Using the methodology summarised above DACRC aim to catalyse (and create) design that serves its community aesthetically and functionally, beyond but inclusive of the paradigm of DAC as a balancing of considerations of ‘use and abuse’.
To achieve this, design must consider multiple drivers, informed by research, and prioritised according to bias and context. The question is, whose bias and what context?
Whilst to imagine a design scenario without bias is as unhelpful as it is unlikely, it is useful to contextualise and democratise this design bias by applying a process of ‘open innovation’ to the research process. One that openly shares research and development knowledge and thus enables a diversity of opinions and responses to design contexts. We have found that to access this plurality of design opinion and design experience (be it in creating new, or living with existing designs) requires research to be shared in a language that is accessible to diverse disciplines and communities, including the design community. Within the methodology applied by DACRC the processes of research ‘visualisation’, as discussed earlier, uses design skills to develop/ enable design thinking/ engagement with the widest possible audience of stakeholders, including those that have not engaged with design before. In such scenarios, ‘design’ facilitates ‘co-design’ of design questions and briefs, making possible contributions to the process of design by those outside of design disciplines and enabling a process of ‘open’ research innovation.
It also makes research available in accessible forms enabling a diversity of design responses necessary to address the multitude of contexts to be addressed.
Chesborough’s model of ‘open’ innovation (see Figure 2) illustrates that open access to research and development leads to more and unpredicted market outputs, compared to ‘closed’ innovation in which research knowledge is not contributed to, nor shared by, those outside the core project team (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 and Figure 2. Chesborough 2003, ‘closed’ and ‘open’ Innovation
The above models show the research activity occurring within a ‘funnel’ which illustrates a research project – running from left to right – from ‘research’ to ‘development’ to ‘market exploitation’. Chesborough refers to the space in which this activity occurs, the space outside the funnel, as the ‘knowledge landscape’. DACRC considers that much of the knowledge existing outside the core project team in our projects resides within people – or stakeholders – this is the knowledge we seek to access via stakeholder engagement. Thus we refer to the space in which research occurs as the ‘stakeholder landscape’. Fig 1, above shows how closed innovation keeps research and development insulated from the stakeholder landscape. This limits the opportunities for the project to benefit from stakeholder input. It also limits the opportunity for stakeholders to benefit from the findings of the project and apply them as they see fit within local and varied contexts. Fig 2 shows how the boundaries of the project are porous indicating that knowledge is transferred between stakeholders and the core project team. The knowledge transferred being applied both inside and outside the confines of the funded project – this is akin to a process of co-design in that research questions and findings are collaboratively and openly realised and exploited. When the boundaries of research become porous enough to allow in outsiders and outside influences, but more crucially to make research being generated open to those who engage, there is great potential for social innovation (exploitation of creativity in pursuit of social benefit) across many and varied contexts. Varying emphasis of responses often delivered according to the focus of those stakeholders leading a particular response or intervention.
The DACRC team work in an interdisciplinary way with those from other specialisms outside design. Fig 3 below shows how such multi-disciplinary research is delivered within a closed process of research innovation. Whilst involving multiple disciplines (typically criminology, design and crime prevention communities) within the core of the research project this approach does not easily integrate the knowledge and experience of those stakeholders not included in the core project team. Also significant is the fact that whilst different disciplines within the project do integrate within the initial stages of research they tend to return to their mono-disciplinary comfort zones to deliver their responses to the project research. This could be published outcomes that target their own disciplinary sector or designed outcomes that are not typically subjected to rigorous quantitative evaluation such as that provided by crime science. In short, whilst there is some clear interaction and sharing of subject knowledge to create new collective insights by the core team (often DACRC and JDI) and engagement with other subject specialists (from anthropologists to police, from urban planners to cyclists) these groups usually write up or deliver their own outputs for their specialist journals and disciplines in the usual way. Fig 4 shows how the open innovation approach to research, enables much more interdisciplinary activity, and many more unpredicted outputs to collectively occur. Here it is likely that collective writing, and collective outputs are produced, and so design writers may end up writing for crime prevention audiences and vice versa. It also enables the rigours of crime science to be brought to bear on the evaluation of design outputs to seek to gain quantitative ‘proof’ of efficacy of outputs in addition to the qualitative evaluation typically applied to designed outputs. The ‘open’ approach means it is also possible that the individual or groups that originated some of the ideas in circulation may not be the ones who write up or deliver them. Similarly, groups outside the core of the project may apply the insights and outputs of research within their own practice and context broadening the reach of research and furthering its impact.
Figure 3 and Figure 4. DACRC 2009, ‘open’ and ‘closed’ Innovation