is plotted along x and y axis respectively [Figure 1].

Figure 1: Typical 30-s stabilogram for a healthy young individual during quiet standing

Traditionally, the Wii displays the postural data to the user in the form of “Centre of
Balance” results [Figure 2], it also conveys information about their symmetry [Figure 3].

Figure 2 and 3: Screenshots from Wii Balance Board

Physiotherapists who want to create a posturagraphic system based on the balance board
prefer the data to be showed in more traditional ways. [Figure 4] shows US patent
20140081177 A1 for a stabilometric system that uses a “balance platform to detect
problems in the vestibular system via data capture, data visualisation and mathematical
analysis of data.” (Patent US20140081177)

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Figure 4: Selected images from Patent submission for US patent 20140081177 A1

In the clinical setting, the Berg Balance Scale [Figure 5] is the most commonly used
assessment tool across the continuum from acute care to community-based care (Blum &
Korner-Bitensky, 2008). The BBS is a 14-item scale that quantitatively assesses balance and
risk for falls in older community-dwelling adults through direct observation of their
performance (Berg, Wood-Dauphine´, Williams & Maki, 1992). The scale requires 10 to 20
minutes to complete and measures the patient’s ability to maintain balance—either
statically or dynamically while performing various functional movements—for a specified
duration of time. The items are scored from 0 to 4, with a score of 0 representing an inability
to complete the task and a score of 4 representing independent item completion. A global
score is calculated out of 56 possible points. Scores of 0 to 20 represent balance impairment,
21 to 40 represent acceptable balance, and 41 to 56 represent good balance.
For an active individual, the BBS is too simple (Blum & Korner-Bitensky, 2008). A systematic
review that comments on the absolute reliability of the Berg Balance Scale among people
with moderately poor to normal balance concludes, that the Berg Balance Scale has
acceptable reliability, although it might not detect modest, clinically important changes in
balance in individual subjects (Downs, Marquez, & Chiarelli, 2013) and since is dependent on
the visual assessment of the test conductor, it does not provide a granular picture of the
distribution of balance along medial lateral and anterior posterior axis.

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Figure 5: Sample from Berg balance scale

A human centred approach to making balance actionable
3.1 Researching the personal context
Project balance was started in October 2013. In November 2013, we conducted nine expert
interviews with Fall Clinicians and Falls Experts in the UK. According to our experts, balance
health was an issue under-represented in the public sphere - “Most people don’t know
about loss of balance unless they have someone who is friend or a family member who takes
a fall and suddenly they become aware of the issue” (Patricia Moore, Gerontologist,
Industrial Designer, personal communication, October 2013). It is “one those things, which
we assume is going to be there, but as soon as you stop using the muscles, you lose them.”
(Kate Sheehan, Occupational Therapist, personal communication, October 2013).
Along with the lack of public knowledge, there is stigma associated with falling in later life,
which leads to an estimated that “70 – 80% of falls going unreported”, (Sarah Teague,
Gerontologist, Clinical Lead for falls and bone health, Central London Community Healthcare
NHS Trust personal communication, October 2013), nevertheless falls account for 40% of UK
ambulance call-outs, with the variable proportion being conveyed to hospital accounting for
one in ten Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) attendances of the over 75s, a third
of whom are admitted, thus comprising about 14% of emergency admissions (Martin, 2009),
“often people don't report since it has got a labelling of no longer being able to stay at home

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or because they no longer want to ask for help” (Sarah Teague, personal communication,
October 2013).
In January 2014, we set about the task of researching the personal context for balance for
the 51-70 year olds. We focused on women as they are at higher risk for falls and developing
a fear of falling (World Health Organisation, 2008). Our research began by conducting a
series of ethnographic interviews with members of the ‘Stable and Steady’ exercise classes
at Earls Court. These initial interviews lead us to design a quant-qual research methodology
(Grover, Atkin, McGinley, 2015) which aimed to understand the participant’s awareness of
and attitudes towards ‘Balance Health.’ and how it features in their daily lives. The research
process was human centred, with the participants being considered as collaborators and
contributors to the process and the outcome.
Our quant-qual research methodology contained two design provocations focused on
balance health; a design provocation can be defined as a physical or digital object intended
to produce a non scripted, primary and emotive response from a participant. Concepts
designed as provocations are not end results but a method of enquiry, which can be used at
any stage in the design process. A good provocation increases the capability of the
participant to engage in the area of subject inquiry by making it personal and relevant (Helen
Hamlyn Centre for Design, 2010).
Our first provocation focused on static balance and getting participants to reflect upon –
‘How is my balance?’. We designed an android application and a belt. The phone was
strapped on to the ankle of users, who were asked to balance on one leg, while the
application took readings of the the standard deviation in angular orientation of the phone
and produced a single number or a ‘diagnosis’ [Figure 6]. This result was mapped on to a
scale, which contained measurements of all those who had been tested previously.
Our second provocation focused on dynamic balance and getting participants to reflect
causally, ‘What role does balance play in my everyday activities?’ Participants were
encouraged to cross the obstacle course by placing alternate feet in step (tandem walk),
while answering questions designed to gauge the role of balance as they go about their daily
routines [Figure 7]. By engaging their cognition and reducing their base of support, the
intent was to recreate daily life movements (like shopping in a supermarket) in a lab setting.

Figure 6: Static balance provocation, getting participants to reflect upon ‘How is my balance?’

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Figure 7: Dynamic balance provocation, getting participants to reflect upon ‘What role does balance
play in my everyday activities?’

All our participants had difficulty with our first provocation (i.e. quantified single leg stands).
A 60 year old expressed clear surprise at this stating “I’m very shaky, and I used to be very
good at this sort of thing, and this is what is bothering me right now. Because I did
everything, ballet, yoga and all.” Upon completion of our second provocation, five
participants identified compromised balance as impacting their activities of daily living, with
crowds and stairs being described major concerns by four out of the cohort of six.
Our primary findings were:
 Balance health is unrelated to activity levels (steps)
 Unless there was a clear culprit like a sprain or a bunion, general balance
health was considered an abstract construct in the minds of our cohort
 Balance health was not considered to be an actionable component of overall
health
 Participants had a limited vocabulary to describe their balance health using
words like “unsteady”, “wobbly”, “clumsy”
 Participants were unaware of tools to objectively define their balance
A literature review indicated that while there is accumulating evidence around structured
exercise aiding in independent living by maintaining postural stability (balance), strength,
endurance, bone density and functional ability (Skelton, 2001); in rehab scenarios, progress
is slow with repetitive exercises required over a sustained period of time. Hence, after a fall,
there is no ‘silver bullet’ for improving balance.

3.2 Aim of Project Balance
After the eight week qualitative trial, the focus of our project became to develop a home
usage diagnostics-therapeutic device. This would firstly, encourage a better understanding
of ‘Balance Health,’ or the symmetry of muscle control over the lifetime of an individual, by
quantifying and tracking changes (diagnosis). Secondly, it would act as a motivation and
adherence tool (therapeutic) to keep participants engaged in a long- term exercise program.
Our hypothesis being, that tracking would reduce the chances of a sudden fall, and reduce

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the stigma of impaired balance by making balance an actionable, rather than an unalterable,
component of health.

3.3 Co-designing the device
Between April 2014 and May 2014, the team developed three prototypes which could
quantify postural sway. Prototypes have been found to support collaborative analysis and
collaborative design. While functional, all our devices were designed to be ‘blank canvases’
to allow for co-design with users. The first a wearable, which could be tied around the thigh,
the second a home usage balance platform, and the third was an iteration of our static
balance provocation, an application which used the accelerometer in a smart phone [Figure
8].

Figure 8: Balance prototypes L to R; Wearable, the Balance platform and Phone application

We presented these prototypes to our cohort as part of our co-design workshop [Figure 9].
The ease of use and portable nature of a phone application was pointed out as the best
medium for our concept by the participants.

Figure 9: Co-design workshop

Post-workshop, we developed a belt, which could keep the prototype stable against the
lower back and added audio to give instructions to the user.
When the accelerometer detected that it was stable, it began a countdown to prompt the
user to adopt a single-leg and the began to record the phones angular orientation in space,
along the x (ML) and z (AP) axis. At the end of a 20 second period, the application calculated
the root mean square of the angular displacements from mean of the two axis.
The initial version of the application produced a number, which represented postural sway
of the individual. Since our qualitative research had indicated a limited vocabulary for

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expressing balance health within our cohort, we wanted to convey more than just a number
to our participants, Our goal was to develop visual literacy for our participants alongside
introducing relevant and jargon-free terminology.

3.4 Exploring visual perceptions of Balance
Inspired by the energy drawings of Bowden, Lockton, Brass, & Gheerawo (2014), we
undertook a drawing study “Drawing the Invisible” to explore visual ways of giving feedback
to users of the device, to use drawing in order to uncover the current mental models our
participants held of their balance. We designed a series of stimulus [Figure 10], and
presented this stimulus in a fixed order to our participants in a co-design workshop. The
participants were requested to draw their balance, while they were in a single leg stance
[Figure 11].

Figure 10: Blank stimuli for “Drawing the invisible”

Figure 11: Participants in a single leg stance while drawing

The idea being to create a sense of heightened awareness of changes or corrections
experienced. At the end of the session, the participants were requested to explain their
drawings to the group.
Participants made several observations about their strategies to maintain balance and
symmetry for example “I have a tendency to lean that way”; or “I did find that my ankles
were not that important, maybe it is to do with the fact that I have strong ankles or maybe it
is it is more to do with my legs or my feet to get my balance.”
Analysis of the drawings and the explanations lead following findings:
 Clear Visual Forms: An emergence of a clear visual form for times when the
participants experienced a large number of changes in their balance- a wobbly

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line; and when the participants experienced stability-a straight line. Muscles
that were used to stabilise the stance were marked with circles. Transfers of
stability between muscles were represented with vectors [Figure 12]. “There
was a feeling of wobbliness and I could feel it through the centre of the ankle
like that. And then there was a solid grounding feeling from my ankle and that
was just amazing”; and “red is the muscle pressure and green is the movement
of the muscles.”

Figure 12: Selected participant drawings from co-design workshop

 Increased Proprioception: The order of the stimulus, starting from a foot, the
lower body, the whole body and finally a blank sheet served to remind the
participants to being mindful of the role there whole body plays in maintaining
balance while in a challenging single leg stance [Figure 13]. More information
was received by breaking down the exercise into parts. “Until I saw the sheet
with the whole body, I did not think of doing anything in my core, in-spite of all
the pilates classes”; and “this one went straight up the heel of my foot and as a
line straight to my crown. The nose, navel and knee were in line.”

Figure 13: Increased proprioception in participants

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These images led to the concept of a balance sparkline [Figure 14]. Sparklines are small,
high-resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images, they are dataintense, design-simple, word-sized graphics (Tufte, 1991). We concluded the compact size
and the density of data of a sparkline would be ideal to convey the varying range of balance
experienced by an individual over a long period of time.

Figure 14: The concept of a balance sparkline

Defining and visualising actionable attributes of balance
4.1 Quantifying balance
The balance sparkline was programmed into the application [Figure 15], upon finishing a
session, four sparklines were produced: medial lateral (ML, side to side movement) for the
left foot and the right foot; anterior posterior (AP, forward and backward) for the left foot
and the right foot. In January 2015 we began a period of quantitative testing. We tested our
application 340 times with individuals between the ages of 25 and 86. The purpose of the
testing was to check whether the application was sensitive to diverse abilities and to identify
attributes that define a ‘Balance Footprint.’ On the initial testing day, we took 10 second
long exposure pictures of every participant to get an indication of the accuracy of the device
[Figure 16].

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Figure 16: Long exposure pictures of the participants

Our key finding was that the variation seen between the overall results of the participants
(inter-participant scores) was greater than the variation seen within the multiple tests of a
single participant (intra-participant scores). This indicated that there was potential for
development of the device as an independent instrument through further testing. The raw
data collected by the application was analysed to reveal four factors which comprise the
unique ‘Balance Footprint’ of an individual:
 ‘Sway Score’, or How much does the individual sway? This consolidated
measure reflects the sway velocity and sway amplitude of an individual. It is
calculated by the Root Mean Square of the readings. The higher the sway
score, the worst the balance [Figure 17].

Figure 17: Participant on left has Higher ‘Sway Score’ than the participant on the right

 ‘Sway Symmetry’, or How does the left side of the individual compare to their right
hand side? Calculated by comparison of strength between the left and the right
sides of the body [Figure 18].

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Figure 18: ‘Sway Symmetry’, Significant asymmetry between left and right sides balance scores in a
participant due to a knee impairment

 ‘Sway Distribution’, or How is the movement distributed along the anterior
posterior and media lateral axis? Visualised by plotting the distribution of
movement along the media lateral and anterior posterior axis.
 ‘Consistency’, or How much does the individual’s balance vary on a day to day
basis?
The long exposure images enforce “comparisons..within the scope of the eye-span”
(Tufte,2006), our challenge was to convey these attributes of information in an actionable
form.

4.2 Visualising balance
The purpose of redrawing the raw data collected from the quantitative study was to develop
a visualisation which:
 encourages a better understanding of current ‘Balance Health’ by facilitating
the development of a visual knowledge of attributes. (diagnosis)
 plays a role in selecting contextual goals (therapeutic)
 encourages adherence by removing the noise due to small naturally occurring
variances (motivational)
In August 2015, we began the process of identifying a visual schema for communicating the
attributes of balance [Table 1].
Table 1: Schema for Balance Footprint
Attributes

Importance

Visual Task

Visual
Descripti

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Sway Score

provides a snapshot of balance
range of the individual

Conveying a 6 scale range
of balance; very stable,
stable, average, mild
impairment, impaired, very
impaired

Size of Mark
( smaller the
better )
Color of Mark
( lighter the
better )

Symmetry

asymmetry may be a predictor of
falls (Skelton, Kennedy,&
Rutherford 2002)

3 scale range; symmetrical, NA
moderately asymmetrical, function of sway
symmetrical.
score

Sway
Distribution

reflects where the muscle
strength is present or lacking,
allowing for specific exercises,
changes for every stance.

communicating whether
ankle strategy (AP), or hip
abductor (ML) strategy is
more dominant

Placement of
Mark

Variability

our limited study suggests greater
variance in balance over short
periods of time ( 10 days ) is
indicative of poor postural control
( Authors 2016)

communicating 3 scale
variance range; Low
variance,normal variance,
high variance

Small multiples
of single test
measure

Once the schema was defined, we selected datasets from two participants who were a part
of the study. The first participant, henceforth referred to as “Participant 1”, is 26 year old, a
dancer and has remarkable balance and proprioception. The second participant; henceforth
referred to as “Participant 2”, is 89 year old, an urban cyclist and a member of the ‘Stable
and Steady’ exercise group at Earls Court. We aim to illustrate two extremes cases which we
have come across. Each visualisation illustrates a single session recorded for these
participants by the application. Visualisations for participant one are on the left side and
participant two on the right hand side. Both participants completed multiple sessions on the
application (8 and 52) respectively. The selected sessions are representative of the larger set
of data collected.
Three categories have been identified for presenting the attributes. Each category has its
strengths and weaknesses and presents attributes in different orders of visual importance.
These categories are: movement-based, movement-time, movement-structure.
Movement based visualisations [Figure 19, 20] places the most importance on sway
distribution by providing detailed views with all the data. It show the data in its purest form.
Instead of “boiling down” (Tufte, 1991) or simplifying the raw data gathered by the

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accelerometer, these diagrams include all the data points which have been gathered during
a single tests on each axis ( ML and AP ) for each leg.

Figure 19: Scatter plots; Here a small spread indicates low sway score and a big spread indicates high
sway score. Each point has a high level of transparency and while they can be identified
individually they combine with each other in an additive form to highlight dense data areas.
Faint concentric circles help the user get a sense of their balance scaled to others. An
additional circle is highlighted to show the user’s sway score range.

There are two possible visualisations in this category; Scatter and Hull. Both Scatter and the
Hull diagrams offer the advantage of a Macro/Micro display. At the macro level we can see
the range. At the micro level we can see the individual data points. Faint concentric circles
help the user get a sense of their balance scaled to others. An additional circle is highlighted
to show the user’s sway score. The user can drill down on a particular test to see the
breakdown between each foot. This allows for the user to compare the symmetry of their
balance. For Participant 2, it can be seen that the left leg smaller movement as compared to
the right. The strength of this visualisation is that the complexity of data here has not been
reduced, so the user can see everything captured. The weakness is that this method appears
to give a user a “birds eye” view, which might lead to mis-interpreting the acceleration data
points as representative of displacement.

