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RSD6 Symposium & Keynotes Announced

Relating Systems Thinking and Design 6

Held this year again at Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO)  October 18-20, 2017

The accepted keynotes for RSD6  promise an inspiring range of perspectives on the changes to design practice and education emerging from the demands of civilizational turbulence and continuous complexity of our services, systems and societies.  RSD6 holds a centre for inquiry into human and ecological flourishing, as relevant to the re-envisioning and redesign of business, policies, organizations and our own methods for design, including those methods for governing ourselves in modern civilization:


Lucy Kimbell

John Ehrenfeld

Toshiko Mori 

Richard Buchanan

Sabine Junginger

Karl Otto Ellefsen







Following two years in Canada, join us this year in Oslo as RSD returns to its home location for the RSD6 Symposium.  Early registration for the RSD6 symposium is now open.

Our theme this year encompasses the contexts for flourishing in democratic societies, and exploring the opportunities for systemic design in:

  • Democratic participation and policy innovation
  • Strongly sustainable business innovation
  • Flourishing communities
  • Design of architectures, settlements and built environments

These themes include the continuing topics of

  • Social impact in flourishing and change programs
  • Health and population wellness
  • Ecological design and bioregion development
  • Human-scaled and regional economies
  • Sociotechnical and technological systems
  • Other themes in Systemic Design


RSD5 Symposium Proceedings

Every year we publish the proceedings of the RSD Symposium as an Open Access online serial, following the conference, in a post-publication model allowing authors to gain feedback from participants and fold community insights into their publishable work.  The following RSD5 presentations have PDF decks, sketchnotes, and published articles now available. See the RSD5 site for papers, keynotes, and photographs.

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) 2016 Symposium. Toronto, Canada, October 13-15, 2016.

Published by: Systemic Design Research Network        Toronto, Canada
ISSN 2371-8404 

Published Articles

All articles and abstracts are copyright (c) 2016 by the respective authors, unless stated otherwise.

Design for Public Value

  • Philippe Beaulieu-Brossard: US SOCOM Goes Google
  • Tareq Emtairah, Helen Avery and Khaldoon Mourad: Visioning Labs with displaced academics as a design strategy for sustainable post-conflict reconstruction
  • Bridget Malcolm, Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer: Developing a systemic design practice to support an Australian government regulatory agency

Advanced Policy Design

  • Nenad Rava: Designing for policy and institutional change in governance
  • Silvia Barbero & Agnese Pallaro: Systemic Design & Policy Making: The Case of the Retrace Project
  • Karen Ingerslev & Trine Naldal: Citizens as Co-designers: Facilitating systemic change at the policy level

Process Innovation

  • Alex Ryan, Alexander Baumgardt & Paul Pangaro: Playing with Fire: Designing With and for tension in Groups
  • Fredrik Eive Refsli & Dino Karabeg: Enabling Systemic Transformations
  • Philippe Vandenbroeck & Kristel Van Ael: Codifying Systemic Design: A Toolkit
  • Gordon Rowland: Systemic Design as an Explanation of Powerful Learning Experience
  • Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer: Human-Centred Design for Social Complex Service Systems
  • Allenna Leonard: The Viable System Model and Team Syntegrity process
  • David Ing & Susu Nousala: Curriculum Making for Trito Learning: Wayfaring into a meshwork of systems thinking

Service Design for Care and Wellness  

  • Katharine Zywert: Medicine in the Anthropocene: Modern Healthcare and the Transition to an Ecologically Viable Society
  • Peter Pennefather, West Suhanic, Katie Seaborn, & Deborah Fels: Eudaimonic Flourishment though Healthcare System Participation in Annotating Electronic Health Records
  • Vanessa Rodrigues & Josina Vink: Shaking up the Status Quo in the healthcare system 
  • Karen Oikonen, Paul Holyoke, Rizzi, Stephenson, & Sethi: The Reflection Room: Shifting from death-avoiding to death-discussing

Theory & Method

  • Birger Sevaldson: A Library of Systemic Relations
  • Manuela Aguirre, Natalia Agudelo, & Jonathan Romm: Facilitating generative emergence within large-scale networks
  • Mehdi Mozuni & Wolfgang Jonas: A Morphological Analysis tool for complex future-oriented scenarios
  • Joshua Bloom & Ahmed Ansari: Time and Transition
  • Jeremy Bowes & Peter Jones: Synthesis Maps: Systemic Design pedagogy, narrative, and intervention
  • Tim Tompson: Visualising project actor-networks with oral histories
  • David McKenzie, Darwin Muljono & Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders:  Collective dreaming in a virtual world: The first step
  • Thomas Wendt: Arational Design

Design for Sustainability and Flourishing

  • Swayang Das, Beda Prakash Das, Sushant Arya & Praveen Nahar: Democratizing Social Innovation: Establishing the platform of Internet of Things in India through Systemic design Thinking and Design
  • John Cassel: Permaculture Assessment: Finding reliable processes for assembling closed resource cycles and effective energy pathways
  • Joanna Boehnert: Mapping controversy in environmental communication
  • Sarah Tranum: Case Study: Using a systems design model to bring clean water to rural and slum communities in India

Design of Future Systems

  • Kimberley Peter & Michael Schaus: Understanding Bitcoin currency and Blockchain technology as a media system
  • Eleonora Fiore: Ethical challenges of the Internet of Things in the household environment
  • Carlos Teixeira & Laura Forlano: Digital manufacturing and the future of innovation systems in Chicago

