Managing the unknown: design theory and methods for innovation

Nombre de places: 25 - Langue: Anglais


This 30-hour face-to-face course, held during PSL Week in November 2021, is an in-depth introduction to design theory. The theory of design (C-K theory) unifies theories of creativity and theories of knowledge and allows the development of methods and organizations adapted to the collective and constructive exploration of the unknown. These approaches are essential today for those who wish to train in the management of innovation, scientific entrepreneurship, and the management of contemporary transitions.
The course alternates between theoretical lessons in the morning and practical workshops in the afternoon. Practicing designers will also be invited to speak about their experience of design in various areas (business, science, art).
The course begins with a presentation of the challenges posed by reasoning in the unknown and design theory. From this theoretical basis, we will discuss changes in the organization of design, particularly in companies (history of R&D, recent development of "innovation" functions, etc.). We will deepen the question of expertise and knowledge structures adapted to generativity (in engineering, science, design). We will then deal with cognitive aspects (fixations, defixations) and the resulting leadership issues. We will then study the questions of evaluation and economic management and the forms of risk management in the unknown. Finally, we will address the issues of governance and management at the level of innovation ecosystems (“entreprise à mission, architects and colleges of the unknown).


Quiz / knowledge acquisition


1.Day1: Design theory
Course: Introduction: managing in the unknown
Course: design theory
Innovative design workshop 1: recognize/propose a concept, first partition, dichotomy, de-partition

2.Day 2: Design-oriented organization – from R&D to RID.
Course: History of R&D – rule-based design, dominant design
Course : design oriented organizations in companies - Conference by D. Laousse, Innovation Department SNCF (on line version? - replay)
Innovative design workshop 2 : C-K on dominant design

3.Day 3: formal foundations of design theory and the generativity of knowledge
Course: formal foundations of design theory: forcing and generative processes – conference by A. Hatchuel, Academy of Technologies (splitting)
Course: design & art (teaching splitting knowledge at Bauhaus)
Innovative design workshop 3 : splitting a knowledge model

4.Day 4: design cognition and designing decision in the unknown
Course: design and cognition (Anaëlle Camarda, Justine Boudier)
Course: economics – decision making
Innovative design workshop 4 : defixation, design decisions

5.Day 5: design in science, design in firm’s governance
Course: design & science (Models with two interdependent designers – design ecosystems) (conf. Quentin Plantec)
Course: governance of the innovative firm - Conference by Kevin Levillain, Mines ParisTech, chair of governance and theory of the firm
Day 5 afternoon: Course evaluation – conclusion & debriefing with students


No particular prerequisite unless:
-Curiosity for creation and exploration in the unknown
-An experience of model building (logical reasoning + empirical confrontation)
-An experience of multi-disciplinarity
-A taste for logic and rigor, even in the unknown (math background is not indispensable; but mathematical rigor can help for practicing generativity!)

Recommended reading
Le Masson, P., Weil, B., and Hatchuel, A. (2017). Design Theory - Methods and Organization for Innovation, Springer Nature.

Equipe enseignante

Responsables : Pascal LE MASSON, Benoît WEIL


Adresse e-mail

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