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Registration open daily from 8am - 6pm.  Please join us for the #ISSS2015 #Roundtable at 7.45am each morning.

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SIG Session [clear filter]
Wednesday, August 5
 

13:30

Bridge the Gap: Spanning the Distance Between Teaching, Learning and Application of Systems Thinking in the Workplace

This paper reports on a study looking at teaching, learning and application of systems thinking ideas for the workplace. It provides suggestions for designing learning systems to enhance the application of systems thinking in the workplace.

Drawing upon a qualitative interview process and action research methodology, the research looked at experiences of mature part-time students taking distance learning postgraduate core modules for the systems thinking in practice (STiP) programme at the Open University, UK. The study also investigated the experiences of alumni (from the same programme) as employees seeking to apply the learning from their studies in systems thinking in the workplace,  alongside the experiences of employers of the alumni.

The research was undertaken by a team of  5 systems practitioners involved with the design and delivery of the postgraduate STiP programme. There were three phases to the research. Broadly speaking, the first phase focused upon experiences of learning systems, the second phase focused upon the experience of applying systems ideas in the workplace, whilst the third phase looked ahead to examine better design in the application of systems thinking.

The results of the study in relation to the experience of learning about systems thinking suggested that whilst most students valued their study, there were a range of barriers to learning.  Students experienced challenges of making time and commitment for study and contact with tutors and other students, alongside difficulties with engaging in some of the more philosophical elements of module material and problems with language and the range and scope of case study materials. There were also some specific factors that supported learning that participants identified. These enablers included the high quality of study materials, the richness and variety of voices on the programme (including those of fellow students on online forums) and the integration within module activities to work on applying ideas in practice. 

Whilst some of these experiences of learning were shared, we also found that not all students encountered these challenges and enablers in the same way or in equal measure. In trying to make sense of the variety in experiences of students, we developed some outline sketches or archetypes of systems learners that provided an interesting heuristic account of the variety in which study on the module was encountered.

When the application of systems ideas in practice was discussed, we found that most of the participants who were attempting to apply the ideas in practice were doing so in something of an under-the-radar or behind-the-scenes manner. We found that explicit use of systems thinking in the workplace was somewhat limited, with many participants tending to work with systems thinking for individual sense making or off-line design work. For some of the practitioners, such an approach seemed to be experienced as a problematic constraint on the scope of their practice, whilst for others it was a more accepted part of organisational circumstance.

We found many factors that seemed to contribute to this approach to using systems thinking: employees understanding and sense of agency, the practitioners confidence in overt application, pressure for action that is 'practical' and within current 'frames' of reference and of course the employees learning from module material. We also found that employers had differing attitudes or modes of engaging with the employees skills in systems thinking which had some influence upon how systems thinking could be used by the learners.

The synthesis of this inquiry is emerging, including proposals for better systemic design in bridging the gap between teaching, learning and application of systems thinking in the workplace; for example, through promotion of action learning amongst alumni and coaching to employers of systems practitioners. 


Wednesday August 5, 2015 13:30 - 14:00
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:00

Architecture and Second-Order Science

Since 1980 Glanville has put forward the argument that rather than seeing research in design as one form of scientific research, we instead see scientific research as a specific form of design. This argument, based on the way that scientific research inevitably involves design activity but not vice versa, and others like it around that time consolidate a shift within design research during the 1970s from a concern with the scientific method to the idea that design has its own epistemological foundations as a discipline.

The attempt to base design on a linear version of the scientific method failed for reasons that have been pointed out by Rittel amongst others: because design involves the creation of the new, design questions cannot be exhaustively formulated in advance. Within architecture especially this has marked a parting of the ways between design and science, coinciding with the unraveling of modernism, with architects turning towards history and philosophy rather than science for theoretical support (but in so doing often continuing to import theories external to their discipline).

