At the Relating Systems Thinking & Design symposium RSD12, Carine van Loon and I presented a new concept in systemic design, which we refer to as ‘systemic mirroring’: designing an object that provides system stakeholders with a different perspective on the system they are part of. It confronts them with their beliefs about the system and their role in it. We hope that such mirrors support stakeholders in redesigning the system from the inside out. We illustrate the concept with Carine’s graduation project in which she designed a children’s book that reflects the care system around parents with a child with special needs. You can watch our presentation here.
It’s about time we explained what we mean with ‘systemic design’. Four years ago we founded a Systemic Design Lab at TU Delft where we explore how systems thinking might support designing for complex challenges. Since the opening of the lab we have had many conversations with colleagues, students and other designers about what systemic design is and why we need it. We’re also increasingly being told it is a fad and that we are overpromising what it can do. Fair enough, we have probably not been very clear about what it is and what we claim it can achieve. So what is it that systemic designers design, why do they design these things and how do they do it? Well, that depends on who you ask. In this blog post on Medium, I introduce a few different perspectives on the topic
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.
Hello 2021! The second half of 2020 was very hectic and as a result I have failed to update this blog with the news that Bridget Malcolm and myself finally published our study on Systemic Design Principles in She Ji – The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation. This is the result of a study we started in 2016 into public and social innovation practices. In the article we show which principles the participating social innovation organisations used that build on systems thinking and design, and what we can learn from them. I hope you enjoy it!
Since the outbreak of the COVID19-pandemic we have been working on promoting student wellbeing in higher education. In this Medium blog post I share my perspective on the interconnection between learning, wellbeing and human connection.
On October 26th I presented some of my work on systemic design practices at the Service Design Days Challenge at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. I talked about the practices of developing a systemic perspective on the problem, designing for evolution, designing for human relationships, and designing for mental models. This is the slide deck of my presentation. You can find references to the articles I referred to in the talk on the last slide.
I will be speaking about my research in systemic design at the Service Design Challenge at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven on the 26th of October 2019. Get your tickets here: http://servicedesigndays.com/challenge-dutch-design-week-2019/
Last year we (students and staff from the UTS Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation) worked on a paper on ‘creative third spaces’ in our teaching & learning practice in the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. I am very pleased and proud that the paper has now been published in the International Journal for Students as Partners, and is available open access here:
In a recent study, I investigated how social innovation practitioners generate frames that help them find productive ways to address complex challenges. The results of the study are published in this (open access) article in She Ji — the Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation. In this blog post I summarise the results.
Earlier this year I conducted a qualitative study into how professionals collaborate to tackle complex societal problems. There is one thing that became very clear to me and that is that thinking about how we work together and how we behave as individuals, is at least as important as how we think about innovation in complex problem situations. Read more about this study in this blog post.