Designing for human relationships to positively enable systemic change

How we can design for human relationships to positively enable systemic change? In a rapidly changing world, organisations, communities, and social networks need to be able to continuously adapt. From complex systems theory we learn that strong human relationships are at the core of such adaptive behaviour, and promote mutual learning, collective creativity and motivation. But what can we do to shape these relationships? In the study presented in this article I explored how design expertise can be used to design conditions – e.g. services, platforms and events – that enable positive human relationships. I also argue that an understanding of complex systems behaviour and  of the role of human relationships might help professionals with design expertise to more intentionally design for complex systemic change. The study is one of the reasons we are now developing a course ‘designing for complexity’ for our master students. I would also love to know if the ideas presented in the paper resonate with design practitioners.

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