2013/10/11 13:30 “System design for sustainable energy systems for all: The Learning Network on Sustainable energy systems EU funding project” | Carlo Vezzoli | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest of plenary from #RSD2 of Carlo Vezzoli talk on LeNSes (energy system) EU project with at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Carlo has been leading LeNS

Not an expert in systems thinking and design

Wasn’t here on the first day, but didn’t heard much about sustainability today

  • Could use some more systems thinking on sustainability

One of the working hypotheses for design research

Will talk about:

  • Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE):  key leverage for sustainable development
  • Product-Service System (PSS): promisng model for sustainable development
  • PSS design for sustainability: an emerging role (the LeNS approaches)
  • Sustainable Product-Service System (S.PSS): a promising model for Distributed Renewal Energy (DRE) — within the new LeNS project
  • Hypothesis of System Design for Sustainable Energy for all


Need energy, it’s what moves us

  • Energy services
  • Energy can contribute to reduce inequality and poverty

U.N.:  2012 was international year of sustainable energy for all

  • At Rio+20 conference, stated that sustainability not possible without sustainable energy

Large companies in energy, but they don’t seem to be ones who could bring out sustainable energy

  • Renewable and distributed?

Distributed Renewable Energy Generation

  • Small scale
  • Generation near point of use
  • User is the producer: individuals, small business, and/or communities
  • If connected with each other, they are part of a Renewal Local Energy Network
  • Has environment benefits, socioethical benefits, and economic benefits


  • Aims at doubling the share of renewal energy in the global energy mix by 2030

Jeremy Rifkin, talking about the third industrial revolution

Product-Service Systems

  • Do we have any business models that decouple from material and energy consumption?

e.g. Ricoh:  Pay per page Green

  • Pay for number of sheets
  • Ricoh deals installs, maintains, collects at end of life

Recognized by UNEP in 2002

  • Is the PSS approach be applicable to low / middle income contexts, too?


  • Rooted in satisfaction-based economic model
  • Stakeholder sustainability potential

Sustainability Design-Orienting Toolkit

Have designed MSDS: Method for System Design for Sustainability

Tango in Milan:  proposable for sustainable Product-Service Systems promoting social inclusion and internal generation dialogue in Milan

Sustainable Product-Service System (S.PSS)

Solar Home Kits:  TSSFA company offers to Brasilian rural customers hardware to general solar energy, installation service

Open Learning toolkit:  downloadable game

[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]


Carlo Vezzoli.
System design for sustainable energy systems in emerging an low-income contexts.
The EU funded LeNS/es projects and its MSDS method.

Abstract: This keynote presents Product-Service System Design for Sustainability as a promising approach to tackle in emerging and low-income contexts the socio-ethical dimension of sustainability together with the environmental and economic ones. Firstly, reasons for applying eco-efficient Produc Service Systems (PSS) innovation in low-income and emerging contexts are highlighted. Secondly, the known model of distributed economy is introduced as a promising characteristic of such eco-efficient Product-Service Systems to address the issue of locally based renewable and sustainable energy systems as the key leverage for a democratisation of access to resources, goods and services. In this framework the EU funded Learning Network on Sustainability (LeNS) project and its Method for System Design for Sustainability (MSDS) are presented.

Carlo Vezzoli

#energy-systems, #eu, #lens, #lenses, #rsd2, #sustainability

2013/10/11 11:45 “Integrating Storytelling into systems thinking to address conflict” | Maggie Ollove and Diala Lteif | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of Maggie Ollove @DialaLteif talk with @playthink sketchnote on storytelling for resolving conflict in Lebanon at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Picture of a bombing:  July 2013 in Tripoli, Lebanon

  • Not an isolated event
  • Lebanon geographic location
  • History as French colony, independence in 1943


Case study of Lebanon, how designers would tackle the problem

Different from approaches of politicians and NGOs

  • Finding an opportunity through design
  • Led to systems thinking

Used live mapping with experts on conflict in Lebanon

Conflict as perception + action + feeling

Team as outside and insider, recognizing individual biases

Came to stories


Gave back narrative of stories

  • A book as the beginning of a diagnosis

Today, don’t have a common history of Lebanon, and the people who were there in founding are still in power

[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]

Maggie Ollove and Diala Lteif.
Integrating Storytelling into systems thinking to address conflict

Abstract: No problem space is new. All that is encountered has formed with layers of history, (in)action, failure, and insight. If we ever had the capacity to understand complex problem spaces in a linear fashion, that time is now over. The human situation has become hopelessly complicated. Environmental degradation, economic recession, socio-political fragmentation, and rapid population growth have created a complexity of our present that must balance burdened pasts alongside shifting nonlinear uncertainties. In a time when revolutions are started in the digital world and local tensions are broadcast globally with exceeding speed, design should not remain stagnant. It must evolve alongside the pace of development, it must prove its relevance within complex problem spaces.In order to situate itself within complexity, design must offer alternatives to confusion through structure and tools that analyze and find insight within difficult problem spaces. In other words, design should find understanding within complexity. Yet, admittedly, designing within this complexity is unprecedented; the understanding of which surpasses the human mind. As a result, tools and methods have been developed to guide a depth of understanding to rival the complexity of the present and merge interrelated practices.Explored since World War 2, systems thinking is a methodology that comprehends how individual parts fold into the whole. It supersedes previous methods of understanding through “analysis (to gain knowledge of the system by understanding its parts) with synthesis (explaining the role of the system in the larger system of which it is a part). Analysis is useful for revealing how a system works but synthesis reveals why a system works the way it does. The term synthesis, however, should not be mistaken as a simple coming together or fluid process of understanding. Rather, systems thinking should be respected as a tool to complicate, rather than simplify. It is a way to diagnose or understand at the greatest scale, while examining the what is in all of its detail and nuance. And this is in no way simple or clarifying.

Yet, to not reveal why a system works the way it does would create superficial designs. When systems thinking is applied to spaces of design the intricate layers and subtle moments within complex problems are exposed. The unknown is acknowledged and not ignored, and the details are pertinent and not besides the point. With this large scope of cognition, design can respectfully enter conversations about the so-called ‘wicked problems’ as first named by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber. Defined in their nominal article, wicked problems are those most malignant, tricky, and unsolvable problems. As opposed to tame problems, wicked problems are formed through multiple intertwined elements lacking clarity or distinction. Wicked problems test the capacity and possibilities of design. When the relationship between systems thinking and design is activated, wicked problems can be tackled with creativity, design thinking, structures to map changing contexts, the organization to locate counter-intuitive solutions, and the potential to identify unintended consequences.

