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Envisioning sustainability through (un)shared professional visions of the “visual” materials of a design situation: a CCO approach

Marie Reumont (Department of Construction Engineering, École de technologie supérieure, Montréal, Canada)
François Cooren (Department of Communication, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Claudia Déméné (École de design, Université Laval, Québec, Canada)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 6 February 2024

Issue publication date: 18 March 2024




Communicating a clear, precise, interpretable and unambiguous visual message usually relies on a cross-disciplinary team of professionals. Their complementary visions can uncover which information matter and how it could be visually displayed to inform, sensitize and encourage people to act toward sustainability. While design studies generally claim that this team has to come to a shared vision, the authors question this assumption, which seems to contradict the benefits of cross-disciplinarity. The purpose of this study is to reveal how simple visual representations displayed in a PowerPoint actively participate in the expression of various and sometimes divergent visions. Recognizing the agency of visuals also leads this study to propose the notion of (un)shared professional vision, which shows that the richness of visual representations can only reveal itself through the capacity of professional visions to maintain their differences while confronting each other.


Over a 20-month ethnography, this study documented its own cross-disciplinary reflective design process, which aimed to design collectively an experimental environmental label, focusing on interactions occurring between professionals and visuals displayed on five key PowerPoint slides.


This study first demonstrates how, in practice, a cross-disciplinary reflective design conversation with visuals concretely unfolds through boundary-objects. This study shows how these visuals manage to ex-press themselves through the multiple visions represented in the discussions, revealing their complexity. Second, this study introduces the notion of (un)shared professional vision which underlines that unsharing a vision nurtures the team’s collective capacity to express the complexity of a design situation, while sharing a vision is also necessary to confront these respective expressions to allow the professional uncovering of what should be visually communicated.


The Communication as Constitutive of Organization lens the authors chose to understand the reflective design conversation illustrates that, even though each collaborator’s vision was “(un)shared,” their many voices expand the understanding of the situation and lead them to develop an unexpected and creative environmental information ecosystem that can positively transform society through visuals.



This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The authors are grateful to the Advisory Committee participants who generously gave their time and knowledge to this research project.


Reumont, M., Cooren, F. and Déméné, C. (2024), "Envisioning sustainability through (un)shared professional visions of the “visual” materials of a design situation: a CCO approach", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 110-133.



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