System and Service Design

  • Eunki Chung: Designing Service Entanglements: Towards stakeholder-centered perspectives in design
  • Nourhan Hegazy, Prateeksha Singh, Christina Doyle & Caralyn Quan: Made-In-Canada system ecology: Towards a more sustainable garment industry
  • Perin Ruttonsha: Form follows meaning, meaning follows form: Surrendering the innocence of design

Design for Complexity

  • Evan Barba, Yasir Majeed and Christopher Miller: Hierarchy-in-flux: Co-evolving a distributed user interface for orbiting robots
  • Greg vanAlstyne & Robert Logan: Designing for Emergence : Integrating systems and design
  • Sine Celik, Jo Van Engelen, Han Brezet, Peter Joore & Linda Wauben: Managing Creativity: Oxymoron or necessity?



Anticipatory Factors in Dialogic Design

Presented at ISSS 2016, Boulder CO  July 28, 2016

Applications of the systemic practices of dialogic design (Structured Dialogic Design and it variants) have recently developed and integrated futures and foresight models as anticipatory frameworks for policy and long-term planning situations (Weigand, et al, 2014). We have identified this model of practice as collaborative foresight, reflecting the perspective from practice that futures literacy must be considered an essential complement to multi-stakeholder deliberation where complex and competing interests are considered in planning and decision making. This study proposes approaches to advancement in science and practice that integrate essential properties of collective anticipatory modelling for design decisions.

Scientific principles for dialogic design have been developed and practiced over the course of nearly 50 years of developmental evolution, following Warfield’s (1986) Domain of Science Model (DoSM) and Christakis’ (2006, 2008) research extending the DoSM. One of the key principles in the DoSM refers to the recursive learning necessary to develop systemic practices, a second-order (deutero) learning process as noted in Warfield’s DoSM cycle. The standard model requires warranted claims to be evaluated from their testing in the Arena of real-world practice and reflective learning in order to advance new theory for inclusion in the accepted Corpus (theory supported by accepted evidence).

Recent developments from practice following from advanced design and strategic foresight theory lend support for progressing the models of dialogic design to explicitly entail methods of design and futuring within the historical model of dialogue. The observation driving this proposal can be summarized as “participants in collective designing efforts are likely to fail in their expected outcomes if they do not facilitate the requisite anticipation of future complexity in their domain of action.” Simply put, people will make significantly better plans and policies together if they can develop competency in futures thinking and share their understanding with one another.
An abductive approach to DoSM enhancement based on design science suggests that anticipatory design methods within dialogic practices might yield more comprehensive reproduction of the benefits expected from enduring principles of systemic dialogue. These principles include the proposed axioms and laws of dialogue (Bausch & Flanagan, 2013), as well as long-standing principles embodied in Gadamerian and Habermasian dialogue practices. Another issue regards functional purpose access to the multiplicity of ontologies held among actor-stakeholders in a social system.
By re-examining these principles in the context of the DoSM, we might integrate anticipatory modelling into a more inclusive systems theory of dialogic engagement for systemic design for complex and multi-organizational policy development.

Participation in Healthcare Systems: Patients aren’t Customers

My favorite healthcare blog KevinMD posts every so often with an eloquent heartfelt piece on the problem of patients as customers. In This is Why Patients Cannot be Customers Dr. Tanya Feke points out that:

A study in the British Journal of General Practice showed how patient satisfaction surveys can be skewed. More than 980,000 patients were surveyed across 7,800 practices. Doctors who prescribed more antibiotics were perceived more favorably than family doctors who doled out fewer antibiotics. When you consider U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence estimates more than 10 million antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriately prescribed every year (antibiotics do not treat colds and other viral infections), there is a serious disconnect.

We continue to borrow from inappropriate language constructs to make arguments about desired outcomes without thinking through the anticipatory ancillary effects. If we propose that patients are persons, as Tanya does, that’s a start. Individuals have unique needs and when we treat them as patients, we are authorized to treat them within the context of an institutional role.  However, patients are not customers, and if we treat them as such, we risk converting healthcare into a neoliberal market system. Customers have vastly different expectations and roles in a systems that recognizes the customer-supplier relationship. Rather than elevating “patient experience” this role transformation risks the destruction of human caring in the organization and the larger social system.

Theories of service define value as co-created in the exchange value of an offer, in the delivery and active acceptance of expected service. However, in health care, the direct service of clinical treatment is only the potential value. The realized value of care is in full relief or the outcome of treatment. If the health service provided is a simple intervention such as a wart removal, value realization may be immediate. If the service is iterative for a complex diagnosis, value realization may be diffused, it may arrive in stages. While people may inherently understand this to be the case, the responsibility of the patient to co-create “realized value” of their health is not typically acknowledged. In Design for Care five contexts of participation are identified:

  • The patient as health seeker, a self-directed agent responsible for his or her own health and well-being
  • The patient as a participant in the healthcare system and subject to the rules and roles this entails
  • The patient as a customer of a service, who seeks and pays for treatment directly
  • The health seeker or patient as a subject of user research for innovation
  • The patient as a person under care, located in a community in a particular society and culture.

If we adopt a view of the health seeker, we start treating persons as active agents in charge of recovering their health, relying on and partnering with the care resources of their providers, in their community, and in digital services.