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How does service design tackle sustainability challenges properly?

Format: Interactives, RSD11, Topic: Culture & Society, Topic: Economics & Orgs

Strategic Sustainability Designer, the birth of a new discipline

Bernd Herbert and Mani I

The space is filled with buzzwords and acronyms: SDGs, ESGs, circular economy, LCA, purpose, life-centered, sustainability, thriving and now regeneration!

The sustainability space is complicated to navigate, hard to understand, and at times contradictory in its information.

It requires a more sophisticated tool kit than traditional design thinking offers. It is much more complex than an average service design project.

So, how to navigate this space and create solutions?

We’ve been working for the past year on a process that blends systems thinking, design thinking, business transformation methods, and sustainability science and practice to create a new process that helps designers facilitate a step-by-step transformation of companies towards sustainability.

Keywords: strategic sustainability design, business, ESG, sustainability, environment, social, governance, business transformation, systemic journey, holistic diagnosis, industry agnostic

Activity Description

This ‘Strategic Sustainability Design’ process is essentially a new design discipline but is very much a work in progress. And that is part of the continuous journey.

We’d love to show it to you and get your feedback, critique and questions on our process, prototypes, and workshops.

Outline of timings

10 minutes – Opening, including introductions and scene setting

15 minutes – Activity, with participants getting the chance to interact

5 minutes – Conclusion


Jones, P., Krystal v. A. (2022). Design Journeys through Complex Systems. BIS.

Basadur, M. (2016). Design-Centered Entrepreneurship. Routledge.

Torres, T. (2021). Continuous Discovery Habits. Product Talk LLC.




Citation Data

Author(s): Bernd Herbert and Mani I
Year: 2022
Title: How does service design tackle sustainability challenges properly?
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 067
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 25 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404