The Seven Mind Switches of SOD

Many people in general and designers specially don’t have a relation to systems thinking or systems approaches. It is seen as difficult and cumbersome and alien. We therefore need to address a bit of the mindset that is needed to appreciate reading this book.

When talking about systems people often think that systems are something specific and often something not related to them directly. We use the term systems in everyday language, e.g. “the system does not work”, or “I don’t understand the system” addressing large opaque and often public or organizational problems. One can also use the term system about smaller thing, like “I made myself this system for controlling my economy and it works wonderful”.

All those uses of the term system are indeed correct. Nobody has the copyright of the term system. The everyday use of the term is as correct as any other more specific use. In fact the everyday intuition of the meaning of the term system is a good starting point for understanding systems. But we need to take seven small mind switches to understand systems thinking in general and to start to become a systemic designer.

These mind switches will be elaborated in the forth coming book on Systems Oriented Design.

The first switch of mind: Systems are everywhere
Systems are everywhere - everything is part of systems - everything is a system.

The second switch of mind: Look beyond the object
Look beyond the object - Move attention from object to relations (ref. Thackara 1988)

The third switch of mind: Systems are dynamic
Every system is dynamic - What seem stable just moves very slowly.

The fourth switch of mind: The “Gestalt” of the system
Look for the apparel of the system rather than understanding the sum of fragments.

The fifth Switch of mind: Designing means working with systems
Designing is potentially the best way of dealing with systems, but not any design.

Sixth switch of mind: Systemics is the logic of design
Harold Nelson in The Design Way.

Seventh switch of mind: Design is the means.
Design is the means to understand and resolve systems


Revision feb 2016