Knowledge and Innovation


My understanding is that design is, or should be, a un-specialized activity. Even better it should be a multi/inter-specialized one. A specific body of knowledge is extremely important and helpful when we innovate punctually, on a technical level, on a manufacturing process, or on a pricing strategy. However, to systemically-innovate design should be able to interact and communicate in many different languages, to draw from different knowledge bodies, to collaborate with and through different expertise. Design becomes a strategic and managerial tool and discipline that enables the connection of loose threads and diverse knowledge to create value-innovation that answers/satisfies the problems and needs of business and people.

Starting from this assumption, how is design knowledge generated, maintained, and developed? Is design the multi-disciplinary actor of choice when we look at value-innovation, or is it presumptuous? How do we get to know what we need to know, is it a causal or a casual process?

The process of knowing, the building of knowledge, in the Husserlian phenomenological approach, happens through experience. It happens through interactions with objects, through relationships. In this understanding, knowing is a representation of reality that is characterized by being in-finite, never-complete, and un-exhaustive.
We can always weave-into the knowledge-system another point of view, another subjectivity, a new thread of knowledge that will generate new links, new connections, new opportunities. Designers/innovators, have to use many eyes, explore points of view, live the conflicts, the paradoxes and the uncertainties of the knowledge/innovation system to become aware of possibilities, opportunities, and constraints. This requires, I think, a new approach to knowledge, to theories and to learning within and for complexity.
The research questions that arise are: how do we find, choose, and weave those knowledge-threads into the system? How do we embrace complexity in a multi-dimensional and multi-stable knowledge-system? Is a phenomenological, inter-subjective approach to knowing and design helpful at all?