Given Glanville’s argument this is not what we might expect: if science is a limited form of design, shouldn’t scientific approaches be commensurable with design even if they are not a basis for it? This disjunction is only the case if we follow the changes in design research during this period without also following the comparable changes in the philosophy of science. Both broadly parallel each other: moving from a concern with method in the 1960s (Popper; design methods) through a critique of this in the 1970s (Feyerabend; Rittel) to new foundations from the 1980s onwards (the turn in science studies towards social and material agency, e.g. Pickering; design as a discipline with its own epistemological foundations). Indeed the critiques advanced by Feyerabend and Rittel, who were both colleagues at UC Berkeley, have similar structures: given the need to deal with the new, it is not possible to formulate methods or criteria in advance (other than Feyerabend’s reductio ad absurdum “anything goes” which also appears in Rittel). Thus contemporary accounts of science as a form of forward looking search, such as those advanced by Pickering and anticipated within cybernetics, can be read as applying also to how designers work.

Using this account as a basis I explore two ways in which we might frame the contemporary relation between design and science in architecture, both of which are in contrast with the resurgent tendency towards understanding this relation in terms of technological effectiveness.

Firstly, given these ongoing connections, I think we could consider design research in its various forms as one form of second order scientific practice, where the designer is included in such a way that this self-closure allows for reflexive investigation of this research itself. This is not surprising: design research is one place where second-order cybernetics ends up, partly because of Pask’s engagement with architecture and so with Glanville, Negroponte, Price etc. but also because of the conceptual parallels which underlie this engagement.

Secondly, more speculatively, I think we might consider architecture itself in terms of second order science; that is, we might see the experience of particular buildings in terms of scientific enquiry. One example is that of Price’s Fun Palace, to which Pask contributed. I argue that it is possible to see the Fun Palace not just as influenced by cybernetic ideas but as an instance of cybernetic research and as a possible version of second-order science in practice.

 


Presenter / Artist
BS

Ben Sweeting

Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton
ISSS Two Day


Wednesday August 5, 2015 14:00 - 14:30
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:30

Toward Ecologizing as a Systemic Design Approach for Planetary-Scale Problematiques

The problematique of the Anthropocene – climate change effects, oceanic and terrestrial deformations, planetary ecological disruption, massive human and species migration - presents humanity with the largest-scale design problem ever faced by human societies.  Effective human responsibility toward this problem system requires coordination of political, business, civil society, and scientific leaders and constituents over extended periods of time. The only problem systems similar in scale and urgency historically addressed by massive coordination of human and mechanical/artificial resources have been wars and space missions, and to some extent urban development. We might further reckon that these activities have been mobilized in their own eras by new modes of planning and forms of anticipatory and system design. We face an even greater urgency in this contemporary problematique, yet our sciences and practices seem ill-equipped to respond with definitive proposals and methods. As Bruno Latour (2013) writes in Modes of Existence, “between modernizing and ecologizing, we have to choose.” Choosing ecologizing, then, requires a coordination effort on the scale of our previous modernization projects. Yet the values of ecologizing are largely at odds with the rational, classically scientific, hard systems modes of such projects.

This presents our community with a compelling opportunity and ready-made vision for applications of new general systems theory across human, social and natural systems. We have numerous and perhaps competing systems models for approaching these problems, but unfortunately for the type of “engaged problematique” we face, most of these methods result in elegant analyses, not the most compelling antecedents for action. When we apply traditional GST modes of thinking to today’s multicausal systemic problems, we often proceed toward an inevitable paralysis of action, as we constantly find our agency and decisions trapped within disciplinary and institutional silos.

Systemic design has been developed in these most recent years as a response to social and institutional complexity, developed independently from systems sciences as a design-led approach to inquiring and mapping complex services and social systems as if they were highly complex industrial design models. As known systems principles were discovered in these design processes, it became apparent that systems-oriented design shared much in common with systems practice, but had innovated new forms of visual representation and collaborative participation in sensemaking activities. At the same time, thinkers in the design field (Harold Nelson, Ranulph Glanville, Hugh Dubberly) informed an advanced design theory from the systems body of knowledge.

Systemic design and systems practice share many similar processes. Both share a concern and interest for boundary negotiation (framing) and for attending to deeper action contexts than “problems as given” (problematizing). Both advocate social and participatory research to understand variety and to identify opportunities for transformation (or leverage points). Both advocate methodological pluralism to ensure different stakeholders are engaged, and that solutions are envisioned through multiple conceptualizations. Both aim for a sufficient satisfaction of a solution’s fit to its environment. While these practices may not share traditions of epistemology, use and types of evidence, aesthetics and style, or theories of change, these appear as areas for fruitful co-development.

