A List of 21 Metadesign Tools

This is an incomplete selection of tools completed for the m21 tools cards in September 2008

See our perceived purpose for these tools

1. The Dream Exchange:

  • Our beliefs are always hindered by our assumptions.
  • This tool encourages participants to 'think beyond the possible'.

2. Team Roles and Action Types:

  • Education tends to encourage individual development.
  • This tool helps teams to find, and orchestrate their complementary strengths

2. Casting for Team Members:

  • Team members relate in many ways - skills, emotions, personalities, seniority, etc.
  • This tool helps to balance these factors within the recruitment process.

3. Cultural Props:

  • Designers relate to objects and ‘things’.
  • By playing with personally meaningful ‘props’ colleagues quickly develop good interpersonal relations.

4. The 'I-to-We' Cycle:

  • The balance of self-awareness and selflessness is important to team-play.
  • This tool helps participants to monitor and orchestrate their shifts from one state to the other.

5. Cross-championing:

  • Competitiveness is endemic in many corporate cultures.
  • Asking players to empathise with colleagues can boost confidence and optimise a team’s potential.

6. Building Team Identities:

  • New teams sometimes take time to ‘bond’.
  • Getting the team to choose values offered by individual members helps it to define itself quickly.

7. The Team Turns Inside-Out:

  • Concentrated teamwork can lead to collective myopia.
  • Asking individual members (one by one) to observe the others 'from the outside' helps the team to remain self-reflexive.

9. Mapping Team Evolution:

  • Teams do not always have a clear model of their own evolution.
  • This 8-fold template of suggested values enables the team to monitor its own development.

10. Synergy Mapping:

  • Synergy is not always expected, or noticed.
  • This chart of values helps teams to document whether participation is as effective as it might be.

11. Mapping Role & Scale:

  • Agreed values may not always stay within their expected position or scale.
  • This tool enables teams to map the dimensions and relational position of each agent.

12. Mapping Relations in Systems:

  • In a given system we seldom consider all the possible relations between all of the parts.
  • This tool helps team players to notice many otherwise hidden possibilities.

13. Mapping the Equilibrium in Systems:

  • Mapping the salient components and their relations may not be sufficient.
  • This tool helps teams to log the directional effects of dynamic relations between agents.

14. Collective Story-Telling:

  • Narrative can be a useful vehicle for enriching the shared understanding within a team.
  • This tool offers guidelines for making this process work effectively.

15. Metaphors Be With You:

  • Teams of designers sometimes become limited by the peculiarities of specific metaphors.
  • This tool helps teams to to ‘steer’ decision-making away from the conventions of a given language.

16. Bisociation Instead of Conflict:

  • In a culture of competition it seems logical to use conflict as a way to find preferred solutions.
  • This tool uses differences of view to locate unexpected opportunities.

17. 4-Way Thinking:

  • The human mind is not very good at conceiving highly complex, interdependent situations.
  • This tool offers a simple, multi-purpose topology (the tetrahedron) that can be used to address this problem.

18. 4-Way Innovation:

  • Sometimes, we need single artefacts, or propositions that satisfy many requirements at once.
  • This template for manifold innovation uses the tetrahedron to offer sufficient complexity.

19. 4-Way Ethics:

  • Ethical systems tend to reduce the number of relations that pertain to the designer’s task.
  • The tetrahedron is used to offer a simple, shareable format that makes relational ethics easy to apply.

20. Win-Win-Win-Win:

  • The idea of ‘environmental sustainability’ is usually depicted as a ‘lose-win’ offer.
  • This tool maps a number of abundances in a way that can be clustered and named as a unified (positive) outcome.

21. Team Diagnosis:

  • It is hard to maintain the positive spirits of a non-hierarchical team, indefinitely.
  • Used with caution and some training, this tool is intended to offer diagnostic methods that can, sometimes, be applied in a more creative way.