I responded to the email put out to attend the tutorial with the MRes and PhD students. The purpose of the event was to hear the presentations of PhD candidates who are currently completing their research through and within Design in Action. Nil and Chris introduced the event and the two PhD candidates. Design in action is
an Arts & Humanities Research Council Knowledge Exchamge hub working towards understanding and embedding design-led business innovation for the benefit of the Scottish economy.
The presentations were as follows:
A visual method of mapping translated from actor-network theory (ANT) by Michael Pierre Johnson
Michael presented a variety of case studies. His research question related to
where are the visual tools that allow the contradictory and controversial nature of matters of concern to be represented?
and referred to Bruno Latour (2010). His literary review focused on Organisational Discourse, reflective practice and design theory and at their intersection object oriented discourse emerged. There are some similar aspects to my research - he talked about Actor Network Theory; about people and things, grounded theory, situational analysis, interpretation and agency.
A new design frontier by Leigh Anne Hepburn
Leigh-Anne's context was the intersection of collaboration and multidisciplinary working and bringing it out into the open. She talked about phenomenology and Lefebvre and The Production of space (used within social work and urban theory). Her work is moving towards a conceptual model which addresses the physical, mental and social aspects of working collaboratively.
Both candidates were within a few months of completing their PhD submissions. It was interesting to see how they had structured their PhD research and how they were presenting it to the group. In addition it allowed me to see how my emerging model could fit into an academic and research context.
A number of interesting topics and observations emerged from the presentations and my reflections.
- How the same academic theories can be used to apply to both business and community contexts both through art and design.
- benefits arise when practice aligns with policy objectives
- Integrate practice into the innovation ecosystem
- Ensure you have the cooperation and support of the people in power
- Pilot scheme to iron out any issues in advance of rolling out to more groups
- speak the language of the client
- build evaluation into the programme
- readiness to proceed
These are all aspects of project management that I have built up experience in over the past 20+ years and skills that I have brought into my role as a creative practitioner. I was facinated with the discussions challenging the statements made by the candidates. Everyone was able to add something to the discussion and challenge them in a very positive and supportive way.
Topics that I would like to do further research into are the topics of Action Network Theory as it appears to connect to the object theory Kopytoff writes about and Latour's thoughts on space and storytelling, link into creating the environment for constructive conversations also important within Social Practice. Neitche was mentioned by Johnathon and phenomenology also came up in the discussion relating to experience of the participants. All aspects that would be valuable to look into for the final outputs.
I was struck by the fact that there were a lot of overlaps in the participatory art and design approach and that this is not 'new' I was involved in Business benchmarking and competency, work flow and process reengineering through employee involvement back in the early 90s, I was fortunate to work for innovative businesses that were perhaps ahead of their time. Technology has moved on, markets have changed and perhaps businesses are realising that they do have to look after and engage with their people and tap into their skills of innovation and creativity. These are essential skills in any environment and is not only important for the future of the business but for the world as a whole. Finally business might be catching up.