This study deals with the role of mental models in the coordination of team activities during design problem-solving. The work centers on the sharedness of mental models in a design team setting, mainly on the interaction between an architect and two clients. A major goal is to gain insight into how modifications in mental models affect coordination, and how sharedness develops through the process. Our focus is to explore, through a case study, the individual contributions of the architect and the clients to coordination of the work process, and how sharedness of the development of the team mental model evolves in the early stage of concept generation. Our claim is that work teams develop a certain degree of sharedness of the mental models of individual team members during information exchange. This team mental model can be insufficient or even wrong, but as long as the team members feel agreement in the team, they coordinate their work on that basis. Thus, sharedness of mental models is believed to be a powerful team asset, especially when it is reached in the earlier phases of the design process. Our findings suggest that in order to attain sharedness among design team members, design activities related to the task mental model should be encouraged, specifically the generation of new ideas and the analysis of solutions. Implications for practice and education are suggested.
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