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Designing Futures to Flourish: ISSS 2015 keynote

We now find ourselves as a systems thinking community inquiring into planetary governance for climate and ecological politics. The Anthropocene demands a planetary response, and yet we often find even our fellow travelers tethered to discourses of technological management, cultural change, and right action. We might now advocate a stronger role for social systems design as a process for continual engagement of citizen stakeholders, and between these citizens and policy makers, as advocated by Christakis, Ulrich and others. As we have seen power (economic and political) separate from its cultural histories, and become globalized, we may find ourselves in trajectories of action but with marginal power to effect societal outcomes.


We are faced with a dual mandate of restorative system design, recovering human needs in our communities, and policy system design, restoring the long historical arc toward democratic governance. And as these are both designable contexts, systemic design can integrate ecological, technological and design thinking to guide policy in more productive ways.
• We find ourselves captured in the politics of solutionism. Most presentations of the “problems” as stated before us reveal a trajectory of preferred solutions and their possible shortcomings.
• Climate change, even the entire Anthropocene aeonic perspective, represents a problematique of multiple effects systems. We are bound up in political discourses of “system change” and do not share a compelling common view of a flourishing world. We seem unable to reregister the most compelling societal choices and drivers save carbon mitigation.
• We have not conducted, to my knowledge, a substantial stakeholder discovery that extends beyond the immediate and obvious primary combatants in the climate change wars.
• As citizens and political actors on the planetary stage, we have been afraid or unable to present a clear view of the risk scenarios, possible governance strategies, or a normative plan for serious global investment. If the planet were a business concern, it would be in receivership by now.

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Designing Futures to Flourish: ISSS 2015 keynote

  1. 1. Designing a Futures for Flourishing Peter Jones, PhD OCAD University, Toronto Dialogic Design International 2015 International Society for the Systems Sciences, Berlin
  2. 2. Reframing the long crisis of the Anthropocene
  3. 3. Pope Francis, June 17, 2015 INTEGRAL ECOLOGY “Since everything is closely interrelated, and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we now consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.” “We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision. Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others and to the environment”
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Training new Systems Thinkers & Designers. MDes STRATEGIC FORESIGHT & INNOVATION • Business & Design Thinking • Human Factors • Systemic Design / Systems Thinking • Innovation Research Methods • Strategic Foresight • Innovation Strategy • Business Model Innovation • Strategic research with faculty & students
  6. 6. Kelly Kornet (2015) Causing an Effect. Major Research Project, OCAD University.
  7. 7. William Georg (2015) From the Bottom of the Pyramid to the Bottom Line. Major Research Project, OCAD University.
  8. 8. If we are all entailed within a long crisis (or “emergency”) Then, the creation of hope … (as Andy Stirling said) becomes critical. Harness fearlessness & novel experience of students & new stakeholders.
  9. 9. Hasan Ozbekhan, Toward a General Theory of Planning, 1967
  10. 10. “Matters of Concern” Modes of Existence The Bad Anthropocene
  11. 11. Kelly Kornet (2015) Causing an Effect. Major Research Project, OCAD University.
  12. 12. Shearing layers Multiple sources: Stewart Brand (1994),
  13. 13. All connected – But different timescales 18 Communications & Coordination Community Projects & Arts Policy & Social Services Ecological Stewardship Community Stewardship Resources Stewardship Socio-ecological Stewardship
  14. 14. Rich Picture Modeling CHANGE PREDICTION & FORESIGHT UNDERSTANDING DESIGN Team Syntegration Simulation Systemigrams Boundary Critique / CSH GIGAmap Scenario planning Soft Systems Methodology Dialogic Design Appreciative Inquiry SYSTEMS THINKING METHODS BY DESIGN INTENT Novel – Future or unknown Reform of the known system System Dynamics Developmental Evaluation Design or Visual Cybernetic Evaluative Social, Participatory
  15. 15. Systemic Design adapts methods to problem 20 Strongly Sustainable Business Model adapted to future design of “Flourishing Cities” 5-10 year foresight (2nd Horizon) Canvas + Generative workshop - Ontological Design - Convergent & redirective - Foresight (Anticipatory) - Boundary Critique - Rich Picture Models
  16. 16. Tetrad (foresight) method to (futures) problem 22 Tetrad cycle adapted to civic engagement for “transition to resilience” 5-10 year foresight (2nd Horizon) Tetrad + Panel + dialogic workshop - Stakeholder discovery - Redirective practice - Foresight (Anticipatory) - Boundary Critique - Transition design models
  17. 17. Collaborative foresight method adapted to strategic policy 23 Dialogic Design adapted for stakeholder inquiry for SSHRC Imagining Canada’s Future 20 year foresight (3rd Horizon) SDD (Dialogic workshop + Influence map + strategic research) - Structured Dialogic Design - Stakeholder discovery - Collaborative Foresight - Boundary critique - Strategic advisory OCAD University University of Windsor York University Ryerson University UOIT
  18. 18. "In the face of intensified urbanization worldwide, what are the highest impact social & human challenges for Southern Ontario, now through 2030?”
  19. 19. 13 Challenges by Leverage + Vote
  20. 20. Top Ten social challenges for social sciences policy funding (what SSHRC wanted) represented from influence map: 1. Advancing a diverse and inclusive society 2. Enabling equitable access to ICT 3. Governing ourselves responsively 4. Designing sustainable cities 5. Overcoming fear of change 6. Including indigenous rights in planning 7. Transitioning to a digital economy 8. Upgrading transportation systems 9. Stewarding regional ecosystems 10. Supporting our aging population
  21. 21. Systemic design methods for strategic policy 27 Stakeholder workshop series for SSHRC 3rd Horizon policy finding: Canadian Governance in the Digital Era Stakeholder workshops + Gigamapping - Foresight (3 Horizons) - GIGAmap visual model design - Open Space + Small group work - Transition design - Strategic advisory
  22. 22. Governance in the Digital Era
  23. 23. Reinventing Democracy in the Digital Era 29 reinventdemocracy.info • Future Worlds Center (Yiannis Laouris) and UNDEF • SDD workshops held in 5 different cities across 4 continents • 1000 young people design action plans and lay the foundations for coordinated actions • Plans & media co-production • 5 awards will be offered for participating groups Bears striking consonance with SSHRC interests in mobilization and partnership
  24. 24. Stakeholder coalition formation Stakeholder discovery Harnessing commitment & continuity across events
  25. 25. Plenty of Questions for the Early Anthropocene • If scientific institutions are at risk of the political sphere, how might we best apply knowledge to action? • Can an Action Design pedagogy & program result in better policy & governance? • Given the trends, how might we … - Better enact long-horizon actions from creative planning? - Envision & enact approaches to coalition formation? - Engage systemic methods across differing cultures & “Modes of Existence”? • The “cathedral” layers of ecodemocracy are pure feedforward. How will we track, guide, & facilitate bioregion design plans?

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