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The Objectives of Design
(include almost everything we do)

I suggest that you first read the summary of this page,
in What is a Problem? and The Wide Scope of Design`.

Products, Activities, Strategies, and/or Theories

In most areas of life, creativity and critical thinking are useful.  These thinking skills are combined in the problem-solving process used in a wide range of “design” fields — such as engineering, architecture, mathematics, music, art, literature, education, philosophy, history, business, athletics, medicine, law, and science — where the objective is to design (to find, invent, or improve) a product, activity, strategy, and/or explanatory theory.  These objectives include almost everything we do in life:


a PRODUCT can be an object, or a repaired object, a communication (e-mail or text message, tweet, inspirational speech, essay, web-page or website), a work of art (painting, song, story,...), computer program, apple pie, ... ;


an ACTIVITY can be a situation — a concert, basketball game (or tournament, or league), party (deciding where & when, for how long, who to invite & how, what to do, plus music, food & drinks), field trip, phone call, interview, meeting (in person or teleconference), ... — that is a context for experiences;  or a service (repairing cars, washing dishes, providing advice,...), performance (song, speech,...), a mental or physical experiment (so you can make predictions or observations), classroom instruction-activity to help students learn, ... ;


a STRATEGY can be used:  for an extremely wide range of situations that are educational (as a learner or teacher), social, romantic, athletic, political, military, legal, financial, entrepreneurial, nutritional, agricultural, or ecological, that involve competition and/or cooperation;  to make decisions (as a person, family, group, school, business, or government), whether small (like a nutrition-and-taste strategy about what to eat for breakfast this morning, or a time-saving strategy about which freeway to take when driving to work) or large;  for learning more from experience (from ALL experience) in a wide variety of life-situations by developing-and-using strategies for thinking that include strategies for mental-and-physical skills (like speaking & singing or improvising music or swing dancing, throwing a ball, driving a car, or hitting a tennis backhand).*  You can plan a strategy to win a game, provide a service, run a charity, or grow crops to feed a nation.  You can make a plan to prepare for an interview, improve a personal or professional relationship, to make a friend or be a friend.

* Although these are mental-and-physical skills, this doesn't necessarily mean you should “think” while doing a skill.  Instead you want to effectively regulate your cognition-and-metacognition to improve the quality of your learning and/or performing (and/or enjoying).


an explanatory THEORY is any effort to understand, to describe-and-explain (for yourself & others) what you have observed, in daily life or during a process of design (which includes a process of science because science is design);  we can design (by generation-and-evaluation) an explanation or a model, theory, or hypothesis, which are closely related and are very similar because "all are human efforts to describe-and-explain," and this website often will describe the designing of explanatory models that are used in model-based explanations;  explanatory models are not just for scientists, because you often use a model-of-a-situation in everyday life, whenever you make a prediction by imagining “what will happen” in a situation, when you ask yourself “who will win the game, how and why?”, or “will we get the business contract?”, or you imagine “what it will be like” if you begin working in each of two new jobs you can choose, or you think “the teacher will like this paper I'm writing because when it's finished it will be         .”



In many design projects — for General Design and/or Science-Design — either the main objective is mixed (with some aspects of a product, activity, strategy, and/or theory)* or you must design several of these (product,...) as sub-objectives in sub-projects, to achieve your overall objective in a project.**   For example,

* There is a relationship between strategies and activities, when strategies are physically actualized so they become activities.

* A written play-script (product) can be used for stage-play speaking (activity);  similarly, a speech can be a product and activity, so it's in both categories above.

** Communication is often part of a project, especially in the later stages after finding a satisfactory solution, in an effort to sell the solution, or explain it, or for other purposes.  Communication occurs when a company mass-markets a product (in ads,...) or has persuasive salespeople market it to one buyer at a time.  Similarly, the “sales pitch” of scientific research groups can occur in a conference talk, poster session, forum thread, blog, web-page, journal paper, or grant proposal.  These uses are often considered to be a sub-project within a larger project.  Or communication can be the main objective of a design project, as when a teacher shares ideas with students, or with other teachers;  and we communicate in many other ways, in many of the objectives listed above, when our objective is a "work of art (painting, song, story),... text message,... speech, essay, web-page,..."   /   MORE — Collaboration & Communication plus Coordinating the Process of Design for a Team (intro + details)

** In another example of Combinations, when "sub-objectives [are being pursued] in sub-projects, to achieve your overall objective in a project," usually the design of a new product is accompanied by strategies, as in making and selling a musical CD (a product) by coordinating many strategies and activities — for artistic research-and-development (writing & arranging songs, deciding which to record, sequencing them on the CD), for rehearsing & performing, engineering & editing, financing & manufacturing, marketing & distributing — to achieve goals that are artistic, technical, and financial.

** If you're opening a new restaurant, making delicious food is just one part of a complete strategy for business success.  You'll want to think about (and predict by using your theories about restaurants) which combination of products, activities, and strategies — of foods, atmosphere, service, prices, location, special events, marketing,... — will bring in new customers, send them out satisfied, and keep them coming back for more.


almost everything we do in life

How can I justify a claim that design objectives "include almost everything we do in life"?

Basically, it's because each type of objective (product, activity, strategy, theory) covers a wide range of things we do in life, as you can see above.

An especially broad category is strategies, which include:  decisions, as in personal decisions that are “strategies for living” so you can plan thinking-and-actions to help you achieve personal objectives, or business decisions to achieve business objectives, or policy decisions to achieve governmental objectives, and so on;  and strategy-plans to improve your learning and/or performing of a mental-and-physical skill and much more.

The wide scope of design — it’s "almost everything we do" — is educationally useful in several related ways:  for building Educational Bridges;  designing a Wide Spiral Curriculum that includes a wide variety of Design Activities;  increasing Motivations for Learning and Transfers of Learning.