Coach: Caroline Hummels
Experts: Daniëlle Ramp, Cindy van den Bremen
VIDEO OF PITCH
Before I started the project I already had talks with some people to define where I want to do my research in. The last couple of years I have become more and active in co-determination and Dutch politics. After my internship at Muzus (a social service design company) I started to see the opportunity of design in public organizations. However, this work is consultancy based, so a public organization such like a municipality askes a company like this to solve a problem. But what happens after? Are organizations ready for these design solutions? Is there enough understanding of design to make sure these solutions are implemented correctly? I think not, In the fields where I have been active, I see a lot of opportunity for what I will call for now “design thinking”. For example in co-determination like city councils or university councils you want to represent a certain group of people but how do you gather their opinions, co-creation or participatory design can be used for these to get an idea of how it is to be in these things as designer I have had a talk with Eva de bruin current member of the city council of Eindhoven and alumni of industrial design, she does use her design knowledge in the council. “The way is the same, but the outcome is different”. I also went to a social design talk during the Dutch design week where we had a discussion about this issue as well that social design does not solve everything, social designers do give this vibe sometimes. Because of this talk and my collaboration with people that study public administration and politics I started to see the value of multidisciplinary teams, this is why I started talking with Danielle Ramp who works at ZET in this company you do have this mixed team. This talk learned me about the current place governmental institutions are (see figure) and that there is a need for designers there, the up following weeks I had multiple talks with Danielle where we discussed I could do a part of my research at ZET as a research intern. I talked to Caroline about these plans and if she wanted to be my coach. So this week was my first week but there has been some work done before, this week I have talked with Danielle and Caroline again and discussed that a good start point for my research would be the prior done research of Cindy Bremen in designer within the government. Meeting with Cindy will be my next step.
Some other findings of the book (this is a bit of an information dump):
Design is getting more complex we are starting to design for systems and environments, Its important that designers understand the big systems, in ideological, practical and pragmatic terms. -> capitalism is not structured in the same way as socialism. It is often about relationships. the organizations, i.e. systems are often part of the problem and thus can not be isolated from the environments in which they exist. The designer has to work with and within the organizations in question, the designer has to know about the system and vice versa.
Not all problems need this type of designing, or a designer, some problems are either solvable or just less complex. However, I do believe that a problem most often operates in a domain/network that results in a bigger problem behind the small problem. This especially when you take a bigger scope. But a smaller solution can result in chain reaction.
There is not much experience yet in the communication between designer and public organizations if that improves coalitions between the two will go smoother. But for now, there is mutual unfamiliarity in methodology and mentality often stands in the way of an impactful collaboration.
You have different styles of management when talking about public organizations, as designer you can change your behavior when you are aware of these styles. And thus create more impact
Often parties are open to working together and designers gain trust, however the core of public organizations often have an allergic reaction to the design approach. This tension exists because public organizations have to be accountable for the decisions they make and the money they spend. Friendly fires arise, a friendly fire from the designer’s side is that they are ignoring or simply denying power structures. The book is talking about avoiding friendly fires, but I believe that friendly fires should not always be avoided. Often conflict results in deeper understanding.
When designing for these wicked problems public organizations play a substantial role, for example, by spending time money or even political decisions. This however can go wrong. It may look like a certain issue is not addressed. While behind the scenes the government is working on procedures and negotiations.
Designers do not naturally hold a position of power in the government’s hierarchy, yet they can exercise power. They can for example influence people. because of this it is important designers need a certain political insight. You have to know where responsibilities and authorities lie to be able to give positional power a place in the design process. Designers do not spend a lot of time on the governance side of social issues and have negative connotations with positional power.
When you design and do research in these wicked problems, empathy is really important. You have to be vulnerable, ‘allowing someone’s loneliness go also be your loneliness”.