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Figure 20: Hulls; The hull diagrams draws a convex hull around the scatter plot with 10% of the
outliers removed. The hull provides an easy to interpret way of seeing the breadth the data
points covered. A voronoi diagram was constructed with the result being where the lines are
densest the data points are densest.

Movement-time based visualisations [Figure 21,Figure 22] respects that the test happens
over a period of time and uses the time dimension as part of the visualisation. Bringing this
aspect into the diagrams allows the user to gain insights into how their balance varied
throughout the test, for example; if there were a lot of corrections in the beginning and
good balance in the middle and the end of the test it is representative of good balance,
whereas, if there were corrections throughout, with an increase towards the end that is
indicative of muscle fatigue. The hope here is that the user will have an easier time matching
the data to their experience, identifying when the largest wobbles happened and being able
to re-experience their test through the visualisation. This would their increase self
awareness of balance.

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Figure 21: Sparklines; Inspired by the drawing study where many people drew their balance as a
wobbly line, it uses smoothing function to create an undulating wave which matches their
balance. The diagram makes it easy to pick out when the user’s balance was worst during a
test.

Figure 22: Scatter-Time; The scatter time is similar to the scatter plot but the data has been divided
into three time segments. Ellipses are drawn around the data from each time segment. This
allows the user to view the how their balance varied over the test. It has two levels of drilldown. First splitting into the individual feet and secondly into the the three time segments.

A weakness of the movement time based visualisations is that by bringing in the extra
dimension of time some of the key attributes message gets diluted as there is more for the
user to interpret. With the spark line the user can no longer see the difference between AP
and MP movements. Movement-structure visualisations [Figure 23, Figure 24] aim to

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transform and aggregate the data into a new abstract object and to not visualise the
individual data points.

Figure 23: Balance trees; The tree visualisation tries to distill the data into the main attributes we
want the user to focus on. MP and AP are given their own axis. The two feet test are placed
next each other reducing the need for the drill down. The sway scores are shown by filling
up the bars.

Figure 24: Rainbows; The rainbow visualisation also distills the data focusing on the key attributes. AP
and MP are shown by the width of the curve on the appropriate axis. The two tests are close
together for comparison and the width of the curve indicates the sway score.

These visualisations bring together the left and right feet tests into one diagram. This allows
for very quick comparisons between the tests by having them in close proximity and
presenting them in a way that has less variables to compare. By aggregating the data we
hope to reduce the mental work the user does to reach the same conclusions. By reducing
the complexity the user may have harder time relating what they experienced to what they
are seeing in the diagram creating a disconnect between the two.

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Table 2: Strengths and Weaknesses of the visualisations (judged by authors)
Categories

Type

Visual Hierarchy

Strengths

Weaknesses

1. sway score
2. sway
distribution

presents actual data

noisy and
difficult to set
goals

Hulls

1. sway score
2. symmetry
3. sway distribution

facilitates
comparison
between left and
right leg

difficult to
ascertain
whether AP or
ML is more
dominant

Sparklines

1. sway strategy
over time
2. sway score

facilitates accurate
mental model of
balance test

AP, ML
dimension is
lost

Scatter-time

1. sway score,
2. sway strategy
over time

provides actionable
basis for improving
balance, “I have to
concentrate more at
the end”

steep learning
curve for user

Trees

sway score
symmetry,
sway distribution
all at same time

provides actionable
basis for improving
balance, "I have to
improve my AP
balance”

abstracted
from
experience

Rainbows

symmetry, sway
distribution and
sway score

provides target to aim for not as readable
as the trees.

movement-based Scatter Plots

movement-time

movementstructure

Table 2 presents an analysis of strengths and weaknesses of the three categories. One
attribute which has not been addressed in this body of work is that of variability. The next
step for us is to develop our six concepts as small multiples, so that individuals can see their
inter-test variability over time and then present this work to our users and experts in the
field to get their feedback.

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Conclusions
Balance Health, and by extension the attributes of symmetry, sway distribution remain
largely unaccessible to the general populace. Equipment that allows individuals to analyse
their balance is available in a clinical and research context but not in the preventative home
setting. We attempt to frame balance as an attribute of health which can be tracked and
shaped. We were motivated by the notion that a clear mental model (of the abstract
concept of balance) would lead to possibilities for expression and communication of the
current state without stigma and as a call to action. We have created representations with
different visual hierarchies. One important attribute our current work has not addressed is
‘variability’ and the next step is to address this omission by development of small multiples,
which would allow tracking of improvements or decline over time. We then aim to conduct a
workshop to check the effectiveness and impact of these diagrams with our participants.
Selected diagrams will be programmed into the application for longer term testing.

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A user centred approach to develop an actionable visualisation to convey ‘balance health’

Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (2010). Designing with People, Interventions,
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About the authors:
Shruti Grover is a design researcher and strategist specialising in
designing digital medical healthcare interventions. She is interested
in combining thick data and quantitive data to deliver dynamic
interfaces.
Simon Johnson is a data visualiser and information manager
specialising in the humanitarian response context. He is currently
working with the Red Cross and the United Nations.
Ross Atkin is design researcher and engineer specialising in
connected products and assistive technology. He works with leading
UK manufacturers like Stannah and Marshalls using internet of things
technology to radically improve their products.
Dr. Chris McGinley is an award winning people-centred designer,
researcher and writer. He has worked in the field of inclusive design
and social innovation for over a decade, on a broad range of projects
that have been successfully commercialised, exhibited and
disseminated internationally.

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SECTION 15
DESIGN THINKING

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Introduction: Design Thinking
Seda Yilmaz*, Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness and Tejas Dhadphale
Iowa State University
*seda@iastate.edu
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.601

Design thinking has gathered increasing momentum in both academia and industry in recent
years. It has been a central mission of many books, journals, conferences and symposia
(Brown, 2008, 2009; Cross, 2011; Cross, Dorst, & Roozenburg, 1992; Lawson, 1980; Martin,
2009; Rowe, 1987; Stewart, 2011). Business management magazines and books have
covered stories about the power of design thinking, suggesting it provides significant value
for business innovation (Beckman & Barry, 2007; Brown, 2008; Cooper, Junginger, &
Lockwood, 2009; Leavy, 2010; Martin, 2009; Stacey, Griffin, & Shaw, 2000; Ward, Runcie, &
Morris, 2009). This rapid transition of design thinking from design education and practice to
its new interpretations and implications for business management, and other disciplines,
especially, has raised new challenges. Design thinking is touted as a cure for every ill in
business (Hassi & Laakso, 2011), has been dilution (Badke-Schaub, Roozenburg, & Cardoso,
2010), and has started to lose meaning (Cross, 2010; Johansson & Woodilla, 2010). In design
circles, “design thinking” was originally defined as the cognitive processes of designers
(Cross, 2011; Lawson, 1980; Rowe, 1987). However, today, it is associated with a mind-set
and a methodology for solving complex and even wicked problems in diverse contexts
beyond design. The expansion of underlying principles to business management offers an
exciting new paradigm, but requires new explorations of definitions, frameworks, toolboxes
and suggested best practices for integration to support its cross-disciplinary
implementations and effectiveness.
There are many attributes that define the characteristics of design thinking, such as
tolerating and embracing ambiguity, viewing design as an inquiry, maintaining “the big
picture” through systems thinking, and handling decisions as part of a team (Dym, Agogino,
Ozgur, Frey, & Leifer, 2005). All of these characteristics require an important attribute:
effective inquiry. Effective inquiry in design thinking includes convergent, analytical and
systematic reasoning along with divergent reasoning to facilitate generative design
questioning. As Einstein said: ‘we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Seda Yilmaz, Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness and Tejas Dhadphale

used when we created them.’ Design thinking helps designers identify needs, frame
problems and provide solutions through a series of iterative cycles. With its expansion to
business processes, Design Thinking applies the design process in creating products, services
and system solutions. Design Thinking is a key capability for revolutionary innovators and a
potential source of sustainable competitive advantage (Brooks, 2010; Cooper et al., 2009;
Gorb, 1979; Martin, 2005, 2010).
To this point, the main impact of the design thinking approach has been in education; in
particular, how universities teach design thinking as a foundation for innovation. Research
shows that there is a common set of phases observed in projects where design thinking was
practiced; however, there is no agreement regarding the most relevant tools and methods
to be applied in each phase. Gruber et al. (2015) states that: “The lens provided by design
thinking might also be applied to elements within the management domain that are not so
apparent; that is, within the roles of process re-engineering, workflow, the workplace itself
and the design of organizations.” However, it is unclear how results obtained from studies of
design thinking apply across organizational contexts, and how it may impact diverse
innovations in business, social groups, and education. How can the findings from existing
empirical research determine which methods or tools are more appropriate for specific
contexts and stages within the process?
This DRS additional theme on design thinking focused on exploring questions such as: What
is the nature of design thinking? What could it bring to other professions? What are the best
practices both in academia and industry in introducing/applying/practicing/advancing design
thinking? What are the relevant definitions of design thinking? What does it actually mean
or meant? How do design thinking approaches and practices vary across disciplines,
contexts, and problems? What are the methods/ tools/ techniques/ strategies used in
applying design thinking? How and why do they differ? How does practicing design thinking
impact the innovation process and the outcomes? What is the impact of design thinking in
socio-cultural and technological advancements?
Design thinking’s human-centred, collaborative, experimental and iterative, and situated and
systemic nature places the needs and motivations of the users at the centre, along with
building deep empathy, and giving the designers permission to fail and learn from mistakes
as they learn by doing. The papers presented within this theme refined or extended existing
theories and frameworks on design thinking to uncover new patterns across disciplinary
cultures, explore connections between industry and academia, generate new perspectives to
broaden understanding, challenge existing assumptions and beliefs, and propose
implications for implementation.

Human-centred nature of design thinking.
Design thinking is a user-centred exploration where the stakeholders take “people first”
approach and imagine solutions inherently desirable and meet explicit or latent needs
(Brown, 2009). It requires building empathy with users through detailed observations and

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Introduction: Design Thinking

insights to inspire innovation (Brown, 2008). Tsay and Lille (2016) adopted the contextdriven, interaction-centred Vision in Design (ViP) approach (Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2011) in
order to provide an ‘add-on experience-driven’ approach to an existing innovation process.
They proposed an eight-phase user-centred innovation framework to support a major
aviation manufacturer through its innovation process to become an active on-board service
enabler. The framework enables empathy through the integration of internal and external
stakeholders into the innovation process, and aims to support a transformation from
technology-driven to experience-driven innovation. Their findings demonstrate how design
thinking, in the form of a framework, reformed the company’s vision formulation and
influenced the organization. In a similar vein, Kaland and Lille (2016) note that organizations
can be supported with design tools as they transition to become more user-centred in order
to discover and develop improved customer relationships. They offer a card-based design
toolkit designed and developed through multiple iterations, and piloted in a workplace
setting to study its impacts on company values and challenges.
You and Hands (2016) draw attention to new roles of brand development as a driving force
for innovation, and propose a five-step conceptual framework based on design thinking for
building innovative brands. In this approach, design thinking was highlighted as one of five
dimensions for its systematic methodology based on user-centeredness and a multistakeholder engagement model. Design thinking as implemented in innovative branding is
identified as a critical need in building brands and helping companies to achieve success.

Collaborative nature of design thinking.
Design thinking requires cross-disciplinary pollinations through experiences in more than
one discipline. The difference between a technology-driven versus a user-centred designdriven approach is further articulated in a case study by Maciver, Malins, Kantorovitch, and
Liapis (2016). They locate design thinking methodology as a means for effective
collaboration between the arts and sciences. They critique the application of the design
thinking approach within interdisciplinary innovation context, comparing the practices of
designers and technologists as they tackle complex problems in collaboration. Their findings
lead to guiding principles for facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, cultivating innovation
across the cultural borders of design and technology, and integrating and balancing a range
of forces. Hall (2016) focuses on synergies across disciplines, and the impact of design
thinking for globalization and cultural diversity. He provides a review of the relationship
between design and creative destruction, speculating that meta-level design thinking can
bring together a model for enhancing evolution of cultures and functions in the space
between disciplines, including, design, economics, and anthropology.

Experimental and iterative nature of design thinking.
The design process can be seen as a learning process in which the designer develops an
increasing understanding of the domain through studies, experiments and interventions
(Dalsgaard, 2014). In most technology-driven projects, such as in the aviation industry (Tsay

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Seda Yilmaz, Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness and Tejas Dhadphale

and Lille, 2016), the design brief is rarely questioned once formulated by the designer (Dorst,
2015; Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2011), resulting in incremental innovations (Lin & Luh, 2009).
Studies have shown that designers tend to be solution-oriented, adopting a work process
that leads to the identification of solutions early in the design process, before the problem is
fully understood (Dorst & Cross, 2001; Lawson, 1980; Wiltschnig, Christensen, & Ball, 2013).
The notion of problem framing and its impact on the design thinking process is emphasized
by Kokotovich and Dorst (2016). They combine two methods, TRIZ (Altshuller, 1984) and
Frame Creation (Dorst, 2015), to devise a third method, Thematic Analysis. Thematic analysis
involves searching across information, data, ideas, contexts and creative concepts to find
what is embedded or hidden in the repeated patterns of meaning. Its “search beneath the
surface” is suggested to facilitate technological innovation through reframing the design
situation in a new way.
Design thinking is always an interplay between diverging exploration of problem and
solution space (Gray, Seifert, Yilmaz, Daly, & Gonzalez, 2015; Lawson, 1980; Lindberg,
Meinel, & Wagner, 2011; Newell, Shaw, & Simon, 1967; Newell & Simon, 1972; Yilmaz &
Daly, 2016) and converging processes of synthesizing and selecting. Contrary to the thinking
styles approach predominant in the sciences, design thinking is neither representative (as in
inductive thinking) nor entirely rationalized (as in deductive thinking). Hahn (2016) unfolds
the iterative cycle of deduction and abduction induction processes as the foundation for
design thinking theory. Through an observation-based case study, the knowledge and
communication needs of caterers and consumers were analysed to explore new catering
services and experiences. The deductive learning-understanding phase is an initial stage that
provides stakeholders contextualized scientific information, whereas the abductive solutionbuilding phase facilitates envisioning new solutions through collaborations. McGilp, Eckert,
Earl (2016) approached the design thinking process from the perspective of fashion design.
Based on self-reports and observations of practicing designers, they identified design
process in the fashion design industry, and identify knowledge management, team
communications, and reflective practice through comparing the recording practice in fashion
design with that of architecture and engineering.

Situated and systemic nature of design thinking.
Although major corporations, such as Nokia, Philips, and Nike, have adopted experiencebased design thinking methodologies (Hekkert, Mostert, & Stompff, 2003), much work
remains in order to systematize research findings from different industries aimed at
establishing best practices. Stolterman (2008) characterizes designerly inquiry as an
intentional, iterative process moving between the whole and the parts. This way of doing
design is not a choice, but a rational and disciplined act. Kotlarewski, Thong, Kuys, and
Danahay (2016) compared the design thinking processes used in academia and industry,
with the goals of assessing the similarities and differences in the methods used, time
allocated to each stage, iterations between stages and the nature of each stage. Their
findings suggest that industry relies on customer relationships and reputation, play it safe
through experience and repetition, and prioritize eliminating risk, with the majority of their

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Introduction: Design Thinking

time spent in planning. In contrast, academia relies on finding problems worthy of design,
taking innovative risks and developing new knowledge, and the majority of time invested is
spent on identifying knowledge gaps and generating knowledge through research-led design
practice.
Design is an interpretive practice within which particular kinds of sense-making are
operative (Stewart, 2011). Gray (2016) questions the way design methods are used in
academic literature compared to their situated use in practice. He explores ontological
characteristics and practical outcomes of design methods in both settings, emphasizing
tensions between the two. He concludes with advice on viewing design thinking as an
unqualified ‘designerly tool’ (Stolterman, McAtee, Royer, & Thandapani, 2008) rather than a
blueprint or prescription for doing something (Nelson & Stolterman, 2012). Methods, as he
emphasizes, contain a ‘script’ (the ‘core’) of defined or potential use, and are open to
interpretation of the designer or the organization rather than providing a prescriptive
cookbook (Woolrych, HornBaek, Frokjaer, & Cockton, 2011).
Together, the papers in this theme present a snapshot of research on understanding the
nature and nurture of design thinking through the lens of its applications in industry versus
academia. Currently, there is little understanding of design thinking methods, and how they
shape the process, collaborations, and outcomes of design. As these papers show, there is
much to learn from case studies that investigate design thinking implications from differing
approaches and interactions.

