As the scale, complexity and interdependence of societal challenges is more recognised, the need for systemic approaches to change has grown and design and systems thinking become ever more entwined. The RSD conference has led discussions about the integration of these practices, with papers putting forward frameworks (Ryan, 2014) and principles (Jones, 2014, Buchanan, 2019) that combine the two.
But what if it’s not as simple as just putting the two together? Previous discussion has highlighted the shortcomings of systems thinking (e.g. preponderance of analysis over action) and design (e.g. limitations of rapid prototyping in complex systems where feedback is slow). But equally, that the role of design has not been used to its full potential (Jones & Sevaldson, 2019).