Perhaps the need for systemic understanding as well as the frustration that can result is never felt more readily than it is in complex conflict. The most wicked of problem spaces are often found in complex conflict. In conflict mediation, conflict is defined as an interaction of interconnected people pursuing multiple opposing goals. Specific to systems thinking, conflict can be understood as a lack of alignment or consciousness of the system, whether this be an individual not understanding her position in the larger context or the system not responsive to the needs of the individual. The idea to be amplified is that conflict is multi-layered and forms from perception, action, and feeling. These individual characteristics are compounded within complex conflict that is a combination of the tensions of multiple people or perspectives and often overshadow any single individual. Systems thinking has been introduced to sort through the complexity of differing perspectives in conflict.

But, isolating systems thinking in complexity conflict leaves an absence. It remains too large-scale and does not incorporate individual sentiments, reactions, and empathies; the very means through which persons – the individual parts of the system – identify with conflict across many scales and contexts. To counter this a focus on the individual and subjective within conflict is necessary, along with the inclusion of the connection between multiple perspectives that form the collective subjective. This was tested through several recent case studies with different organizational structures, including conflict in hierarchical organizations, conflict in grassroots organizations, citywide conflict and even the conflict of identity surrounding Lebanon. What was found is that without the capacity to include individual subjectivities, systems thinking loses the ability to find a complete diagnosis of a problem space and therefore the design of viable, substantial solutions. Even more, as shown through the case studies when individual subjectivities are located with the broader system, previously overlooked insights are found. Even more, deriving systems thinking directly from subjectivities strengthens and encourages systems mapping or diagrams and enables a more complete, but still political and biased understanding of the problem space. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but neglecting the parts cannot create a whole. Only in this way can problem space (even of the most complex conflict) reach a consequential level of diagnosis that forms from a comprehension of the present that can be reframed with concrete insights to reveal emerging design potential.

For systems thinking to work within design praxis, holistic viewpoints need to be connected to subjective perspectives and individual stories. Without this connection, the most integral piece of conflict is missing; the stories that create the system of conflict. A story, at its most basic, is a moment in time. Through the collection of many moments or stories the larger narrative can be found and then be analyzed through systems thinking to lead to thoughtful, necessary diagnosis that needs to be the basis for thoughtful design praxis. As Rittel and Webber concluded, “the formulation of a wicked problem is the problem! The process of formulating the problem and of conceiving a solution (or re-solution) are identical, since every specification of the problem is a specification of the direction in which a treatment is considered.” Focusing on the connection between systems thinking and individual stories is a methodology of problem formulation. It is design for diagnosis, not solution.

The placement of design in complex conflict necessarily requires the overlap between methods of several incompatible processes: systems thinking and stories. Acknowledging the need for this overlap introduces the need for design within conflict; design has the capacity to balance the inconmensurable within a designed artefact. In fact, “reconciling incommensurate requirements is an essential aspect of design.” Design must be introduced to explore and negotiate the connection between systems thinking and storytelling. With its hopeless complications the world no longer needs design to solve problems. A more pressing need is design’s ability to function as the interpreter and translator of the chaos of complex conflict, but only through the integration of systems approaches and individual subjectivities. By respecting that problem spaces are inherently multi-layered, complex twists of ever changing systemic thought and subjective stories, design praxis needs to evolve into a cognitive and dialogic field that is reshaped through integrated praxis. Embracing the subjective, the individual, the whole, the systemic, the political, and the empathetic, design can be the means to understand first and act second.

Maggie Ollove

Diala Lteif

#conflict, #dialogue, #lebanon, #rsd2, #storytelling

2013/10/11 11:15 “Understanding cultural differences” | Linda Blaasvær | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of Linda Blaasvaer @linblaa talk with @playthink sketchnote on an application educating Norwegian military on culture at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Recently graduated from AHO

Will present diploma thesis

Understanding the Norwegian military

Problem:  How can designers help improve the cultural education of Norwegian soldiers travelling abroad for the first time?

Had done system-oriented design courses

  • Presentation by UNIDIR
  • Inspired to do this

Had seen documentary Armadillo, 2010

  • Danish soldiers seeing how they encounter people being murdered and killed, they’re part of it, and young

Relevance: now pulling out of Afghanistan, but soldiers will be present in other places in the world

App:  cultural experience


  • Military as a large system
  • Culture
  • Interaction Design (not trained as interaction designer)


  • Books, interviews
  • Doctor without borders, how to deal with cultures

Gigamap of military education

  • On left, basic education, 1-2 years, learn about laws of war, military operations, language, social structures
  • At right, end up in international service

Report (Security in Practice 11, 2010, NUPI) says lack of cultural training in military

  • Will always find someone who says training is unsystematic and inadequate

Sketch:  different military schools have different ways of training

  • One school: 15 weeks, 5 hours
  • Another school:  40 hours with 5 study points


  • Little focus on cultural understanding in a military context
  • Theoretical
  • Quality assurance weak or non-existent
  • Deteriorating security situation will emphasize military skills

Benefits of training:

  • Given confidence in different situations so can perform military tasks

Specification for design:

  • Reduce fear, anxiety, stress
  • Provide confidence

Framing “culture” problematic

  • Made clustering and groupings
  • Combined with readings


  • General knowledge, as academic provides
  • Personal experience, s lesson learned

Why build a mobile application?

  • Primary user is 20 years old, shift work
  • Secondary users could be veterans or other workers in similar situations

Design process was a co-creation process

  • Had meeting with Aslam Ahsan, familiar with Afghan culture
  • Included social scientists
  • Included navigation and interaction designers
  • Prototyped with users


  • Gigamapping
  • Model:  For application to be relevant, Norwegian military needs to have editing capability, to decide on content
  • Would like to provide insights from other experts in culture, e.g. social scientists and journalists

Scenario, before departure:  download


[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]

Introduction: “Understanding cultural differences” is a design project that is based in Systems oriented design, using Gigamapping as the main tool to achieve a holistic view. The design solution evolves within Service design and Interaction design, and is an application for mobile devices: “Cultural Experience”.The system under study is the Norwegian military.

I have tried to find out how the military prepare the young Norwegian soldiers for meeting a foreign culture when they are about to travel in International operations (INTOPS) for the first time. I question if they have enough training to understand the cultural differences they will meet before they leave for military service abroad, and if designers can provide relevant solutions. Designers are not often invited to contribute in such complex and political oriented themes, and I wanted to explore the role of the designer in such a landscape. I want to show that we, as designers, have tools to visualize systems and issues, and that we can discover potential solutions, other than with an academic approach. And that those solutions can be valuable, and that design is a field to be reckoned with when trying to solve complex problems.

Topic: “How can designers help provide Norwegian soldiers with the preparation they need for International service?”

Design practice in new areas: I was first introduced to this theme in a broader sense through the Systems oriented design course at AHO, led by Birger Sevaldson, spring 2011. We got a client from UNIDIR (research centre within the UN system), Dr. Derek B. Miller. UNIDIR research various methods to obtain peace and security in post conflict areas. During that semester I found this specific potential area to investigate in my Diploma assignment. This very project would not exist without a systems perspective on a larger system such as UN challenges. That system design project led me to this task, trying to create a design solution for Norwegian soldiers in International service.