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About the Authors:
Seda Yilmaz is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design. Her
research crosses multiple disciplines, including design, engineering,
and psychology. She studies strategies for design innovations
focusing on front-end design processes and translating those
strategies to tools and education for design thinking practices.
Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness is an Assistant Professor of Industrial
Design. Her research focuses on the diffusion of design thinking and
doing practices in design and non-design oriented disciplines, with a
focus on exploring visualization as a gateway to creative confidence
and design-ability
Tejas Dhadphale is an Assistant Professor in Industrial Design. He is
currently developing a methodological framework for designers and
researchers to integrate cultural aspects into the design process.

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven
Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using
VIP
Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay* and Christine de Lille
Delft University of Technology
* Wanjentsay@gmail.com
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.464

Abstract: Manufacturing industries have been challenged to transform their
technology-driven innovation towards experience-driven innovation for forecasting
innovation. This paper presents a vision-driven innovation framework that is contextbased and user-centered, for supporting a major aviation manufacturer in the
transition of its innovation process to become an active on-board service enabler.
This paper describes an action research case study that was carried out in the R&D
department of the aviation manufacturer. The developed eight-phase approach uses
user-experience insights as the main driving force to support forecasting of
innovation for Zodiac Aerospace, to enable multiple internal and external
stakeholders (designers, sales managers, passengers, cabin crews, and airline inflight
service teams) to play active roles in different phases of the innovation process (from
providing qualitative insights of air travel experience, to co-formulating future vision,
and to evaluating the designed concepts). This paper contributes knowledge by a
step-by-step approach to guide manufactures to innovate from a holistic perspective,
extending the ViP approach by taking end-users into account to support a
transformation from technology-driven to experience driven innovation.
Keywords: Experience-driven, innovation, ViP, co-creation

Introduction
Industry case studies have pointed out that experience design or experience-driven design
can be considered as a new strategy in industrial design (Hekkert, Mostert, & Stompff,
2003). Major corporations, such as Nokia, Philips, and Nike that used to be technologydriven have adopted experience-driven design for their product development (Hekkert,
Mostert, & Stompff, 2003). The aviation industry is currently experiencing a similar move.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

1.1 Commercial Aviation Industry in Transition
The commercial aviation industry is in transition, where airlines strive to pursue a distinctive
role in this competitive market by providing better on-board customer experience (Hall et
al., 2013). Fattah et al. (2009) emphasized that a superior and integrated passenger
experience has become the key differentiator for airlines services. In addition, Robinson
(2014) stressed that the future of air-travel experience is not merely meeting the needs of
people in the context (e.g. airline crews or passengers), but more importantly, anticipating
the desires of these users. As a result, these current developments in the commercial
aviation field show a need to bring the on-board products and services closer to desired user
experiences.
Market observation from the authors further points out the targeted airline types that are in
need for this user experience knowledge. Treacy and Wiersema (1993) pointed out that in
order to achieve market leadership, companies are currently competing with three main
focuses; operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy. Companies going
the operational excellence path eliminate their operations to become most lean and
effective. They compete on prices and bring service to the most minimal. An observation
from the authors suggests that low-cost-carriers, such as Easy Jet and Ryan Air holds this
strategy. Product leadership focused companies strive to produce continuous stream of
state-of-the-art products and services (Treacy & Wiersema, 1993). They offer the most
premium products they can offer to their customers. Therefore the authors categorize
Cathey Pacific, Emirates, and Etihad for example into this category because of their strategy
in excelling for premium offerings spanning all passenger types. Lastly, companies that
concentrates on providing customer intimacy are like KLM, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, who
innovates out-of-the-box and tailors product and service to what the different customer
groups want. They focus on long-term customer relationship through addressing each
customer or market segment individually.
In conclusion, airlines who follow customer intimacy or product leadership discipline,
depend highly on understanding what their users need and desire. In order for these airlines
to achieve market leadership, user-experience insights should become a core input for
product development and service innovation. Besides this trend of user-experience focus in
the consumer aviation industry (Fattah et al., 2009; Hall et al., 2013; Robbinson, 2014),
Fattah et al. (2009) also pointed out that through deeper collaboration of the different
stakeholders in the air-travel industry, a stronger and more complete value proposition for
passengers can be created. This collaborative approach would also create a better overall
passengers’ experience that spans the entire journey rather than being confined to a
segmented part of the journey (Fattah et al., 2009). Responding to these two main
transitions, aviation suppliers are also challenged to shift their innovation process and bring
their development closer to airlines and passengers.

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

1.2 Challenge for Onboard Equipment Supplier – Zodiac Aerospace
Traditionally, aircraft equipment suppliers have been introducing new products through
direct requests from airlines. Most importantly, the requests have been heavily driven by
regulations, safety, weight reduction, and cost effective aspects of products (IATA, 2007).
Thus it can be said that the innovation process of aviation suppliers has been focusing on
product-level improvements and their innovation strategy is technology-driven. As a result,
the aviation manufacturing industry is highly engineering dominated. However, with the
arising focus on user experience in the commercial aviation field, suppliers are undergoing
the transition from passive product producer to active innovation partners (W.W.A.
Beelaerts van Blokland, 2012) to support airlines in achieving market leadership by
differentiating through experiences.Zodiac Aerospace is the world leader in aerospace
equipment, mastering in engineering design. Its product ranges from cabin structure to
onboard equipment, such as seats, galleys, trolleys, electric equipment to aircraft and aerosafety systems. From internal sources, consequently to the current development of the
commercial aviation landscape, Zodiac Aerospace, as an aircraft equipment supplier is also
challenged to take up the role as service enabler in the air-travel context. To better enable
the on-board services, it is beneficial for Zodiac Aerospace to investigate the increasingly
complex relationship between the users (e.g. cabin crews and passengers) and the context
of which their products are being used.

1.3 Trigger of the case study : The Innovation Process Transition of Zodiac
Aerospace
The focus of airlines wishing to provide better customer and crew experience has lead
Zodiac Aerospace to realize the need to actively involve end users into their innovation
scope for long-term innovation. Zodiac Aerospace started exploring what passengers and
flight attendants perceive as useful, desirable and beneficial in the future air travel context.
Looking at the traditional Zodiac Aerospace innovation process, although the company is
highly effective in finding technically-advanced solutions that are suitable for certification
procedures, they had limited understanding to the context of how the products are used and
the relationship with the users (Debacker et al. 2014). In the last three years, more research
and design activities with user centered focus have been introduced by the Experience
Center of Zodiac Aerospace (Alkmaar, the Netherlands). In order to deepen the user
centered focus, the first author proposed an experience-driven approach for the Experience
Center activities with the aim to support Zodiac Aerospace to bridge the gap from productlevel innovation to design for future air-travel experiences that are supported by their
products. This is because, through an experience-driven approach, user-context relationship,
interactions and emotions are taken into account.
This paper addresses how the new methodology looks like and how it supports the
company’s innovation transition. Given the challenge of Zodiac Aerospace, the aim of this
case study was to demonstrate how Zodiac Aerospace can evolve its innovation process to
become closer to customers and advance beyond its comfort zone of excellence in technical-

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

driven incremental innovation. The case study illustrates what should the design process
look like when the industry moves from technology and regulation-driven to experiencedriven and long-term innovation. As a result, it provided Zodiac Aerospace with an usercentric innovation framework, which gave a step-by-step guidance to translate user insights
into supporting material and direction for the development of on-board product-service
solutions.

From technology-driven towards experience-driven using ViP
In order to be develop an approach that enables to build on the existing design process but
adds a more experience-driven approach, the Vision In Design (ViP) Approach (Hekkert &
Van Dijk, 2011) was adopted as a basis and adapted to the aviation suppliers’ context. The
first author, encompassed various roles ranging from designing a new proposition for Zodiac
Aerospace, up to investigation what an experience-driven approach would look like. The
various roles of the design researcher in this case study were: a researcher (role 1), a userexperience researcher (role 2) and the concept designer (role 3). The results consisted not
only of a designed vision statement for air travel in 2020 and translated into an in-flight
service concept with involvement of internal stakeholders and external stakeholders (such
as crews, passengers and the in-flight service team of a major European airline) but also a
new experience-driven innovation approach for Zodiac Aerospace. The demonstrated
approach showed how Zodiac Aerospace can include also user-experience insights next to
product requirements in the innovation process.
In the next paragraph, we will introduce ViP and discuss why ViP was chosen as the
backbone of the new experience-driven approach as well as the major difference between
ViP and the proposed experience-driven approach.

2.1 Using the Vision in Product Design (ViP) approach as a starting point:
ViP follows different stages as in traditional product development methods, as shown in
Figure 1. In traditional product development, designers often directly start the design
process from a problem statement, which normally is communicated in the form of a design
brief with multiple requirements. In most technology-driven projects the design brief is
rarely questioned once formulated by the designer that acts upon it. (Hekkert & Van Dijk,
2011). Design projects that focus on the product-level generally are effective for redesigning
existing products for current customers, or for generational improvements of a product
family (O'Connor & Veryzer, 2001). These design results are likely to be incremental
innovations as Lin and Luh (2009) pointed out.
ViP aims to move away from the product-level by focusing on the context-of use, and the
interactions users have with the product (service-system). It offers designers another way of
designing products that bring people (new) meaning or value (Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2011).
ViP consists of two major phases, the deconstruction of current situation (phase 1: primary
aim is analyzing the current situation), and the design of the future situation (phase 2). In

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

the deconstruction phase, ViP invites designers to broaden the scope of input for the new
design, by not just focusing on the product itself (Step 1 in Figure 1), but also investigating
the user-product interaction (Step 2) and the context of use (Step 3). When moving into the
second phase, ViP firstly encourages designers to envision a new context and what needs to
be taken into account to shape that world (Step 4). In this new context, designers formulate
a “vision statement” that opens up new opportunity rather than focuses on solving the
original problem. The vision statement should contain where the process is going and what
the end goal will be, however without defining what the end product is or does. Then the
designer investigates what kind of interaction fits in (Step 5), and finally designs a product (in
this case, it could be a service, a product-service system, a tangible product or whatever
form that best represents the intended interaction) that makes the intended interaction
possible (Step 6). Formulating a vision is central to the ViP approach. It forces designers to
free themselves from restrictions and requirements in the first place and, instead, look for
desirable possibilities.

Figure 1 Comparison of vip and traditional product development.

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

2.2 Encouraging designers to question the design brief to unravel the underlying
user needs:
ViP supports designers in moving away from a functional design brief, and encourages
designers not to start designing from the given problem statement but to formulate a vision
that emphasizes on defining what to design and what values does the new design intend to
bring for its user (Hekker et al., 2003). This type of formulation of the starting point for a
design process (e.g. “design a new way of service for business class”) avoids familiar
concepts or straight forward solutions compared to results of “closed” formulation (e.g.
“design a new tray for business class to serve business class passengers”). Vergragt and
Brown (2007) also indicated vision as a heuristic device to map a “possibility space”, an
instrument for inspiring designers to investigate different problem definitions, opening up
the solution space.
Within the Zodiac Aerospace, the technology-driven formulations are omnipresent, where
the experience-driven formulations are entirely absent. When Sales Managers discuss new
product orders with Airline Procurement, the conversation revolves around new features on
the current product (very technology-driven, oriented towards new materials, weight
reduction and new smart functionality). “We normally receive requests about easy fixes
(changing a hinge, different wheels, etc.). A complete new product, a whole new use for the
product or a new idea, we will hardly ever get these requests from our customers!” was
what higher management of the sales department of Zodiac Aerospace expressed. Two main
reasons are expected to be at the basis of this phenomenon: First, sales from Zodiac
Aerospace is so because of the company tradition focused on a technology-driven sales
process (knowing what they can deliver), and/or the airline procurement department is
focused on costs, and has limited knowledge of the underlying requests that come from
elsewhere in the organization (why a certain new functionality of product is required).
The two features of the ViP approach, being context-driven and providing a wider
experience-driven solution space through vision formulation, illustrate a suitable ground for
a more long-term oriented experience-driven design process. Zodiac Aerospace’s vision if to
not only improve current products, but expand from product to enabling on-board services,
and gain affinity of the complex relationship between the users and the context of which
their products are being used.

2.3 Adding active involvement of multiple stakeholders to ViP
In the context of Zodiac Aerospace, multiple stakeholders could play an important role in
enabling the company to move away from a technology-driven focus. In order to fully
understand the context of use as well as the interactions of the users with the products, the
perspectives of people such as pursers, crew, service managers, caterers, passengers etc. are
needed. These interactions are quite far from the regular experiences of the designer from
Zodiac Aerospace. In ViP, users are not involved in the design process. Designers are given
the task to empathize with the future user in his/her world with various generative tools.
The reason behind this is to avoid undesirable constraints resulting from user fixations on

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

familiar solution directions (Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2011). The involvement of user-stakeholders
is in the interest of engaging the company as much as possible for creating a co-creation
mindset with its clients (airlines) and end users (crews and passengers) to have a good
understanding of the main components for ViP. As mentioned previously, since we are not
entirely sure which is the cause of the product-oriented design briefs, including the various
stakeholders will enable to investigate the underlying reasons.

Research Method
In order to build on ViP, and investigate how it could be used for the purpose of this study
(developing an experience-driven design process for a technology-oriented company) an
action research approach was used within the setting of an empirical case study. The actionoriented approach was carried out through developing and applying ViP in the daily
innovation practice of Zodiac Aerospace, and resulted in the proposed experience-driven
design process. As Reson and Bardbury (2006) pointed out, action research focuses on
bringing change (taking conscious actions steered by research) and contributes to
knowledge through lessons learned (by reflecting on the actions undertaken and
investigating their effects). By the process of action and reflection in this case study, this
study builds know-how on how a technology-oriented company can make use of an
experience-driven design process.

3.1 Undertaking Multiple Roles during the Study
The first author took the role of the researcher (Role 1) to observe and reflect throughout
the entire process of the case study, where she developed the new approach and took the
organization along the way through the proposed step-by-step approach.
The researcher was also the main user-experience researcher (Role 2) during the phases
where passengers and cabin crews were actively involved. In addition, she provided tools
and methods of translating user-insights into supportive tools for different stages in the
design process. The main reason of this multi-tasking of the design researcher was because
the Zodiac Aerospace did not have capabilities yet for conducting explorative userexperience research in the fuzzy front-end. The main user-centered activities in the company
were oriented towards validating user research, such as, usability testing of a product
function or feedback session on an existing product (in order to meet the strict aviation
regulations). Therefore with the combined roles of researcher and user-experience
researcher, the author was able to introduce new methodologies of gathering first-hand
user insights and analysis techniques into the organization.
Lastly, the researcher also took the third role of the concept designer, where she facilitated
the co-creation session where internal and external stakeholders ideated and formulated
the 2020 vision. As a nature of co-design, when stakeholders involvement becomes complex,
it is important to have an integrator, and this was the role of the concept designer.

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

Firstly, as a contributing result, with the researcher interplaying the roles of user-experience
researcher and concept designer, the case study was able to demonstrate designing from
user-insights to its most ideal situation. Secondly, the researcher, by switching among the
three roles, was able to govern the process to fully introduce a different innovation process
to Zodiac Aerospace and create user affinity. In order to differentiate between the various
roles, the first author used a research journal to keep track of the considerations and
decisions throughout both the research and design process. This data was triangulated with
the other data collected.

3.2 Overview Of The Action Research Process
Figure 2 shows the iterations of action and reflection conducted in this case study. The
design researcher firstly took action in reviewing the current aviation industry development
(Action 1) and pinpointed the need to transform Zodiac Aerospace’s innovation process to
be closer to airline’s end-customer driven strategy (Reflection 2). By reviewing existing NPD
processes, the vision-oriented ViP approach was chosen as a suitable basis for developing
Zodiac Aerospace’s User-Centric Innovation Framework (Action 3). By reflecting on the
needs of the commercial aviation context, ViP was adapted to fit the Zodiac Aerospace
context (Reflection 4). The developed experience-driven design approach was applied by the
researcher with internal designers and sales involvement, carried out through the design of
a vision statement for 2020 air travel experience and transformed into service concepts.
Lastly, the process of applying this new innovation framework was reflected upon and
provided know-hows to the question of “How can aviation suppliers start their innovation
process based on user insights?”.

