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1 October 2021

[Editorial] Designing in Complex Security Contexts: Enabling Frame Awareness through Sharks, Dollar Signs, and Police Badges

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Read original article: Designing in Complex Security Contexts: Enabling Frame Awareness through Sharks, Dollar Signs, and Police Badges

Highlights
  • The military design movement that emerged in the 1990s is a distinct and unique creative effort within security and governmental organizations.
  • The US military has incorporated design education across their enterprise, featuring numerous unique and highly conceptual exercises nested to learning objectives, theory, and practice in warfare.
  • The JSOU “Jaws exercise” brings the institutional frames that often limit innovation and creative reflection into focus

An Editorial by: Ken Friedman

In recent years, new uses have emerged for design thinking. One of the key fields for design now involves the military. Ben Zweibelson, James Wetzel, and Todd Landis examine military design theory and practice in “Designing in Complex Security Contexts: Enabling Frame Awareness through Sharks, Dollar Signs, and Police Badges.”9

Military design has emerged as a significant field for design research, with surprising connections to the larger design environment. For example, several members of the Archipelago Network10 are well known within the larger design research community, including Harold Nelson, co-author with Erik Stolterman of The Design Way.11 The military design community often publishes in journals that other parts of the design community do not read, such as the Special Operations Journal.12 Some of these journals are highly specialized venues where members of the research community write for each other. Like Philosophical Transactionsand other early journals, they may not be peer reviewed. The editors and readers assume that authors belong to their community, and the editors decide what to publish on behalf of the community. The editorial policy of the Small Wars Journal explains this position:

Small Wars Journal publishes serious, authentic voices from across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars to add richness, breadth and depth to the active dialog that occurs in many cloistered venues. In this, we seek input from everyone ranging from the soldier and interagency practitioners of small wars, to their leadership, to those that make and inform policy at the national and international level. This is an international issue, so we encourage international participation . . . . Our experimentation with various approaches to peer review has led us believe that the vast expertise of our readership and the immediacy of their response via open comments is far better vetting than a review panel we could assemble and labor slowly through.”13

She Ji recently published an extensive literature review on military design thinking by Cara Wrigley, Genevieve Mosely, and Michael Mosely.14 We are particularly interested in military design thinking because it is one of the few fields in which working practitioners share their thoughts widely. While many researchers in military design are theorists and academics, they also tend to be working warriors—some retired, many in active service. For example, consider Shimon Naveh, a founding figure in the field. Naveh is a retired brigadier general with a doctorate in history. Like Prof. Naveh, the three authors of this article now work in academia following careers in active military service.

While most active military work is classified, many publications and reports by scholars in military design are funded by the governments of different nations. Funding requirements mean that they are free of copyright and widely available. This makes military design one of the most open and accessible bodies of work by design thinking practitioners. This is a contrast with much of the practitioner literature controlled by design firms that treat much of their work as proprietary.

It is also interesting to note that there are several distinct schools of thought in military design—and some of the most philosophical and playful work is that of thinkers with extensive service in the field of combat.

Military design theorists, educators, and practitioners now constitute an international community of practice across multiple armed forces. They seek to develop the concept of “designing for war.” Military design theory has a rich and varied body of knowledge that we rarely see in mainstream thinking on commercial design applications. While many operational applications are classified, the literature of military deign has much to offer the rest of us.

See below for the full issue’s editorial

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Read original article: Designing in Complex Security Contexts: Enabling Frame Awareness through Sharks, Dollar Signs, and Police Badges