Inderscience Publishers

The collective mind between action and decision: design and risk management

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In a constantly evolving context, team working situations during the design of new products pose the awkward question of achieving a match between the activities (supposed to generate innovation while managing unpredictability) and individuals (with multi–faceted expertise and availed of an essential autonomy of action). What enables them to work together, within a project team for example, and take part actively in 'risk–free' innovative collective production? What determines the action of each within such a process of concerted design? In order to answer these questions, we pursued a communicational scientific analysis of professional interactions 'as they emerge' within a design team working in the aeronautical sector. The design activity for a complex system is mainly distributed between specialised players. This coordination fits into relations of mutual prescription that are expressed by intermediate objects reflecting the current status of the design activity. The present article adopts the approach of recent works on the theme of naturalistic decision making. Theories of the cognitive approach and situated action seem however to be complementary and not contradictory.

Keywords: teamworking, communication, naturalistic decision making, NDM, design activity, intermediate objects, situated action, collective mind, risk management, system security, risk assessment, product design, design teams, aeronautical industry, collaborative design, design process

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