Ebook: Open Design Systems
Current systems design and decision management methodologies can be single-sided, ignoring or failing to capture the dynamic interplay between multi-stakeholder preferences (‘what they want’) and system performances (‘what they can’). In addition, these methodologies often contain fundamental modelling errors and do not provide single best-fit solutions. This leaves designers or decision-makers without unique answers to their problems. Above all, mainstream higher education primarily applies instructivist and research-based learning methods, and therefore does not adequately prepare students for designing solutions to future complex problems.
This book introduces both a state-of-the-art participatory design methodology (Odesys), and a design-based learning concept (ODL), which together overcome the aforementioned issues. Odesys is a pure act of open design integration to confront conflicting socio-technical interests and is the key to unlocking these complexities to deliver socially responsible systems. Odesys’ design engine, the Preferendus, enables stakeholders to cooperatively identify their best-fit design synthesis. It employs a novel optimisation method that maximises the aggregated preferences, integrating sound mathematical and extended U-modelling via open technical-, social-, and purpose cycles. The art of ODL is a constructivist design-based and well-proven learning concept fostering students’ design capabilities to become open and persistent problem solvers. It is a reflective, creative, and engaged learning approach that opens human development and unlocks new knowledge and solutions.
The author also introduces new management features such as the corporate social identifier (CSI), the ‘socio-eco’ threefold organization model and U-model based open loop management. Finally, the author places Odesys & ODL within the integrative context of empiricism, rationalism, spiritualism, and constructivism to unite the open design impulse.
This book will be of interest to both academics and practitioners working in the field of complex systems design and managerial decision-making, and functions as a textbook on systems design and management for master students from diverse backgrounds.
Prof.dr.ir. A.R.M. (Rogier) Wolfert has worked with R&D groups at various (inter)national universities and research institutes for the past 30 years. Since 2013, he has been professor of engineering asset management at Delft University of Technology. Over the past 20 years, he has also established a proven industrial track-record in which he has been involved in the design and management of various types of infrastructure. He considers both the ‘outer’ observation and the ‘inner’ experience as companions on his journey into the emerging future.
‘Odesys, a pure act of socio-technical design integration to confront conflicts and dissolve problems with and for people.’
Why, so often,
.... do we build what nobody wants?
.... do engineers optimise their solutions based only on physical capabilities and fail to consider the stakeholders’ desires?
.... do policy makers keep the decision-making process non-transparent and non-participatory?
.... do conflicts stem from failed attempts to constructively design?
.... do we continue to democratically govern through past compromises instead of socially designing future syntheses?
These are typical questions arising from real-life experiences within the public space, our built environment and infrastructure management practices. The actual answer to these questions is that socio-technical problems are often solved from a one-sided point of view, without considering the fact that the problem is multifaceted. Misrepresenting this complex and interconnected problem nature results in what we call ‘bridges to nowhere’ solutions. Therefore, a participatory process that does justice to both the ‘hard’ technical and ‘soft’ social aspects within solving these problems is needed. It is thus crucial to truly connect and bridge the gap between human preferences (‘desirability’) and system performances (‘capability’) using transparent models for complex systems design and integration solutions (‘feasibility’). These models offer unprecedented opportunities and ‘bridges to anywhere’ solutions. Moreover, if stakeholders dare to confront their conflicts and put their ‘cards’ openly on the table, pure best fit for common purpose design solutions will become possible. Designing is thus a matter of conflict dissolution.
The state of the art design methodology Open Design Systems (‘Odesys’), as introduced in this book, enables all the aforementioned and answers the above questions. It is Odesys’ purpose to foster adoption of civil infrastructures that surround us every day through a multi-system level socio-technical approach, supported by sound mathematical open-glass box models as means of observation during participatory design and collaborative decision-making. Here, systems thinking and a stakeholder-oriented focus is required to search for different solutions within an open-ended solution space, uniting both capability (technics) derived from the system properties, and desirability (economics) derived from individual subject’s objectives. This will result in an open dialogue and co-design approach that enables a-priori best-fit for common purpose design synthesis dissolution, rather than a-posteriori normative design compromise absolution. This makes Odesys a pure socio-technical systems integration methodology that offers a wide range of multi-objective design and decision making applications, uniting stakeholder preferences (‘what a human wants’) and physical assets performances (‘what a system can deliver’). Moreover, classical multi-objective design optimisation methods suffer from fundamental mathematical flaws and do not provide a single best-fit design configuration, but rather a set of design alternatives. This leaves designers without a unique solution to their problems.