Figure 2 Overview of iterations of action and reflection the design researcher undertaken in the action
research process of this case study.

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

Results
As mentioned in previous sections, the current technology-driven approach, which focuses
on incremental product feature improvements, does not allow room for including multiple
stakeholders’ experiences to enable re-thinking the in-flight experience and coming up with
new designs that enhance the customers experience. Through various iterations intervening
in the current design process, an eight-phase experience-driven innovation framework
building on ViP was developed. This framework starts from the fuzzy-front-end of reframing
the design context and ends at the service concept design phase to provide Zodiac
Aerospace’ designers and engineers a concept to carry further on into the technology
readiness level (TRL) engineering process. In this section, we will present the eight different
phases of the proposed approach and point out what went well and what is subject to
improvement.

4.1 The Step-by-Step Zodiac Aerospace User-Centric Innovation Framework
Figure 3 provides an overview of the phases, the activities undertaken in each phase, and
results (milestones) in the proposed framework, which was developed with the intention to
support Zodiac Aerospace in its organization transition towards an on-board service enabler.
Also to provide a step-by-step approach to design product-service concepts that ideally carry
more values for different stakeholders in the eco-system.
Detailed guideline for each phases in the proposed user-centric innovation framework is
provided in Table 1. It gives an overview of the Zodiac Aerospace user-centric innovation
framework and its relevance of stakeholder involvement and experience-driven aspect in the
respective phases.

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

Figure 3 Overview of the Zodiac Aerospace user-centric innovation framework (the graphic
representation of each phase indicates whether the phase is divergence or convergence
parts of the whole process.)

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

Table 1 Overview of the Zodiac Aerospace user-centric innovation framework and its relevance of
stakeholder involvement and experience-driven aspect in the respective phases. (Color
shading indicates the relative degree of stakeholders involvement. Darker shading means
deeper more active involvement.)
Phases of
the
Proposed
Framework

Description of Each
Phase

Overview of
Stakeholders
Involved

Overview of
Experience-Driven
Design Aspect

Relevance and
Impact of the
Phase

Define
Domain

This phase sets the
start of the innovation
process by defining an
initial context of use
(e.g. in-flight context
or airport journey
context) as the search
field.

External client
Internal project
owner

Starting the
innovation process
by focusing on a
specific context of
use (e.g. Enhance the
catering experience
of long-haul
economy class
flights) provides
more opportunities
to incorporating user
experience elements,
rather than starting
with a fixed problem
statement (e.g.
Reduce waste of
onboard catering in
passenger’s seat
space).

This phase
provides the
organization with
a starting space
but also gives
space to later
reframe the
context with valid
arguments.

Formulate
the Future
Context of
2020 Air
Travel

Future trends were
collected through
desk-top research,
expert interviews and
review of airport and
airline master plans .
The factors illustrated
the future air travel
experience of 2020, of
which the new design
would be based in.

External experts in
the following three
fields:
Airport Consumers
Group
Airline Hub
Operation 2030
Vision
Airline Inflight
Service Team

Based on ViP, the
design process starts
with collecting
relevant factors that
build up the future
context. This gives a
time frame and
perspective for
designers to concern
what experience they
would like to
introduce or create
into this future
context.

The focus on
upcoming trends
and projecting a
future that is
currently
developing
supports the
organization to
explore what is
possible
tomorrow instead
of solving the
problems of
today.

Passenger’s
Concern /
Passenger’s
Experience
Research

Based on the model of
product emotion
experience (Desmet,
2002) and with the use
of inflight probes,
passengers’ real-time
emotional reaction

Various passengers
traveling long-haul
flights

Different from userevaluation tools that
could only tap into
explicit and
observable insights,
generative
techniques enable to

The identified
concerns of
passengers
provide inflight
the various
stakeholders
guidelines of what

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

during inflight service
was documented.

uncover user’s tacit
and latent needs and
desires (Berdillon &
Guenand, 2011)
(Sanders & Stappers,
2012).

To find the concerns
that triggered
emotional reactions
from passengers, indepth interviews were
performed with the
various passengers
after their flight.

Passenger’s activity,
positive and negative
experience, reasons
the resulted in the
emotional response
were discovered
through the
combined
methodology of inflight probe, in-depth
interview, and
emotional journey
mapping.

These passengers’
concerns were later
used as idea
generation topics in
the co-creation phase.

Crew Service
Analysis

Crews were
interviewed using
generative techniques.
The main goal of this
phase was to
understand cabin
crew’s service and
cabin crew’s opinion of
the uncovered
passenger’s concern.

Co-creation
Ideation

The co-creation
ideation phase was
undertaken to diverge
on inflight service ideas
for 2020 with multiple
internal and external
stakeholders through a
co-creation workshop.

Six cabin crews from
three airlines:
Flight attendants
In-flight service
managers

User-experience
designer as session
facilitator.
Session participants
include:

Nine ideation topics
were formulated from
the user-concerns
found in Phase 3 and 4.

Internal Zodiac
Aerospace
stakeholders:
R&D designers
Sales managers

Pre-workshop

External airline

2436

is needed (the
basic requirement
of inflight service)
and what is
desired (the
service level up
elements) from
passengers.

Within a userproduct-context,
there are often
multiple users.
Therefore
understanding the
multiple perspectives
of users provides a
full overview of the
context of use.

The multiple userstakeholder
involvement in
the innovation
framework
enables the
organization to
have a holistic
view of the
different
stakeholders
involved in the
system. This
supports the
creation of a
concept that
integrates
multiple values.

Input from multiple
stakeholders were
gained, including
crew’s perspective
and passenger’s
perspective. The
internal participants
were given
sensitizing tools
(Sanders & Stappers,
2012) to prepare
them for having
passenger’s
perspective for the
session.

The ideas
generated in this
phase ranged
from product
solutions to
fragments of a
service concept or
even suggested a
shift of service
attitude. This
provided
abundant creative
inputs for the
conceptualization
phase.

From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

sensitizing tools were
given to all participants
to prepare their
mindsets as crews or
passengers.

stakeholders:
Cabin crews
In-flight service team
managers

During the workshop,
various generative
tools and visual
inspirations were
provided to guide the
participants step-bystep.
Create 2020
Vision
Statement

The 2020 Vision
Statement articulated
a summary of selected
factors of the previous
research phases. The
vision statement
stages the future world
of what the company
and the designer want
to offer the multiple
stakeholders.

The user experience
researcher also took
the role of the main
concept designer
with input from R&D
designers from
Zodiac Aerospace.

The vision statement
provides a design
direction for the later
phase of design
iteration.

In order to richly
materialize the 2020
Vision, three service
concepts were created.

The formulation of a
vision emphasizes on
defining what to
design and what
values does the new
design intend to
bring for its user,
meaning that the
context and the
experience offering
are designed before
the physical
attributes of the
products are
decided.
Interaction qualities
(analogies) were
defined to help
describe the
experience we want
to create in 2020.

The co-created ideas
were filtered according
to the vision.

7.1 : Service
Conceptualiz
ation
Iteration

This phase supported
the organization to
gain empathy
towards its client and
end user (Berdillon &
Guenand, 2011).

None (Only the
design researcher
who was also taking
up the role of

2437

Following the vision
statement and the
coupling interaction
qualities, the

Norman (2004)
states, “Good
behavioural
design has to be
fundamental part
of the design
process from the
very start; it
cannot be
adopted once the
product has been
completed.”
Therefore we do
not want to jump
directly into
conceptualizing
products with the
input of the cocreation phases.
The vision helps
to scale down the
design scope and
goal in an
inspiring way
while at the same
time coming
down to a
concrete design
level the
{Anonymous
Company}
designers start
feeling
comfortable with.
Ideating first
about service
offering and
experience

Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

Each concept focused
on a different
information type we
wish to provide to
passengers.
7.2:
Stakeholder
Evaluation

Customer journey
maps of the three
developed service
concepts were used to
visualize and envision
the future scenarioexperience journey of
passengers, making it
easier for the
stakeholders to
interpret them and
relate what they would
mean to their daily
practice.
During the first session
with a major European
airline, the researcher
walked through the
journey maps with
twenty-eight cabin
crews, to collect their
inputs and make sense
of how the designed
concepts fit their
service value.
R&D designers also
participated in an
internal feedback
session using the same
visualizations.

concept designer was
involved).

designer does not
immediately design
products but firstly
identifies service
qualities.

offering provided
the internal
stakeholders
knowledge of how
to speak airline’s
and end user’s
language.

Cabin crews
In-flight service team
R&D Designers

This phase
incorporates user
feedback for concept
interaction through
an early stage.

Users were not
only included in
the research
phase, but also
the generation
phase, and now
the validation
phase. This
provides the
organization a
good
demonstration of
how to apply
user-centered
design
methodologies in
different phases
of innovation.

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

4.2 General Impression of Conducting the Framework

Figure 4 Impression of the phases

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

Reflection on the Proposed Framework and its Effect on the
Organization
In the previous section we proposed an user-centered innovation framework to support
Zodiac Aerospace to transform its innovation process from technology-driven to experiencedriven. Here we would like to review and discuss how the adapted ViP approach added with
co-creation perspective successfully supported Zodiac Aerospace in its transition by creating
user-experience empathy within the organization, advanced its relationship with airline
clients, and initiated mind set change. Reflections on the process is also presented to show
how other companies that are facing the similar challenge can learn from this case study.

5.1
Vision Formulation Provided Different Kind Of Design Brief That Opened
Up The Design Space For The Organization
As the aviation industry is highly technology-driven and mostly, new product requests are
requirement-oriented, internal stakeholders of Zodiac Aerospace are not familiar with rethinking a given problem (design assignment). This resulted in a fixation of solution and
confined innovation. However, through the proposed framework, by following the ViP
structure, the internal designers and engineers were asked to not think about the product
outcome until Phase 7 in the eight-phase approach. They were guided through a wellorchestrated process of, starting from reframing the question, to formulating the future
ideal world, and gathering in-depth user insights that projects experience offering. This
exercise of starting from abstract to gradually pinpointing a potential opportunity space, to
step-by-step become concrete in the concept offering provided the R&D team a different
format of design brief. The new format of design brief contains mainly context features and
desired interactions, this opened up broader design space for the organization to move
towards experience-driven design solutions.

5.2
User-Stakeholders Involvement Created User-Experience Empathy And
Transformed Reactive Supplier Into Proactive Partner With Clients
The involvement of user-stakeholders was to engage the company intensively for creating a
co-creation mind-set with its clients (airlines) and end users (crews and passengers). This
successfully infused the R&D activities with an experience-mind-set by bringing in
passengers’ experience and airlines’ values. For example, the design researcher actively
engaged passengers through in-context generative tools, in-flight probes, to ask them to
document the actual happenings in their fourteen-hour flight. This demonstrated to the
company how to gather useful real-time user-insights (what happened on-board and what
passengers’ reactions on the spot were). The developed user research tools (e.g. in-flight
probe, analysis tools) were proved to be very useful for Zodiac Aerospace as most imperial
studies on passengers’ on-board experience relied on reports of passengers recalling the
experience after the flight (Ahmadpour, Rober, & Lindgaard, 2014). However, what people
recall and what they actually experienced and felt have been proven by studies to be very
different (Sanders & Stappers, 2012). This makes these first hand user insights and the

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

approach of gathering them valuable for companies that are differentiating through product
leadership or customer intimacy, Zodiac Aerospace. With the developed user-experience
research knowledge, Zodiac Aerospace can better understand its airline clients and the
customer of their clients, the passengers. This upgrades Zodiac Aerospace from a reactivesupplier-role to an proactive-partner-role with airlines. The transition is shown by the
extended activities of Zodiac Aerospace and its airline partners. Zodiac Aerospace no longer
only talks sales pitches with airlines, or invites crew users only for usability testing of a
developed product, Zodiac Aerospace also envision future experience and visions through
deeper understanding of the end-users.

5.3
Influence On The Organization: Co-Creation Perspective Initiated MindSet Change Within The Organization
The involvement of internal Zodiac Aerospace stakeholders enhanced the sharing of
different levels of user insights between different departments within an organization. In
this case study, Sales department, the R&D department and Product Development
department were involved starting from the beginning of the innovation project. As Alkaya
et al., (2012) pointed out that different departments within an organization might possess
various types of user insights which are meaningful to them, but which might also be
meaningful for other departments. In this case study, through the co-creation session (Phase
5) and research insight update sessions of Phase 2, 3, 4 with the internal stakeholders, sales,
designers and engineers were able to share insights and learn from the user-experience
researcher. This enhanced a culture and mind-set change of open innovation.
To provide an overview, co-creation with different stakeholders happened in multiple
phases of the framework and resulted in various research and design tools. For example:
 Context inquiry with passengers to investigate inflight positive experience
principles.
 Generative session with internal stakeholders and external users to ideate on
concepts.
 Concept evaluation with cabin crews.
Besides bringing tools that could be called upon in the design process, the usage of cocreation perspective in Zodiac Aerospace initiated a mindset change. The co-creation
process invited internal stakeholders to take part in not only the design of solutions but also
the problem reframing phase, this required a change of mentality, to break through their
own roles in the design process.

5.4

Tips For Improving
 Always define the specific goal for a co-creation session:
Co-creation can be used for different purposes. According to Tassoul (2009),
the purpose could be to define a project, to ideate on a broader topic, or to
detail a design. Therefore it is recommended to clarify the goal of the co-

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Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay and Christine de Lille

creation session before starting. Or use a pre co-creation session to engage
stakeholder brainstorming on the goal of the main session.
 Formulate future vision with stakeholders to start the design phase:
It was a conscious decision for the designer researcher to take the task to
translate the trend and user inputs into a 2020 Vision. However, in practice, it
is strongly advised to engage stakeholders in formulating the “future vision”.
The purpose of starting the design process with a vision is to avoid the risk of
directly jumping into “solutions“ or “products“ without exploring the meaning
and the intended interaction of the design. For service-oriented projects or
projects that are highly interaction-centred, the stakeholders (users, service
enabler, service providers) should be engaged when envisioning the future.

Figure 5 Example of visually supported vision and interaction qualities

 Engage participants with visually supported material:
Reflecting on the crew feedback session, where 28 cabin crews participated in
giving comments on the three service concepts, it was found that huge
printouts of storyboard and illustration of the concepts were great tools to
engage users in a service-oriented design. The printouts on the wall provided a

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From Technology-Driven to Experience-Driven Innovation: A Case from the Aviation Industry using VIP

clear and transparent discussion platform. Participants’ ideas were exposed to
the whole group and therefore, triggered feedbacks from the other
participants. In addition, the crews were asked to express their ideas
specifically by sticking post-it to the specific function/feature they would like
to comment on. In this way, the storyboard was also a structure to collect and
analyse feedbacks.

Figure 6 Example of visually supported material to illustrate a service concept

Conclusion
By adopting the features of the ViP approach, being context-based and providing a wider
experience-driven solution space through vision formulation, the proposed User-Centric
Innovation Approach successfully demonstrated to Zodiac Aerospace how an experiencedriven innovation process could look like in order to support Zodiac Aerospace in supporting
their customers, the airlines in differentiating. Moreover, in order to fully understand the
context of use as well as the interactions of the users with the products and to gain user
empathy, multiple stakeholder involvement through co-creation was added to ViP. Active
involvement of the perspectives of people, such as pursers, crew, service managers,
caterers, passengers etc., enabled the company to move away from a technology-driven
focus and get a thorough understanding of both the interactions with their products and the
overall context of use. As a result, an eight-step detailed approach that allows for cocreation and emphasizes on how experiences are addressed and taking in account for each
phase provided Zodiac Aerospace a step-by-step approach to adapt to the (underlying)
needs and requests of the customer.

