Edward Matchett

About Edward Matchett

Edward ‘Ted’ Matchett (1929–1998) was a genius and a giant in the field of industrial design and in the wider now-to-new arena.

He started out as a design engineer at Rolls-Royce—aircraft engines, not automobiles—in Derby, UK, later becoming a teacher of design.

From 1966 to 1970, he conducted an investigation into the creative process, sponsored by the Science Research Council of Great Britain. The aim of this research was to identify practical and workable means of injecting a new order of “creativeness, professionalism and achievement” into product design and development.

You can read about his most significant findings in the three books listed below.

Edward Matchett established his company, Matchett Training and Consultancy Services, in 1970 “to take people to the highest level of professionalism and original thinking”, and to do this in a systematic way. His work was usually carried out on the client’s premises and often in a carefully constructed environment that he called a “logosphere of meaning”.

Matchett’s concepts and methods

Matchett’s concepts and methods were informed by his extensive and thoroughgoing studies, coupled with 40 years of continuous first-hand experience as a manager, teacher, consultant, coach and adviser. His approach was deployed on many hundreds of practical industrial projects in R&D laboratories and product design offices, and at what is now Cranfield University.

Ted was a design engineer who transcended the confines of industrial design to develop methods of creativity of astonishing spiritual genius.

Anthony Blake, The DuVersity

The underlying discipline employed by Matchett during the earlier part of his professional life was Fundamental Design Method, on which he began work in 1958. Matchett asserted that “the most advanced form of FDM lifts a mind into ‘meta-control’, making it possible to produce the quality and quantity of thoughts and actions that are normally produced only by a person of genius.”

Later, his focus moved to a more mystical body of work he named Sophiagenics. He described this as “the essential discipline for producing intelligent change and progress, necessary new patterns and new orders of things and ideas; not a formula for perpetuating proven patterns and orders. It is not merely the causal agent of external change and progress, but also of important radical internal developments, up to full maturity, and being truly wise”. (Source of quoted passage: Sophiagenics, on the DuVersity website.)

The “two spirits” described by Matchett in the following passages correlate strongly with Napoleon Hill’s creative imagination and synthetic imagination distinctions. This is unlikely to be a coincidence as he would have studied Hill’s writings during the course of his research.

Matchett’s Credo

The great gulf that divides mankind is not political. It is not the gulf between religions, between religion and science, between science and art. It is not the gulf between rich and poor, between the privileged and the underprivileged. Not the gulf between the practical and the theorist, between those who would work and those who would dream. It is not the gulf between management and those that are managed, between the possessive and the philanthropist, between the saints and the sinners. All of these things are important, yet none so important as men often suppose. They are all streams that flow towards the same sea. All would meet and be reconciled except for one division that is greater by far then these — a division that is far more fundamental. It is the split between those persons who would hang on to old forms and those who wish to see new ones.

Two spirits are at work in the world. It is they who are the cause of the great divide. One would drive the world along at an ever-increasing rate, one would have the world stay precisely where it is. One has its foot hard down on the accelerator, the other is trying hard to apply the brake. One has his eyes fixed firmly on the future, the other has his eyes fixed firmly on the past (he does not realise that the ground that he thinks he is standing on disappeared many years ago).

What is it that has to be preserved? Every form that still equates to needs. What is it that has to be built in addition? New forms that equate to needs that either were not present earlier or that have not been satisfied. What does this have to do with the person who is doing the creating? Everything! At every moment, within himself, the same ceaseless battle must go on. He must destroy every form (ideas, beliefs, visions, attitudes, values etc.) that is no longer needed. He must preserve every form that still equates to needs. He must build new forms within (new ideas, new beliefs, new visions, new attitudes, new values etc.) that equate to needs that either were not present earlier or that have not yet been satisfied. To the extent that he does this within he will be able to do it without. Neither more nor less; it is all very precise.

Source: Edward Matchett legacy website (no longer operational)
Either knowingly or unwittingly, Edward Matchett is referencing the Trimurti, the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.

View the Wikipedia entry for Trimurti

The three functions are sometimes presented as:

  • Generator (in the graphic below: Create new value),
  • Operator (Preserve existing value), and
  • Destroyer (Sacrifice value for the good of the whole),

… providing the clever but misleading acronym GOD.

I developed the V-Spec value specification template depicted below without any knowledge of Matchett’s Credo or the Trimurti.
V-Spec value specification template
Read more about the V-Spec template and process


Edward Matchett's books in print
Creative Action: The Making of Meaning in a Complex World
By Edward Matchett | Facsimile reprint of the original edition (first published: 1975 by Turnstone Books) | Hardback | Price £20.00 from Systematic Innovation

Fundamental Design Method
Foreword by Darrell Mann | Paperback, New Edition, 2010 (First Published: 1998) | Price £20.00 from Systematic Innovation

The Road to True Professionalism
Edward Matchett’s pioneering study of genius | Reprinted in 2012 | Price £20.00 from Systematic Innovation

Essential reading

The human is a rig for creating the new

The Prospero triad: the practitioner, the manifest and the unmanifest

Uniting the manifest and the unmanifest
An excerpt from the book Talking with Angels