All posts about
Systems thinking

The Systemic Turn: Leverage for World Changing

Introduction to several deep thinking articles on the role, value and transformation of design related to ‘wicked problems’ a.k.a. grand design challenges. As discussed during RSD5 (2017).

“Both systems thinking and contemporary design practices are insufficient, on their own, to transform the complex continuous problems our institutions have sustained through a rapidly morphing modernism. Leading practitioners in both core disciplines have quite similar motivations for envisioned outcomes in the world. This is clear in projects developed in flourishing communities and organizations, effective human-centered health practices, fully functioning democratic governance, citizen-centered cities and services, and so on. Practice-led research and reflective practice have taught many of us that the silver bullets of recent design ideas, such as multidisciplinarity and human-centricity, are also insufficient to the complexity and scale of these tasks. Systemics lends design thinking an explanatory theory that integrates principles with the power tools of disciplined method. Design lends systems thinking the pragmatic applications of integration, the transformation of human activity, and the surprising power of observing human experience in design research.”

Peter Jones a.k.a. /peterhjones” | @redesign ~ She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 3.3

A visual vocabulary for concept models

Concept models reflect the target cognitive frames of a system or idea.

“Let’s start by agreeing that a concept model is a visual explanation. I want you to see things the way I do, so I draw a model made of words and pictures so you share the picture in my mind. What if I want you to understand that design tends to wander around exploring options, but don’t worry because eventually we’ll pick something.”

Christina Wodtke a.k.a. /christinawodtke | @cwodtke

Designing conversations for socially-conscious design

Design is inherently social. It’s about conversations. Conversations by the people.

“Design is inherently social. It almost always involves conversations. Designing conversations-for-design should be an explicit part of the design process, just as much as designing the-design-process should be. In brief, conversations are vital foundations for socially-conscious design. (…) A theory of conversations grows out of cybernetics, a major branch of systems, and its roots reach back to Gordon Pask, who was Ranulph Glanville’s mentor. At RSD3 in Oslo, Glanville said, Cybernetics is the theory; design is the action. We need both theory and action to tame the challenges that really matter. A theory of conversation contributes rigor and dependability to socially-conscious design.”

Paul Pangaro a.k.a. /pangaro | @paulpangaro ~ Opening keynote at RSD5 symposium

How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design

Some really deep and historical thinking on design and systems.

“Beginning in the decade before World War II and accelerating through the war and after, scientists designed increasingly sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that acted as if they had a purpose. This work intersected other work on cognition in animals as well as early work on computing. What emerged was a new way of looking at systems – not just mechanical and electrical systems, but also biological and social systems: a unifying theory of systems and their relation to their environment. This turn toward ‘whole systems’ and ‘systems thinking’ became known as cybernetics. Cybernetics frames the world in terms of systems and their goals. This approach led to unexpected outcomes.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly ~ Dubberly Design Office

Designing on a system level

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, said Arthur C. Clarke.

“Data analytics can help predict behavior. Designers need to add data analytics to their skill sets in order to create the next generation of services. Goodman discusses the magical — and sometimes creepy — effect anticipatory design possesses.”

(Mary Treseler a.k.a. @marytreseler ~ O’Reilly Radar)