As part of this Odesys methodology, a new Integrative Maximised Aggregated Preference (IMAP) optimisation method for maximising aggregated preferences is introduced. According to classical decision theory, decisions are based on preference. Here, preference is an expression of the degree of ‘satisfaction’, and it describes the utility or value that something provides. That is why we translate all the different stakeholder objectives (including money) into one common preference domain to find a best-fitting aggregated optimum. The IMAP method forms the basis of a new software decision support tool called the Preferendus, in which individual stakeholder preferences, social objective- and technical design performance functions are integrated into one aggregated preference function. Here, Odesys combines the state of the art mathematical principles of Preference Function Modeling (PFM) with both the extended social threefolding theory and the models from the organizational development theory-U. Odesys takes the mathematical application of the PFM theory a step further by extending it from an a-posteriori evaluation to an a-priori design methodology. Moreover, it uses PFM based multi-criteria decision analysis and the social threefolding theory to derive the so-called Corporate Social Identity (CSI) indicator, which is an expression to identify the socio-eco purpose and corporate responsibility of an organization. Odesys also introduces a new threefold modeling framework linked with the open-ended Odesys U-diagram, that connects the socio-technical design process, through a three-layer metamorphosis of picture-purpose and prototype and incorporates three open-ended design loops: (1) open config technical cycle, (2) open space-social cycle and (3) open source - the purpose cycle. Odesys’ added value and use are demonstrated for design and decision applications within a real-life engineering management and service provisioning context showing how to achieve pure ‘best-fit’ for common purpose solutions.
First of all, this book can be used by academic colleagues working in the field of complex systems design. The methodology is not limited to infrastructure and building applications in public space, but Odesys and its IMAP/Preferendus can also be used for a much broader range of participatory design and decision-making problems. Problems that need to be solved within a socio-technical context, where multiple stakeholders with different conflicting interests are seeking to arrive at the best solutions for common solutions or where stalemate situations need to be dissolved through transparent conflict management. Therefore, this book is also of interest to industrial professionals working within public and/or private organizations, where socio-technical decision-making can be both hardened and opened by the Odesys principles and its Preferendus. Only this will enable organizations or cooperating organizations, where old so-called democratic top-down control decision-making processes govern, to transform themselves into sociocratic bottom-up organizations where participatory and open-minded design processes result in future-oriented socially responsible synthesis solutions.
Secondly, this book serves as the primary reference material for a substantial number of TU Delft systems design and management courses for master students (MSc) from diverse backgrounds. All of these integrative engineering and management courses are being conducted along the principles of the state of the art educational ODL concept. ODL is a constructivist and design-based learning approach (“learn to design by real-life designing”) where students actively develop new solutions originating from their inner and outer designs. It forms the fundamental basis for creating ‘open, integrative and persistent learners concerned about dissolving future world problems. ODL, like Odesys, is not limited to education within a technical context. It is in fact an educational concept that in principle can be used in any discipline where there is an openness to apply design-based learning to develop what does not yet exist, instead of instructivist research-based learning which investigates what already exists.
Thirdly the name of this book, Odesys, is not just an abbreviation, but is inspired by Odysseus, who was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and one of the most influential Greek problem solving champions. To become a true Odesys engineer, three typical sayings from the famous Odysseus stories might be companions on your personal problem solving journey:
∙ ‘Find an Odysseus ruse, like the Trojan horse’, meaning a creative way out of a seemingly insoluble problem;
∙ ‘Be able to choose between Scylla and Charybdis’, meaning how to find/ secure the golden mean even in the case where one has to (merely) balance between ‘two evils’;
∙ ‘Make use of Cassandra information’, meaning a prophecy of doom that later proves to be correct and in particular based on true relevant information that one should not or does not want to hear.
In closing, I would first like to sincerely acknowledge Ruud Binnekamp and Harold van Heukelum for their valuable support, their co-creation activities and their constructive feedback on designing and developing this book. I really enjoyed our joint Odesys expedition. Moreover, the editorial help of students Lukas Teuber and Matt Julseth was much appreciated. In addition, I wish you as a reader a true Odesys journey that starts from an open-minded and ‘con-scientific’ perspective, a perspective that goes beyond a purely materialistic-physical one. Also, I wish you much success in using Odesys & ODL in your specific context and discovering its added value as spiritual mind and physical matter converge. I plead for a synthesis solution of a dual gesture: outward opening and inner deepening to unite the open design impulse. I invite you to contribute to this ongoing development effort so that Odesys & ODL will not only mature, but also spread its wings to cover domains other than just the engineering management domains. Finally, I am convinced that everyone has a designer within themselves; it is the pure art of Odesys & ODL to awaken this inner designer.
Prof.dr.ir. A.R.M. (Rogier) Wolfert