A Rational Design Process: How and Why to Fake It

Many are not satisfied with the usual process of irrational software designing.  Methodologies that are “top down” are the result of people’s desire for a rational and systematic way of designing software; the “philosopher’s stone.”  Some reasons are: those commissioning the project may not know what they want, many details only become apparent during the process of design, projects are subject to change, and/or the software was not ideal.  Although it may not exist, it can be faked.  Having identified the ideal process, designers can follow as close as possible while documenting their actual steps.  With guidance, designers can be more efficient and measure progress.  The development process should outline: the next project, criteria to satisfy the project, people to do the work, and information to be used in the work.  The rational design process needs to establish and document requirements, design and document the module structure, design and document the module interfaces, design and document the uses hierarchy, design and document the module internal structures, write programs, and maintenance.  The role of documentation is to be organized and consistent.  The process can be faked by producing the documents that have been produced if things had been done the ideal way.  The final documentation is to be rational and accurate.

Wicked Problems in Design Thinking

The social sciences, design eludes reduction and remains a surprisingly flexible activity.  It may seem unusual to talk about design as a liberal art, particularly when many people are accustomed to identifying the liberal arts with the traditional ‘arts and sciences’ that are institutionalized in colleges and universities.  To understand the change that is now underway, it is important to recognize that we are commonly regarded as the liberal arts today are not outside of history.  Today, these subject matters retain an echo of their old status as liberal arts, but they flourish as specialized studies, leading to the perception of an ever more and detailed array of facts and values.  The beginning of the study of design as a liberal art can be traced to the cultural upheaval that occurred in the early part of the twentieth century.  From this perspective, it is easy to understand why design and design thinking continue to expand their meanings and connections in contemporary culture.  To gain some idea of how extensively design affects contemporary life, consider the four broad areas in which design is explored throughout the world by professional designers and by many others who may not regard themselves as designers. Symbolic and visual communications, material objects, activities and organized services, and complex systems or environments for living, working, playing, and learning.  The new liberal art of design thinking is turning to the modality of impossibility.  ‘Impossible’ may actually only be a limitation of imagination that can be overcome by better design thinking.