Systemisch (co-)design: oxymoron or opportunity?
11 Jun '24

Systemisch (co-)design: oxymoron or opportunity?

Date and Time

June 11th 2024, 14:00 – 16:00


Hogeschool Inholland, Wildenborch 6, Diemen

Session led by:

Jürg Thölke (lector  Authentic Leadership, Hogeschool Inholland), Guido Stompff (lector Design Thinking, Hogeschool Inholland)


Everyone is welcome to participate, please apply via this link.

Hannah Arendt reminds us that life is not completely controllable, but our active engagement and reflection can bring about meaningful change. From the systemic perspective, the world can only be created to a limited extent and yet we can create together. The concept of ‘intention’ plays a crucial role within this approach. We are in the service of life – of all life – and this also includes recognizing the finitude and the natural process of dying. Sometimes you have to know when to let something go.

When looking at the world you can take different perspectives, for example mechanical, scientific, psychological/relational, systemic or spiritual. Each of these perspectives provides a unique lens through which we can understand the complexity of our environment. Certainly the last three require more than just an analytical approach; we need to experience, feel and allow coincidence and intuition.

Guido Stompff and Jürg Thölke build on an Escalator by Peter Troxler, Lecturer on Revolution in the Manufacturing Industry, who provided his valuable overview of system theories and ended at our starting point: Systemic work. What are the premises and assumptions of the systemic perspective, and how do they differ from feasibility thinking? Systems have their own nature and dynamics, with specific laws. Undercurrents and overcurrents. The systemic perspective requires a modest approach, in which we are aware of the complexity and interconnectivity of systems. Their own, sometimes inimitable, intentions. This perspective calls for a deeper relationship with ourselves, others, and the larger system in which we live. It requires humility, curiosity and respect for the intrinsic value of each part of the system. Even that part which we would rather not see.

Tangible cases
We will illustrate this with one or two cases from the audience, to make the abstract concepts tangible.

Open the dialogue
After these case studies, we open the dialogue about what the assumptions of the systemic perspective can mean for the design of social interventions. The goal is not to provide ready-made solutions, but to jointly arrive at profound questions: What can a designer do based on respect for systems? What knowledge, what instruments can we provide to create respectfully from a systemic perspective?