Could synergyau_g replace the idea of sustainability?

  • A very high level of synergy is a likely outcome of effective meta-design
  • It is a term that can be used to describe the extraordinarily high level of organic harmony and efficiency that is found in living creatures.
  • It refers to the accord that exists not only between individual parts of the whole, but also between those individual parts and their separate relations to the whole.
  • Importantly, it supports a heterogeneity that enables organisms to become adaptively self-aware. This quality of sophistication is virtually absent in machines.
  • An important part of this process will be self-mapping exercises in which selected opinions and perspectives are shared and evaluated.
  • By using and developing existing methods and tools the Ds21 project and its members will seek to map some of the simpler synergies that are important to the life of a community.

A simplistic approach

  • The methods and tools described were developed in the field of science and engineering theory (Fuller, 1949), healthcare (Kvitash, 1983; von Nieuwenhuijze, 1998) and education (Wood, 1999).
  • We will use some of these to re-think eco-design in the light of General Systems Theory (Bertalanffy, 1950).
  • Some methods will be used to seed the emergence of a richer intuitive process across design teams.
  • In our Cluster of 14 investigators there can be 91 separate one-to-one conversations.
  • If each ‘formal’ conversation relates to an interest shared by the whole Cluster then we may regard this as a minimum basis for seeking to enhance synergy across the network.
  • Some work has shown that similar mapping processes can be extremely effective in the early diagnosis of difficulties (i.e. illness) within the organism.

What Stops Us Getting ‘Greener’?

  • Although eco-design has made progress in the last few decades, their training as specialist designers may tend to hamper their ability to work at an appropriate level of intervention.
  • Arguably, long-term solutions are likely to exist well beyond the level of discrete product or local system innovation.
  • Many environmental problems are symptoms of complex and interdependent forces that may appear to us as a ‘vicious circle’.
  • Sometimes, otherwise helpful elements may be connected together in a way that stops a given system from being effective.
  • In some cases there may be only one or two apparently marginal factors that need to be improved in order for a dissipative system to work in a more synergistic way: i.e. as a ‘virtuous circle’.

A synergistic approach for designers

  • In this context the Cluster will first explore ways to envision this level of complexity, and then consider how best to optimise it.
  • In seeking to make eco-design more effective the Cluster will characterise ‘synergy’ as a state of wholeness that affords a high degree of reciprocal and combined effectiveness at many levels.
  • Importantly, this idea acknowledges that some highly synergistic systems are able to sustain apparently incompatible values and orders within a unified whole.
  • Themes of the Cluster will therefore seek to find synergy within factors suggested for a socially responsible society: i.e. design for education, government, economic policy, fair trade, ecology, crime, social inclusion, and health. (Press, Cooper, Davey, Wootton, 2004).

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