Select Page


Open mind and open heart: Two approaches for exploring the dynamics in stakeholder networks in complex co-design projects

Format: Papers, RSD6, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Remko van der Lugt

Stakeholder networks
Exchange values

In co-design projects, it is imperative to gain an understanding of the dynamics in the stakeholder network, to get a sense on which stakeholders to involve when and in which ways, in order to enable an effective collaborative innovation effort.
Many tools are available regarding stakeholder analysis, primarily stemming from business development. A well-known way is to set out in a graph the interest and importance of other organizations in order to identify how to deal with these. Other stakeholder mapping approaches identify relations and interdependencies in the stakeholder network (e.g. Den Ouden, 2012). From a systemic perspective, such approaches are of limited in various ways. They tend to: 1) focus on direct interest of the own organization, rather than the needs of the network as a whole,
2) have a bias to exchange of (monetary) value, rather than acknowledging the broad spectrum of contributions that stakeholders can bring to each other.
3) limit the investigation to the direct stakeholders, rather than getting a sense of the ‘larger whole’.
4) regard the stakeholder network as a solid state, rather than a dynamic system. In order to deal with these issues, we have explored two alternative ways of getting a grip on stakeholder networks.
The first approach addresses the lack of a sense of the whole stakeholder system, by combining aspects from Gigamapping (Sevaldson, 2011), which aims to provide understanding through constructing overview of the system as a whole, with a broad understanding of value exchange inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s broad understanding of forms of (cultural) capital, which we developed towards a series of 8 exchange values (Economical, Embodied, Materialized, Institutional, Social network, Status/reputation, Information, Experience, Personal motives) that can help to get a sense of the value exchange in the stakeholder network, as well as potential dysfunctionalities and patterns.
The second approach addresses the dynamic aspects of the stakeholder network, exploring movement and forces in the system as a whole. Here we bring in the systemic phenomenological approach of constellation work. This approach was developed by Bert Hellinger for family constellations, but is increasingly applied in organizational settings (e.g. Stam, 2012). These constellations can be set up with people as representatives, or with objects, depending on what the situation asks for and allows. When related to the three mindsets in a Theory U change model (Scharmer, 2009), the first approach addresses the ‘open mind’, and the second the ‘open heart and open will’. In this paper, we will describe these two approaches, and grounding them by both theory and by various cases in which we applied them in design projects. For instance, we applied both approaches in a project on stimulating individual households to recycle cooking oils Based on a structured reflection on our experiences, we describe the potential applicability and benefits of these tools, as well as the liabilities. We share first insights regarding the ways in which these tools approaches may inform designers (and stakeholders) involved in systemic design challenges. We explore possibilities of combining the tools together in a project, and how this can strengthen or hinder insight. Finally, we will also provide directions for further development and research. NOTE ON DELIVERY: If possible I would love to present this work as a workshop, rather than, or in addition to, a presentation.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press. Den Ouden, Elke (2012). Innovation Design: Creating Value for People, Organizations and Society. Springer Science+Business Media, London. Scharmer, O. (2009). Theory U. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Sevaldson, B. (2011). GIGA-Mapping: Visualisation for complexity and systems thinking in design. In Nordic Design Research Conferences, Making Design Matter. Helsinki: NORDES. Stam, J. J. (2012). Fields of connection: Systemic insights into work and organisations Groningen: Het Noorderlicht




Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2017
Title: Open mind and open heart: Two approaches for exploring the dynamics in stakeholder networks in complex co-design projects
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 12 October 2017
Last update:
Publisher Identification:
Verified by MonsterInsights