Frida Lizeth Gomez Poblette and Pieter Jan Stappers
Butterfly Works (BW) is a social design studio based in Amsterdam, working mainly in international development for over 20 years. This project aimed to equip the team at Butterfly Works with a design methodology that allows them to navigate and work with complex problems and position them as practitioners and facilitators of systemic change. The process started by analysing their current practice with a systemic design perspective to identify how they are tacitly adopting this approach and find ways to complement it with new approaches. A framework was synthesised based on the systemic design principles from the literature and used as a lens to investigate their approach to an ongoing project that served as a case study. Practices that followed the principles and challenges related to them were identified. Understanding relationships, navigating systems, experimental prototyping and long-term strategies were the challenges from that case that inspired the creation of strategies based on the systemic design principles to address them. The strategies were validated in a hypothetical future project to see how the team envisioned their use.
The validated strategies were synthesised and integrated into BW’s current design methodology. The result was an eight-phase methodology, previously five-phase, with several activities and recommendations for using new tools and methods.
Keywords: systemic design, social design, international development, practice