• System Design Keynote Lecture

  • System Model

  • System Model

  • System Model

  • System Model

Centro Diseño

April 2014

Role: Keynote Speaker & Master Class Teacher

The Challenge

Centro Diseño is a dynamic art school in the heart of Mexico City. While just 10 years old, the school has distinguished itself as a leader in pushing design-driven entrepreneurial culture. I had the opportunity to spend a week with the graduate students across disciplines, giving a keynote lecture on Systems Thinking, and how it can propose new models of thought that help us address challenges across scales from the global and institutional, to the social and personal levels. This was followed by a master class to provide hands-on experience applying systems thinking in various contexts.

The talk focused on creating an understanding of complex adaptive systems – what they are, how they work and why it is important for people wanting to address complex social, cultural, economic and ecological issues, to understand them. I also stressed the importance of positive creative imagination in imagining what a healthy society might look like.

The master class picked up on Systems Thinking, and the dynamics of complex adaptive systems – exploring examples of their qualities in natural and cultural systems. Building on this foundation, the students assembled in groups and physically modeled a system of their choice. People explored various themes; how young children get pulled into selling drugs, how the crafts market works for artisans, how sustainable seafood supply chains could be supported. The students created physical models of their systems; the actors, relationships and dynamics. And they created hypotheses of where there are leverage points that could be utilized toward a different, preferred outcome.

The Impact

The students were very excited about the work and the insights they gained in a short amount of time, working with physical materials, and visualizing tacit information in a clear, concrete way. I was asked to come back and teach a Systems Thinking class as part of the core graduate curriculum at the school on an ongoing basis.

Key Tools

Public Speaking

Process Mapping

System Modeling