The Systemic Turn: Leverage for World Changing

Peter Jones
2017 She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation  
Open Research is a publicly accessible, curated repository for the preservation and dissemination of scholarly and creative output of the OCAD University community. Material in Open Research is open access and made available via the consent of the author and/or rights holder on a non-exclusive basis. 157 Connecting the Social, Technological, Ecological, and Practical The twenty-irst century challenges human societies, settlements, and economies. This era confronts us with continuous wicked
more » ... ems on a planetary scale, and it has done so since the tumultuous century began. Since at least 2005, we have seen a series of new approaches to design, from transformation design to service design, from transition design to DesignX. Each approach addresses a range of critical challenges oriented to a point of view. Each approach trials practices and methods in search of the disciplinary conidence to address the macro-level problems that people everywhere face. Climate change, distressed migration, equitable economy, housing, public policy, and health care top the lists of shared complex problems that we face. As designers we genuinely hope that new approaches to design can transform some of these problems to a better future than we face today. Systemic design considers these macro-scale issues from a diferent direction. Much like transformation design, systemic design bubbled up from the crucible of millennium problematics and higher-order design. But rather than claiming a purchase on problem solving-always a risky proposition-systemic design took a realist path. It aims for aspirational change for service systems and societal projects through better-it processes and practices. Systemic design has inluenced design education, scholarship, research, methodology, and it has developed design practice, all at the same time. This theme issue of She Ji touches on each of these. After several years of development at a deliberate pace, those of us who work in systemic design can show work that begins to fulill the promise we wait to achieve. Design as a Whole Systems Practice The ultimate aim of systemic design is to co-design better policies, programs, and service systems with the participants in those systems. The methods and principles that enable systemic design are drawn from many schools of thought in systems and in design thinking. The objective of systemic design is to airmatively integrate systems thinking and systems methods to guide human-centered design for complex, multi-system, and multi-stakeholder services and programs across society. Societies and governments today face deeply entangled sets of problems in ecological, social, economic, and governance systems. These have evolved to become interconnected wicked problems, and have become impervious to conventional change campaigns. Years before the now-ubiquitous portrayals of wicked problems, Hasan Özbekhan 1 stated that these conditions are too complex to address with any single discipline or problem structuring method. These problems require a normative rethinking of the possibilities of future existence. We now refer to these Editorial
doi:10.1016/j.sheji.2017.11.001 fatcat:mlu62creojbovhh3aof23vswjm