Background: Soldiers traveling in International service for the first time do not only meet a war situation; they also face a foreign country and a foreign culture. The challenges inherent in manoeuvring in a foreign country, to meet and communicate, not only in a foreign language but also in the context of different norms and values requires a robust training of the soldiers. This is something the Norwegian military of course takes seriously. But discussions in Norwegian media gives reason to believe that soldiers traveling in International service is not always so well prepared to meet a foreign culture as we might hope.

I have been in contact with people in the military. The result was based on research, interviews with veterans of Afghanistan (also Macedonia, Lebanon), and second-hand information, such as resources from the Internet and various literatures.

Result: The solution became an application, “Cultural Experience”. It is designed for Norwegian soldiers in international service, so they can learn about foreign culture. The prototype is made with an example of service in Afghanistan. The target audience is soldiers travelling for the first time, and the main user is approximately 20 + years old. An application for a handheld device is a useful tool because, it is accessible and the user group is accustomed to the medium and use it daily. And in this case, the soldiers are working shifts and would benefit from a device they can use when it is suitable.

The application includes learning from veterans with experience from international service. They share their experience of encounters with another culture during service abroad. Inexperienced soldiers can reap the experience of others with the aim of reducing misunderstandings and avoid difficult situations. Veterans possess vast amounts of experience inexperienced soldiers can benefit from. But how can young, inexperienced soldiers have access to this knowledge? My response to this has been to design an application that provides “lessons learned”.

The application aims to be a solution that engages, and providing valuable experiences a venue to reach inexperienced soldiers.

Conclusion: Perhaps one can never be well enough prepared in such situations, and it is difficult to predict what awaits one. But I believe that inexperienced soldiers can benefit from what I have called “lessons learned”, in the application “Cultural Experience”.

Linda Blaasvaer

#app, #culture, #military, #norway, #rsd2

2013/10/11 10:45 “Systemic Design Interventions: Using systems thinking and design thinking to intervene in systems” | Karianne Rygh | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of  @karianne_rygh talk with @playthink sketchnote on Systemic Design as Choice within the Making at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Karianne Rygh at http://www.kariannerygh.com/

Swindburne in Melbourne, then Eindhoven

Hired by Crisp, Creative Industry Scientific Programme in Eindhoven

Designers moving into new fields, wicked problems

Using Donella Meadows, Leverage Points

Change paradigm

From Burden to Resource:  Changing Mindsets in Prison Manufacturing

Visited sister, found cribs made for children within prisons

Inmates lived outside society

  • Furniture creates an overlap between prison and society

Prison workshops in Norway:

  • Wood 36
  • Assembly 14
  • Metal 13
  • Textile 12
  • Farming 8

Norwegian prison system focus on human respect

Vik Prison in western Norway

  • Skills training, not a manufacturing haven

Looking a prison system as a whole, with sentencing

Coming in as an inmate, impulsive, and then would like to leave as a contributing member of society

  • Reoffences

Design as taking one step back to develop one step forward

Looking at existing practices, and tweaking them

  • Change mindset from impulsive to reflective

Imprisoned self in cube for a day

  • Have time
  • Made a charcoal drawing in the slowest way possible
  • To complete the task, time could not be a factor, needed to focus on the task at hand
  • Reached a sense of flow in work

Perhaps if inmates liked one task, would like another

Wood, rocking chair taken apart to trigger reflective thinking

Methodology for detailing:  step 1 and step 2 to make step 3, then step 4

  • Depends on how long your sentence is, how much focus

Thesis:  Choice within the making, a manual for making a rocking char

  • Inmates have to make a choice
  • Flat pieces given
  • Have to reshape round pieces
  • Make a shape, and then repeat that
  • Production method becomes a method for reflective thinking

Designers can lead them to reflective thinking

  • If inmate starts with a difficult shape, they will have to repeat it

When given a choice in making, is the making a challenge

Then working on Crisp

  • Industry partners and academics
  • Working on PSS 101:  tools for product service system
  • Building trust through innovation in value map

Companies moving from products and services

Complex services through companies into multidisciplinary world

  • Different companies that work together to produce together
  • They cooperate, but don’t collaborate
  • Need to work in a network, with exchanges of values

Research:  networks are social networks of people

  • People create innovations, not businesses
  • Resources exchanged within networks have a personal quality

Stakeholder maps show connections, but rarely show value that can be exchanged

Create a game call Value Pursuit (like a Trivial Pursuit)

  • Write on sticky note, expectations of PSS in outer circle
  • Contributions to PSS in next circle
  • Struggle in the next circle
  • Add sticky notes on top of each other, Shared struggles in the middle

Needs to be a change in mindset

  • A lot of innovations don’t get rolled out, because they get caught in the network
  • If resources stay in silos, innovations won’t occur in the PSS

3 success factors in networks of PSS

  • Understanding of the value to be gained
  • Ability to express
  • Appreciation of other people

People have different perspectives, can they come together?

  • Large playing piece, number of connections gained
  • Small playing piece, number of connections given

Healthcare innovation team has been using the tool

  • Surfaced voices that haven’t been heard before
  • Tools lowered threshold between people, one person’s struggle is the other person’s contribution
  • Skills were there, not necessarily with people they expected

Results published in Crisp Magazine, issue on Value Matters

Jailed in Norway, ignorance of employees.  Did employees understand what you were doing?  Lack of information by police.

  • Experience dealing with correctional services
  • Police could be different people
  • Focused initially about prison system, questioning about whether too soft
  • People wanted systems to change
  • Project reminded people that prisoners get released, and they become your neighbour
  • Would you prefer rehabilitation

[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]

Karianne Rygh, Marc de Droog and Danielle Arets.
Systemic Design Interventions: Using systems thinking and design thinking to intervene in systems
Abstract: Today’s design professionals are operating in an expansive, and increasingly complex field. Through working in challenging new contexts, we can see a growing number of designers seeking collaborations with experts in other disciplines and developing a design language, methods and tools applicable to new fields. Previously considered as a trade activity, the design profession is evolving by designers adding their value through design thinking to firms trying to innovate and to societies that are trying to make change happen. (Kimbell, 2011) However, in order to be of value, there is an increasing need for designers to adopt system thinking in their approaches to creating new solutions for complex problems.The notion that designers only design objects, is a dominant view, as Christopher Alexander stated in 1971: “The ultimate object of design is form”. However, it is this notion that is still in the process of evolving. In The Sciences of the Artificial (1969), Herbert Simon identified design as the knowledge that is in the domain of professions such as engineering, management, or medicine and saw design as a rational set of procedures responding to a well-defined problem.Systems thinking has a long tradition in science, constantly revealing new ways to approach complexity, from system analytics to scenario planning strategies. For a long time, system thinking has mainly been used in analytics, in the fields of natural science and business sciences. Therefore, combining systems thinking with the more open and creative aspects of design thinking, is a promising approach for design practice.

Richard Buchanan’s paper “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking” (1992), shifted design theory towards a more generalized ‘Design Thinking’ which he believed could be applied to everything from a tangible object to an intangible system. Buchanan’s version of design thinking is less concerned with individual designers and how they design, but seeks instead to define design’s role in the world.

“Professional design, in particular design as practiced within the studio-based tradition of many art schools, is taking a new place on the world stage”, states design researcher Lucy Kimbell. She specifically refers to the fact that design has been implemented in managerial discourse. But do practitioners from the different fields really speak the same language? What can designers bring to management thinking? And in turn, how can designers use tools and methodologies from business thinking?

In this paper we will stress the importance of integrating designers in system thinking in order to deal with the wicked issues of our contemporary society. We will apply the framework of system thinker Meadows and the social toolkit of design thinker Lucy Kimbell to develop a new systematic approach dealing with complex issues facing our society.

Leverage points In order to show how designers can be integrated in system thinking it is necessary to pin point the areas of a system where the effects of designers’ interventions will be of strongest value. We will use the leverage points defined by Meadows (1999) to indicate the places in a system where a small change or tweak, can lead to big changes in behavior or outcomes. Meadows indicated a hierarchy of leverage points within systems, the hierarchy of each leverage point being determined by its effectiveness. Leverage points to intervene in a system, Meadows, 1999 12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards) 11. The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows 10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures) 9. The length of delays, relative to the rate of system change 8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to connect against 7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops 6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to what kinds of information) 5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints) 4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure 3. The goals of the system 2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system – it’s goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters – arises 1. The power to transcend paradigms

Different professionals, ranging from accountants and business consultants to engineers and strategists, are already working in the field of system change, focusing on one or another leverage point. Designers, however, have been rather absent. We would like to add designers to this spectrum by recognizing that out of all available professionals, designers, as creatives, have a lot to offer when it comes to tweaking the most difficult leverage points.

According to Meadows, paradigms are the sources of systems and are therefore more difficult to change. However, all that is necessary for a shift in paradigms is sparking a new understanding within an individual. This is where we believe designers can fulfill an important role. Following recent developments in designing choice architecture (Thaler, Sunstein, 2008), based on incremental knowledge about our human thinking processes (Tversky, Kahneman), we already see a glimpse of this kind of design thinking in a systemic field as economics. Thaler and Sunstein describe examples on how to ‘nudge’ people’s decisions in wicked problems as choosing the right pension scheme or improving school choices.

Another example of a systemic design intervention, is the design research project of Karianne Rygh, ‘Choice Within the Making – Changing Mindsets through Prison Manufacturing’, triggering new understandings both in the inmate and within society. Society shares the idea that inmates are undeserving of anything but ‘lock-up’ and ‘paying their dues’. This idea constitutes a paradigm focusing on punishment rather than the long-term safety of our society. Most prison systems today have one common failure: a large number of re-offenders returning and overpopulating the prisons. Rygh´s systemic design approach to skilled carpentry training within Norwegian prisons, is aimed at reducing the number of re-offenders by using furniture production as a hands-on, informal tool to foster reflective thinking, using time as a tangible form of rehabilitation. As a designer, Rygh saw manufacturing within prison as an overlap between inmates and society, since prison-made furniture is sold to the public. She therefore designed a manual for producing a rocking chair where every step of the process requires the inmate to look back at what he or she did in the previous step, in order to move several steps forward. Triggering new understandings and new modes of thinking can in turn change behavioral patterns and shift paradigms, but for this to happen through the prison system, there needs to be freedom of choice within confinement. Enabling each inmate to include their own form language in a chair while at the same time training them to reflect over their choices within the making, is one approach to a systemic design intervention contributing to the safety of our society and gives added value to the end products being sold outside of prison.
With our research we aim to build a framework designers can use to find and use leverage points in order to tweak social and political systems. The framework shall be based on theoretical research, in-depth interviews and case studies within our CRISP (Creative Industries Scientific Program) network, ranging from science to design and business.

  • Alexander, C., (1971). Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Buchanan, R. (1992), Wicked Problems in Design Thinking, Design Issues: Vol. VIII, Number 2 Spring 1992
  • Forrester, Jay W. (1961). Industrial Dynamics. Pegasus Communications.
  • Forrester, Jay W. (1969). Urban Dynamics. Pegasus Communications
  • Forrester, Jay (1971). Counterintuitive behavior of social systems. Technology Review 73(3): 52–68
  • Kahneman, D. (2011), Thinking fast and slow, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Kimbell, L. (2011) – Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1, Design and Culture volume 3 issue 3, pp 285-306,Berg
  • Meadows, D (1999), Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, Sustainability Institute
  • Meadows, D (2008), Thinking in Systems: a primer, Reed
  • Senge, Peter, Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., and Smith, B. (1994) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.
  • Simon, H. (1969), The Sciences of the Artificial, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • Thaler, Sunstein (2008), Nudge, Penguin Books

Karianne Rygh

#design, #intervention, #manufacturing, #norway, #prison, #rsd2, #workshops

2013/10/11 10:15 “Systemic Transformations in Health Care by Design, Stories from the Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic” | Manuela Aguirre and Josina Vink | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of @JosinaVink @ManuelaAguirreU talk with @playthink sketchnote on Systemic Change by Design at Mayo Clinic  at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Recent graduates from programs at AHO and OCAD, hired on the same day at Mayo Clinic

If you approach Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, seems like building a mountain

Why do people travel from so far away, and then seem siloed?

Started in the 1800s, first to have a patient record

  • First to be collaborative around the needs of the patient

Built a Center for Innovation, started with Ideo and two doctors

  • Embedded in a clinic center, started in obstetrics
  • Grew to 70 employees last year
  • Interdisciplinary, 15 designers last year, programmers

Mayo started in 1800, 12 specialities in 1925, now 4500 employees

With all of the changes, the exam room from 1963 looks the much same in 2013

  • Good scientific revolutions in medicine, but the interactions with patients haven’t changed

Culture at Mayo Clinic different from new centres

  • Evidence based versus possibility based
  • Rational versus creative
  • Linear versus divergent

Disruptive Trnasformation of the Outpatient Practice: Project Mars

  • Halfway through project
  • In 3 years, reduce outpatient practice costs by 30% while improving patient experience

Did co-creation sessions, everything trained to do

  • Had follow-up sessions with patients via video, so don’t have travel for a 5-minute meeting
  • Problem: identified a solution, a technology part, and had to measure with small-scale experiments
  • After working on these service offerings, thinking about:  what are the purposes of all of these experiments?
  • How are these creating a system?


