The essence acceptance of an openended outcome

The process leading to an Open Design, i.e. a design in which the interests of all stakeholders are reflected in an optimal manner, is complex. The building of an appropriate mathematical model is only one of its complexities. To communicate outcomes, to gain acceptance for these outcomes, to avoid stalemate situations, to maintain momentum, etc. - i.e. the management of the entire Open Design process - is in practice even more crucial to success than the mathematical methods and computer tools involved.

When the interests of all stakeholders have to be incorporated in the design, no one can predict beforehand how the design will ultimately look. Since the end product is unpredictable, the management of Open Design has to focus on process rather than content. The outcome of that process remains open-ended.

In the usual notion of management the end result aimed at is known in advance. Managers are used, therefore, to direct their attention towards achieving preconceived objectives, hence the evolution of widely accepted terms like 'managing by objectives', 'managing for results', and 'management is getting things done through people'. These statements presume that the results and things to be done are known from the outset, which is per definition never true in Open Design. Managers do not feel at ease when the outcome of what they manage remains open-ended. They like to be 'in control' and have 'their feet firmly on the ground'.

Most of the management literature is about being in control and achieving your own objectives. As a result, the concepts involved are actually recipes for manipulation.

In Open Design, manipulation in whatever form is counter-productive. The essence of Open Design is the genuine acceptance of an open-ended outcome. If the manager tries to manipulate outcomes towards his own preferences or those of his constituencies, he or she will lose respect from other players involved and the whole process may come to a halt.

What we need in Open Design, therefore, is a management concept that rejects any form of manipulation. Such a concept is offered by the behavioural theory of Argyris and Schön (1974,1978,1996). Non-manipulative behaviour from the part of the open designer is of such paramount importance, that we feel that we have at least to summarise the main features of the theory, which has been done in Appendix A. The reader who wishes to become really familiar with this concept, is advised not only to read the original publications, but also to experiment with it in practice.

Another reason to reject manipulation in whatever form in the Open Design process is that it is a prerequisite to bring about collective action, as we will explain in the next section.

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