Systemic design methodology has been developed as a rigorous field of practices based on direct social, action and design research.  Design research and design science enjoy traditions of transdisciplinary perspectives, as the design fields have developed in concert with a wide range of domains and applications. Systemic design has advanced as a multi-epistemological practice informed by ethnography, participatory design and action research, and foresight research. It is also aligned with formal methodologies such as dialogic design science (Christakis and Bausch, 2006), sensemaking methodology, and service design.  A precedent article (Jones, 2014) established an axiomatic and epistemological basis for complementary principles shared between design reasoning and systems theory. Systemic design is concerned with higher-order socially-organized systems that encompass multiple subsystems in a complex policy, organizational or product-service context.  By integrating systems thinking and its methods, systemic design brings human-centered design to complex, multi-stakeholder service systems as those found in industrial networks, transportation, medicine and healthcare. It adapts from known design competencies - form and process reasoning, social and generative research methods, and sketching and visualization practices - to describe, map, propose and reconfigure complex services and systems.

A project of ecologizing recalls Ozbekhan’s (1970) aim of orienting social systems toward “ecological balance.”  Ecologizing would entail a sustained attempt across human cultures and jurisdictions to restore human systems to agreed criteria consistent with ecological balance, a project that would necessarily require many years and significant coordination of social and technological projects. Such a project, with its social engagement and re-invention of services and their delivery, requires us to conceive of nothing less than a massive human-centred and environmental design project. Ozbekhan’s original thrust proposed that the Club of Rome engage a similar audacious reinvention of social systems to intercept the global problematique of his time.  We now live in the most precarious outcomes and effects of the problematique, of the interconnected forces and systems he envisioned in the late 1960’s. We are faced with a design project we might reference as ecologizing. It is therefore incumbent on our generations and collective values, resources and ingenuity to reframe, reimagine and redesign societal and political frameworks to facilitate our best design programs consistent with restoring or recreating an ecological balance for the flourishing and even survival of humanity and the life on our planet.

References

Christakis, A.N. and Bausch, K.C. (2006). How people harness their collective wisdom and power to construct the future in co-laboratories of democracy. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Jones, P.H. (2014). Systemic design principles for complex social systems. In G. Metcalf (ed.), Social Systems and Design, Volume 1 of the Translational Systems Science Series, pp 91-128. Springer Japan.

Latour, B. (2013). An inquiry into modes of existence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ozbekhan, H. (1970.) The Predicament of Mankind. New York: Club of Rome.

Keywords: Systemic design; Human-centered design; Design methodology; Dialogic design; Social systems design

 


Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Peter Jones

Prof. Peter Jones

Associate Professor, SFI Graduate Program, sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab), OCAD University
SIG Chair:  Systemic DesignPeter is a US citizen that moved to Canada to discover new movements in socially-responsive innovation. He was a founding faculty in the SFI program and maintains connections to international research and design communities of practice, which he hopes to... Read More →


Wednesday August 5, 2015 14:30 - 15:00
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:00

Dialogue on Systemic Design
Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Peter Jones

Prof. Peter Jones

Associate Professor, SFI Graduate Program, sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab), OCAD University
SIG Chair:  Systemic DesignPeter is a US citizen that moved to Canada to discover new movements in socially-responsive innovation. He was a founding faculty in the SFI program and maintains connections to international research and design communities of practice, which he hopes to... Read More →


Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:00 - 16:30
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:30

Systemic Design Workshop
An interactive workshop on systemic design for general and open attendance.  Following an introduction to principles and processes, small groups will form to construct design models in application areas of interest to participants (e.g. urban ecology, healthcare systems, political governance, sustainable business ). The workshop is largely based on the 10 Systemic Design principles (Jones, 2014) and Methods (http://systemic-design.net/rsd3-proceedings/theories-methods/

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Peter Jones

Prof. Peter Jones

Associate Professor, SFI Graduate Program, sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab), OCAD University
SIG Chair:  Systemic DesignPeter is a US citizen that moved to Canada to discover new movements in socially-responsive innovation. He was a founding faculty in the SFI program and maintains connections to international research and design communities of practice, which he hopes to... Read More →


Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:30 - 18:00
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany