Design within complexsystemsWhy it’s important to recognise the right kind of problem
Using technology successfully in a social context ismore a social than a technological challenge.[I]t is a question of ﬁnding the problem and consequently ofpositing it, even more than of solving it. For a speculativeproblem is solved as soon as it is properly stated.Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, 15
Three types of problemsH.W.J. Rittel, M.M. Webber, Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.
Simple problemOnce the problem is clearly stated, both the solution and the pathto the solution become clear
Complicated problemAlthough the problem can be stated, and the solution isclear, the path towards that solution can be long andcomplicated
Complex problemSince the problem cannot be clearly stated, the solution andthe path towards that solution remain unclearFarrow Partnership Architects – Biology of Business: Complex Adaptive Systems.
Complex problems• Cannot be solved.• Have solutions that are always “work in progress”.• Are better understood in the process of solving them.• Are affected by your activities in the world. H. Brignull, No rest for the wicked: a UX designer’s job is never done
AuthoritarianIf the problem is deﬁned by one person, and others cannot challenge this,creating a solution that meets the brief becomes possible.N. Roberts ,Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution, 4
Authoritarian+ Quicker problem deﬁnitions when fewer people involved.- Authorities can be wrong about the problem and the solution.- Experts tend to search for solutions within their narrow expertise.- No-one but the experts learns from their attempts. N. Roberts, Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution, 4,5
CollaborativeBy joining forces parties can accomplish more as a collective than [on theirown]. At the core of collaboration is a ‘win-win’ view of problem solving. [...][T]hey assume a ‘variable sum game’ that seeks to ‘enlarge the pie’ for allparties involved.N. Roberts ,Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution, 7
Collaborative+ Each stakeholder holds some truth in dealing with complex problems.+ Because the problem is deﬁned by more people, the solution is more likely to be beneﬁcial.- Adding stakeholders to [...] problem solving [...] increases ‘transaction costs.’- Collaboration requires practice; it is a learned skill. N. Roberts, Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution
CompetitiveCentral to the pursuit of competitive strategies [...] is the search for power. Tothe extent a competitor can build a power base larger than his opponents,[...], he can increase his chances to win and deﬁne the problem and solutionsin a way he sees ﬁt.N. Roberts ,Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution, 5
Competitive+ Problems can be solved by ‘winning’ and moving to authoritarian strategies.+ Without a clear path, it is preferable not to go forward in any one direction.+ They challenge the institutionalisation of power.- Because many solutions are tried at once, it’s very resource-intensive. N. Roberts, Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution, 4,5
It depends ComplexityAuthoritarian Collaborative Competitive
Key pointDesigners always deal with complex problems, failingto recognise (and communicate) this will lead to failedprojects, disappointed clients and frustrated designers
SourcesBookG. Deleuze, BergsonismArticles:H.W.J. Rittel, M.M. Webber, Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.N. Roberts, Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution.SiteFarrow Partnership Architects – Biology of Business: Complex Adaptive Systems.http://www.slideshare.net/FarrowPartnership/biology-of-businessH. Brignull, No rest for the wicked: a UX designer’s job is never done.http://www.90percentofeverything.com/2009/01/19/no-rest-for-the-wicked-a-ux-designers-job-is-never-done/Photos:Slide 2: http://ce399resist.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/society-of-control-by-gilles-deleuze-lautre-journal-1990/Slide 8: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/tambako/584155228/Slide 9: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/dunechaser/104968146Slide 11: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/irievibrations/3675852330Slide 13: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abraham_Diepraam_-_peasants_brawling.jpgSlide 15: http://ﬂickr.com/photos/tambako/2524829095