When working on wicked problems a good concept alone will not result in the intended change. At the same time public organizations also struggle with these problems they are to complex. Policy and policy instruments have to be aligned with the new concept and this often requires a change in the behavior and mentality of many people involved. Including those at public organizations.
This week I also Talked to Cindy and went through her data that she gathered 3 years ago. She stared this part of her research because she heard complains of old students talking about their frustrations with working in the government. She has done tree sessions with these designers.
I analyzed the data of cindy, this data is not published yet so I wont mention it here a small summary of the information I used for my paper:
Designing with and within governmental structures is not a new concept; there are already consultancies and freelancers working in this domain. However, they are often facing some difficulties. Cindy van den Bremen divided a part of her PhD to the “ontwerper in de overheid”. Meaning designer within the government, were she had 3 sessions with these types of designers accompanied with interviews. Bremen found that designers working in governmental structures often start in a junior position, they miss mandate. The senior gets the honor what results in lack of visibility on the value of design. The roles designers often get includes facilitating workshops or visualizing, this can be part of their task but want to be part of the content as well. Other findings were that designers do not understand the field in which they operate, it is important as designer you become interested in the system, that you understand it, so that you can work things out together and make the change from within the system. There seems to be a delaying effect in this collaboration: for designers the viscous bureaucracy, for civil servants the delaying effect of designers who want to find out the question behind the question and then completely unravel the subject before coming up with proposals. Mutual understanding is necessary in order to collaborate better and achieve impact in the future. Roughly three different groups of clients were defined:
- there is a group that is looking for a designer for a process (1);
- a group that mainly looks for a solution, which tends to be a gimmick (2);
- a group that does not see the value of design at all (3).
The middle group (2) sees opportunities for design but does not yet grasp the holistic value. It is therefore important to ensure that you not only show the tool as a result, but also make the entire process visible. Whitin the communication with these clients often a lot of buzzwords are used, reflection is needed to define what is really meant and get away from the abstract and vagueness .
"het systeem gaat niet zomaar veranderen dit is al vastgesteld in 1840"
To find out what precisely the problems were and how designers handle collaborations with public organizations I used the carousel to let design students experience such a case. For this, it was important that I knew how to play the system in order to check if they were taking the correct steps so I choose the university as a client. I let the students choose which problem they wanted to work and they choose to housing for international students.
I used a prototype of the last semester to map out the way how they would approach making sure their ideas were actually implemented. How they would play the system.
What happened was that they started really big, so asking the major resulted in loose ends because they could not get in and they went smaller and smaller ending up with a small solution that was located at the study association (the thing that they already knew). As you can see in the image you see a lot of loose ends of a way they tried but ended in nothing. This was because they gave up and tried another way instead of going that way via another. This way they made less impact and were disappointed.
In the discussion afterward I explained how I would approach this, they reacted that they never see it that way and would want to learn more about the hierarchy of a public organization in order to really make the desired impact.
This gave me the idea to research how to guide designers in how to play the system
I was a little bit stuck after the carousel, what frustrated me was that I kept reading things that had been done already, what made me insecure of what I could add. This is why I did a brain dump and brainstormed a little bit. I came up with 3 quick idea’s next to that I organized all the findings of the things I read on miro.
I had three ideas:
The background bubble: this is the idea that you exchange each others background in order to set expectations
De jargon ballon: I found that both party’s are talking in extremely difficult language. This results in miscommunication, the idea that I had was to brake these bubble’s and talk open about it
The government game: this idea is similar to the carousel it is to learn the designer how to play the system, how to survive in the government as a designer.
Even though I am working on a research project, coming up with these ideas helped me stepping outside my bubble, and make my intentions more concrete. I found he directions of the jargon ballon and the government game the most intersting
This week with Danielle (from zet) to a presentation of a HBO group from public administration. They got the assignment to let help zet find their value after their reorginastion. They came up with a workshop for the employees at zet to discuss what they think their values where. What was missing was the part of the communication, if ZET agreed on their values how would they communicate this to clients and stakeholders. After this me and danieëlle had a conversation on what directions I could go with, I presented my ideas on the two options;
Explanation to designers on how the system works
Mismatch in expectation because of language
When we discussed this we saw an opportunity and connection between the comment of earlier that day, how does ZET communicate its values and strengths? And the mismatch in expectations because of language. The other idea would probably go towards a toolkit or a learning program to explain to designers the government, this idea was to design project-like and not really novel.
