10 Principles of metadesign

Some tentative parameters for development - this page is in need of development

Return to / go to Benchmarking Metadesign
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1) Metadesign can intervene creatively at the level of languaging

  • Arguably designers change the opportunities for change by redrawing the known boundaries of what ‘is’.
  • Therefore metadesign can also intervene at the level of language
  • Language informs cultural values, and these inform aesthetic norms and how we experience the world.
  • All of these processes can lead to different behaviours, habits and trends.

2) Metadesign can offer tools for thinking beyond the possible.

  • If we believe that something is possible it has far more chance than if we believe it to be impossible.
  • In today’s rational society, many people tend to confuse the ‘unthinkable’ and the impossible’.
  • This can be easily remedied. When we try to describe the ‘impossible’ more clearly it may become more ‘discussable’.
  • Once we try to discuss it, it will slowly become more ‘thinkable’.
  • Once the 'thinkable' proliferates it will become more attainable.
  • Once the ‘attainable' is perceived to be attractive it becomes more commonly applied (Wood, 2005).

3) Metadesign is intended to deliver synergies-of-synergies (external link)

  • It takes a minimum of 2 players, or ‘agents’ (i.e. facilitating 1 possible relation) for a ‘first order synergy’ to emerge.
  • It is what happens when two, or more agents combine to create a new outcome whose properties exceed the sum of properties of the individual agents.
  • Subsequent ‘orders’ of synergy emerge when first order synergies are combined to create new synergies.
  • This process may continue into successive orders, although their increase is dependent on the number of agents at level one.
  • Hence, for example, 2 agents cannot produce any subsequent orders of synergy.
  • A cluster of three interactive agents can only produce three synergies at each subsequent order, up to infinity.
  • With more than three agents, the rise in the ratio of primary agents to subsequent orders of synergy is exponential.
  • For example, a cluster of 4 interactive agents would produce a maximum of 6 first-order synergies, which could produce 15 second-order synergies, which could produce 105 third-order synergies, etc.

4) Metadesign tasks are too complex for individual designers

  • Metadesign is intended to address highly complex issues that may range beyond the expertise of individual designers.
  • Its practice is always, therefore, expected to take place within carefully selected, and trained, teams.

5) Metadesign should surpass the outcomes of individual participants

  • Metadesign is intended to synergize the efforts of many experts, and therefore requires appropriate team-management methods.
  • When these are effective the quality of outcomes should be higher than the best work by either/any members of the team (Van Nieuwenhuijze & Wood, 2006)

6) Metadesign should foster, and benefit from, ‘team-consciousness’

  • It depends heavily on the development of ‘team (or ‘network’) consciousness’ for successful co-design to take place in a creative way.
  • This needs to be mapped, but it represents a ‘field of shared knowing’ (c.f. Bert Hellinger, quoted in Hemmings, 2008) that is too complex to quantify.
  • Controversially, Marvin Minsky has argued that consciousness is merely a ‘low-grade system for keeping records’, and that ‘machines are potentially capable of far more consciousness than we are (Minsky, 1988, p. 160).
  • While this model is crude, it nevertheless enables metadesign teams to map salient parameters in a truly holistic way.

7) Metadesign delivers complex outcomes that are interoperable

  • Metadesign methods are effective when work achieved remains equally recognizable, amenable and usable by both, or all, collaborating participants.

8) Metadesign teams deliver many-layered, integrated innovations

  • Literally speaking, the term ‘entrepreneurship’ describes a ‘taking from within several sources’.
  • By contrast, the notion of ‘entredonneurship’ (c.f. Wood, 1990) describes a ‘giving, from within several sources’.
  • We have developed a system for facilitating a number of parallel innovations.
  • This can satisfy the apparently incommensurate requirements of different vested interest groups.
  • A four-fold version of this is called ‘quadratic reasoning’.

9) Metadesign can offer fractal structures that unify very large systems

  • Metadesign offers a (generic, four-fold) relational model of ethical praxis whose elements are configured as a fractal structure.
  • This means that it can be re-scaled from the smallest (e.g. individual citizen) to the largest (e.g. global society) without compromising its form.
  • This has the advantage that it is a configuration that is shareable across very different domains, territories, cultures etc.

10) Metadesign uncovers unexpected potential for other systems

  • Our tools for metadesign enable outcomes from one project to be applied within other systems.