Systemic Design: Theory, Methods, and Practice

Systemic Design theory, methods, and practice book cover with colourful painted background

Peter Jones (with Kyoichi “Jim” Kijima, series editor)

Systemic Design: Theory, Methods, and Practice (2018) comprises 10 chapters from authors presenting at RSD4 (Banff, 2015).  The book was edited by Peter Jones as a title in the Translational System Sciences series edited by Professor Jim Kijima, a former president of the ISSSFind the book at Springer.


Significant societal forces and organizational demands are impelling the requirement for “better means of change” through integrated design practices of systems and services. Here we call on advanced design to lead programs of strategic scale and higher complexity (e.g., social policy, healthcare, education, urbanization) while adapting systems thinking methods, creatively pushing the boundaries beyond the popular modes of systems dynamics and soft systems. Its scale distinguishes systemic design, social complexity and integration – it is concerned with higher-order systems that entail multiple subsystems. By integrating systems thinking and its methods, the systemic design brings human-centred design to complex, multi-stakeholder service systems.

As designers engage with ever more complex problem areas, it is necessary to draw on a basis other than individual creativity and contemporary “design thinking” methods. Systems theories can co-evolve with a new school of design theory to resolve informed action on today’s highly resilient complex problems. They can deal effectively with demanding, contested and high-stakes challenges.

Peter Jones posted a Medium article on the editorial chapter Taking Stock & Flow of Systemic Design.


  • Contexts of Co-creation: Designing with System Stakeholders
    Jones, Peter
  • A Framework for Complex Design: Lessons from Synthetic Biology
    Chen, Chih-Chun and Nathan Crilly
  • Inclusive Systemic Design for Health System Flourishment
    Pennefather, Peter (et al.)
  • Systems Design Thinking: Theoretical, Methodological, and Methodical Considerations. A German Narrative
    Jonas, Wolfgang
  • Wicked Problems in Design and Ethics
    Sweeting, Ben
  • On the Resilience of Sociotechnical Systems
    Taysom, Eloise and Nathan Crilly
  • Towards a (Socio-ecological) Science of Settlement: Relational Dynamics as a Basis for Place
    Ruttonsha, Perin
  • Visualizing Complex Design: The Evolution of Gigamaps
    Sevaldson, Birger
  • Local Ruralism: Systemic Design for Economic Development
    Barbero, Silvia
  • Permaculture as a Systemic Design Practice
    Cassel, John B. (et al.)

RSD7 featured relaxed “learning-and-doing time”. At the end of each day, three events were hosted in the casual venue of Eataly. This is one of the recently published books that was introduced to the audience and discussed in an informal setting.


The Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium,, is November 3-6, 2021. 

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