Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Article excerpt

As the Dalai Lama has affirmed many times, '... if elements of Buddhist doctrine ... are compellingly refuted by new empirical (scientific) evidence or cogent reasoning, then those Buddhist tenets must be abandoned ... (or) revised accordingly' (Wallace, 1999, p. 158). In this paper however, we have proposed the opposite--that some elements of Western scientific doctrine would be well served by incorporating scientific principles from Buddhism. The ancient methods provide important means of structuring the psychological and social elements known to contribute to ideal human functioning. Coincidentally, the structure provides a reference map for viewing personal behaviours, Organizational behaviour and innovative design. In particular, the conceptual structures of the Four Basic Thoughts, The Three Jewels, The Three Pillars and the Mandala of the Five Buddha Families correlate well with general Western Research about the above topics. But in addition, the Buddhist methods propose a way of structuring this information, which has been lacking in the West.

Our trial integration of these Buddhist maps and methods with Western ones seems particularly compatible with the elements of Beer's (1984, 1985) Viable System Model, and with a protocol similar to his Team Syntegrity (1994) model. Combining these insights has allowed an extension of our recent 'Generic Model of Creating' (A-K. Pahl et al., in press), in such a way that teams of Designers and Users can complement each other in discussions about innovative engineering, especially at the stage of considering the complete system description.

The most comprehensive representation of the process of innovation approximates a diamond. In 2D, this is a 'Diamond map' and in 3D it is a 'Diamond Model of Designer-User interaction'. In practise, the Diamond Model of Designer-User interaction forms a Complete Informing System with as few as 10 participants, who co-evolve their purpose in three cycles of discussion. We believe that this kind of co-evolving discussion which integrates both the Designer-based problem-space and User-based solution-space leads to faster product development.

In order for maximum benefit to be gained from discussion, a common purpose for the system is best defined at the outset of design and modified as conversations evolve. Conceptually, the common central purpose can be represented in many ways. Certainly, it is situated at the very centre of the Diamond, a space of self-reference, reflection and indeed recursion. In terms of conversations between Designers and Users, it signifies the integration of all contradictory thoughts and actions between the end-members of the different teams.

It is the mechanism of recursion, which occurs during questioning of the common purpose and answering this question that allows flux to exist in the system. The important thing is that movement happens even while the principles that relate the elements (participants and topics) to each other stay the same.

Originally, a Researcher takes on the function of guiding the two teams to the integration of their opposing views and realisation of their purpose. He must be someone who can draw together the threads of (1) making structures, rules, methods and tools, and (2) applying the structures and tools in different ways. Later, this role becomes somewhat redundant and can be left open, since the system eventually informs itself. At this time, the participants in the system would be expected to self-liberate themselves from fixations. In other words, they would see the solution immediately on encountering any situation, without the necessity of ever experiencing it as a problem-space. Thus, at the instant in time when the system of Designers and Users informs itself, we can say that the system not only integrates all information and knowledge. It also transforms what it knows of the problem-space into the solution-space, in all situations and levels. …

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