Anticipatory Factors in Dialogic Design

Peter JonesDialogic Design, Social Systems Design, Strategic Foresight

Presented at ISSS 2016, Boulder CO  July 28, 2016

Applications of the systemic practices of dialogic design (Structured Dialogic Design and it variants) have recently developed and integrated futures and foresight models as anticipatory frameworks for policy and long-term planning situations (Weigand, et al, 2014). We have identified this model of practice as collaborative foresight, reflecting the perspective from practice that futures literacy must be considered an essential complement to multi-stakeholder deliberation where complex and competing interests are considered in planning and decision making. This study proposes approaches to advancement in science and practice that integrate essential properties of collective anticipatory modelling for design decisions.

Scientific principles for dialogic design have been developed and practiced over the course of nearly 50 years of developmental evolution, following Warfield’s (1986) Domain of Science Model (DoSM) and Christakis’ (2006, 2008) research extending the DoSM. One of the key principles in the DoSM refers to the recursive learning necessary to develop systemic practices, a second-order (deutero) learning process as noted in Warfield’s DoSM cycle. The standard model requires warranted claims to be evaluated from their testing in the Arena of real-world practice and reflective learning in order to advance new theory for inclusion in the accepted Corpus (theory supported by accepted evidence).

Recent developments from practice following from advanced design and strategic foresight theory lend support for progressing the models of dialogic design to explicitly entail methods of design and futuring within the historical model of dialogue. The observation driving this proposal can be summarized as “participants in collective designing efforts are likely to fail in their expected outcomes if they do not facilitate the requisite anticipation of future complexity in their domain of action.” Simply put, people will make significantly better plans and policies together if they can develop competency in futures thinking and share their understanding with one another.
An abductive approach to DoSM enhancement based on design science suggests that anticipatory design methods within dialogic practices might yield more comprehensive reproduction of the benefits expected from enduring principles of systemic dialogue. These principles include the proposed axioms and laws of dialogue (Bausch & Flanagan, 2013), as well as long-standing principles embodied in Gadamerian and Habermasian dialogue practices. Another issue regards functional purpose access to the multiplicity of ontologies held among actor-stakeholders in a social system.
By re-examining these principles in the context of the DoSM, we might integrate anticipatory modelling into a more inclusive systems theory of dialogic engagement for systemic design for complex and multi-organizational policy development.