Coevolving Innovations

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Designing for thrownness, design attitude, decision attitude

“Designing for Thrownness” showed up for me via “Design, Wicked Problems and Throwness” by Harold G. Nelson.  The citation of Karl Weick as a source, with references to Flores & Winograd (1986), led me to find the Managing by Designing research led by Boland and Collopy, with the 2004 conference as Case Western Reserve abstracted in a series of videos (of which Thrownness is #4 of 7).

Boland and Collopy differentiate between a design attitude and a decision attitude.

A decision attitude toward problem solving is used extensively in management education. It portrays the manager as facing a set of alternative courses of action from which a choice must be made.

  • The decision attitude assumes it is easy to come up with alternatives to consider, but difficult to choose among them.
  • The design attitude toward problem solving, in contrast, assumes that it is difficult to design a good alternative, but once you have developed a truly great one, the decision about which alternative to select becomes trivial.

The design attitude appreciates that the cost of not conceiving of a better course of action than those that are already being considered is often much higher than making the “wrong” choice among them.

The decision attitude toward problem solving and the many decision-making tools we have developed for supporting it have strengths that make them suitable for certain situations. In a clearly defined and stable situation, when the feasible alternatives are well known, a decision attitude may be the most efficient and effective way to approach problem solving.

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“Designing for Thrownness” showed up for me via “Design, Wicked Problems and Throwness” by Harold G. Nelson.  The citation of Karl Weick as a source, with references to Flores & Winograd (1986), led me to find the Managing by Designing research led by Boland and Collopy, with the 2004 conference as Case Western Reserve abstracted in a series of videos (of which Thrownness is #4 of 7).

Boland and Collopy differentiate between a design attitude and a decision attitude.

A decision attitude toward problem solving is used extensively in management education. It portrays the manager as facing a set of alternative courses of action from which a choice must be made.

  • The decision attitude assumes it is easy to come up with alternatives to consider, but difficult to choose among them.
  • The design attitude toward problem solving, in contrast, assumes that it is difficult to design a good alternative, but once you have developed a truly great one, the decision about which alternative to select becomes trivial.

The design attitude appreciates that the cost of not conceiving of a better course of action than those that are already being considered is often much higher than making the “wrong” choice among them.

The decision attitude toward problem solving and the many decision-making tools we have developed for supporting it have strengths that make them suitable for certain situations. In a clearly defined and stable situation, when the feasible alternatives are well known, a decision attitude may be the most efficient and effective way to approach problem solving.

Read more (in a new tab)
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