In the end of the discussion we came up with the question; how do you communicate the value of design within the government?
This week there also was a networking event from Lucid; Id connect, and here there were presentations from companies. During these presentations, I started writing down, buzzwords that were said in those presentations. There was a presentation of informaat and they used a lot of buzzwords this company was more socially focused and their purpose was vaguer. Asml, on the other hand, used way less, this could be because their purpose is more clear or because it is a more technical domain, or that the presenter was paying more attention on what they wanted to say. This first test inspired me a lot and let me see language already very differently.
After choosing of language I became an observer of language, analysing conversations differently. I am dislectic and I realized that how I perceive language might already be different and maybe result in that I am able to pick out the buzz words.
I started discussions with fellow students about the use of these words, toghetter with Wesley I did an experiment where I asked Open Ai to simplify text that contains a lot of buzzwords to look what that does to the believability of a piece of text.
Example, tp explained for a two-year-old
Explain this to a two year old:
In the TP squad, we discuss different projects that we are working on. We also talk about different things that are happening in the world and how they relate to our projects. We also learn new skills in workshops.
This week was the quarter demoday as well, I did not have a prototype to show yet, that’s why I chose to held a discussion with the squad. I did this with using a buzzword bingo where I but buzzwords on that I collected from the tp website and defined buzzwords from the tp website. Discussions were hold about that words mean different things in different places
This week also was the Quarter demo day, we where asked to do some sort of performance with a demonstrator. I did not have this yet so I choose to make a bingo card full of buzzwords. I gave this card at the beginning of all presentations and held a discussion about it at the end. The buzzwords included were from previous ethnographies and the tp website. This bingo card was specifically created for designers and used in this context.
Last week I chose to do ethnographic research, I dove into some theories about this and spoke to Maarten. Because I am a maker I wanted to use design probes that provoked, I wanted to place this in a certain surrounding and see how the reaction was on this. The buzzword bingo was an example of it.
I asked the question: How can I use ethnography in a combination of cultural probes as a research method?
Some information I got from papers will now follow:
Here they used design as a response to the observations made before. They create a design challenge based upon human behavior and morals. they used design to provoke a reaction (critical design). this also to understand the reasoning and human behavior better by making. this way you are able to propose possibilities for change. Designers create space for their work y questioning the situation and pointing out its complexities. The possibilities we perceive and the directions of our explorations depend, among other things on our understanding of the practice for and within we are designing. with ethnography you try to understand this.
Doing philosophy can let us understand things on a different level it creates a new perspective on what is needed for certain complex challenges. doing philosophy can therefore redirect our explorations and enable's us to see new possibilities.
how do user stories inspire design? a study of cultural probes:
ethnography has become widespread because it offers design researchers relatively less obtrusive methods of identifying users and eliciting data about how they live and what they do in their everyday lives.
participant observation and semi-structured interviews, to immerse yourself in people's lives by joining them in their everyday activities.
A way to do this is with cultural probes, this rely's on participants' self-documentation through photographs and narratives.
supplementing ethnography inspired methods is often done by applying empathic , experimental, and/or generative approaches in user studies.
A remarkable quality of cultural probes is their subjectivity and openness, as well as their ability to provoke discussion and encourage commitment to design processes. you also have design probes -> understanding human phenomena and exploring design opportunities
the question explored via probes should be broader than the subject of the research they aim to support. cultural probes reveal aspects of people's lives that are not easily accessible to designers by stimulating and inspiring the design of provocative interactive products and systems.
