Earlier this year I conducted a qualitative study into how professionals collaborate to tackle complex societal problems. There is one thing that became very clear to me and that is that thinking about how we work together and how we behave as individuals, is at least as important as how we think about innovation in complex problem situations. Read more about this study in this blog post.
Many have turned to the application of design practices when addressing complex societal problems. One of the differences between ‘traditional’ design practice and design in a complex societal context is that design no longer just happens within specialized teams. Instead, designing has broadened to what Ezio Manzini calls ‘a designing network’, where design roles and skills are distributed over multiple stakeholders who are actively involved in making decisions. This fundamentally changes the roles of designers, the people they work with, and arguably the processes they run. While I visited MaRS Solutions Lab earlier this year, Claire Buré and I started to explore the concept of a designing network to draw new insights on collaborations for social innovation. We summarised our insights in this blog.
Earlier this week I shared some of my research about systemic design in public and social innovation, and discussed the implication of systemic design for systems change with Tim Tompson at the Social Design Sydney event ‘Systems change with systemic design‘. You can download a copy of my slides here: 180925systemicdesign_mieke
And watch a video of the talk here:
I enjoyed guest editing a special issue on Trandisciplinary Innovation with co-guest-editor and colleague Martin Bliemel. It has certainly expanded our understanding of the topic and it has been great reading all the contributions. The issue is open access and online available here. One of the papers is written by my PhD-student Mariana Zafeirakopoulos, and describes the learning experiences of professionals who have shifted from using positivist rule-based practices (such as science) to transdisciplinary innovation methods.
The amount of people involved in social innovation is rapidly increasing. Many people are trying to improve people’s lives and create more resilient and sustainable societies through innovation in social enterprises, innovation labs, grass root organisations, and within social and public-sector organisations. Many great examples exist of successful social innovation, as well as many failed initiatives. There is still a lot we need to learn about how we can advance this field and I believe that learning together and sharing knowledge is one of the keys to achieve this. In this blog I reflect on how we learn, and how we can learn from each other in social innovation, based on a one-month visit in May 2018 to the MaRS Solutions Lab in Toronto as International Fellow.
My colleague Bridget Malcolm and I recently presented the preliminary results of our study on ‘design expertise in public and social innovation’ at the Design Research Society conference in Limerick, Ireland. The paper is available here.
This month I celebrate my first anniversary working at UTS’ Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation. Transdisciplinary Innovation, that’s two buzzwords in a row. Enough has been said about the overuse and abuse of the word innovation, but transdisciplinarity is quickly catching up. We now have transdisciplinary practices, research, degrees, art, events, and labs. But what is transdisciplinarity? Do we really need it? What are its challenges? And what does design have to do with it?
I am very excited to be speaking at the Vivid: Dare to Design for Health event, organised by the wonderful Jane Cockburn! Please come along if you want to help reimagining Australia’s future health care.
In February this year I presented a keynote lecture for the London Doctoral Design Centre about design research, human-centred design and my personal journey towards becoming an expert in the field of public and social sector innovation. The video of this lecture is available here.