Discussion: Designing Freedom Together – Duck and Searles (2021)

Designing Freedom Together Download (.pdf)

Discussion: Designing Freedom Together – Academia.edu


This paper tells the story of developing, collaboratively, a visionary whole system
transition architecture within a UK regional transport context in 2021. It is written,
in the first person, by the two authors whose focus of interest is in complex
living systems, characterized by emergence, abundant creativity and surprise.
They view design as an inherent aspect of ongoing change, which can be built
intrinsically into the living system, not as a stage in a sequential procedure. They
view themselves as participants in the system as well as providers of the underpinning
The objective of the work was to enable evolutionary systemic change, which
holds the potential for transformation. The overall approach was rooted in collaborative
visioning. The authors see vision as an aspirational and yet responsible
sense of the future which is shared by multiple people, and acts as a reference
point for developing agreement and coordinating action. The architecture was
developed iteratively in an outside-in approach starting from the systemic context
and aims to enable everyone to be both choreographers and dancers, finding
and optimizing their contribution based on their unique capabilities and
The approach reframes boundaries as opportunities for mutual learning, in
contrast to barriers to be overcome or connections to be engineered, and it raises
questions of where boundaries could be designed, including the boundaries
around organizations themselves. It enables collaborative activities to be identified
which cannot be handled by transactional interaction alone.
The authors welcome dialogue to feed a process of mutual learning
with others.

Roger Duck

Our article Designing Freedom Together is a case study of enabling exploration of transformational systemic change. At its heart is the collaborative development of a visionary whole system transition architecture, in which boundaries are viewed as opportunities for mutual learning. The specific context was regional transport, but the methodology is of more general application. We would de delighted to exchange ideas and experience with others in the interest of mutual learning. The paper is published in Organization Development Review, 2021, Vol 53, No 5.