a quartet has at least six times more potential synergies than a duet
Why These Numbers?
- Tripling a 'win-win' situation can be expressed numerically as 3 X 2
- Let us examine some issues behind this simple mathematical statement.
- Most people tend to think it reasonable to start counting from 1.
- This has been endorsed by the western assumptions behind individualism.
- This may be why self-interest (c.f Adam Smith) is usually seen as referring to individuals, rather than their community.
- However, Buckminster Fuller reminds us that unity is plural and, at minimum, two.
- This is because things spin, and/or operate on a reciprocal (e.g. symbiotic) basis.
- But, even when we think of symbiosis, we tend to visualise individual winner/s.
- Invention is also seen as a singular (often 'disruptive') act that is disconnected from its adjacent/rival processes.
- The 'win-win' (1:1) equation is a better prototype but it is not productive enough for the post-carbon economy.
- Tripling the win-win means starting with 2 pairs (i.e. winner1:winner2 and winner3:winner4).
- When this happens, the number of synergies are tripled (see tetrahedral logic) - also explains the cognitive factors.
- See also our notions of 4-Way Innovation and 4-Way Ethics.
The Tool's Process
- Choose four possible stake-holders or beneficiaries who are already mutually associated.
- Alternatively, represent their interests by proxy (role-play), using 4 problem-solving experts.
- Ask them all to work as a team, to brainstorm their respective needs in a relevant context.
- Ask them to think of a single innovation that would (appear to) deliver welcome benefits to each.
- Continue this exercise until each individual player feels that s/he has become a 'winner'.
- Ask them whether the benefits of others adds to, subtracts from, or is neutral to their own pleasure.
- Once the benefits are made visible list them and try to integrate them into a clear product identity.
- Give the product a celebratory name that also reflects some (or all) of these benefits.
The Tool's Purpose
- This tool challenges the received idea that devising one-off benefits is enough.
- It is intended to find, develop, offer and to highlight multiple benefits from a single innovation.
(courtesy of WordLock Inc.
- Some see combination locks as a 'win-lose' situation that is determined by entering the 'right' or 'wrong' combination.
- They see its 'solution' as a sequence of (4) numbers, rather than a set of (6) relations.
- We could also see it as 4 interdependent beneficiaries (i.e. A-B-C-D) whose respective roles contribute to a shared outcome (X)
- How can metadesigners find a more positive (e.g. less problem-oriented) way to create and present their work?
- This tool calls for a highly-motivated, innovative approach by an individual, or team of creatives.
- It is a high-return tool but, because of its complexity, may be very difficult to use successfully.
The Tool's Context
- Although we tend to think in separate 'boxes' - e.g. economics, environment, social, etc. - everything is related.
- This is useful for highly resourceful design thinkers, who may be able to reconcile many 'boxes' simultaneously.
- For example, with enough imagination, many problems at one level can be reframed as opportunities at another.
- As Buckminster Fuller once said: "The people who let the sulphur go into the air are not in the sulphur business"
- Psychologically speaking, Adam Smith's (1776) idea of the invisible hand suggests a 'win-win' offer.
- By contrast, the idea of 'environmental sustainability' seems to offer a 'lose-win' scenario.
- By synergising many small benefits in a well-designed process we could overcome this problem.
- The 4-Way Thinking Tool explains how the human mind likes to see benefits in identifiable 'chunks'.
- This topological idea can be interpreted to mean that 2 players achieve 'win-win' by virtue of 1 common synergy
- When there are 3 players, this implies 3 common synergies
- With 4 players there can be six (possible) shared synergies -i.e. triple that of a 'win-win' situation.
- Clustering appropriate benefits for familiar stakeholders can (seem to) deliver an emergent dividend
- N.B. This model is inspired by John Ruskin's ecological context for craftsmanship.
- JW thinks it's his idea, but awaits contradiction by other members of m21.
- Wood, J., (2008), Auspicious Reasoning; can metadesign become a mode of governance? An article for the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Published by Intellect Books, Intellect Journals, Art and Design. Volume 1, Issue 3. ISSN 1753-5190. Co-editors Julia Lockheart & John Wood, July 08.
- Wood, J., (2007), ‘Relative Abundance, a chapter for ‘Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories: A collection of sustainable design essays’, (eds. Jonathan Chapman & Nick Gant), book, Earthscan, (August 2007)
- Wood, J., (2007), ‘Triple Win-Win: synergy tools for metadesigners’, a chapter for ‘Designing for the 21st Century’ book, (ed. Tom Inns) Gower Publishing, (2007)