Embodying Metaphors in Systems
Sergej van Middendorp, S. (2017). Embodying metaphors in systems: Explorations in the philosophy of improvisation, design, and communication. Delft, The Netherlands: Eburon Academic Publishers.
I am a researcher, developer and consultant who wonders how we can create wholeness in an increasingly complex world. In search for answers, I focus on the systems that we make and use to work together to generate health, wealth, and peace. At some point, while searching for ideas that support the design and development of systems that help create wholeness, I came across the theory of organizational improvisation. For several years, together with a jazz band and with the help of many colleagues and clients, I explored the metaphor of jazz improvisation in both theory and practice. After that, together with two business partners, I engaged in a three year action research project that took our experience with the jazz metaphor as an input to improvise a process and a product that would support the creation of the systems we were dreaming of: systems that are alive, and that help their users achieve a ‘groove’ in their performance. This book shares the story of the creation of a process that can help create such systems. And it reports the research study that I made of it for my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University. I hope that designers who also aim to achieve wholeness through systems enjoy reading it and will try to apply some of the ideas developed here to their own efforts. And I hope that scholars interested in organizational improvisation, design and communication will enjoy finding in it what I found in the leading edge of our theories and research. Most of all, I hope you have fun reading it. Let me know what you make of it!