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City Systems Thinking Workshop

Date: September 2017

Location: London, UK

Client: Self initiated, presented at the Service Design Fringe Festival

Role: Workshop design and facilitation, workbook design, with support from Empathy Walks

Presented at the 2017 London Service Design Fringe Festival, this workshop brought together London’s service design community with urbanists to explore ‘systems thinking’ in the context of cities. The workshop was created to help designers think holistically about urban issues, visualize complexity, make unexpected connections, and uncover hidden opportunities.


Workshop Goals and Objectives

There were three key motivations for organizing the workshop:

  • The first was to bring together urban planners with the service design community to explore ‘design thinking’ in the context of cities. I see a lot of opportunity for these communities to collaborate and share methods.

  • The second motivation was to create a space where people could practice and strengthen their holistic or systems thinking skills. The ability to think about issues in a joined-up and cross-cutting way is something that needs practicing. What are the tools and methods that designers need to help them think about and address complex and systemic urban challenges?

  • The third motivation was to actually test and pilot a specific methodology for facilitating discussions about complex urban issues. This method involved building a physical ‘system web’ to stimulate discussion, document conversations and visually map out connections and relationships.

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