This paper elaborates on the personal relation between the facilitator and the participants in Social Practice Design. It is argued that such processes can not just be managed, but have to fostered in relatively free way, so that results can transcend expectations and more closely approach the actual possibilities. This is explained by aspects of Rogers' theory on therapy. The paper aims to be an interesting and strong example of the critical need for a good relationship in facilitating design. By itself, such a conclusion would not be surprising, but some of its constituent aspects are detailed: the paper elaborates on the relevance of deploying focus and effort on personal relation, in interventions for organisational innovation. Supporting the establishment of sense making and trust with Social Practice Design (SPD) approaches is found to be of primary importance in an e-Government development project. Here regional employees user-design a computer-based aid for public tender editing – a tender configurator - with the support of facilitators. We address the structural problem with infra-structural measures including open conversations to promote shared understanding, and user design laboratories to promote concept emergence and learning, while practicing relation and trust building all along. Our constructivist approach renounces from the start to solve the governance problem within a narrow managerial perspective. The paper offers a demonstration of the mission critical relevance of the relational component in SPD, intertwined with the customary functional component, in resuming governance towards project success. This experience is far from a complete experiment. But a wealth of indications and partial results have been harvested on needs, opportunities, and practices, for promoting shared understanding and trust in the project, and letting emerge idiosyncratic solutions. We judge the quality of the SPD approach by three requirements (Baskerville and Myers 2004): a contribution to practice (the action), a contribution to research (the theory), the criteria by which to judge the research, and we show explicitly how the research in the case meets these criteria.
Becker, Jörg; Karow, Milan; and Müller-Wienbergen, Felix, "Applying lessons learned from counselling : On nurturing relations in design projects" (2009). ECIS 2009 Proceedings. 54.