  • How to know psychological needs? e.g. chronic patients, better meeting in a group?
  • Not one standardized way
  • Smart sense:   How to make sense of this?  Which patient with which provider?  Adaptability within system?

Started working on tiny experiment on remote recheck

  • Needed to see in light of the total service line

Outpatient practice is also within the larger context of inpatient

Also siloed in seeing patients that focus on part of a body

  • Chronic procedural
  • Could get a richer picture

Start with service offering –> larger systems

Mayo Clinic has ambitious goal:  from 2 million patients to 200 million patients

  • Shift in mentality
  • About trusted and synthesized medical knowledge

Curry and Hodgson 2008, Journal of Future Studies

  • Want more powerful relationship between patients and care providers

Challenges in Systems Change

  • Challenged in scales
  • Confronted by challenges in trying to do systems change

When arrived at outpatient clinic, people already had a lot of other change requests:  change fatigue

  • More pressures to do things
  • One more person knocking on the door

Confronted with “Prove it” mentality (as Roger Martin from Rotman School describes)

Struck with how much leadership and middle management about where they wanted to be

  • 30% increase in efficiency within the same model
  • Even though epoused about being on Mars
  • Goal to shift from narrow vision to being more long term

Culture eats strategy for breakfast (as say Michael Porter)

  • Success meant complacency
  • Strong physician-led hierarchy
  • Photo of co-creation workshop, can see tensions in room

Pressure towards risk mitigation, as opposed to optimization

  • e.g. moving from patient records on paper, and paper chart on notes to Electronic Medical Record or Journal
  • Replicated paper
  • Now, it’s so hard to move, within the electronic structure
  • People were trying to downscale to their previous ways

Structure drives behavior:

  • Working within current practice at current time, experimenting things for future
  • e.g. fee for service model, way they’re paid now to see more patients
  • Had to make space for experimentation

Additive versus disruptive innovation

  • People could easily think of additive, e.g. a navigator
  • e.g. group visit, make some time on Friday afternoon, but then patients were starting to value other patients rather than physician, then lack of interest

Did discover some strategies for successful change

Making space for change:

  • Change fatigue, people on overload
  • Make a space for something different to happen
  • First had to work on a different care team model
  • Had to make space for less to do, so could do preventive medicine
  • Need to be able to rearrange

Embracing the unintended

  • From a designer, not looking for control
  • Would seed ideas in many places
  • Intention of working on a shared care plan
  • Would have conversations that seem sporatic
  • 2 years later, some of work was exploding, and didn’t have clarity of vision of how that would come about

Enabling practice champions, people invested in an idea

  • Had code awards, with funding and support

From positive deviance, building on what is working

  • While many working on same structures, were people who did something a little different, that could amplify
  • Physician who was dictating notes after record, but wanted to dictate while patients were in the room, allowed patients with trust, and they could correct what they said
  • Built into smart space

Identifying strategic levers that hit deep seeded notes

  • Wholistic model
  • Huddle for 20 minutes to go through all patients of the day, who would best handle, e.g. bed management
  • Disrupted dynamic of the whole care team, who had best power to handle, enabling teaching

Connecting the dots

  • While certain things didn’t exist, some resources could be reused
  • Family of dementia and Alzheimers, didn’t have tie with caregivers
  • Found that caregivers had significant needs, some people dying before the person with dementia, taking away keys, etc.
  • People at Mayo had the knowledge, could support

See a lot of opportunities within institutional care of hospitals


  • Doing the same, but doing 30% better?
  • Spread
  • Limitations came up
  • Digging deeper, getting an opportunity to frame differently, important


  • How can needs be meet within clinical specialties, and not just a lung patient
  • Could make more changes in the primary care setting, thinking about whole person rather than a specialty practice
  • Power dynamic

Future-oriented, when someone outside of the brief challenges the brief from the designer?  Mayo scaling up from 2 million to 200 million could be evil.  Should the Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins and Mayo scale up, or should they look for ways so that they don’t have to scale up

  • Coming from a perspective of how to make medicine irrelevant, not there yet
  • Outside perspective on healthcare as a fix-it model, social determinism
  • They may not embrace that whole-heartedly
  • Have to decouple providing care and providing knowledge:  what essence can be captured from encounter into cases that could impact other people?
  • It may not matter, just to make a big leap
  • Problem is people taking that too literally, e.g. seeing more patients, shortening period

How did you get into project?

  • Hired as designers to do this work
  • Mayo was looking for systems thinkers to supplement industrial designers, etc.

Ability to influence culture through processes?

  • Rethinking of business model, made some changes at the leadership level, as compared to experiments
  • Had the ear of leadership, use that work, make strategy for leadership
  • Creation of a new center around knowledge
  • Thinking on the center was there, but may not have come to fruition
  • Additive innovation rather than a wholistic patient with fundamental restructuring

Evidence-based attitude as a barrier.  Think more of an AND.  Learn more about evidence, as it’s a powerful factor in medicine, want doctors to use state of the art procedures.  Research on how design works?  Learning from other industries?  Donald Norman has asked profession to be more aware, prove that design works.

[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]

Manuela Aguirre and Josina Vink
Transforming Health Care Systems through Design: Stories from Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.
Abstract: Realizing change within the health care industry is notoriously difficult, not to mention amid the constraints of a historically successful health care institution that has been around for over a century. Recently, design has been gaining a reputation for leading much needed innovation of health care products and services to improve the patient experience. Still, affecting lasting change and addressing underlying issues within health care systems requires a focus beyond isolated care models and an extension of conventional design methods.Within the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, designers are beginning to embed systems thinking and systems approaches into their design methodology in an attempt to seed critical systemic shifts. These shifts support the evolution of clinical systems and re-orientation of the organization enabling it to play a progressive leadership role within the industry into the future. The evolving, collaborative design process involves working across scales to understand complex relationships and experiment with strategic levers throughout the existing systems. It integrates systems thinking in the process of: research, visioning, idea generation, prototyping, synthesis, communication, visualization,and so on, enhancing standard design methods to embrace the complexity of dynamic systems. This necessary extension of design enables the development of holistic, creative solutions that have the potential to make profound and sustainable changes to radically improve health.A number of project examples from the Center for Innovation illustrate how this work is beginning to take shape. The first is a project set out to design the future of the outpatient practice, influencing a shift from a robust and stagnant practice to an adaptive, intelligent practice. The second is strategy work completed for the organization and new center within the enterprise that supports a shift from care to knowledge as the essential offering of the Clinic.

While systemic design is increasingly necessary for the problems the Center for Innovatio seeks to solve, this work does not come without its own set of challenges. Some of the key barriers that the Center for Innovation continues to face as it works within the context of a traditional health care institution are:

  • Change fatigue,
  • Short term thinking,
  • “Culture eating strategy”,
  • Mitigation vs. optimization,
  • Structure driving behavior,
  • Hesitance around disruptive innovation
  • The “prove it” sentiment.

