chapter one



How we work, in practice

20 March 2024

Text and editing by Alexandra Szwaj & Kornelia Dimitrova

Research by Femke Coops

Download the full first chapter

How can we understand each other’s professional world?

This is the third instalment of Chapter #1, and we zoom in on the value of sharing with our collaborations how we work in practice, and why it’s helpful for them to understand our process, methods, forms and formats.

The professional side of things is all about how we do our work, the forms and methods we follow, the resources we use and the audience we do it for. In Collaborations for Future, it’s important for us to create space for the designers and scientists to understand each other’s professional world. How they imagine each other’s work affects how they might work together or what kind of projects they might do together. Our first meeting showed us that everyone is really interested in the practical side of what our collaborators do.

How we do our work?

In this project, we see disciplines mainly through the people who belong to them. Whether in science or design, being part of a professional community means following the rules, methods, and values of your field and speaking its language. In both fields this is what gives professionals their authority and respect.
Different fields have different rules about what you can be an expert in and what topics you can work on professionally. For some scientists, specialising deeply in one area can be like working in a bubble. It makes it hard to switch to something else later on. Designers, on the other hand, often have more flexibility. They can move between topics and work with different people more easily. But this flexibility also has its challenges, like repeating the same ideas or not going deep enough.
Finding a common language is important when scientists and designers come together. Even if they use the same words, they might mean different things. So, we need to make sure we understand each other right from the start. Despite these challenges, both scientists and designers share a love for exploring new ideas. Creating a shared language is a big part of our project, helping us exchange ideas and learn from each other.


How do we share our work?
In this first group conversation, we realised that using specialised language is a way of showing expertise in both science and design, but that can also exclude others from the stories we want to tell, either as researchers or designers. This highlights how important it is to bridge the gap between our professional worlds for successful collaborations.

It might seem obvious to us how our own professional community functions, but that is part of our tacit knowledge. Taking the time to share that with collaborators from other professional communities, means to take care of how we start working with others. The next two instalments discuss the value of talking practically about how we work, and the role of societal and personal values in professional contexts.