Its winter, six months into the role. I am looking to stand behind the members in the community and push them forward. This is my Action Research Project – this is me intellectually constructing the unfolding dynamic. And so I say – I will write ( in those days I am still thinking as a place where I would present the paper – on “Constructing Industrial Design”). So to the paper – this is transcription so of audio tapes – hence the nature of text.
The paper essentially talks about how you construct Industrial Design. It talks about the one which is a simple way of constructing industrial design and the other which is more complex way of constructing industrial design. So we are essentially talking about the more complex way of constructing industrial design. And the complex way of constructing industrial design is being proposed and is being located within the overall framework of the actor network theory. Which means that everything that affects the program is essentially an actor and what we refer to as a program is actually a heterogonous network of actors. Some people, some humans, some ideas, some material artifacts, some spartial things, some policies. So we have a huge number of different kind of things which we will gather together as an assemblage.
And we don’t yet look into structurally for making rules for different actors. So we are going to see that the rule exists in terms of university rules, rules also exist within the program in terms of the fact that the program has been doing things a particular way. But that can be challenged. And university rules also tend to be more theory specific because they can be interpreted in a different ways. The program in the past has interpreted them in one way. How you go back to the sources and look to it saying that this is not how to interpret it. And you can open it up. Now what can happen is that you get a sense that the actors are playing their roles out and hence constructing the Industrial Design program a certain way but that is completely arbitrary. And it is the arbitrariness that we are going to get a grip on and then open it up. Now people, roles, procedures, activities will dramatically change in terms of fundamentals.
So what do we do?
For example the notion of who our students are is ingrained in the culture of the place. And this is something that is not laid down by the university. You may find traces of Australian culture, you may find traces of student culture, you may find traces of the way the staff wants to relate to the students. You will also find traces of accretion in the negative things that have happened in the past and clamp down will happen. Clamps have never been taken off. So it is possible for you to go and work with students and tell the students – you tell us what you want to do. And for that to be done you are talking of the Learner Centered Program. We can talk about Learner Centered Program, we can talk about permanent staff centered, sessional staff centered. We are saying that the real and genuine interest of each of these actors will find full expression and it can only find full expression when you set aside or you expose the arbitrariness of the way it is presently there. So when you have a staff center program you go to staff and say – we have a project called the “gurus of design”. We are talking about the fact that he musn’t be a head of the team, he musn’t be subservient to the greater good. But he must be somebody who is extremely selfish and in your selfishness you will be able to realize your professional goal and hence articulate the full scholastic potential of the role you occupy within the university.
We can talk about different concepts here. One of them for example is exposing the arbitrariness of the actors. So this is one way of looking at it. So how do you expose the arbitrariness? By going to the actors and saying ‘look within yourself and figure out what is the best way for you to safeguard your interest. To keep their motivation up. There is a whole plan of action. Which means in the near future the situation is going to look extremely chaotic.
So this is extremely interesting, things will be chaotic, we run away from complexity, we see ourselves as people with different values and depending on the situation who you are talking to we give this information to different players because of this complexity thing they can have different views. At the moment things can sound a bit complex but in the future you are saying there will be some complexities that you can manage. It is part of your responsibility to see that some people are rising to the situation.
I am speaking here of the approach to management – but also of a vision of “maximising potential”. A mother’s voice – letting go of the child. ‘Do not come to me for instructions’ I sais, and continue to say. If I go into the space that needs to be occupied by ‘volition’ and ‘motivation’ I am destroying something. This is not the army or the taylorian organisation. This is the academy – the last bastion of idealism and individual freedom. We are all to be – in the words of Frank Herbert in Dune – mentats, pure minds. Disembodied and purely intellectual.