However, the Center for Innovation has found some significant successes in instances when: innovation comes from within the institution and designers act as facilitators to support the process (e.g. CoDE Awards), as well as when connections and ideas are built over years with the hopes of growing into a much larger movement at an unexpected time and place (e.g. Shared Care Plan).

As the capacity and methods around systemic design for health care continue to be developed and honed, the future possibilities and potential impact within the field of health care is infinite. This timely practice has the opportunity to not only reshape outmoded health care practices, but also move beyond clinical walls into people’s everyday lives and communities, where health is truly defined.

Manuela Aguirre

Josina Vink

#design, #healthcare, #mayo-clinic, #rsd2, #systemic, #transformation

2013/10/11 09:45 “The rich picture of the civil servant systemic designer: An emerging context” | Jonathan Veale | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of Jonathan Veale @JAVeale talk with @playthink on sketchnote on Civil Service Systemic Design at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Jonathan Veale is a futurist/strategic designer in Edmonton for the Alberta Public Service

  • This talk was approved for public release

There might be an emerging practice for systemic design in government

  • Helsinki Design Lab
  • Mindlab

Have been prototyping this

  • 3.5 people
  • Working with government at strategic level

Own expertise is in strategic design

Here today, as a private citizen, although endorsed by government to be here

Had worked in SLab at OCAD U.

Will talk in a limited sense on the case study, as can impact policy

Aerial photo of Canada, with Alberta

  • Alberta is larger than France, and it’s not even the biggest province
  • Alberta was settled from the south and the east
  • Mindset:  known as cowboy country, love beef
  • Being a frontier, edge of a system
  • Incorporated as a province in 1905
  • Geographically diverse space
  • Colonial history, U.S. occupied south until English came
  • Economic, large oil fields, in oil sands
  • Have had some recent shocks to systems
  • Wonder:  maybe need to think contextually about the system

Dan Hill:  Dar Matter and Trojan Hostrses:  A strategid Design Vocabulary

  • Written while in Helsinki
  • Government is too important to fail
  • This is a different tribe

Civil Servant Systemic Designer

  • Entrusted with the public interest
  • Practices within the architecture of the government

Housed within a ministry, as don’t have other way of organizing in Alberta

Have talked about silos in government

  • Still have silos, but trying to ensure they’re permeable
  • Have create pods, like a pod of whales that move together
  • Work in the ministry of energy, working with environment and natural resources
  • Rules:  can talk to anyone in government, can call a deputy minister

Have worked on:

  • Childcare
  • Leadership succession
  • Climate change, in respect of economics and urban development


  • The place where we take decisions, based on public interest
  • A destination

What do we do?

  • Centricity with users, citizens
    • Strategic designers talking about stewardship as modes of behaviour
    • Hard to separate in head
  • Create
  • Capture
  • Deliver
  • Towards public interest

Stewardship isn’t just the model, but the quality of the model

Bring an innovation focus to the civil service

  • Multiple tensions
  • Where will be place ourselves within the system?
  • Add an extra line of legitimacy and credibility
  • From Mindlab in Copenhagen, need to provide deliverables to give legitimacy and credibility

If can work within positivist monist design of government, and can be constructivist, then can work in government

  • Rarely look at level of individuals

Value:  government is siloed by theme or classification, but also in modes of behaviour

  • Some people who frame
  • Some who plan
  • Some who execute
  • Thus, siloing
  • As systemic designer, can bridge silos and make them permeable

Government not known for being material

  • Challenge to make it tangible to people
  • Hard to understand complexity and complicatedness
  • Scale is hard to work with

Problem space with people, and the tangible abstract


  • Positivist culture doesn’t necessarily value participatory or intuitive methodology, e.g. engineers don’t naturally think this way
  • Success to bridge this?
  • Citizen-centric methods are rare, but opportune:  ethics of citizen-centric research, where government has power, but don’t go for research ethics approval
  • Building trust has to be central

Problem space

  • Sometimes spend a lot of time in Creating Value space, as hard to understand, difficult to bridge to execution


  • Straegy and policy seem intangible, government services are tangible
  • Intervention is more top-down:  Cook, Steinberg and Boyer at Helsinki Design Lab with a project as a way of breaking down the problem space; government typically works top-down, so advancing projects is new

Case study, have done 15 projects over 2 years

  • How might we improve the state of trust relations between citizens, government, and petroleum industry?
  • Low trust in natural resources segment
  • Tried scenario mapping, rich pictures, gigamapping
  • Focus on creating, framing the problem
  • Compared to other civil servants, wanted to bridge, address the problematic situation, connect with people who make rules
  • Had a conference:  Unfinished Futures
  • An executive summary, poster session where people could engage and modify, then breakouts
  • e.g. if you are responsible for climate change, then how to do that

Then did again, with younger civil servants, as colloquium

  • Now replicated across government
  • Posters, etc.
  • Now speaking the same language on the issue, can’t yet solve it, but we know what the problem is

How did we do this?

  • 3 designers, paired with similar teams across the government
  • Co-led this, as ministries across pods
  • People at the bottom level are cooperating, then the senior officials are also collaborating
  • Deputy minister said need to come present what is going

8 broad lessons for thinking about future in government

1. Visualization

  • In government, make decisions by pushing briefing notes
  • One page, 12 point Arial font, have to concise
  • Take to deputy, he says yes or no
  • We need to work with leadership team, building models with them
  • Tried video briefing notes, those don’t work
  • When can delegate into paper, that works

2. Need depth as well as context

  • Systemic thinkers are hard on people thinking deep and narrow
  • Need to find a systemic way

3. Ability to network and work across government

  • If in department when can do that, it’s great
  • Find the people closest to the problem

4. Systemic futures and systemic design as methodologies

5. Champions guide on projects

  • Say should challenge, they generate ideas
  • Practical to move culture

6.  Being honest and open about cultural differences

  • Engineers, MBAs

7. Literacy in systems thinking

  • Works for public, too
  • Wide, but not much depth, e.g. gigamapping

8. Must be humble leader, cultivate innovation

Some outstanding questions



  • Now working on energy literacy
  • Typical way would have been to create policy, and then send money
  • Instead, have created a project
  • Direction, more to partner with design community to design material interventions, if they work, then can spread out
  • e.g. public spaces, interacting with government
  • Struggle with whether it’s material enough

Learnings from providing visual briefings

  • Hugely successful on lower part of iceberg, on shift of mindshifts
  • Worked visually
  • Scanned all of the documents, they put them on wall, let executives cluster them
  • They found that there are assumption that may or may not be valid
  • Exercise points out that there’s a blind side

From deputy’s point of view, what’s wrong with the briefing note?  If saw wall, would it be easier to read on one sheet of paper?

