The Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige: Re-imagining facilitation through trials of systemic design for public policy

Format: Papers, RSD3, Topic: Policy & Governance

Author: Keren Perla

As the experiment with systemic design for public policy continues to grow, those who call ourselves facilitators – by trade – are found grappling with new approaches for guiding complex dialogue that both re-enforce the critical role of facilitation as well as challenge the fabric of ethics and values upon which the practice is founded. In this presentation we explore how facilitation of systemic design efforts, particularly where participants have limited appreciation of the underlying methodologies, necessitates a new understanding of the facilitator – one that expands and pushes the boundaries on core concepts such as ‘impartiality’, ‘consensus decision-making’, ‘facilitator as process guide’, ‘results versus emergence’, and ‘topic vs process disclosure.’ Similar to a magician’s code, these tenets have been critical for creating acceptance of and belief in facilitation to guide cultural change; however diversity and complexity in the field continues to proliferate. As such we argue that this destabilizing effect of systemic design provides an unmapped space to re-imagine the traditional art of facilitation to not only better adapt the discipline to more diverse uses in geographical, political, organizational and community settings but provoke transformational responses and actions in today’s legacy social systems.

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2014
Title: The Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige: Re-imagining facilitation through trials of systemic design for public policy
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 28 September 2014
Last update:
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The Scholars Spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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