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Due to the nature of the study, we were only able to explore indepth how the approach
could work within one company. In future research we will need to investigate the
generalizability of the approach and validate our decision-making. We do expect necessary
changes based on prior experiences user-centered of the company involved and the industry
they operate in (B2B or B2C, user-centered, service or product-oriented etc.).
Through the case study of first creating a future domain, then formulating a vision and finally
to a well-formulated experience-driven design brief, Zodiac Aerospace recognized that more
time and effort for the exploration and research phase is needed to develop concepts that
carry more value for stakeholders. At the moment of writing, we have seen evidence in the
organization of this recognition, a meaningful innovation framework was introduced to
capture the iterative exploration process before TRL concept development system (the
company’s traditional innovation process). This recent action created awareness and clarity
within the organization that good ideas don’t come out of nowhere or purely intuition, but
instead come from well-structured involvement of multiple stakeholders and a deep
understanding of the (future) context. The experience-driven innovation adaption supports
Zodiac Aerospace to look into the deeper and prominent issues they are facing.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to the colleagues of Zodiac Aerospace (Netherlands)
that gave input and participated in my research, especially the R&D team of both galleys
and air-catering business units, the PD team, and the Sales team. Thank you both of my
core users, passengers and cabin crews that provided rich input and the always
enthusiastic attitude for explorative researches.

References
Baines, T., Lightfoot, H., Benedettini, O., & Kay, J. (2009). The Servitization of manufacturing: A
review of literature and reflection on fuuture challenges. Journey of Manufactoring Technology
Management, 547-567.
Berdillon, V., & Guenand, A. (2011). Innovation Through Design for Emotion. International
Conference on Engineering Design, ICED11.
De Lille, C., Debacker, J., & Pardo Maldonado, M. F. (2015). Weight, safety and/or services? An
aviation manufacturer tackling challenges of servitization through design. Spring Servitization
Conference.
Debacker, J., De Lille, C., Eijkelenboom, A., & Santema, S. (2014). Are you being served? Not onboard!
Aviation manufactures moving towards service enabling systems. Academic Design Management
Conference. London.
Hekkert, P., & Van Dijk, M. (2011). Vision in Design A Guidebook for Innovators. Amsterdam: BIS
publisher.
Hekkert, P., Mostert, M., & Stompff, G. (2003). Dancing with a Machine: A case of Experience-Driven
Design. international conference on Designing pleasurable products and interfaces. Pittsburgh:
ACM.
O'Connor, G., & Veryzer, R. (2001). The nature of marketing visioning for technology-based radical
innovation. The Journal of Product Innovation Management 18, 231-236.
Sanders, E. B., & Stappers, P. (2012). Convivial Toolbox. Amsterdam: BIS Publisher.

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Treacy, M., & Wiersema, F. (1993). Customer Intimacy and Other Value Disciplines. Harvard Business
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W.W.A. Beelaerts van Blokland, M. F.J. (2012). Measuring value-leverage in aerospace supply chains.
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Williams, C. (2003). Sky Service: The demands of emotional labour in the airline industry. Gender,
Work and Organization. , 10 (5).
Vink, P., & van Veen, S. (2014). Feeling refreshed after a flight.
Ahmadpour, N., Rober, J., & Lindgaard, G. (2014). A study of passengers’ real-time emotional
responses and comfort experience during the flight using an experience sampling method. 5th
international conference on applied human factors and ergonomics AHFE 2014. Krakow.
Almadari, F. (1999). Airline in-flight entertainment: the passengers’ perspective. Journal of Air
Transport Management , 203-209.
BIS Publishers. (2013). Customer Journey Maps. Inc B. Publishers, This is service design thinking (pp.
158-161). Amsterdam: BIS.
IATA. (2007). Inflight Catering: Process Analysis and User requirements. International Air Transport
Association.
Hall, A., Mayer, T., Wuggetezer, I., & Childs, P. (2013). Future aircraft cabins and design thinking:
optimisation vs. win-win scenarios. Propulsion and Power Research , 2 (2), 85-95.
Desmet, P. (2003). Measuring emotion; development and application of an instrument to measure
emotional responses to products. In M. Blythe, A. Monk, K. Overbeeke, & P. Wright, Funology:
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About the Authors:
Wan-Jen Jenny Tsay is an User Experience Researcher at Zodiac
Aerospace (Netherlands) and a PhD candidate of Delft University of
Technology (Netherlands). She focuses her research on in-flight
experience and bringing design thinking into organizations to support
their innovation.
Christine de Lille is an Assistant Professor at the faculty of Industrial
Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology in the
Netherlands. She focuses in her research on user-centered design
and service design and its impact on organizations.

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual
Framework for Building Innovative Brands
Xinya You* and David Hands
Lancaster University, UK.
* youxy429@hotmail.com
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.350

Abstract: The success of today's brands increasingly relies on consumer-centred coinnovation. In this context, brands must play a role that is more proactive than their
traditional one of serving as a communication tool. Based on an extensive review of
the literature, this paper defines the new role of brands as a driving force for
innovation and, to illustrate the potential of that new role, proposes a conceptual
framework for building innovative brands that comprises the following five
dimensions: (1) the command centre—the brand management team; (2) the strategic
vision—the context of building innovative brands; (3) the organisational
foundation—the organisation's innovation capability; (4) the cross-cultural
perspective—driving innovation cross-culturally; and (5) the human-centred
innovation approach—design thinking. It is hoped that the comprehensive,
interdisciplinary, and strategic outcomes will inspire researchers and marketing
professionals to apply the findings described here and to conduct further study on
this topic.
Keywords: branding; innovation; design thinking; strategic management

Introduction
O'Cass and Viet Ngo (2007) suggested that building successful brands does not always
depend on the interpretation of feedback received from current consumers and competitors
but rather on an organisation's ability to innovatively develop unique ways of delivering
superior value to consumers. This challenge to management science (Ind & Watt, 2006;
Payne, Storbacka, Frow, & Knox, 2009) has been echoed for several years by those who hold
similar pioneering views. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and
strategic perspective from which to approach this challenge as an opportunity. Initially, it
critically reviews the theoretical background and analyses the context of the challenge. It

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Xinya You and David Hands

then addresses the research question of this paper: how does one build innovative brands
systematically? To answer this question, a five-dimensional, conceptual framework for
building innovative brands was mapped out based on a broad literature review of branding,
innovation, organisation, and design theories. Design thinking, a human-centred approach
to innovation, was introduced to inspire the framework.

The New Role of Brands as a Driving Force for Innovation
2.1 The Early Era of Brands as a Communication Tool
The term brand can be traced back to 1876, when Bass Ale submitted its trademark and
became the first officially registered brand in the world (Millman, 2011). During the last
three decades, the term has developed and expanded to encompass a disciplinary status
known as branding. Not confined to consumer goods and services fields, branding has also
extended to business-to-business, to regions and countries, and to organisational
management domains (Allen, Fournier, & Miller, 2008). A brand is often regarded as a
communication tool and a part of the product strategy in brand development (Rooney,
1995). The following are two definitions that provide relatively comprehensive
understandings of the term:
 A brand encompasses the benefits offered by a product or service, the
consumer experience, and the assets critical to delivering and communicating
that experience (Leventhal, 1996).
 A brand is "a multidimensional construction, matching a firm's functional and
emotional values with the performance and psychosocial needs of consumers"
(De Chernatony & Dall'Olmo Riley, 1998, p. 417).
A debate on the "death of the brand" began in the early 1990s (Leventhal, 1996, p. 17), since
the simple world of mass production technology and television advertisement in which
branding theory thrived turned into a more complex world. This complexity is reflected in
various aspects of marketing, such as knowledgeable consumers, multiple media,
proliferating distribution channels, and the rapid development of Internet technology (Allen
et al., 2008; Leventhal, 1996). Accordingly, the role of brands as a communication tool
ended. This argument can be partly verified by the four eras of branding theory
development identified by Merz, He, and Vargo (2009; see Table 1). It is evident that the
debate on the "death of the brand" was initiated at the beginning of the relationship-focus
brand era; since then, involving multiple stakeholders to co-create brand value has become
the central task of brand development.

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

Table 1 The four brand eras identified by Merz, He, and Vargo (2009).
Brand Era

The Role of Brands

1. Individual GoodsFocus Brand Era
(1900s–1930s)

Brands were considered identifiers that constituted a
way for customers to identify goods.

2. Value-Focus Brand
Era (1930s–1990s)

Brands were regarded as functional images and
symbolic images to meet customers' external and
internally generated consumption needs, respectively.

3. Relationship-Focus Brands were seen as knowledge, which considered
Brand Era (1990s–
brand value to be the collectively perceived value co2000)
created by all consumers. Moreover, they were seen as
relationship partners, which highlighted the idea that
consumers formed emotional relationships with brands
and constantly co-created brand value through these
relationships. Furthermore, they played the role of
promises, which stressed the notion that employees
constituted important brand value co-creators by
communicating a certain brand image through their
interaction with customers.
4. Stakeholder-Focus
Brand Era (2000 and
forward)

Brands are identified as dynamic and social processes,
which emphasized the concept that brand communities
and all stakeholders are active co-creators of brand
value.

2.2 The New Era of Brands as a Driving Force for Innovation
As discussed in the previous section, the exploration of mutual relationships among
stakeholders to co-create brand value has been the dominant direction of branding theory.
Some constructive suggestions have been proposed, which can be grouped into the
following two approaches to building innovative brands.
Consumer-centred innovation: Norton (2005) indicated that some brands provided
consumers unprecedented innovative products and services and were thus responsible for
the company's market leadership. Further, Ulaga and Chacour (2001) pointed out the
importance of knowing what customers need and desire, and then developing and delivering
consumer-valued innovations, to the success of today's businesses. These findings led to a
newly established logic: consumer-centred innovation is the key to brands' success, a
conclusion that has been confirmed by many scholars in the branding field (De Chernatony,
McDonald, & Wallace, 2011; Payne et al., 2009; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004; Sheth &
Parvatiyar, 1999).
Cross-boundary collaboration: De Chernatony (2001) pointed out that brand development is
a set of cross-functional activities in the value-adding process. Similarly, Merz et al. (2009)
argued that stakeholders co-create brand value continuously, dynamically, socially, and
interactively. Correspondingly, the collaboration relationship among stakeholders has

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Xinya You and David Hands

become an ideal opportunity for brands to survive and thrive (Cravens & Piercy, 2008; Hatch
& Schultz, 2010). As collaborative partners, stakeholders can contribute in many ways, such
as supplying economic resources and political support as well as the specialist knowledge
that provides mutual benefits for brand development and innovation (A. Gregory, 2007;
Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004).
The two approaches are interrelated and therefore can be combined into consumer-centred
co-innovation, which implies the new role of brands. In this regard, Abbing (2010) put
forward a new concept, brand-driven innovation, and the following four-stage approach to
achieving it:
1. Human-centred branding connects the brand to the people who develop new
products and services, as well as to its current and future customers.
Organisations can achieve this goal by involving multiple stakeholders throughout
their entire brand-building processes.
2. Building innovative strategy involves developing an innovation approach that sees
the promise of the brand as a springboard. The question to answer is "How can we
deploy our capabilities and resources as best we can to develop new products and
services that delight our customers in every stage of their relationship with us?"
3. Building design strategy comes into play after an organisation has discovered its
unique capabilities and gained an understanding of how these can be transformed
into value for its customers. A multi-disciplinary strategic design will help to
transform the understanding into practice.
4. Touchpoint orchestration is the course through which, every time the consumer
encounters a brand touchpoint, the organization has an opportunity to strengthen
the relationship with that customer.
In this way, Abbing (2010) creatively demonstrated the new role of brands as a driving force
for innovation. It can be said that the early era of brands as a communication tool has been
replaced by the new era of brands as a driving force for innovation. This classification of the
two brand eras offers a new perspective that raises brands to a dominant position in
businesses and reveals their potential power in continuously driving consumer-centred coinnovation.

2.3 Defining the Research Question
While the latest studies towards the new brand era are inspiring, they continue to be
undeveloped and require improvements. For example, the four-stage approach of branddriven innovation has several limitations. First, it requires the fundamental knowledge of
branding theory as a prerequisite. In addition, the application result highly relies on the
organisation's innovation capability. Moreover, it simplifies the process of brand-driven
innovation (Abbing, 2010). As a result, organisations can hardly implement it without
expertise. Hence, a valuable research approach is one that focuses more on relevant topics,
which is what this paper aims to do. In the new brand era, the core responsibility of brands

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

is driving consumer-centred co-innovation systematically and thus helping organisations to
achieve sustainable development. Accordingly, this paper defines a critical research
question: how does one build innovative brands systematically? To answer this question,
this paper presents a conceptual framework comprising the following five dimensions: (1)
the command centre—the brand management team; (2) the strategic vision—the context of
building innovative brands; (3) the organisational foundation—the organisation's innovation
capability; (4) the cross-cultural perspective—driving innovation cross-culturally; and (5) the
human-centred innovation approach—design thinking (see Figure 1). Companies and public
sectors are the two primary domains that need to build brands. Due to space limitations,
this paper concentrates on companies.

Figure 1 The five-dimensional, conceptual framework for building innovative brands.

2.4 Inspired by Design Thinking
The fifth dimension of the framework introduces a mature concept of design theory: design
thinking, an idea whose development can be traced back to the 1960s (Simon, 1969). Now,
a half-century later, the world has come to a common understanding of design thinking. The
following are two clear definitions of the concept:
 Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that integrates the
needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for
business success (Brown, 2015).
 Design thinking is "a human-centred innovation process that emphasizes
observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid concept
prototyping, and concurrent business analysis, which ultimately influences
innovation and business strategy" (Lockwood, 2010, p. xi).

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Xinya You and David Hands

The essence of design thinking can be described as consumer-centred co-innovation, and it
is also the core idea of brands as a driving force for innovation. Hence, this paper suggests
that design thinking as a mature concept can be applied to inspire brand development.

The Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands
Systematically
In Section 2.3, this paper proposed a five-dimensional, conceptual framework for building
innovative brands systematically. This section enriches the framework based on a broad
literature review and builds a solid foundation for further exploration.

3.1 The Command Centre: the Brand Management Team
Abbing (2010) argued that brand-driven innovation requires releasing the brand from the
marketing department into the entire organisation. This argument is valid, because
developing and implementing brand strategies within the marketing department is beyond
its capacity for in dealing with the complexity of consumer-centred co-innovation. Further,
Webster Jr, Malter, and Ganesan (2012) proposed an idea that a small "centre of excellence"
can be built to enable collaboration among an array of dispersed marketing elements.
Similarly, De Chernatony (2001) encouraged companies to grow and to sustain their brands
strategically by building a brand team composed of knowledgeable employees. Consistent
with these opinions, this paper presents the view that it is important to establish a brand
management team as the command centre of building innovative brands systematically. A
competent brand manager should be appointed to administer the brand team (Brexendorf &
Daecke, 2012) and to engage multiple stakeholders in developing brands together.