  • On deep mindset, visual works better
  • On an event that needs a decision now, then the text works better
  • Haven’t tried to change documents for an event

[Abstract of talk from http://futurecultures.blogspot.ca/2013/09/abstract-civil-servant-systemic.html]

Abstract: Government decisions manifest within the landscape and can greatly affect change within their jurisdiction and beyond. A perfect example would be decisions about regional energy policy. A government’s views about the production, transportation and consumption of energy within their geography notably impacts land development, resource extraction, economic investment, urban design, transportation, climate change, economic competitiveness and the social mix of a region . Energy policy decisions are foundational to complex predicaments, including energy insecurity, poverty, food and water security and social strife. Notable examples abound but this complexity manifests at the human scale towards whole systems and the spaces in-between.

Until relatively recently, government policy development, insofar as it was systemic, relied upon hard systems methodology which began with a knowable problem and converged on a solution . This linear and monistic approach brought depth but lacked context of the wider societal, technological, economic, ecological and political system. In simpler times, and in the absence of complex systems methodologies, this approach was the best option for policy development. Consistent with this view, governments organized themselves around discrete policy silos, each bringing an expert depth to their thematic responsibility. This is opportune where increasing specialization leads to new knowledge, but challenged where context is needed to avoid unintended consequences . Complexity as it is now, calls upon government to navigate policy predicaments with a new architecture – one that brings both depth and context for rigorous policy.
This paper examines the emerging context of the civil servant – one entrusted with the public interest by duty and responsibility – who practices within the architecture of government, deploying systemic design methodologies towards the complex predicaments that societies faces. Governments are responding to complexity in policy decisions – design consultants are retained; government staff are trained in designerly ways; and, experienced-designers are employed on in-house consulting teams. These models have the effect of increasing the profile of design practice within government. The model of the Department of Energy in Alberta, Canada is examined with a view towards articulating this emerging context for systemic design practice. The case of a trans-ministry design team applying systemic design methodology around a shared strategic concern is presented.
The case explores key questions about the Civil Servant Systemic Designer:
  • What is the cultural challenge of systemic design for government?
  • What is the role of the designer in this challenge?
  • What is the relationship of the designer within the business model?
  • Which professional qualities must the designer possess?
  • What are the implications for systemic design practice?
This paper is fundamentally about how systemic designers who live within the architecture of the government can best deliver value to the public they serve.

A Shared Stewardship Agenda
Conventional civil service, not unlike systemic design practice, centres on stewardship but the two disciplines advance the concept differently. This paper advances that the civil servant designer synthesises both. In the case of civil service, stewardship is an end state that aligns with the public interest . It is the ‘place’ where we take decisions to with an idealized objective to balance competing interests and offer advice in the best interest of society. Design nuances the scale of decisions by extending into human- or citizen centricity in decision-making . While systemic design has added that stewardship is active and about bridging the value chain – the careful and dutiful execution of modes of behaviour from problem conception to value delivery and necessary feedbacks . In this respect, systemic design brings an advanced and innovation focused agenda of stewardship to the governance space where ‘delivered value’ equates with credibility and social approval . For civil service, human centricity and the stewardship of ideas to fruition appears novel. From this vantage, practicing within the architecture of government might be the best place for some systemic designers, especially those particularly concerned about advancing stewardship as a mode of behaviour and gaining a civil servant’s eye for the public interest.
Reconciling the Cultural Tension
The civil servant systemic designer lives and breathes the culture of government; therefore, this experience might signal possible futures for this emerging context. The case study shows that the ultimate challenge for the civil servant systemic designer is cultural. The natural tension between the positivist and reductionist community, which dominates government, and the emerging context of constructivist and systemic design is explored. This paper argues that the way the systemic designer reconciles this tension is critical to the survival of the practice. With systemic design bringing urgently needed “rich picture” context to decisions , reconciliation enables a requisite depth of specialist knowledge to be deployed against defined problems. The civil servant systemic designer must avoid both the pathology of excessive depth and the pathology of contextual overabundance .
Case Study: Rich Picture of Systemic Design in the Government of Alberta
Beginning in early 2012, the Government of Alberta, led by the Department of Energy identified the need for innovation using systemic design methodology. The need for systemic context and integration within the Natural Resources and Environment cluster of ministries was observed. Newly retained systemic design and strategic foresight staff convened from across government to design a context-gaining approach to both pilot systemic design and strategic foresight methodologies and ameliorate the challenges of present-day natural resources development. The project is ongoing, with the first phase now complete. This case study examines the first phase of the project with a view towards describing the approach, methodology, and implications for systemic design practice. The scale of the project is noteworthy, with an internal team implementing a program that crossed nine departments and impacted +100 participants.
Lessons for Systemic Design Practice
Broad lessons for systemic design practice are discussed:
  • Visualization as practiced by designers is both a powerful integrative tool and cognitive shortcut to inform executive decision-makers. Visualization should strive to translate between traditional public sector language and the citizens we serve.
  • The civil servant systemic designer must develop fluency in articulating the platitudes and nuances of complex policy. In this respect, framing must strive for context as well as depth.
  • The civil servant systemic designer must seamlessly network and integrate across the public and private spheres. This includes finding the people closest to complex problems. Networking is one pathway to integration.
  • Systemic design and systemic futures studies are complementary methodologies. Both concern the anticipation and co-creation of the future. Both are concerned with robustness, resilience and adaptivity in designing solutions.
  • Systemic designers, as part of the minority culture within government, must cultivate and service the needs of executive champions. Champions articulate the story to outsiders and interpret cultural differences. They give the designer an inside perspective to the institution, while the designer helps the champion to see the institution from an outsider’s view.
  • The civil servant systemic designer must be honest and open about cultural differences and how these impact the delivery of work. This reduces unproductive conflict and supports productive collaboration.
  • Systemic designers are humble leaders, who cultivate innovation, transform the idea of value away from just efficiency, reframe risk in context to opportunity, reconnect stewardship with decision-making and build trusted citizen experiences at many scales.
  • Boyer B., Cook J.W., Steinberg Marco (2011) Recipes of Systemic Change. eBook. .
  • Buchanan, R. (2010). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. Design Issues, Vol. III (Number 5, Spring, 1992), 5-21.
  • Capra, F. (1997) The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, HarperCollins Flamingo, London.
  • Gharajedaghi, J. (2006). Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture. London, Elsevier.
  • Hyde, Rory (Ed.) (2012) The Strategic Designer by Bryan Boyer in Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture. Routledge 134-146.
  • Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage Points: Places to intervene in a System. The Sustainable Institute, Hartland.
  • McMullin, Jess (2011). TEDxPennQuarter 2011: Reinventing Government. 2011. Video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCbC2MzqFKUWeb. 12 May 2013.
  • Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in Systems. White River Junction, Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • MindLab (2011). How Public Design?. Copenhagen, Denmark: Web. .
  • Rittel, H., and M. Webber; (1973) Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning pp 155-169, Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc., Amsterdam, 1973
  • Ryan, Alex (2013). What is a system? Survey Paper
  • Sevaldson, B. (2008). Rich Research Space. FORM akademisk 1(1).

