• danielchristadoss Says

    Enjoyed your chapter on Motivation. I have always pondered this factor in my projects. My main take on this is that the greatest motivator is ownership.
    We have to delegate and empower for to enable ownership. For technical people this is not easy. This is easier for generalists. Is the Design Thinker a generalist? or a hybrid? I would think more of a hybrid which explains the growth and success of Design Thinking. Of course Design Thinking will only prosper when we continue to keep the philosophy dynamic and flexible.

  • rufflemuffin Says

    Fergus, as always, you blow my mind how well you can condense your thoughts into such concise and well formed sentences, posing enough questions to leave me going, eh?

    Are you getting at here a design philosophy that needs to umbrella the participatory design work involving interaction, service, transformation design?

    Or rather an education in ethical design, away from the over used 'sustainable' design (green) to encompass a set of ethical social design criterias? Or rather how we can be taught to value networks and new technologies to build on opportunities and enable the capabilities of people rather than constantly defining problems.

    Like I tweeted yesterday,

    Expand the ‘capabilities’ of people to lead the kind of lives they value – and have reason to value
    – Amartya Sen

    Are we then looking at borrowing from Olstroms theories of Coproduction? To merge the design process with this? Teach as we go along and almost remove ourselves from a job by the end, (this could be an ethical method of determining success?) …very similar to ideologies behind transformative design, but is this really taught in undergraduate design courses or should there be more emphasis here?

    It does worry me that ethically, and focusing on our motivations to undertake a project (and especially within the student and competition realm of work) that our motivations may be tainted to 'want to help' society and people. Sometimes as designers, we may realise we are doing more harm than good.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions (Illich) (thanks Hush)

    We can sometimes tend to use people (and this could come down to our taught language as designers, to call people 'customers' or 'users' rendering them almost unhuman) as 'pawns' in our process, to get to the end result of our design work.

    “The risk is that without careful consideration of design ethics, students will treat potential participants instrumentally, and fail to recognise that participation will have an impact on those people’s lives one way or another” (Campbell, Parker, 2009)

    This would probably most happen, (I'd say) in the world of students, as our motivation and reward is explicit, we are being governed by a grading system and no matter how hard you try to deny it, I'd go as far as saying 99.9% of people are affected by this notion.

    So my thoughts are (and you can tell I am very mid essay, in fact I thank you for teasing this out of me) that we need to look at some kind of code of ethics/design philosophy to begin filtering down into the education systems which has been built by the professionals.

    The professionals get this, they already work alongside other expert fields. The video you sent me the other day of Jo Harrington of Engine talking showed him and Nick discussing the effect the creation of tangible artifact had on participants feelings about their networks, and that even though the generative/visualisation tools had been effective in their outcome to communicate people's lives and get across real user stories to the management side, they had been quite shocking for the participants themselves to see, as they realised in fact they didn't have a large network and many had not left the same area for most of their lives.

    As we see more and more 'social' design competitions and briefs filtering into universities (RSA Design Directions in particular), and participatory design and direct user research being undertaken than ever before, we really need to start questioning ourselves as a design profession what should be put in place?

    After all, sociologists, criminologists, biochemists, all have a code of conduct, why don't we?

    So in conclusion, I think there are two/three major points to be picked up on here.

    1. We need a code of ethics that reminds us, as designers, what our effects are on user engagement. (and a list is probably not the ideal option here) and this leads onto…

    2. Educate as we design. Should we be passing over skills and teaching as we go? Should we ethically be aiming to 'design' 'half baked solutions' in a co creative manner that teach participants the necessary skills to create/innovate/manage and allow them to take the reigns of and grow themselves, therefore designing for sustainability. (more relevant to a community/social project, but the way that Sen, Manzini etc discuss, this is the future of sustainable and ethical design, working on the hyperlocal)

    3. And I guess one last point, how do we decide on what problems to tackle? We need a shift in power, but, in an ideal world (and don't shoot the messenger, I'm playing devils advocate) there is an asymmetrical division of power that creates a problem for co-production/design (thank you hush) because there is a technical expertise required to solve the 'complex' problems you mention. I'm going to be honest, these skills are probably more likely attributed to educated classes than they are to the less financially and socially empowered 'community' members. Again is this another question for ethics and motivation in design? It does build on Illich's sarcastic sentiments.

    Right Fergo, I'm so done here, I think I've written a good chunk of my short essay. And these are just some thoughts, I would really like to know more about motivation and ethics, you've given me ALOT to think about.


  • mikeriddell Says

    It's all about what's in it for me. Everyone needs a reward of some sort – that's where the motive originates. in my opinion!

  • Ferg Says

    Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate them…

    I think you raise an excellent point here, ownership is both a complex and sensitive issue particularly when you consider the wider political and social implications of the term – technically I guess we all 'own' our govenment's actions because we elected them (in the UK at least)…

    I think though in many engineering disciplines and in aspects of systems theory this same issue would be considered one of 'control' is what you are saying that by 'owning' something people will be motivated by feeling in control of either themselves or a wider part of the service or system?

