26-28 Sept.

Friday, 27 Sep. 9:00–12:30


Practical Systems Thinking for Designers

/ Cornelius Rachieru


As designers and design strategists shift their focus to larger scale projects in what is increasingly becoming a networked, big data-driven world, design thinking methods alone are increasingly inadequate to deal with this newfound level of complexity. Designers are no longer tackling disciplinary or multidisciplinary challenges, but entirely transdisciplinary propositions.

Considering the scale of these new problem spaces, systems thinking methods, and their ability to break down the complexity of a system into understandable and manageable pieces, are underrated but invaluable scoping and sensemaking tools.

During this workshop, we will review the scale at which established design methods are relevant, from foundational, artifact, and feature level all the way to service, system and universal level, and how our newly adopted systems thinking methods like service ecosystem mapping, customer journey atlases, causal loop diagrams, etc. change the way design strategists facilitate problem solving at scale.

We will also examine how these methods work alongside more traditional design thinking methods, and we will discuss tactical approaches derived from ‘zooming in’ and ‘zooming out’ the problem space. This means looking at it holistically, and widening the system’s boundary by expanding it to include those other factors that may not be so apparent but have an influence on it, and are connected to it.

We’ll also review Ackoff’s four orientations to planning for solving systems level problems, as well as frameworks for reasoning and thinking that lend themselves to non-linear synthesis for strategic problem solving.


Cornelius Rachieru

Cornelius Rachieru is the founder of Canadian UX consultancy Ampli2de Inc., where he explores his fascination with the politics of design while leading enterprise-scale experience and service design projects. 

Over the past 15 years, he managed a number of large UX teams as UX practice leader at Deloitte Canada and Shaw Communications, and has worked in a wide range of industries, from technology to financial services, healthcare, entertainment, enterprise risk management and law. 

He is also Founder, Co-chair and Creative Director of the popular CanUX conference, Canada’s largest and longest running annual UX event. A self proclaimed night owl (he is originally from Transylvania), Cornelius loves red eye flights and is a nomad at heart. 

You can reach him on twitter @corneliux.

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