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Focus: Methods and the worlds they make

Systemic design methods and methodologies

The development of systemic design has thus far primarily focused on expanding the methodological repertoire of designers in response to the complexity of contemporary design challenges, with an already substantial literature on methods and methodology in the RSD proceedings. But methods (in both design and research) have consequences beyond their utility. Every method affords seeing and doing some things while obscuring and obstructing others. In this way, methods afford and perpetuate ways of understanding and organising the world much like any other artefact. Because conventions are assumed within the context of a methodological practice, they are difficult to question from within and underlie systemic challenges in the sense of being institutionalised.

As systemic design develops, its conventions, blind spots, and implicit values are forming.

What worlds do these give rise to? In what ways might greater attention on the conceptualisation and presuppositions of (systemic design) methods and methodologies enable more radical opportunities and possibilities? How can systemic design move beyond the individual limitations of systems thinking and design? Could elements of the wider systems field (i.e. beyond the methodological focus of systems thinking) augment or challenge systemic design? In what ways might systemic design’s methodological practices be understood as interventions in the world (in addition to the outcomes of these practices) – modes of living and doing that establish different conventions and build different worlds?

Methods and the worlds they make

Indicative references

Drew, C., Robinson, C., Winhall, J. (2020). Not the venn: An emergent notion of systemic design which transcends the intersection of design x systems thinking. Proceedings of the Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD9) 2020 Symposium.

Glanville, R. (2015). Living in cybernetics. Kybernetes, 44(8/9), 1174-1179.

Harding, S. (2015). Objectivity for sciences from below. In F. Padovani, A. Richardson, & J. Y. Tsou (Eds.), Objectivity in Science: New Perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (pp. 35-55). Springer.

Krippendorff, K. (2021). From uncritical design to critical examinations of its systemic consequences. Proceedings of the Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) 2021 Symposium.

Special thanks

Thanks to those who have proposed and developed the focuses: Gareth Owen Lloyd, Christopher Daniel, Dulmini Perera, Sally Sutherland, Ben Sweeting, James Tooze, Jeffrey P. Turko, and Josina Vink.

Posted April 2022