3.2 The Strategic Vision: the Context of Building Innovative Brands
The success of building innovative brands is closely linked to the strategic vision of thinking
of all key aspects of brand development as a whole. This paper identifies five key aspects of
brand development.
Key Aspect 1: Developing Business Strategy
The value of brand strategy and business strategy are equivalent in this new brand era. Urde
(1994) confirmed the equivalence by arguing that brands should be used as a starting point
in the formulation of business strategies through creating brand orientation. Moreover,
empirical evidence indicates that the most brand-oriented companies have almost doubled
the profitability of the least brand-oriented companies (Gromark & Melin, 2011). Business
strategy comprises three key dimensions: (1) the product-market scope—the heart of
business strategy; (2) the value proposition—the prerequisite of new products; and (3)
strategic assets (such as research expertise and a well-recognized logo)—the foundation of
business strategy (Aaker, 2009). Based on these three dimensions, this paper maintains that
the relationship between business strategy and brand strategy in building innovative brands
should consider the following:

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

 The product-market scope: The consumer-centred co-innovation process of
building innovative brands can generate meaningful insights to help formulate
an appropriate product-market scope.
 The value proposition: A unique brand promise should be constructed to
connect the organisation's capabilities and vision to the customer's needs and
aspirations, which is a precondition for developing the value propositions of
new products.
 The strategic assets: These assets should be legitimately deployed to support
the building of innovative brands.
Key Aspect 2: Formulating Brand Strategy
The brand vision and the brand promise construct one set of the most significant concepts in
building innovative brands. The brand vision should indicate the long-term intent for a
brand and must excite employees and enable them to understand how they can contribute
to the brand's success (De Chernatony, 2001). The brand promise is the statement made by
a brand to its customers that identifies expectations for all interactions with its people,
products, services, and company (Cameron & Wilcox, 2003). The corporate brand and the
product brand construct another set of the most important concepts. From the relationship
perspective, the corporate brand is the dominant master brand and drives the product
brand(s) (J. R. Gregory, 1997). From an audience perspective, the corporate brand aims to
develop a coherent brand promise to all stakeholders, and the product brand(s) focuses on
providing and communicating its benefits and value proposition to its consumers (Schultz &
De Chernatony, 2002). In practice, some corporations have adopted the multi-brand
strategy, which establishes a large portfolio of product brands to take advantage of
disaggregation (Dawar, 2004), whereas some companies apply the single-brand strategy,
which uses the corporate brand to communicate important messages on behalf of all its
product brands (J. R. Gregory, 1997).
Key Aspect 3: Managing New Product Development
Most companies begin with a single product and gradually become multi-product
corporations (Rao, Agarwal, & Dahlhoff, 2004). Usually, new product development projects
are conducted in three stages: the product strategy and planning stage, the product
development organizing stage, and the project management stage (Krishnan & Ulrich, 2001).
When new products are planned to be added, the product development manager needs to
answer five critical questions: what to launch; where to launch; when to launch; why to
launch; and how to launch (Hultink, Griffin, Hart, & Robben, 1997). It is valuable for a
corporation to build a product portfolio that includes many product development projects
targeting existing and potential markets. The creation of several product platforms is also
valuable to enable resource sharing across different projects (Krishnan & Ulrich, 2001).
Key Aspect 4: Customizing Brand Experience
Scholars in the branding field hold a common view that a brand is an accumulation of brand
experience collectively gleaned from all brand touchpoints (Davis, 2000; Meyer & Schwager,

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Xinya You and David Hands

2007; Rockwell, 2008). Therefore, the ultimate aim of brand management should be to
deliver a consistent and distinctive brand experience of the brand promise through every
brand touchpoint (Burmann & Zeplin, 2005; Mosley, 2007; Noble, 2006). The touchpoints of
a brand may include advertising, packaging, the out-of-box experience, the product or
service itself, customer service, and informational channels (Rockwell, 2008). The use of
mapping tools can help to improve or create brand experience (Patterson & Marketing,
2009), such as customer journey.
Key Aspect 5: Engaging Multiple Stakeholders
The stakeholders of brands usually include brand owners, corporate investors, financiers,
suppliers, consumers, employees, trade unions, competitors, and authorities
(Ditlev­Simonsen & Midttun, 2011; J. R. Gregory, 1997). Among them, consumers are the
end-assessors of products and thus should be seen as the core stakeholders (S. Kumar &
Blomqvist, 2004; Pike, 2007; Willmott, 2010). Employees are also essential stakeholders: a
company needs to understand its employees' values and aspirations to unleash their
potential and to align their values with its brand promise (De Chernatony, 2001). Moreover,
stakeholders other than consumers and employees are additional value co-creators for
brands. Hence, it is necessary to think about how to engage multiple stakeholders in
building innovative brands to generate maximum value.

3.3 The Organisational Foundation: the Organisation's Innovation Capability
Companies need to distinguish the key factors of nurturing the organisation's innovation
capability, which supports brand development (Koberg, Detienne, & Heppard, 2003). This
section describes the following four sets of factors:
Key Factor Set 1: Tangible and Intangible Resources
Organisational resources can be categorized as either tangible or intangible. Tangible
resources include people, equipment, technologies, and cash. Intangible resources comprise
product designs, knowledge, brands, and relationships with suppliers, distributors, and
consumers (Christensen & Overdorf, 2000; Prahalad & Krishnan, 2008). Among all of these,
knowledge is the key resource in nurturing the organisation's innovation capability (Anand,
Gardner, & Morris, 2007; Gold & Arvind Malhotra, 2001). The organisation's innovation
capability can be translated into its ability to continuously create, absorb, and integrate
knowledge while adapting it to changing market conditions (Verona & Ravasi, 2003). As a
prerequisite, however, organisations need to first figure out what type of innovation they
want to pursue, since different types of innovation require particular types of knowledge
and knowledge management (Koberg et al., 2003; Popadiuk & Choo, 2006). Conceptually,
explicit knowledge is firmly related to incremental innovation, while tacit knowledge is
closely linked to radical innovation (Popadiuk & Choo, 2006).
Key Factor Set 2: Organisational Processes and Structure
Organisational processes constitute the patterns of interaction, coordination,
communication, and decision making that people use to transform resources into products

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

(Christensen & Overdorf, 2000). It is important for companies to pursue and to sustain
innovation by formulating organisational processes that encourage it. In this regard,
Mumford (2000) recommended the work styles that emphasize curiosity, persistent interest,
focused interests, self-discipline, and skills related to the integration of a variety of work
activities and interests. Organisational structure can be described as the orchestration of
processes (Damanpour & Schneider, 2006; Dhanaraj & Parkhe, 2006). Ramezan (2011)
defined it as the power and responsibility structure formed in the managing process, which
can find expression in the policymaking structure, the governing structure, the controlling
structure, and the information structure. The success of every strategy depends heavily on
its alignment with organisational structure (Jabnoun, 2005). There are some general
principles of designing organisational structure for fostering long-term innovation capability.
For example, organisational structures that are relatively flexible and decentralized but
integrated can support sharing, learning, and collaboration across boundaries, both
internally and externally (Anand et al., 2007; Chen & Huang, 2007; Gold & Arvind Malhotra,
2001; Koberg et al., 2003; Tsai, 2001). Additionally, organisational-structure design should
meet the requirements of reducing uncertainty and of focusing employee efforts on the
accomplishment of strategic goals (O'Neill, Beauvais, & Scholl, 2001).
Key Factor Set 3: Corporate Values and Culture
Corporate values refer to a company's institutional standards of behaviour (Kelly, Kocourek,
McGaw, & Samuelson, 2005). They are articulated and embedded in a company's practices
for purposes of playing the guiding role in the decision-making process (Brătianu &
Bălănescu, 2008). The fostering of an organisation's innovation capability requires
corresponding corporate values that set up the standards of innovation practices. Culture
refers to the values shared by a group of people that tend to persist over time, even when
group membership changes (Kotter, 2008). This definition also applies to corporate culture.
When a business grows larger and more complex, its corporate values become increasingly
important and gradually evolve into a corporate culture (Christensen & Overdorf, 2000),
which is an important determinant of climate for innovation (Sarros, Cooper, & Santora,
2008). Innovation-supportive cultures can nurture expectations and guidelines for
members' experimentation, creativity, and risk-taking (Jassawalla & Sashittal, 2002).
Key Factor Set 4: The Development Stage of the Organisation
Companies can be classified into four different categories according to their size:
microenterprise, small enterprise, medium enterprise, and large enterprise (European Union
Commission, 2003). This classification indicates the four development stages of
organisations. As Knight and Cavusgil (2004) pointed out, smaller companies are more
flexible, less bureaucratic, and enjoy internal conditions that encourage innovativeness,
whereas larger corporations usually experience massive bureaucratization, which hinders
their innovative activities; this does not mean, however, that small companies are more
innovative than large corporations. Christensen and Overdorf (2000) demonstrated that
companies commonly experience a migration of capabilities during their growth: they start
in resources, in particular human resources, and then shift to processes and values before

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Xinya You and David Hands

finally migrating to culture. Therefore, organisations at different development stages need
to nurture their innovation capability with particular focuses and hold a long-term strategic
vision.

3.4 The Cross-cultural Perspective: Driving Innovation Cross-culturally
Many proactive research findings have been put forward regarding building innovation
brands cross-culturally. On the one hand, some studies have furthered the understanding of
cultural similarities and differences in organisational behaviour (Lytle, Brett, Barsness,
Tinsley, & Janssens, 1995; Mueller & Thomas, 2001). For example, Shane (1993)
demonstrated that high rates of innovation are closely associated with the cultural value of
uncertainty acceptance, individualism, and lack of power distance. On the other hand, some
studies have shown that there is a global formula for successful innovation (Murovec &
Prodan, 2009). For example, Lee, Lee, and Souder (2000) found that top management
support, research and development (R&D)-marketing integration, product champion's
influences, and project manager's authority, skill, and motivating ability are essential for new
product development (NPD) success regardless of the country in which a company operates.
These findings are valuable in providing a cross-cultural perspective of building innovative
brands. Moreover, driving innovation cross-culturally can be strengthened by engaging
relevant stakeholders of different cultures. The involvement can bring in-depth
communications and interactions that help to gain cross-cultural knowledge for building
innovative brands, which will then be able to connect the organisation's vision and capability
to the consumer's needs and aspirations cross-culturally. In this way, cultural similarities
and differences become cross-cultural innovation opportunities for brand development.

3.5 The Human-centred Innovation Approach: Design Thinking
This section discusses how design thinking can bring benefits to the whole process of
building innovative brands systematically. The discussion follows the sequence of the fivedimensional, conceptual framework.
Dimension 1: The Command Centre—the Brand Management Team
Because it holds a central position in building innovative brands, the brand management
team should take the leadership in applying and disseminating design thinking throughout
the entire organisation. The team needs to engage employees from different departments
in working together to develop brands by applying design thinking. This method is effective
because it has been shown that there is a learning progression during the design thinking
process that can transform a novice into an expert design thinker (Goldschmidt & Weil,
1998).
Dimension 2: The Strategic Vision—the Context of Building Innovative Brands
Applying design thinking can bring strategic value to the systematic building of innovative
brands. Overall, design thinking offers companies a shared customer-centric language with
which to discuss the opportunities available to them (Design Management Institute, 2015).

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Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

Furthermore, design thinking can provide specific value to each aspect of brand
development. In developing business strategies, some of design thinking's nondenominational concepts, such as teamwork and visualization, can help companies to create
a powerful platform through which to support incremental improvements and to drive
innovation. The improvements include reductions in time to market, increased margins, and
a better product/market mix. In formulating brand strategies, design thinking can
encourage companies to focus on building brand loyalty based on customer-centric empathy
and by aligning their internal culture with the external brand offer (Design Management
Institute, 2015). While managing new product development, design thinking provides a
fundamental process that can guide a company to translate its abstract brand vision, brand
promise, and capability to consumer-centred innovations. The process consists of five steps:
empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test (the d.school, 2012). In customizing
consumer-valued brand experiences, design thinking is useful, as well. In 2006, for example,
IBM started to apply design thinking to improve clients' experience of visiting IBM centres
(Clark & Smith, 2008). Finally, design thinking offers an opportunity to open up the roles
that multiple stakeholders play in constituting value creation (Kimbell & Street, 2009).
Dimension 3: The Organisational Foundation—the Organisation's Innovation Capability
Design thinking can help to nurture the organisation's innovation capability by managing
each of its key factors. Design thinking is useful in managing tangible resources to enhance
the organisation's innovation capability. For example, its visual artefacts and prototypes can
help multidisciplinary teams work together (Kimbell, 2011). Likewise, design thinking can
contribute to managing intangible resources. For instance, knowledge and skills are central
to the design thinking approach, but they are embedded within an embodied understanding
of practice (Adams, Daly, Mann, & Dall'Alba, 2011). Moreover, design thinking is about
finding a better balance between exploration and exploitation and between abductive,
inductive, and deductive reasoning (Martin, 2009). This characteristic makes it particularly
valuable for inspiring the design of organisational processes and structures that balance
organisational tensions between divergent intuitive exploration and convergent analytical
exploitation (University of St. Gallen, 2011). In addition, the comparatively organic process
of design thinking that stresses interdisciplinary collaboration also serves as a good example
of developing organisational processes and structures that encourage and enable
innovation.
Furthermore, companies can train their employees to be design thinkers with the following
characteristics: empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism, and collaboration
(Brown, 2008). These characteristics will lead to the establishment of corporate values and
corporate cultures that motivate consumer-centred co-innovation. As designer thinkers,
employees will be able to not only meet the requirements of tasks but also to solve
problems innovatively (Rylander, 2009). Additionally, they can be "knowledge brokers" and
"glue" in an organisation because of their ability to embrace many types of thought and
knowledge and to solve problem holistically (Hargadon & Sutton, 1999; Kimbell, 2011).
Encouragingly, design thinking is powerful for companies at different development stages in

2457

Xinya You and David Hands

practice. Some SMEs (e.g. Challs International and Oxford Biosensors) and some large
corporations (e.g. SAP and IBM) have already benefited from the application of design
thinking (Clark & Smith, 2008; V. Kumar, Ward, Runcie, & Morris, 2009; SAP, 2015).
Dimension 4: The Cross-cultural Perspective—Driving Innovation Cross-culturally
The value of design thinking has been confirmed cross-culturally. For example, Rau (2014)
and the d.school (2015) emphasized the value of design thinking in understanding different
cultures and, subsequently, their users. In addition, researchers have started to explore the
power of understanding design thinking in multicultural workplaces (University of Canberra,
2015). Nevertheless, this paper presents the belief that there is more that design thinking
can contribute to cross-cultural studies, especially in building innovative brands crossculturally. Potential contributions include understanding multiple stakeholders of different
cultures, improving cross-cultural collaboration, delivering outstanding products and
consumer experience for different cultures, and nurturing an organisation's innovation
capability cross-culturally.
Dimension 5: The Human-centred Innovation Approach—Design Thinking
A previous portion of this section discusses the idea that the application of design thinking
would energize the entire process of building innovative brands. The utilization of design
thinking tools and techniques can significantly enhance the applicability of design thinking in
this process. First, the tools and techniques can be designed to train new design thinkers
from a novice level to that of an expert. For example, non-hierarchical mind-mapping
techniques are useful for training novice designers to adopt a design problem-solving
framework or processes of expert designers (Kokotovich, 2008). Secondly, generally
everyone can easily and quickly grasp these tools and techniques, such as the Empathy Map
created by The d. school (2015). Thirdly, these tools and techniques can improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of the collaboration among multiple stakeholders. For example,
sketches and visualization techniques allow design thinkers to represent problems and
solutions and to develop their ideas in conversation (Dorst, 2010). In practice, design
thinking tools and techniques, such as the Business Model Canvas, which has gained a high
reputation in business management and entrepreneurship areas, have proved valuable in
many areas (Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010).

Conclusion
This review of the development of branding theory clearly reveals that a new brand era has
arrived. In this new era, pursuing consumer-centred co-innovation is crucial if brands are to
survive and thrive. Hence, instead of their traditional role as a communication tool, today's
brands must take a more proactive role. This paper defines the new role as a driving force
for innovation and proposes a research question through which to illustrate the new role of
brands: how does one build innovative brands systematically? To answer this question, a
five-dimensional, conceptual framework was mapped out. According to the framework,
companies are first suggested to establish a multifunctional brand management team as the

2458

Critically Exploring the Development of a Conceptual Framework for Building Innovative Brands

command centre of building innovative brands. The framework then offers a strategic vision
of brand development by explaining its five critical aspects: developing business strategy;
formulating brand strategy; managing new product development; customizing brand
experience; and engaging multiple stakeholders. Next, it distinguishes four sets of
interrelated key factors of an organisation's innovation capability: tangible and intangible
resources; organisational processes and structure; corporate values and culture; and the
development stage of the organisation. Moreover, it adopts a cross-cultural perspective by
engaging relevant stakeholders from different cultures in brand development. Finally, the
framework elaborates how design thinking can bring value to the whole process of building
innovative brands systematically.
In conclusion, this paper suggests a new direction for further branding theory and, based on
that, creates a strategic blueprint for brand development that is comprehensive,
interdisciplinary, and strategic, and thus valuable in the real world. Specifically, the paper
offers an overall picture of running and sustaining innovative businesses; it encourages
companies to break the boundaries of different departments, stakeholders, and cultures; it
provides a simple and flexible framework for fast learning, easy application, and further
exploration; it implies a time dimension of gradually nurturing organisations and their
brands; and it equips organisations with a human-centred innovation approach. This paper
contributes towards design discipline by raising design thinking to a critical position in
building brands and by broadening an understanding of the value of design thinking in
helping companies to achieve their success. Nevertheless, further empirical research is
required to enrich and to verify the findings of this paper. The authors' next task is to make
a theoretical contribution to theory building and theory testing by conducting a multiplecase study guided by the five-dimensional, conceptual framework. Building innovative
brands systematically, a previously unexplored process, will serve as the foundation for the
new theory.

