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