Masterclass #1: Andy Polaine on service design and system thinking
Andy Polaine, designer, educator, coach, and writer, held yesterday the first of five Service Design Masterclasses, a special format of the Master in Service Design that aims at investigating cutting-edge topics connected to the world of Service Design.
The topic of the Masterclass was the relationship between service design and system thinking. Andy started his lecture with a simple yet powerful statement: ‘Design is everywhere, and it’s invisible‘. This implies that the world of artifacts, including the immaterial ones such as services, is inextricably related to our lives, our purposes, and our planet. Every action we do, every decision we make, has an impact on a specific system, which is inside another system, which is, in its turn, inside another system, and so on. That’s why system thinking is fundamental to the circular economy, and that’s why we, as designers, should think and behave as system thinkers. It means that we need to tackle complexity with complexity and that “The complex is not complicated‘”.
An example of this equation is the pandemic impacts on the ecosystem. The more we need for disposable protection devices, the more we produce them, the more waste we generate, and the more polluted our planet is. In its turn, this simple yet catastrophic linear process produces an exponential amount of non-linear effects in almost every other aspect of everything. We’re used to looking at the world at a human level of zoom. That’s ok, but we need to take into account also the smallest level of zoom (in this example, the virus) and the biggest one (i.e. Planet Earth).
To face all this complexity, we should keep in mind that the smallest change in one thing will produce a very big change in another thing, but in the end, all these changes are parts of the same system. For the design world, this means a shift from industrial thinking to service and long-term system thinking.
‘Services never end‘, just as the problems we’ve faced so far and we’ll continue to face.
Want to take part in further discussions? Don’t miss the chance and discover the full programme.