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About the Authors:
Xinya You is a PhD student at Lancaster University. Previously, she
worked for two years as an analyst at Siegel + Gale. She obtained her
MA in Design & Branding Strategy (Brunel University) and BA in
Industrial Design (Tsinghua University).
Dr David Hands is Course Leader for MA Design Management at
Lancaster University. His research interests are varied and diverse,
encompassing design policy development; design briefing; design
leadership; designing against crime; and new product development.

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking
Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation
Fiona Macivera*, Julian Malinsa, Julia Kantorovitchb and Aggelos Liapisc
a

Norwich University of the Arts
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
c
Athens University of Economics and Business
* f.maciver@nua.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.37
b

Abstract There has been a recent upsurge in the promotion of ‘creative thinking’.
The input of several disciplines is necessary to innovate new products and services.
However, there remain many challenges to collaboration amongst creative and
science-based disciplines. This paper examines disparities between designers and
technologists when innovating and tackling problems. It is suggested that dominance
of one party is likely to result in inadequate results. This paper seeks to explore how
collaboration can be mediated by design thinking. A case study of designers and
technologists working on a software development project is presented. The case
study highlights challenges resulting from differences between designers and
technologists. Guiding principles aimed at facilitating collaboration are outlined.
Finally, the paper reflects on the symbiosis between the disciplines, and how
difference in fact cultivates innovation.

KEYWORDS: Interdisciplinary teams; design/technology collaboration; design thinking;
design projects; project management

Introduction
While there are inherent differences in how the arts and sciences have evolved, rapidly
changing present contexts are demanding greater intersection of disciplines. There has
been a shift towards uniting creative- and science-based disciplines over the past decade.
The value of ‘creative thinking’ gained popularity as a means to stimulate the industrial
sector in the 2000s. Official reports (e.g. in the UK, The Cox Review (2004) and the DTI’s
(2005) Economics Paper 15; in Ireland, the Forfás (2009) report on skills in creativity, design
and innovation; in Denmark, the Danish Design Council’s (2003) report on the economic
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

effects of design) herald a change in attitude towards the importance of creativity, and
particularly design, as a means for stimulating economic growth through innovation. This
shift is reflected in the inclusion of design within innovation and technology projects, for
example in those run by Innovate UK and the European Institute of Innovation and
Technology, whose programs recognise the importance of design and creativity as a critical
component in interdisciplinary projects.
In terms of innovation, it seems that the division between disciplines is outmoded and is
potentially restricting, as forecast by C.P. Snow almost 60 years ago (Snow, 2001). However,
in modern education, the divide is still evidenced in the early specialisation between arts or
sciences subjects in some national systems (Archer et al., 2013). The dichotomy of selfdefinition as either creative or scientific (i.e. having a disposition for analysis and logic, or
intuition and holistic thought determined by dominance of the ‘left brain’ or ‘right brain’) is
equally dated and false. Rather, recent research in the field of neuroscience emphasises
equal connectivity and activity in both hemispheres of the brain when problem solving (AzizZadeh, 2013; Nielsen et al., 2013). Table 1 summarises the qualities conventionally
associated with the sciences and the arts, and delineates the groups of professionals
categorised as ‘technologists’ and ‘designers’ in the course of this paper.
While the arts/science dichotomy is an overly simplistic categorisation, the notion of
difference endures, making collaboration and interdisciplinary projects challenging. Interand intraorganisational projects are often blighted by problems (Lovelace et al., 2001).
Research focusing on interdisciplinary design projects illustrates that several problems arise
relating, for example, a lack of shared vision (Kristensen, 1998) and difference in language
(Murray and O’Driscoll, 1996), leading to strained and misunderstood relationships (Dumas,
1994; Svengren Holm and Johansson, 2005). In terms of academic research, funding sources
tends to divide disciplines, creating difficulties when establishing cross-disciplinary projects
(Bruce et al., 2004).
Table 1: Qualities of the sciences and the arts
Sciences

Arts

Mathematics, physics, engineering

Creativity, language

Logic

Intuition, subjectivity

Left brain

Right brain

Linear, sequential

Holistic, chaotic, divergent

Reductionist enquiry

Naturalistic enquiry

Facts, figures, formulae

Interpretive forms, subjective expression

One correct answer

Many solutions

Technologists - computer scientists,
software engineers, information science
experts, coders…

Designers - product designers, interface
designers, design researchers, graphic
designers…

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation

The trend towards interdisciplinary collaboration highlights the need to revisit the
dichotomy. How disciplines approach problems reflects their inherent differences. While
disconnect can be problematic in projects spanning disciplinary divides, it is in fact difference
upon which interdisciplinarity thrives (e.g. Kelley and Littman, 2006), and which can be
considered to enhance innovation.
This paper explores the variation in approach, methodology and working methods of two
divergent disciplines. Using a case study of an interdisciplinary software development
project to investigate this issue, the authors look specifically at the case of designers and
technologists. The article highlights divergences and convergences in the working processes
of designers and technologists, including problem-solving approaches, terminologies, and
methodologies. From this discussion, the benefits of resolving disciplinary divides emerge,
particularly in relation to the adequacy of project outcomes. The paper offers guiding
principles for addressing interdisciplinary differences. It is suggested that acknowledging
and embracing difference is crucial for the success of interdisciplinary collaboration.

2. Innovating across cultural borders: The case of design and
technology
The need for disciplines to work collaboratively enhances NPD (new product development)
success (Felekoglu et al., 2013), particularly where products are highly complex. NPD
stakeholder collaboration is assisted by 24/7 digital communication, the ability to
instantaneously share updates to work-in-progress via the internet (Maciver et al., 2015),
and the capability to work alongside partners in different time zones on production and
manufacture (Kumar and Whitney, 2007). These shifts propagate the shift from traditional,
bounded forms of working towards an expansive, holistic, interdisciplinary viewpoint. In this
paradigm, collaboration with others stakeholders – from different countries and subject
disciplines – is vital to contemporary practice.
Working practices are inextricably linked to the types of problems faced by disciplines.
According to Rittel and Webber (1973), problems faced by technologists are ‘tame’ and can
be solved rationally according to the principles of mathematics and physics, and with a
correct or incorrect answer. By contrast, those of the design discipline are ‘wicked’, not
conforming to any logical sequence, framework or methodology, and with many possible
solutions. The starting point and style of problem solving strategies therefore varies for
designers and technologists, and this can be stifling for innovation. In interdisciplinary
projects, conflict and misunderstanding can occur as a direct result of the difference in
backgrounds, approaches and expertise (Kim and Kang, 2008).
New product development theory offers insight into the variation in styles of innovating.
The traditional modes are ‘market pull’ and ‘technology push’. In the technology push
approach, effort is focused on the acquisition of scientific knowledge, and in constructing
new products around technology (de Assunção, 2008). This implies a passive role for users,
the market being a receptacle for technological endeavours (Rothwell, 1986). By contrast,

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

the market pull approach has its focus on demand and user research. By learning what the
customer needs and desires, firms then respond by developing appropriate products. These
contrasting approaches to innovation are compared in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Two modes of the innovation process (adapted from Rothwell, 1986:110)

Factors such as product type, newness of the market, and age and expertise of the firm also
affect the adopted strategy. For example, it has been suggested that smaller firms
commercialising disruptive products are better suited to the push approach (Walsh et al.,
2002). In general, where technologists instigate and lead NPD, the technology push
approach is more common, while the market pull approach is more likely where design
leads. However, one is not exclusive of the other: Lubik et al. (2012) posit that the strategic
orientation can alter over time. Indeed, both modes have value and application in different
situations, while Brem and Voigt (2009) suggest that the two styles can be combined. The
following sections discuss and compare the paths of design and technology approaches in
greater detail.

2.1

People at the centre: the ‘market pull’ design approach

In discussing the design approach to innovation, it is first necessary to reflect on the design
discipline. Design by nature is concerned with the unknown, and with possibility. The role
of the designer is considered to centre on improving existing situations (Roth, 1999; Simon,
1996). A fundamentally inquisitive disposition creates fluidity in structure, where the
problem space is undefined and constantly evolving (Galle, 1996). New information is
continually entering the process, meaning that the design problem and its solution evolve
simultaneously (Cross, 1997; Lawson, 2005). Moreover, the requirements of the actors in
the process (e.g. the society and people for whom the outcome is intended; the designer's
personal subjectivity, taste and style) are balanced in the solution (Dorst, 2008; Forty, 2005).
Significantly, the focus on people and problems permeates the design approach. Form,
function and materials are only one part of a wider investigation where designers need to
understand what makes a product ‘useful, useable and desirable’ for the people for whom it
is intended Buchanan (2001:13).

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The design process itself also offers insight on methodologies. The unpredictability of design
means that there is no single methodology (Candy and Edmunds, 1996; Design Council,
2007), but broad principles underlie every design process. The Design Council’s Double
Diamond, a widely accepted framework, identifies four basic phases through which any
design project progresses that allow teams to explore ideas, test solutions and innovate.
The model also indicates that iteration can occur during phases, and that previous phases
may be revisited during the process, a proposition which takes into account different modes
of thinking (generative, externally-focused divergent loops, followed by evaluative, iterative,
internal-facing convergent loops) occurring throughout the process.
The characteristics of design, such as lateral thinking and the ability to deal with ambiguous
questions, can be deployed in a variety of contexts to bring new insights. The result is
reflected in the designer’s typically broad starting point in projects. Indeed, the Double
Diamond encourages divergent thinking for generating multiple alternative ideas. Theory
and practice suggest that an expansive approach to idea generation fosters innovation. For
example, innovation consultancy IDEO retains all ideas gathered in the early phases of the
design process for a later evaluation stage (Kelley and Littman, 2001). Common techniques
used by designers focus on user research (e.g. Bruseberg and McDonagh, 2001; Fulton-Suri,
2005; Sanders, 2002) – integrating users in product creation (Redström, 2006) – as well as
design-focused activities such as sketching (van der Lugt, 2005) and collaborative sketching
(Malins et al., 2007; Tang et al., 2011); team-based brainstorm sessions (McAdam and
McClelland, 2002); and mind mapping (Kokotovich, 2008).
Notably, the influence of human actors in design – designers and users – is at the forefront
of the evaluation of ideas. In essence, how well the solution meets the needs of the
intended user rests upon a range of distinctive criteria, including specific user needs
(Papanek, 1984), rather than upon a standardised framework. In practice however, this
unfixed, ambiguous stance can be misunderstood by other disciplines. We now contrast this
with the technology push approach.

2.2

Science leads: the technology push approach

The development of new technology is driven by skills- and technological knowledge. In the
technology push approach, customer groups and needs are investigated after the innovation
is developed. This approach is typically adopted by SMEs and start-ups whose focus is on
one particular innovation, or by university research teams where there is a premise for basic
science and radical breakthroughs (Souder, 1989; Lucas, 1994).
While engineering literature highlights the importance of applying the principles of usability
engineering (Nielsen, 1994), such as the technology acceptance model (e.g. Davis, 1989),
and the user-driven design paradigm (e.g. Beyer and Holtzblatt, 1998; Greenbaum and Kyng,
1991; ISO, 2010; Koskinen, 2003) during the technological development of products and
services, research on users is rarely deployed from the early phases of development. Market
research is more likely to be undertaken in later phases, such as during evaluation of
product performance, and to gauge perceived usefulness. How valuable such research is

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

subsequent to costly development processes is questionable: Cooper (2011) emphasises the
value of front-end homework in enhancing product success.
Indeed, a user-centric approach is considered to have significant drawbacks. For example,
users are often unable to express latent needs or to imagine the possibilities of technology
not yet in existence (Norman and Verganti, 2014). Furthermore, many innovations have
been conceived without an initial clear purpose. For instance, the need for mobile phones
and data connectivity arose post-invention (Pantzar, 1996).

2.3

Design thinking: Evolution of a unified, interdisciplinary method

Both the design and technology approaches have application in different situations. As
previously described, the current context of innovation requires greater collaboration and
the exchange of ideas across disciplines. However, in Brem and Voigt’s view, reliance upon
science based, technology push modes, at the expense of creative dominated market pull, is
potentially damaging. There is symbiosis between the knowledge and insight brought by
both sides. Therefore, flexibility and the ability to shift between different modes of
innovation, as well as knowing when to do so in the course of a project, is key.
In doing so, balance, mutual understanding, and better integration are required to meet the
evolving challenges of the current climate (de Wit and Meyer, 2005). This proposition has
great currency in interdisciplinary innovation. While the modes of innovation deployed by
design and technology disciplines have different starting points, there exists inter-reliance
between the knowledge brought by both sides during collaboration. A tangible product
cannot be conceived without the application of creative ideas and attention to users brought
by design, nor can it be realised without technological skills and knowledge.
Recent interest in creative thinking suggests that multidisciplinary teams can harness the
tools and approaches of design thinking (Nussbaum, 2013). The notion of integration is core
in the design thinking methodology. Design thinking is considered to offer a methodology
for the collaboration of arts and science poles of project teams. Brown (2008) emphasises
crossover between creativity, technology and commerce, and suggests that this approach
excels in strategically converting need into demand (Brown, 2009). Indeed, design has
precedence in assuming an integrating role where art and technology disciplines are
concerned. The word ‘design’, derived from the Latin meaning ‘sign’ (Flusser, 1999), has
evolved to bridge the cultural gaps between art and technology since the Industrial
Revolution (Coles, 2005). Likewise, design management literature emphasises its strategic
placement in organisations, suggesting that it acts as a bridge between the technology and
R&D and commercial management functions (e.g. Lorenz, 1990; Rassam, 1995). Similarly,
Verganti (2006) suggests design straddles several disciplines, and is a lynchpin in
interdisciplinary networks.
Such integrative approaches can be applied in a range of contexts and situations. In Simon’s
(1996) view, design skills are transferable to nondesign functions. At organisations such as
Google, employees are referred to as ‘designers’ regardless of function: engineers,

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation

biologists, technologists, researchers. Furthermore, these inclusive approaches can be
deployed in different situations to tackle a variety of problems. Design thinking
methodologies have been used in multidisciplinary teams innovating and improving
situations as diverse as crime prevention, social work and health care, and education (e.g.
Brown, 2009; Kimbell, 2011; Press and Cooper, 2003).
However, how projects unfold, and the level of creativity enabled, depends in a large part
upon the interactions occurring between team members (Vissers and Dankbar, 2002).
Surmounting division is therefore essential in innovation. The paper now explores the
challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration by way of a contained case study detailing a
research and development project with which the authors are involved.

A case study of interdisciplinary collaboration
The collaborative project used to examine the issues explored in this paper focuses on a
research group developing new software. Funded by the European Commission under the
Framework 7 programme, the project is entitled ‘COnCEPT’ (an acronym for ‘Collaborative
Creative Design Platform’). As the name would suggest, the software is targeted at the
design profession. The development of such software is complex, calling for the expertise of
a range of disciplines. The pan-Europe specialists in the assembled consortium work
together collaboratively, sharing knowledge and skills. The team meets periodically for
workshops, plenaries and review meetings, as well as speaking regularly on bi-weekly
conference calls. Partners from academe and industry represent the disciplines of computer
science and software development; information science; design; design research; and
human-computer interaction (HCI). The project coordinator is a leading software company.
In the course of their participation in this team, the authors have observed and identified
three key areas of challenge affecting how effectively the consortium works together. These
are: a) incongruity in the project foundations; b) varying interpretations of terminology; and
c) methodological disparity. Interestingly, formation of subdivisions along the lines of the
design and technology division, have been noted. The case study illustrates the theoretical
discussion on disciplinary divisions operating in practice. It also makes suggestion as to how
constructs of design thinking have been strategically deployed to manage collaboration with
varying degrees of success.

3.1

Where to start? Reconciling incongruity in project foundations

At the outset, the project was divided into seven work packages (WPs), which progress
through the stages required to realise a new piece of software: 1) an initial scoping of the
requirements of users, and gaps in existing market offerings; 2) enquiry into inner
knowledge management structures of the solution; 3) conceptual modelling of the software
application; 4) technical feasibility, integration and realisation; and 5) evaluation and piloting
of beta versions in the field (Figure 2). Two further WPs deal with dissemination and
exploitation of the results, and overall project management.

