Blog Post B – Reflection & System Design

Our design for the caddie liner in Assessment A aimed to employ the different skill sets of each group member in order to create a comprehensive design. With creation of a poster, video and the caddie design itself, we aimed to reach a broad audience. Utilising our group charter, which highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each member, we were able to combine skills to foster a comprehensive design skills. Room for improvement lies in team communication and organisation and these aspects are being addressed for emphasis within the group charter.

Different design disciplines each offer insights that help to create a comprehensive solution to complex problems such as organic waste management. As discussed by Ulrich, “critical employment of boundary judgements, a concept that has already proven both its critical significance and heuristic power,” (Ulrich, 2000) otherwise known as CHS, is a method of filtering focus. Just as the questions of the CHS direct our focus to specific aspects of a complex problem, I believe the background of each designer does the same. For example, Visual Communications students will see solutions to organic waste management through the filter of graphic design, perhaps responding with branding and marketing strategies to change public attitude. In contrast, Product Design students may see solutions through implementation of newly developed objects to encourage involvement in beneficial practices. As each designer sees problems and solutions through their own specific ‘lens’ (influenced by personal experience, their discipline and various other factors,) combining insights is highly beneficial in creating a comprehensive understanding of issues as complex as waste management as well as potential solutions. Another aspect to this is the ability of designers to critically analyse each other’s work in ways that non-designers may not be able to. Ulrich also discusses issues with personal bias and inability for designers to critique their own work accurately, which can be remedied with a multi-disciplinary approach.

Design thinking should be considered integral to problem solving within complex systems. IDEO’s website states “attempting to solve wicked problems, creative thinkers must design systems that influence people’s behaviour on a mass scale. Every ecosystem is comprised of both micro and macro elements, and when any element gets out of whack, the rest of the system suffers.” (IDEO, 2017) With reference to our subject, the caddy liner can be seen as a micro element, whilst an example of a macro element might be the lack of understanding around organic waste disposal. “Designing Systems at Scale” by Fred Dust and Ilya Prokopoff mentions the interaction between “Mission Pie,” a cafe in San Francisco and “Pie Ranch,” a local acreage. Pie Ranch supplies the cafe with its produce while encouraging workers to sample goods and participate in cultivation. This connection emphasises the importance of the individual, reinforcing their impact and giving them a feeling of worth and power within the larger system.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.53.08 amScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.53.16 amScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.53.04 am

(Pie Ranch, 2017) Pie Ranch depicts a sense of community within a system through fundraising and community events.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 12.56.05 am

(Mission Pie, 2015) Recognises their role within the larger system of food and consumption.

“As both Mission Pie and Pie Ranch have found, the simple task of showing people where their food comes from and pointing to the impact of industrialized farming touches off all sorts of big system challenges, from obesity and education to sustainability and personal food-related attitudes and behaviours.”

(Dust & Prokopoff, 2009) 

The role of creatives in system design lies in their analysis and integration of human experience. Dust and Prokopoff highlight “life is complex, and as designers, business people and other creative thinkers, we must resist both the seduction of simplicity and the safety of Byzantine networks that allow good ideas to fade and humans to be lost or forgotten.” (Dust & Prokopoff, 2009) Designers are crucial to creating systems that consider many aspects of human experience, combining practicality with usability and aesthetics. Reinforcing the importance of the user, Beder states, “A common reaction to the litany of problems attributed to technologies is to argue that the problem is not so much in the technology but in how it is used or abused.” (Beder, 1994) Beder’s essay speaks of the designer’s role in keeping up with the ever-changing social climate, particularly in reference to human interaction with technology. Social, environmental and economical factors are constantly changing, therefore systems and technology (or the individual’s interaction to these) must constantly adapt. This point is crucial in understanding the importance of the designer, as we must use our skills of analysis, problem solving and innovation to constantly respond to changing societal conditions.

Beder, S. 1994, ‘The Role of Technology in Sustainable Development’, Technology and Society, vol. 13, no. 4 pp. 14-9.

Dust, F & Prokopoff, I. 2009, Designing Systems at Scale IDEO, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://5a5f89b8e10a225a44ac-ccbed124c38c4f7a3066210c073e7d55.r9.cf1.rackcdn.com/files/pdfs/news/Rotman_SAS_IDEO_Winter09.pdf>.

IDEO 2017, Designing Systems at Scale, viewed 9 May 2017, <https://www.ideo.com/news/designing-systems-at-scale/>.

Mission Pie 2015, Our Values, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://missionpie.com/our-values/>.

Pie Ranch 2017, Our Programs, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://www.pieranch.org/>.

Ulrich, W. 2000, ‘Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking’, Reflective Practice, pp. 247-68.

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