By SDXer Angela Coutinho
Recently, I was listening to an interview with Ester Perel, a psychotherapist and relationship expert who said, “the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives”…and I wondered: could the quality of relationships in a system also be a way to understand that system?
Origins of a Systems Thinker
I’ve known and been curious about systems thinking for a long time, but found it difficult to understand or wrap my head around it. My first exposure to systems thinking was at a public lecture I attended at the University of Waterloo. At the time, I was working as a technical writer in a software development company located right by the campus. This was way back when, in 2008, and since then I have been fascinated by the ideas and theories of system thinking, complex systems, and social innovation. Working in software development, there was lots of focus on technical research, development, and innovation…but the whole idea of the “social” was foreign to me. …
By SDXer Corey Sullivan
Consensus rarely yields breakthrough change. Embracing, rather than resolving, tension is at the core of our systems-change practice.
In early September, SDXers came together to learn from InWithForward, a social design organization that helps communities evolve their human services. The InWithForward team facilitated participants’ exploration of tension (check out some resources here).
When designers and communities attempt to unpack complex issues, they bring — often unconsciously — their values to the table. Values can be instrumental or terminal, individual or organizational. …
By SDXer Susan Holdsworth
On September 4, 2019, Systemic Design eXchange (SDX) hosted a full-day workshop about Living with Tension led by Dr. Sarah Schulman and Natalie Napier from InWithForward (IWF), a social design organization.
We all live with tension. Tension at home, at work, and out in our communities. We are often in an uncomfortable space between where we are now and where we want to be. We might feel torn or conflicted about how to deal with our tensions; we might want to resolve the tension, adapt to the tension, or we might just accept the tension, and keep on keeping on. Why do each of us deal with tension differently and is there a right way to deal with it? …
Words by SDXer Cheryl Whitelaw
In SDX18: Power Play we explored the linkages we make in our identity, our sense of self with how our identity is socially located, our identity in context, in community, and in networks. So often in my experience of social and systemic design we focus on changing the system — changing the culture and the context in which the system operates. …
By SDXer Brad Ison
When I walked in to the Edmonton Skills Society Action Lab to attend SDX16 (System Design eXchange #16) — Grounded Change — Re-designing our Welfare State with Bottom-Up Insights I knew it was going to be a great afternoon at work. I knew this because it is not often my workspace is filled with:
The Action Lab is technically ‘one space’ but is separated into themed gathering areas that host different tools and seating arrangements for groups to work in. It reminds me of my grade 10 art room where we had sculpting, painting, photography, and silkscreen stations. …
By: Strathcona County Drug Strategy Committee
“You’re worthless.” “You’re just a junkie.”
“What’s wrong with you?” “How did you let this happen?”
Step inside the Crisis Node of Opioids Don’t Discriminate: An Interactive Experience and you will hear these voices. It’s jarring, unsettling and one component of an exhibit that encourages you to walk the paths of Max, David and Natasha. These characters are not based on specific people experiencing the opioid crisis — although it’s reasonable to assume that they are. Rather, they are composite personas constructed from real life, lived experience stories of people who are intimately familiar with this reality. The comments are an (imperfect) analog for what we could imagine the inner experience of any one of these characters might be. …
Words & Pictures by SDXer Sam Dyer
To many, time is one of the most precious commodities that exists. In asking for someone’s time, we are in fact asking a great deal. Though we spend a good portion of our days waiting as we perform trivial tasks, waiting as part of a service deserves greater consideration. In some situations, waiting may be thought of as unwanted, to be reduced wherever possible. In others, waiting may be viewed as vital, even enriching. Be it positive or negative, waiting is something that can be designed and can be meaningful.
Public services are perhaps notorious for their slower pace, frequently facing delays. However, is it possible to turn delays into opportunities, inaction into action and annoyances into something rewarding? …
Words & Pictures by SDXer Jaime Calayo
Service Design is an emerging, multi-disciplinary, innovative practice that focuses on creating meaningful and pleasurable experiences that make the lives of citizens and government service providers better. In the past, it has been applied to sectors such as retail, banking, transportation, and healthcare, but we are now seeing it bring benefits to government and public service as well.
In the realm of government, Service Design has the potential to bring benefits not only to the public, who rely on policies and services that the government provides, but also to the public servants who administer and develop them. …
Words & pictures by SDXer Mark Yiu
Having spent the last three years working in a user experience consultancy, achieving success largely depended on employing a cross-functional, co-generative and empathetic approach to problem-solving. It demanded a change in mindset, a willingness to actively engage with end users, seek external perspectives, and leverage behaviour insights to not only inform future solutions, but shift legacy thinking and behaviour. Such an approach thrived on the premise that people should no longer be held hostage by circumstance, but be the co-creators of experiences that impact their daily lives.
Being new to the public service, it occurs to me that there is a great deal of potential in employing similar approaches to relevant areas such as citizen engagement, policymaking, organizational culture, and capacity building. …
By SDXer Roya Damabi
Here in Edmonton, it’s snow season. Actually, we had our first snowfall of the season in mid-September last year! Yes, September. Do we get tired of this? Sure, sometimes. But the good thing about winter (apart from hot chocolate) is that we get to think about snowflakes. And that means we get to think about fractals. What? You don’t already think about fractals? Well, maybe after this, you will :)
A fractal is a pattern that is self-similar. That means that it repeats itself at different scales — what often looks like one shape is actually made up of smaller versions of itself. …