Svein Gunnar Kjøde
The systemic nature of sustainability challenges from construction activity force organisations and businesses in the industry to fundamentally rethink their operations. However, current value chains for such industries and sectors are deeply entrenched in existing business logic through vested interests and path-dependent regimes. In this sense, actors are locked into business paradigms that are systemic in nature and resilient to change. In response, innovation-practitioners seek to address such systemic complexity by investigating the opportunities within designerly approaches (i.e. Design Thinking and Systemic Design) in the planning and facilitation of systemic innovation, with the ambition of transitioning entire industries to more sustainable futures., Knowledge of the applicability and effect of such approaches is still nascent, and studies of their underlying theories of change are mostly limited to academic interest. Early investigations suggest an unfortunate practice-theory gap in this respect. This case study presents a prominent cross-sectoral, systemic innovation programme in the Norwegian construction industry, with multiple actors exploring new initiatives to support the transition towards more sustainable business models. The study was conducted throughout the seven-month duration of the programme through document analysis, observation and interviews.
A Multi-Level-Perspective was introduced as an analytical lens to study the innovation programme’s potential for socio-technical change; in this case, more accurately defined as a Sustainability Transition.
The subsequent investigation of the current methodology informing the innovation programme identified challenges in the application of dominant methods and tools for innovation and creative problem-solving. Furthermore, the findings suggest significant barriers to substantial, systems-level innovations in the initial framing of such industry-wide projects., In conclusion, the study proposes a generalisable set of processual considerations in the planning and facilitating future designerly approaches to systemic innovation projects in an industry setting.
Keywords: systemic innovation, transitioning, socio-technical systems, systemic design