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

The project structure resembles the design thinking approach. Figure 2 compares the
sequences of COnCEPT WPs with the design thinking methodology developed at Stanford
University’s d.school1. The project structure acknowledges areas of overlap between
disciplines, both in terms of timing of tasks, and in content. For example, smaller chunks of
work undertaken as part of prototyping the software as part of WP3 overlap with the testing
in WP5. This is reflective of the non-linear, unpredictable nature of the design process.

Figure 2: Organisation of tasks in the COnCEPT project

While in theory the design thinking approach emphasises the value of interdisciplinarity in
each phase, in practice this has been problematic. The initial meeting, where the
parameters and focus of the future COnCEPT platform were discussed, set the precedence
for the project progression, and reflects the predilections of the technical and design
partners. During this meeting, the technical experts concentrated discourse on technical
and practical aspects of realising the software application, for example on deep coding,
interoperability and search tools. In contrast, the design partners’ priority was to discuss
workflows in studios, and explore how these may be supported.
This illustrates a marked difference between the practical, logistical approach of the
technologists, and the conceptual, holistic approach of the designers. In effect, the ‘how’ of
the COnCEPT platform quickly became the realm of the tech team, and the ‘what’ became
the designers’ domain. There was no challenge to encourage disciplines to move beyond
comfort zones or areas of expertise, and by consequence, the workload for each partner per
WP was subsequently allotted along these boundaries. Although all partners have input in

1

For further information, see: http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation

all WP, the weightings and partner interfaces adhere to disciplinary boundaries, and this has
the repercussion of distinct cycles of activity which unfold according to the characteristics
summarised in Table 2. For example, WP2 and WP4 are dominated by the technical
partners’ quest for practical advances in the software’s development, while WP1 and WP3
focus on the design partners probing for deep understanding and to produce a range of
potential solutions.
There were several opportunities to amalgamate the views of all partners, particularly
concerning the choice of prototype alternatives. However at workshops to arrive at
consensus, technical partners homed in on the feasibility of the solutions, while design
partners discussed usability issues, reinforcing the disciplinary stereotypes set in the initial
discussions.
Table 2: Comparing work processes in the COnCEPT project
Technologists

Designers

The ‘how’

The ‘what’

Approach

Practical, logistical

Conceptual, holistic

Process

Linear, step-by-step

Iterative responsive to user
feedback

Scientific discovery, testing

Idea generation, user research

Focus

Methodologies

Despite the disciplinary divides in COnCEPT participants, the division of tasks has reaped a
functioning beta version of the software, currently in the iteration phases. The prototype
connects the operational back-end of the software being completed by the technical
partners, with the front-end work on interface and functionalities being completed by the
design partners. Therefore, while there have been breakdowns in approach and priorities, it
is surmised that each has had value at different stages of the development process. The
strongest indication of the success, however, will be its pending evaluation with end users.
Pilots will build the foundations for subsequent iterations.

3.2

Deciphering conflicting languages

Interpretations of certain terminology vary according to the background and discipline of the
speaker and listener (Snow, 2001). This proposition has currency when working in
interdisciplinary teams, especially those composed of creative- and science-dominant
experts. In the COnCEPT consortium, there is evidence that terminology can lead to
misunderstanding of the focus of areas of work, summarised in three examples in Table 3.
First, a key term in the development of the COnCEPT platform is ‘ontology’. How ontology is
understood and interpreted varies between partners. For the designers, it signifies a
philosophical debate around the essence of design knowledge. By contrast, for the

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

technologists, ontology refers to a form of taxonomy that allows for the sorting of data in
the software according to a particular structure. Unsurprisingly, this has led to incongruity
between partners regarding the focus of the tasks. Second, technologists use the term
‘annotation’ to refer to how the software adds and makes use of metadata assigned to files,
which can be either manually or automatically added to the application. For the designers,
annotation was interpreted as the adding of further layers of detail over an existing visual.
Third, for the technologists, the term ‘storyboard’ is used to signify to the identification of a
sequence of activities when a user is operating a piece of software; for designers it is the
visual communication, usually by sketching, of a broad range of issues relating to the design
problem or solution.
Table 3: ‘Lost in translation’ - Examples of disciplinary terminology
TERM

Technologists’ interpretation

Designers’ interpretation

‘Ontology’

Taxonomy of the organisation of
data

Philosophical understanding of the
essence of the design discipline

‘Annotation’

Tagging of information

Adding extra layer(s) of detail over an
existing visual

‘Story board’

Identification of a sequence of
requirements between user and
software

Visual communication of a range of
issues associated with the design
solution

While the difference in interpretation may be subtle, such terms have very precise
connotations for different disciplines. Specific meanings can be misconstrued, often with
the repercussion of inconsistency in tasks intended and work actually undertaken. In the
COnCEPT project, this has had impact on the expectations of consortium members.
Moreover, the challenge is especially pronounced in situations in which partners speak
different languages. In navigating such misinterpretations, the authors have concluded that
the best approach is to be explicit in acknowledging problematic terms. Immediate
clarification helps to circumvent disagreement and time-wasting. Identification of disparity
becomes more important than solely establishing a common definition in the first instance.
This concept is developed in section 4.

3.3

Methodological disparity

A third key area of divergence centres on how the design and technical partners work to
solve problems. In developing the COnCEPT project, the design partners have adopted a
qualitative approach, spending time with end users, and accruing a rich knowledge of
underlying issues and needs. Conversely, the technical partners have engaged in
quantitative research to gain insight on competitor software. How the partners worked to
envisage the software also highlights a profound disparity in approach. The design partners
worked to produce a visual model (Figure 3), using icons and simple language, to illustrate

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation

how the software may be structured. This prototype is viewed using a web browser, and
interactive buttons connect functionalities through interconnected screens. In contrast, the
technical partners produced a diagrammatic interpretation (Figure 4) of the software
architecture, featuring technical language to describe components and sequences of
activities.

Figure 3: Visual interpretation of the COnCEPT architecture conceived by design partners

Figure 4: Diagrammatic interpretation of the COnCEPT architecture conceived by technical partners

Methodologies affect the outcome of the project perhaps more than any other area of
divergence. Whether the focus is on ‘what is’ or ‘what could be’ – openness to creativity –

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

influences whether the project outcome is more innovative or continuous in nature (Norman
and Verganti, 2014; Vissers and Dankbar, 2002).
The attempt to manage the COnCEPT project using a design thinking approach has had
successes, but has highlighted the difficulties in fostering an interdisciplinary approach.
While the range of expertise brought by disciplinary groups is undoubtedly a strength, it is
essential to actively manage collaboration, as well as to instil the design thinking ethic in all
partners. The next section presents ideas that extrapolate design thinking principles to
explicitly suggest how interdisciplinary effort can be enhanced.

Principles for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
It has been acknowledged that all design projects are unique, hence that deploying a
consistent methodological framework when boundaries are continually shifting is
counterintuitive. However, from the lessons learned from the COnCEPT project, there are
underlying principles that can enable more productive interdisciplinary projects that
adequately balance technologists and designers’ respective defaults. This section discusses
these principles. These guidelines, that aim to facilitate interdisciplinarity in design thinking
projects, can be applied in projects regardless of domain.

1. Fostering appreciation and unifying activities
Creating a balanced approach requires a mutual respect of others’ roles within the
interdisciplinary team. Establishing appreciation for one another’s roles can be gained by
understanding what others do and what they bring to the project. However, in unmanaged
situations, the separation between technologists and designers is often highly pronounced.
A means to foster mutual understanding is active involvement in all tasks to prevent the
separation of roles. In the COnCEPT project, this may have enabled a fuller understanding
and ownership of the entire project. For instance, it would have been beneficial for each
partner to visit and talk directly with end users in order to comprehend their issues. This is a
concern for Japanese managers seeking to instil harmony (Song and Parry, 1997). This
would have allowed a more equal knowledge base, circumventing lengthy debates. Firsthand knowledge of the design situation is crucial. Time and effort could have been more
focused, and there would have been a greater understanding of the work of all parties, had
tasks not been labelled as either design- or technology-related.

2. Recognising, acknowledging and embracing difference in approach
A key benefit of interdisciplinary teams is harvesting the strengths and values of all
participants. Active exploitation has major repercussions for the robustness and
innovativeness of the project outcome, and is a means to stimulate new ideas and
innovative solutions. However, having a clear roadmap in place from the earliest stages, as
well as formal times to amalgamate work in progress (such as the workshops and calls
organised on the COnCEPT project) is vital to keep all parties informed and on track,

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United We Stand: A Critique of the Design Thinking Approach in Interdisciplinary Innovation

reinforcing the notion of periods of convergence and divergence in the Double Diamond
model. This is especially important in interdisciplinary projects.

3. Challenging of assumptions
It is crucial that previous experiences, beliefs and assumptions do not become part of a new
team culture. The acknowledgement of such differences in a verbalised and explicit way is
recommended. An early questioning of assumptions – such as those concerning user needs,
how others work, and project constraints – is essential. The first meeting of a new project
team is a crucial step to establishing project culture. It is suggested that significant
management effort is spent consolidating what partners understand their roles to be, and
sharing expectations are of the project. Doing this helps to foster a climate for innovation
and appreciation of others’ roles.

4. Synthesising ideas via alternative forms of communication
As evidenced in the COnCEPT project, a lack of a common language hinders collaboration
and the progression of ideas. The authors suggest that alternative forms of communication
can assist with such challenges. The use of visual methods, such as mind mapping, rough
sketching and prototyping can be deployed to develop common understanding. A key
component of the design thinking process, in the COnCEPT project it had two clear benefits:
1) it allowed design partners to come to a consensus on the software interface, and 2) it
provided a vehicle by which the dialogue could be built between design and technical
stakeholders.

Conclusion
This paper has sought to examine the challenges of interdisciplinary innovation projects, and
to delineate the differences between design and technology approaches. On the surface,
the focus and processes of designers and technologists are seemingly opposed. However, it
has emerged that this difference actually brings about more innovative outcomes. The
COnCEPT project fortifies the necessity of symbiosis between design and technology
prerogatives. For example, in the development of the software, undertaking qualitative
research with the intended primary users resulted in deep understandings, which allowed
the development of insights. Yet these insights could not have been translated into a
functioning, tangible piece of software without the technologists’ know how. Rather than an
imposition of choice, the approaches are complementary: each adds value.
Reliance on the choice of either the design- or technological approach is inadequate to
develop and realise new products and services. The case study illustrates that allowing one
approach to dominate can result in products unfit for purpose. For instance, had time not
been spent with designers in their studios, their lax attitudes towards tagging and organising
of visual material would not have been detected, and the technologists may have developed
a solution resting on tagging which would prove redundant. The contrary is also true: excess
focus on current user needs is likely to limit the confines of innovation. Taking heed of both

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

sides forges a more complete view of the problem, and requires conscious effort to
appreciate the roles of the different partners participating in the project.
Indeed, design thinking implies integration and balance of a range of forces. This study has
suggested achieving balance requires active management. To surmount the challenges of
interdisciplinary collaboration, recognition and acknowledgement of difference is necessary.
The COnCEPT case study contributes explicit guidelines for managing interdisciplinarity to
design thinking theory. The principles are intended as a means to manage the meeting of
sides, and can also be applied in other domains.

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Fiona Maciver, Julian Malins, Julia Kantorovitch and Aggelos Liapis

About the Authors:
Dr. Fiona Maciver’s area of expertise is the intersection of design,
business and technology. She has published research concerning the
strategic deployment of design in modern organisations, the evolving
role of designers in industry, and how technology is impacting new
product development.
Prof. Julian Malins is a senior researcher at Norwich University of the
Arts, and contributes to the EU funded COnCEPT project. He has
published on a wide range of topics including: design thinking for
SMEs, computer supported design, and collaborative practice.
Lic. Sc. Julia Kantorovitch is a senior scientist at VTT - Technical
Research Centre of Finland. Adaptable service technologies,
knowledge intensive products and services, and semantic
technologies applied to smart pervasive computing environments are
the central topics in her current and past research projects.
Dr. Aggelos Liapis is a senior R&D manager, researcher and ICT
specialist. His areas of interest and expertise include: creativity and
innovation, CSCW, semantics, Web 2.0, eGovernment, eLearning,
eHealth, crisis management, cloud computing and enterprise
interoperability. Beyond his academic and industrial duties, he has
authored several papers, journals and books in the areas of CSCW,
collaborative design and semantics.

2482

Designing Creative Destruction
Ashley Hall
Royal College of Art
ashley.hall@rca.ac.uk
DOI: 10.21606/drs.2016.186

Abstract: This research aims to make a contribution in the context of design thinking
at a global cultural scale and specifically how design methods are a feature of the
homogenising and heterogenising forces of globalisation via creative destruction.
Since Schumpeter’s description of economic innovation destroying the old and
creating the new, a number of other interpretations of creative destruction have
developed including those driving cultural evolution. However a design model
showing the impact of different types of design method on cultural evolution can
develop an understanding on a more systemic level from the medium to longer term
impact of new designs that homogenise or increase the differences between various
cultures. This research explores the theoretical terrain between creative destruction,
design thinking and cybernetics in the context of exchanging cultural influences for
collaborative creativity and concludes with an experiment that proposes a feedback
loop between ubiquitising and differentiating design methods mediating cultural
variety in creative ecosystems.
Keywords: Creative Destruction; Design Thinking; Cybernetics; Globalisation

Introduction
The design thinking developed in this paper is drawn from a number of publications (Hall,
2013; Hall, 2011; Hall, 2015; Hall, forthcoming 2016) and keynote speeches delivered by the
author (Hall, 2009; Hall, 2015). Primarily it seeks to bring together a more coherent set of
thoughts on the relationship between design and creative destruction and in particular two
important elements of this relationship. The first is a meta-level attempt to theorise on how
the use of homogenous (ubiquitising) and heterogeneous (differentiating) design methods
can affect the future development of creative cultures via design initiatives for the
generation of products and experiences. The second is to attempt to explore the
connections between the concepts of creative destruction and design thinking on

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0
International License.

Ashley Hall

globalisation to investigate if design practice can tangibly engage to develop more positive
variations in cultural diversity.
Design is a key agent in mediating the impact of globalisation due to its direct effect on
products and services experienced by consumers and its role in increasing global
communications. For example franchises designed for global food and consumer goods
outlets have for the last few decades appeared in larger number of cities in more diverse
corners of the world, offering on the one hand a reliable unified experience but on the other
homogenising choice and reducing diversity and affecting local cultural traditions. On the
other hand it could be argued (Hall, 2015) that ubiquitisation has also democratised choice
and removed what has in the past been seen as unwelcome colonial imprints that some
have viewed as being contrary to the future good of particular communities.
Design and geographically Liberated Difference (Hall, 2011) was a concept initially exploring
the role that design could take in extracting and communicating cultural influences through
collaborative design activity in local communities. This line of thought was developed
through a practice based doctoral thesis (Hall, 2013) that linked frameworks of global
cultural anthropology to visualising the exchange of cultural material that impacted on
physical features in designed products leading to a theory of ‘translocated making’ in
collaborations between crafts people and industrial designers (Hall Forthcoming 2016). A
recent publication (Hall, 2015) pursued this line of thinking in terms of the ubiquitisation of
global mass produced products and began to unpack the design influences that drive
homogeneous and differentiated designs for a global mass market. In parallel to the practice
based research, two keynote speeches on city design innovation in Shenzhen (2009) and
Taipei (2015) initiated a line of thought around the future development of design innovation
cultures at a city scale. Furthermore this led to thoughts on how urban cultures are nurtured
and what sets them apart from the other competing global cities who are also experiencing
similar homogenising tendencies.
What unites the diverse scales between local practice based design projects to city scale
creative ecosystems is to ask whether design thinking can have a meaningful impact in
directing more positive and equitable results via cultural change. At this point it’s worth
clarifying that a ‘culture’ is used as an open term here to recognise both the traditional geolocated, alongside emerging transnational and the increasingly fragmentary and spatially
liberated cultural affinities that are emerging as products of globalisation.
In moving towards a design exploration of creative destruction it is necessary to conduct a
review of the term that can provide us with a useful historical perspective of how thinking
has evolved and moved into new disciplinary fields.

Creating Destruction
Joseph Schumpeter described creative destruction as an economic innovation model that
impacted on the business cycle by destroying the old in order to make the new (Schumpeter,
194