  • Ferg Says

    Wow Sarah, thank you, where do I start 😉 …

    Yes, I do see this as an umbrella concept, or since I'm more interested in working from the bottom up I guess I see motivation as (one of) the lowest common denominators, that perhaps will enable us to sidestep or better conceptualise and understand the root cause of the more complex social, cultural and environmental issues.

    Love the quotations, thank you! For me its all about capabilities, allowing people to explore theirs and understand themselves and others – that's what education should be, developing a deep intrinsic understanding of yourself and how that relates to and is influenced by others and the environment around you. My guess is that the most creative people in the world are the ones that have this sort of deep connection and trust it…

    As designers the extrinsic criteria should (as they are perhaps unavoidable) seek to reward evidence of that deeper insight, but I guess that leaves the system vulnerable to gaming…I saw a blog post about that the other day… this touches on that in some way.

    So, yes educate as we go, it helps develop reflective capabilities, it encourages critical thought and helps prevent dogma.

    On a similar note and as great as that project is generally, the thing that interested me the most about Jo Harrington's talk and the Engine project was the impact it had on the individuals in question: Designers were able to use our methods and tools to map people's lives – WOW look at all the transformative potential in that!

    As they say, the first step to change is acknowledging the problem. Whilst of course that shouldn't be done casually or carelessly, we as designers possess the skills to evidence people's lives in this (em)powerful, individual way. That project basically mapped a big list of the extrinsic events that had caused or resulted from those people's life circumstances, they were then able to see that they were extrinsic, not instrinsic and were liberated from their effects, we should be having this impact with all our work! 🙂

    I'm sure there is lots more to talk about in what you said, but before this gets too long I better stop, thanks again for your thoughts and hope the essay is going well!

  • Ferg Says

    Hi Mike! Thanks for the thoughts, I really appreciate it!

    My reading on motivation has highlighted two types of reward, intrinsic and extrinsic, with the consensus being that extrinsic rewards don't last long and in the longer term actually demotivate people as their effects wear off…do you agree with this and what sort of rewards did you have in mind?


  • danielchristadoss Says

    Thanks for the feed back on the comments.
    I guess I was looking more closer to my area of operations.
    But you have opened my eyes to look at a broader context.
    I believe the discussions at Wenovski are helping expose me to a more global perspective. Keep up the good work.
    Happy New Year and a wonderful experience in all your projects.

  • George Julian Says

    You kids are good….just as I was about to wander off to bed I find this window that I opened hours ago and get sucked into your conversation and cant resist replying. Of course I'm not a designer and so I'm commenting (intentionally) as someone who knows not much about what you guys do/stand for – so not your target audience at all, at all.

    re Ethics – if all else fails stick with the medics, primum non nocere – first, do no harm. So you really need to question whether intervening will help….and as designers I guess you need to know whether a short-term intervention while you're involved is enough to really instigate genuine change/improvement or whether you're selling a false hope, raising expectations etc etc

    The discussion about intrinsic/extrinsic motivators is fascinating for me (mixed up background in psychology, education and social work) as I think people are rarely clear of their own motivations for action, or they assume that their motivations remain constant yet they subtly change over time, sometime with disastrous results….it's not necessarily the change that leads to the disaster but the lack of awareness!

    My own knowledge of co-production comes from groups of people wanting to shape the support that they receive from the social work profession, it is a concept that most 'professionals' sign up to but few have cracked and current changes in provision (introduction of personalised budgets and transfer of control to individual's using services and away from professionals) has led to frustrations for those receiving services and fear for those who have traditionally allocated the service/professionals. Most people would tell you that they became social workers to support people but when faced with a change that gives greater control to those individuals they wish to support (and possible loss of their own professional identity) they are fearful of change and many are resistant to it. (This really is a conversation for somewhere else but the lack of awareness of their motivators at any one time can lead to real difficulties).

    I agree with Fergus in that designers have the skills to evidence people's lives and that is a very powerful skill….I'd also suggest other people have those skills (teachers, social workers, hairdressers, bus drivers) and designers might have more impact when they work alongside some 'others' (and I'm not naive enough to know that you dont already do this…am partly playing dumb here)…but then that would throw the gauntlet back at you guys in terms of what your unique contribution is and whether you genuinely wish to coproduce, share your skills and leave communities empowered to continue where you left things (and ultimately do yourselves out of a job….which hopefully would be a great thing, the ultimate achievement)?

    I'd love to continue this conversation another time but I really do need to get some kip now. Sweet dreams both, George x

  • mikeriddell Says

    Ferg thanks for the comments. This year we are introducing a loyalty smartcard for a town – it works on using rewards to influence behaviour – and we have government funding to pilot something special. In truth i don't know the answer to your question – i just know we are all just mammals that respond to stimulai that make us feel better. If you get the time, read a little bit more about what we are doing at

    Or email me at mikeriddell62atgmaildotcom

    We have very big ambitions Ferg.
    Kind regards, Mike.

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