Process models: plans, predictions, proclamations or prophecies?

Stacey, Martin; Eckert, Claudia and Hillerbrand, Rafaela (2020). Process models: plans, predictions, proclamations or prophecies? Research in Engineering Design, 31(1) pp. 83–102.



Design process models have a complex and changing relationship to the processes they model, and mean different things to different people in different situations. Participants in design processes need to understand each other’s perspectives and agree on what the models mean. The paper draws on philosophy of science to argue that understanding a design process model can be seen as an imagination game governed by agreed rules, to envisage what would be true about the world if the model were correct. The rules depend on the syntax and content of the model, on the task the model is used for, and on what the users see the model as being. The paper outlines twelve alternative conceptualizations of design process models—frames, pathways, positions, proclamations, projections, predictions, propositions, prophecies, requests, demands, proposals, promises—and discusses when they fit situations that stakeholders in design processes can be in. Articulating how process models are conceptualised can both help to understand how process management works and help to resolve communication problems in industrial practice.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions