Designing Thriving Systems
This monograph illuminates a design mindset for systems, artefacts, that not only survive, but thrive. Of itself an artefact is devoid of design quality – until encountered in a specific social context by human attendants. Design quality is the affect of an intertwining of (a) an artefact’s structural and behavior properties, (b) an attendant humanly conception of quality, an appreciative system, and (c) the enfolding social context of their encounter. To pursue quality in design is to interweave these three strands bound as a durable cord that evokes a visceral satisfaction – or “the delight of a ringing musical chord.”
The human consciousness of design quality is fundamentally metaphoric and dynamic – a perception of reality mediated by a personal value disposition. In the continuum of experience, living moment after moment, both the attendant’s metaphorical appreciation and their sense of quality evolve. And thus, design quality issues from perpetual, concentric cycles of design-construct-experience-learn-assess-calibrate over the life span of relationship with an artefact.
Design-as-a-verb’s purpose is to service the life in that relationship, sustain its survival, and hopefully, raise that life to a state of thriving. Design quality manifests throughout the cycles of design-as-a-verb, rather than as a product of it. Such is the mindset in which the designer must indwell and that design education must nurture. While all artefacts are systems, the domain of artefact design of which I am most experienced is computing systems. Therefore, I will rest upon that domain to explore a theory and practice of design-as-a-verb – designing thriving ystems.