Jonathan Veale

#civil-servant, #designer, #rsd2, #systemic

2013/10/11 09:00 “The Systemic Design Mind” | Harold Nelson | Relating Systems Thinking & Design 2013

Digest from #RSD2 of Harold G. Nelson talk with @playthink sketchnote on The Systemic Design Mind at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2 at AHO Oslo School of Design and Architecture


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

There will be an “ask” for this conference

Knowledge comes by taking things apart:  analysis.   But wisdom comes by putting things together.  [John A. Morrison]

System design is for wise action

  • Inquiry is always for action

We need habits of mind

  • What habits of mind are appropriate for systemic design?
  • Shouldn’t drop the habits of an analytic mind, which are important for design.

We should develop the habit of AND versus EITHER/OR

  • Scientific method gets to heart of what is true,  but what is AND
  • e.g. faculty of science AND humanity

AND as a conjunction, not an aggregation

  • Dissertation is new knowledge added to a pile of knowledge (an aggregation)
  • Not more, but different

AND means filling the in-between

  • Science AND art
  • Individual AND collective
  • Thinking AND acting
  • You AND me

Systemic design can contribute to understanding the AND

To become a systems thinker, don’t look at something, look in between

Some conjunction systems

  • Ordered / ordering systems
    • Relationships
    • Patterns
    • Compositions
  • Engangled / entangling systems
    • Links
    • Assemblies
    • Networks
  • Organized / organizing systems

Also interested in conjoining through time

Four central questions for designers, as design inquiry:

  • 1. What is true?
  • 2. What is real?
  • 3. What would be ideal?
  • 4. What out to be made real? (with ought having ethical considerations)

Will focus on the first two, today.

Some describe west versus east:

  • West as what’s true. (i.e. ideals)
  • East as what’s real.  (i.e. what’s here)

As an example, what is a horse?

  • From Montana, have raised horses

Western tradition:

  • Analysis and relationships development
  • Analysis as breaking things into the parts: Is that enough to tell you what a horse is?
  • Also use classifications, e.g. ungulates, hoofed animals
  • Can appreciate the traditions in universities, with arts, humanities
  • Tradition of ordering into categories
  • Evolution, provence, how does the horse develop order time
  • Breeds, pedegree, maybe not cross-breeding, no ribbons for mongrels

Synthesis in the western tradition

  • We have trouble:  what happens when you put things together
  • Synthesis as an assembly and
  • A horse as a functional assembly, parts
  • Graphs with squares and lines
  • Tells us a bit about a horse
  • Doesn’t get a full description about what a horse is

Eastern habit of mind (as told, have been there), talking about apposition and link

  • Apposition as how to fit in
  • A horse in an ecosystem and environment:  what predators
  • Context
  • Function

Exploration of what ANDs are

3. Synthesis as an aesthetic AND

  • Composition and relationships
  • We have reasons for putting things into composition and relationships
  • An emergence of qualities
  • Spirit, soul, essence, character, nature, actuality, quiddity
  • As designers and systems sciences, we don’t get to those qualities often
  • But where people live, they think about these qualities

4. Synthesis as the emergent quality AND

  • Good designers can create an emergent quality
  • Take two gases, hydrogen and oxygen, and create the property of wetness
  • Only see wetness when they are brought together
  • It’s not a composition, it’s a transformation

People talking about a community, e.g. have 50 people together, but that’s not the emergent quality is, which is what you see when people live together

In place of common dualities, use AND

  • C.P. Snow’s the two cultures of sciences and humanities
  • Argument still going on, decades later
  • Science arguing that the can do everything
  • Instead of science OR art, what does it look like when you say AND

What does individual AND the collective mean together?

Thought AND action?

  • Gets divided up a lot
  • Those who think, and those who do
  • Forethought and afterthought
  • Thought AND action has sophia, pre-Socratic mean the wise hand
  • In Plato’s Republic, those with hands went to the bottom, and those with the thought went to the top
  • Interested in reconstitution of sophia as the wise hand
  • Ancient Greeks were amazed that could make a ship appear that never existed; how to make a temple appear
  • Compare as those who see the technology as found, they’re not concerned with how the technology came about
  • Prometheus was the god of forethought, penalized for thinking then doing, fire
  • Brother was the god of action without thinking as afterthought, opened Pandora’s box

What is the wisdom of this symposium?

  • What is the AND?
  • What have you heard that is startlingly different, that you might have heard as either/or
  • The wisdom of a symposium like this is how we put together things like this organized event
  • This symposium could have value in showing emergent properties
  • It’s not just publishing papers
  • We have a marvelous ordering, what are these assembled into?
  • This could be a contribution of the gathering

Self-organizing:  if people don’t have the pressure of creating a paper, people can think:  what emerges from that

[Abstract of talk from http://www.systemic-design.net/]

Harold Nelson
Unblocking the design mind; looking for AND rather than EITHER-OR

Designing is a dynamic process that can be hindered or blocked by habits of mind developed from the EITHER-OR world of truth seeking and reductive thinking. Design inquiry is inquiry for action—i.e. forethought AND action. Design inquiry is also synthetic, answering the AND questions that come up when talking about relationships, connections and linkages—i.e. what is the relationship, connection or linkage between this idea AND that idea; this thing AND that thing? What are the emergent qualities that arise when AND replaces the argumentative EITHER-OR in design situations?The question I would like to ask you all to consider with one another in the context of this symposium is: what are the consequences of the ANDs between or among the many different intriguing ideas being presented? AND how could this conversation be taken into other contexts?

Harold G. Nelson

[The table of contents for The Design Way (second edition) is at http://designwaybook.blogspot.ca/p/table-of-content.html ]

Table of Content & Preface

Preface to the Second Edition ix
Acknowledgments xiiiPrelude 1


1 The Ultimate Particular 27
2 Service 41
3 Systemics 57
4 The Whole 93

5 Desiderata 105
6 Interpretation and Measurement 119
7 Imagination and Communication 127
8 Judgment 139
9 Composing and Connecting 159
10 Craft and Material 173

11 The Evil of Design 183
12 The Splendor of Design 191
13 The Guarantor-of-Design (g.o.d.) 201

14 Becoming a Designer 215
15 Being a Designer 239

The Way Forward 261

References 265
Index 271

[See a pointer from Harold Nelson’s blog, The Accidental Vagrant, on a book review of The Design Way.  The review is done by By Gerd Waloszek, Design & Frontline Apps, SAP AG – May 21, 2013 at http://www.sapdesignguild.org/community/book_people/review_design_way.asp ]

#design, #rsd2, #systemic