How should designers approach the task of designing for high-risk environments, like the bridge of an offshore service vessel?

How can we design information environments that support good judgement when time is short and stakes are high?

In what ways can systems thinking be of help when designing for such environments?

This PhD blog addresses these and other questions and is about my search for and research on design for sensemaking.

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    A model for design-driven field research

    Based on our experiences with field research at the Ocean Industries Concept Lab and in the Ulstein Bridge Concept design research project, we have proposed a model for design-driven field research. This model suggests focus areas we believe are important when doing field research at sea. We particularly emphasise that the designer should engage in design reflection while in the field. In this regard, the model expands on the more traditional concept of field research in design, which emphasises field studies as efforts that take place before designing.

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    RSD3: A call for action to the systemic design community?

    I haven’t updated this blog for a while because I have been on maternity leave, but now I am back working on my PhD again. Last week I attended this year’s Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD) symposium, which was a great way to get back into work. At the first two RSD symposia I was a speaker (read my summary of RSD1 here, and see my presentation and working paper from RSD2 here), while this year I was in the audience listening to insightful presentations given by others interested in the crossing point between systems thinking and design.

    One of the things that caught my attention at the RSD3 was what seemed like a call for action to the systemic design community to consciously design systemic design. This was more or less touched upon in several presentations, but I found the last two speakers of the symposium, Hugh Dubberly and Dr Harold Nelson, to be the most explicit in their calls.

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    A glimpse of the work of the Ulstein Bridge Concept

    Last week at the Design Day, a meeting place for businesses and designers organised by the Norwegian Design Council, the Ulstein Bridge Concept project and Ulstein Group's commitment to design were thoroughly covered. First speeches about using design in the maritime industries were given by Tore Ulstein, Chairman and Deputy CEO, Ulstein Group, and Skule Storheill, R&D and Innovation Programmes, Norwegian Design Council. Special emphasis was put on the design-driven innovation programme, which our project has been a part of. Then a video presenting the work the Ulstein Bridge Concept project was shown, in which my Project Manager Kjetil Nordby was interviewed, and even I got to say a couple of words.

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    Systemic design symposium: Relating Systems Thinking & Design #2

    Last year a highly successful symposium on the interrelationship between systems thinking and design practice took place at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (read my summary of the event here). This year my supervisor Professor Birger Sevaldson, together with his co-chairs Dr. Peter Jones from Toronto’s OCAD University and Dr. Harold Nelson from the School of Computer Science at the University of Montana, are organising a follow-up symposium taking the discussions further with the aim of developing new, interrelated practices based on systems thinking and design practice.

    There is currently a call for abstract out with a deadline May 1. There will also be workshops the day before the symposium, e.g. a workshop run by Dr. Alex Ryan for PhD fellows with projects where looking at the relation between systems thinking and design is important. Hope to meet many people interested in systems thinking and design in Oslo in October!

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    Overlapping discussions on the topic of Risk

    The picture above is from the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu in New Mexico, USA. In the beginning of January I spent a weekend here with the most interesting crowd of people I've met in a while, the so-called "Overlappers", for the Overlap:Risk. Overlappers are people who believe that we need discussions across and between disciplines to meet and solve important challenges of today, and who see such overlaps between disciplines as the core of innovation. But why did I travel 11 000 km to spend a weekend with these people at this secluded and dry mountainous place? What did this event taking place 1400 km from the coast and 2000 m above sea level have to do with my work on designing ship's bridges?

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    Why do I do a PhD?

    Lately I've got some questions about why I chose to start a PhD. I didn't really need a PhD, I had no ambitions of becoming an academic. I already had a good job at DNV and nice colleagues I enjoyed working with. And with the Norwegian job market, I was lucky to have the opportunity to change jobs if I wanted to do something else. I had developed valuable experience and was well recognised for my expertise within my company. And if I started a PhD I would have to work more hours on a considerably lower salary. Why on earth would I want to do that?

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    Reaching the "hard-to-reach" users

    Twitter icon. CC Image courtesy of Marek Sotak on Flickr.

    In order to make good and relevant designs, we need to have a deep understanding of the users, what they do and their context of use. However, not all users are easy to meet or use contexts easy to reach. This blog post is about alternative ways of learning about "hard-to-reach" users, i.e. seafarers.

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    Chasing Aha! moments in design and research

    I've recently been reading an interesting and inspiring book about generative moments in research1. Generative moments are "moments of deep inspiration, connectedness, burst of insight and expansion of thought". These are moments that have the power to radically expand our thinking and really makes research worth doing. Acquiring generative (or Aha!) moments is a challenge for designers as well as researchers. And for us design researchers we have a double challenge: We need to chase these Aha! moments both in our doing of design and in our doing of research.

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    Relating Systems Thinking and Design

    Last week a seminar addressing how systems thinking can be related to design thinking and design practice took place at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). The speakers comprised a good mix of internationally acknowledged designers and systems thinkers, PhD fellows (including myself) and former Master students from AHO. Here are my reflections on some of the issues discussed during the two days of the seminar.

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    Studying the moving environment

    I've earlier been writing about how I really wanted to go to sea again. One week ago I returned back from my second trip to the North Sea. Saturday morning nine days earlier I had received a call from a shipping company representative saying that it was possible for me to join a platform supply vessel in Aberdeen the same day.

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