It refers firstly to the inseparable relationship between 'matter', or material, and words. Wittgenstein shows that the world is 'enlanguaged', that words are not separate from the world, but actually do something.
“Dit is de stelling: in alle filosofie zit empirie, in alle taal zit wereld en, omgekeerd, woorden staan niet tegenover daden maar doen iets.” (Mol, 2000 p.7)
Secondly, because it deals concretely with the relation of words and matter that develops in the examples, how the words give direction to the matter under hands and vice versa.
And finally because it is a plea to take care when designing, of the words you use, the ways you understand something. Contrary to what all designers claim: words do matter! And go and talk to people who really know something about words (e.g. philosophers). It may enrich your process.
Probes and prototypes:
Participatory Desig is often paired with different types of probes (simple, flexible tools that allow designers to learn about potential user in their home enviroment)
Probes have been used for the following reasons: to inspire design, to gather data, to increase participation, and to facilitate dialogue.
several variations arose; Domestic probes, Value probes, empathy probes
technology probes veer away from the standard cultural probe design. Rather than focusing on probe returns as a solitary method of understanding the user's environment, they think that projects that use multiple types of data-gathering techniques such as one example where participant observation, cultural probes, technology probes, and feedback interviews create a more nuanced understanding.
I continued with doing ethnographies this week, for example during the presentation of rob but also in meetings that I had with the municipality. I paid attention to the buzzword/sentences used but also what the flow and context of the meeting were.
This week I tried to make some sort of research planning, to give myself some more clarity on what I was doing see image:
I was quite stuck in my head at this point, most of the time it helps if I start making. So I set down to look at what I could make. I came up with some ideas for probes to provoke, but I realized it was a little bit too early for this and that I first need to know a bit more about the current state of the dialog with the ethnographies. With the ethnographies I already did I noticed that I had the urge to categorize, I found that buzzwords are not always buzzwords, this depends on the context. For example, design thinking is clear when you are with a group of designers but if you say this word when talking to the government they might have a different understanding. This context felt like the key and I wanted to already try to define categories for this I wanted to make a booklet for my ethnographies that enabled me to make categories. This is what I did this week.
I also started listening to podcasts about language, the most interesting was called “over taal gesproken” here I learned that words can have different interpretations because there is less contact between parties. this is for example with the Netherlands and Belgium. This made me think of disciplines as well, there this is the case as well.
Nieuw woord = neologisme
They're coming more and more new words, because we have so much new technology and more contact with other parts of the world.
This was the week of the midterm demoday, this week was a week filled with reflection. Because I had to present this week I made some big steps to get my story clear I tried to make an overview of my research and steps taken and the plan for the next quartile:
I also had the ambition to show some possible probes, this also forced me to think more about the probes I was going to use. I showed three probes; the buzzword bingo from before, a tiny kids camera and a buzzword buzzer. The idea of the tiny kid camera was that both the designer and the client/person at the government would vlogg their day and I would edit it as one video to show differences in languages and type of activities. The buzzword buzzer was to provoke in a meeting like setting, everytime a buzzword is set a buzzer would go of or a button could be pushed. This was to provoke an raise awareness. I also used this in my own pitch, everytime I said a buzzword in my pitch I also pushed the button.
I decided to work out the buzzword buzzer, I made some sort of compromise with it not being a big physical installation, what I had in my head at first. This was a big step for me because I am really perfectionistic and always want to do things as good as possible, but for this case if the probe was big and physical or it was just a website would have a different effect on my research. I found an example code that I could use as base for the ideas I had, it was a voice recognition that detected colors and changed the background, with the help of Wesley I started working on this and make it in a way I was envisioning. The code language I use is Java-script, this is a new language for me so I also head to learn this.
