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Systemic Design Theory, Methods, and Practice

Format: Books & Guides, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Peter Jones and Kyoichi Kijima

Systemic Design Theory, Methods, and Practice presents emerging work in the co-evolving fields of design-led systemics, referred to as systemic design, to distinguish it from the engineering and hard science epistemologies of system design or systems engineering. The edited volume is in the Springer Systems Science series (ed. K. Kijima), with online chapters available to academic libraries. Nine chapters are drawn from authors presenting at RSD4, Banff, Canada, 2015.

There are significant societal forces and organizational demands impelling the requirement for “better means of change” through integrated design practices of systems and services. Here we call on advanced design to lead programs of strategic scale and higher complexity (e.g., social policy, healthcare, education, urbanization) while adapting systems thinking methods, creatively pushing the boundaries beyond the popular modes of systems dynamics and soft systems.

Systemic design is distinguished by its scale, social complexity and integration – it is concerned with higher-order systems that entail multiple subsystems. By integrating systems thinking and its methods, systemic design brings human-centred design to complex, multi-stakeholder service systems.

As designers engage with ever more complex problem areas, drawing on a basis other than individual creativity and contemporary “design thinking” methods is necessary. Systems theories can co-evolve with a new school of design theory to resolve informed action on today’s highly resilient complex problems and deal effectively with demanding, contested and high-stakes challenges.

Related: Medium article “Taking Stock & Flow of Systemic Design”


P. Jones & K. Kijima (2018). Systemic Design: Theory, Methods and Practice, pp. 3-52. Volume 8 in Translational Systems Sciences Series. Springer Japan.

RSD7 featured relaxed “learning-and-doing time”. At the end of each day, three events were hosted in the casual venue of Eataly. This is one of the recently published books that was introduced to the audience and discussed in an informal setting.

Posted March 2018