Wednesday, December 20, 2006
On Monday and Tuesday, around 30 people from different contexts - all involved in researching, designing or operating services - gathered in Oxford for our first interdisciplinary project workshop in this one-year research project, funded by the AHRC and EPSRC' Designing for the 21st Century initiative. They included senior team members from science and technology-based enterprises, service design consultancies, and academics from different disciplines including strategy, innovation studies, operations management, science and technology studies, computer science and design. The project asks - and will try to answer - how members of these communities understand the designing of services in science and technology-based enterprises. It's therefore a project concerned with sense-making and sharing of understandings. With my colleagues Victor Seidel and James Tansey, I have designed the project to make use of both design research and social science research methods. In a way, the research itself is a process of designing. While we have a goal, intentions, constraints, and a process to get there, but we do know what exactly we are going to produce - what sense we will be able to make across our different domains of knowledge and practice.
In any interdisciplinary group, finding a way to communicate is a key challenge, especially in an area which has seen relatively little academic research (compared, for example, to studies of innovation in products). Our outputs include a document that will propose a vocabulary (glossary, terminology) and possible primer or guide for practitioners. But another - possibly more significant output - will be a group of people who will have been through a sense-making journey together with implications for future question-making, future research and future practice.
We've now set up a project blog so please look there for posts by project participants on both the research process and findings.