To Slow Down or Speed Up? Uncovering the pace tensions in systemic design for social innovation

Format: Papers, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Suhaib Aslam

Designerly approaches have long been appropriated for systems thinking and design. This appropriation brings with it tensions regarding the pace at which design is conducted. It is crucial to unveil and reflect on these tensions, particularly within a social innovation context. This is due to social innovation’s unique complexities regarding stakeholder networks, sociopolitical influences and change management. This position paper discusses how these tensions become apparent at the two ends of the pace spectrum of doing systemic design. It examines the translation of these pace tensions to tradeoffs; both at the principles level (e.g. stakeholder engagement, project scoping and long-term commitment) and at the practices level (e.g. network building, prototyping’s role and room for reframing). By doing so, this paper takes an initial, exploratory step towards explicating tensions regarding the pace of conducting systemic design for social innovation. It aims to spark critical discourse around such implicit and explicit pace tensions, with the intention to enable better resolution of these tensions in practice.

Keywords: social innovation, systemic design, rapid design, slow design, pace tensions

Citation Data

Author(s): Suhaib Aslam
Title: To Slow Down or Speed Up? Uncovering the pace tensions in systemic design for social innovation
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 3 September 2021
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

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).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

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

Publishing with RSD

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.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
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.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Verified by MonsterInsights