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March 30, 2024

A Framework to Embed Systems Thinking into Design Thinking Process

Welcome to the third article, Systems Thinking in Design, published by Somia CX. In the previous two articles, we unpacked the whats and whys of systems thinking. This article covers the next step: How can we apply the systems thinking mindset to our work, explicitly embedding it into our current design thinking process?

In the following framework, we attempt to combine the best of both worlds—uniting systems thinking's analytical tools with creative design thinking methods.

Framework to Embed Systems Thinking into Design Thinking Process

Note: This framework is inspired by IDEO U’s Human-Centered Systems Thinking, The British Design Council’s Systemic Design Framework, and The Double Diamond Systemic Design Toolkit

This framework is not intended to be prescriptive; it is created to include critical systems thinking approaches into the design thinking process, which many designers are familiar with. In this blended approach, we provoke you to not only zoom in on the problem at hand but also to zoom out to consider the more extensive system where the problem space takes place and the interconnected elements in that system.

Mapping The Status Quo

We must first look at the system's current state before redesigning it. This mapping can be done collaboratively with stakeholders in the system. This mapping aims to start uncovering the system where our problem space lives — who the people involved are, their roles, where this problem occurs, the more extensive process, and so on. Mapping the system will also help us define who we should talk to, themes we want to uncover, or specific processes we wish to understand further.

A collaborative effort to map the system. Image source

1. Define the problem & map the system

Start by defining the problem space that we are trying to solve. This may be based on data that we already have, signals we have been hearing lately, or assumptions that the team has. Create the first iteration of the system map. There are several ways to map the system, such as network maps, journey maps, iceberg maps, etc. We will cover more about these tools in the following article.

2. Research & listen to the system

Collect data to better understand the system. Use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to gain rich perspectives. Talk to various stakeholders in the system—both the obvious and the unexpected. Observe to understand how things work, or immerse ourselves to develop deep empathy. Review data gathered from surveys, customer calls, and employee feedback, and look around at competitors or analogous examples.

3. Synthesize & remap the system

Synthesize and make sense of the data gathered to generate insights. Look into underlying motivations, mindsets, and pain points at the individual level. Identify relationships and dynamics between people. Also, see how they are related to the system's processes, tools, and structures. With this new understanding, update the systems map.

A Framework to Embed Systems Thinking into Design Thinking Process


Posted by ACASA on March 30, 2024 at 10:05 AM | Permalink


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