My code was still far from finished so I worked on this further this week, next to that I continued the podcasts about language I also did some other research into language, I already wrote this in paper format (with no references yet):
State of Our Language
Our language is constantly evolving for multiple reasons - some of which can be traced back to historical conflicts or geographical implications. For example, if you look at the Netherlands and Belgium, they essentially speak the same language - but among other things, the two countries are separated from each other by a border. This lack of communication between the two results in their language evolving.
This also happens within disciplines - every discipline or field has its own terminology, or jargon. A term is a linguistic element of one or more words that is used in a field or branch of science and has a specific, defined meaning there. The collection of terms that belongs to a certain field is called the terminology.
Jargon is initially defined as the technical terminology used in a particular context and may not be understandable outside of that context. Jargon is often used in specialized fields, such as in medicine or law, and can be used to simplify complex concepts or to express ideas more concisely. In some cases, jargon can be used to exclude those who are not in the know - it can sound obscure and often pretentious, which can create an us-versus-them dynamic. While jargon can be helpful in communicating within a specific field, it can also be frustrating for those who are not familiar with the terminology. In some fields, you can find more jargon than in others - this is because there is no room for mistakes, as is the case with medicine. Interestingly, in Dutch, jargon has a different meaning - closer to buzzwords. For jargon, we use the word "vaktaal".
These different meanings in different languages often lead to confusion. As Mol states: "words mean different things, not just between different languages, but also between different sites and situations". She discusses that words travel between fields and even disciplines - but without transforming. However, words are entangled with their practical contexts, making it impossible to make them constant. While they move between settings, they lose their nuance and deeper meaning . This phenomenon is becoming more frequent due to upcoming technologies - more and more new words are being created. In addition, we are facing more globalization and interconnectivity between countries, which results in more bilingual communication.
Eurolect’ and ‘Luistertaal’
Within the European Union, there are some examples of solutions to prevent miscommunication due to diverging languages. One of these is called ‘Eurolect. ‘Eurolect’ is a form of language that is characterized by a number of technical terms as well as standardized linguistic, structural, and text patterns. These features are the linguistic expression of an agenda which seeks to achieve not only economic, social, and political harmonization, but also cultural harmonization in a broader sense. However, in practice, and especially in speaking, this is almost impossible to maintain.
Another experiment is something called ‘luistertaal’ translated to ‘listening language’. ‘Luistertaal’ is a form of multilingual communication in which people with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds both continue to speak their own language and can still understand each other. Speakers use their receptive skills in the other language and understand each other in this way. Before the meeting starts, it is already stated that you might not understand each other at all times.
This week I mainly had talks with people within the industry, I had an interview with Miguel Bruns and a more informal conversation with Eva de Bruin:
Explanation about my research and problem statement
How are you experiencing the use of these words or sentences in your own bubble?
How are you experiencing the use of these words when you collaborate with other disciplines?
When is a word a buzzword for you?
If you reflect on your self do you use these words or sentences a lot?
What should change in your opinion?
These interviews were very useful, they provided me with some examples to add to my own findings already. For example that it depends on the context if the use of a word like this is something bad. Miguel also reflected that he uses these words quite often but does it on purpose to learn mainly students to use them, to learn the industry talk.
This week I was also busy with my project with the municipality, next to doing ethnographies here I also had a conversation about the use of language in this world. I used the same questions above, however, I got other answers. Fewer solutions are based but a lot of examples of how it goes wrong at the moment. I government structures this use of buzzwords is already a big problem internally so when communicating with other disciplines it even gets worse.
I now was pretty far with my code but I needed it finalized so I eventually made two versions A buzzer where if a word is said the screen turned red, and a word cloud that would build during the meeting. The buzzer was a little bit easier because it was more close to the example code I already was working with. For the Cloud I needed other examples and embed them in the voice recognition, with this I also had to code more myself, click here for the code. For the probes, I needed a data set that I could filter etc. I made an interactive excel where I could filter on; the type of meeting, and language, and if it was a word or sentence, click here for the data set.
