I’ve needed this entry for a long time. Wiki defines metacognition as “cognition about cognition”, or “knowing about knowing.” More importantly for our purposes, metacognition must be shared between two parties in order to have understanding and avoid confusion. To have meta-cognition, all of these conditions must be present
I must know
You must know
I must know that you know
You must know that I know
I must know that you know that I know
You must know that I know that you know
We must each know that each other knows.
Only if all of these conditions are met can we have perfect understanding. Let’s pursue the following in the context of a new designer seeking to place work with an experienced sewing contractor.
The problem in working with new designers is not that they don’t know much per se, it’s that there is no meta-cognition. A designer doesn’t know what they know and they don’t know what the other party knows. The contractor knows the designer must know something but doesn’t know what that might be. The two parties have to talk a bit which amounts to a negotiation of sorts. Terminology can be a touch stone; each party takes measure of the other based on how they define terms. Hopefully terms can become a shared language so meta cognition can develop quickly. This is why it is extremely important to use the right definitions.
For example, if a designer were to say “manufacturer” when they meant “sewing contractor”, the sewing contractor will know they’re dealing with someone starting at square one. Unfortunately, the designer doesn’t know the contractor knows this (and one reason I don’t understand why designers worry so much about negotiation strategy when through terminology, they’ve already told the other party everything they need to know). So say a designer dodges that minefield and knows the proper definition of sewing contractor vs manufacturer, there’s still more terms.
If the two parties are at an impasse (lacking meta cognition) specifications, protos and sketches are useful devices to create understanding. However, there are some situations in which it is nearly impossible to have meta-cognition no matter what you do. More specifically, it is almost impossible to have meta-cognition about textile performance. For this you can only have trust. The problem is, trust is based on meta-cognition. So in such situations that you don’t have meta-cognition and subsequent trust, this is one of those areas in which designers are singly responsible. No one else can be but you. The worst part about it is that the other party doesn’t know you don’t know and since they can’t know you don’t know, they can’t help you with it. And not coincidentally, that designers are responsible for understanding textile performance is the topic of my next entry.