I needed an overview on what I was doing for what, It was for example not completely clear yet for what reason I made the ethnographies. This was also as preparation for my paper to describe my method. I decided to divide everything I did and everything I still was going to do into three cases and divided all my activities under them. Creating this overview created a structure for me to continue and give directions to my tests. The rest of this week was mainly organizing and preparing for the test I was going to do in the upcoming weeks.
This week I attended a meeting at ZET that was with the province of Noord-Brabant. my role here was, a fly on the wall. This was an elaborate ethnography where the data was analyzed to find patterns using the design ethnography tool. First, during the meeting, I just wrote down all the words and observed the flow of the meeting. After that, I put all the most outspoken words in the ethnograpy tool. I tried to categorize on multiple different ways. after this, I asked another person that was not there during this meeting to categorize this as well (see image with drawings). This was interesting because the words were taken completely out of their context what created different categories. This ethnography mainly learned me about the state of the dialog, how more complex the meeting the more buzzwords, and I learned a lot about the flow of the meetings.
This week I also was able to test my probe. I did this during the carousel during the other test my probe was on, first the buzzer and after that the word cloud builder. this was shown on the big screen. After this, an elaborate discussion was held on the results and the effect of the probe. The probe created an overview of the often-used words and provoked a reaction. This test made me aware of missing words and bugs but also learned me what the effect was of putting the probe in an environment of a meeting with designers.
This week I had a whole day of testing at ZET, I did ethnographies, I tested my probe and I held discussions about the topic. In these meetings, there was always at least one designer and one person with another background. In addition to observing the meeting itself, the word cloud builder was placed into the meeting. The data set that was loaded into this probe was just Dutch words. These words were based on ethnographies done before and their internal communication (on, for example, their website). The probe was used in two ways: either the participants could see it building on screen, or it only became visible to them in the end. This probe was a way to analyze the meeting but also to see how the participants responded to it being in their meeting. It resulted in Insights on the meetings held internally between two different disciplines but also how different types of meetings have resulted in the words used. I also learned quite a lot from hearing experiences from different kinds of people with different backgrounds. This gave me a more diverse perspective on the topic. At the end of the day, I had a big word cloud and a list of words that were said that day.
With preparing for the demo day I came up with a few ideas to also start discussion during the demo day one was a list with a big part of the words I collected during the ethnographies. Next to that, I created a video where I experimented with possible solutions namely voice intonation. Another thing to provoke discussion was the bullshit Highlighter. The Bullshit Highlighter was created to allow designers to reflect on how we present and articulate our work. It is a bookmark that can detect all the buzzword/jargon/container content on every chosen website and turns them into the word ‘bullshit’. If a word was determined to be bullshit by my database of words collected during the ethnographies. The Bullshit Highlighter was used on the on the demoday website of the department of industrial design, and made available to use on the demoday itself. students could review their own work with this tool. The goal was to let students think critically about how many of these words they use and what it means if for example, 70 percent of their sentence consists of buzzwords.
This week I dove in the literature, I read the book designing for public organizations, which mainly helped me define problem statements and get an understanding of the field. The problem statement I extracted are:
We are sometimes too focused on finding solutions, in their work with public organizations, designers often feel under pressure to deliver answers quickly
There often is unexpected resistance between designers and the public sector. Although all parties are open to working together and designers gain explicit trust, the core of public organizations in question has a near-allergic reaction to the design approach.
“political ideology is often just an excuse to not have to think any further” designers often just ignore or simply deny power structures. They are often just not strategic enough
It may seem like sometimes a social issue is not being addressed when behind the scenes the government is working on procedures, negotiation or a cohesive vision. In such cases, the government is working on providing context for other types of a coalition. (this is frustrating for designers)
For designers, having a certain political insight is essential. You have to know where responsibilities and authorities lie to be able to give positional power a place in the design process.
NOTE: From week 6 onward I conducted ethnographies during a big part of my daily activities this was to long to write here.