Why asking questions about the wider system is essential

The questions we ask before designing a product or service are crucial.

problems shift based on our perspective and complexity increases at different scales.

Image of the painting 'The Blind Men and the Elephant' by Hanabusa ItchõWhen designing and building products or services, it can be easy to fixate on the individual parts of a system, rather than understanding the whole. The painting of the Blind Men and the Elephant is a perfect example to illustrate this point.

Painting of The Blind Men and the Elephant by Hanabusa ItchõInstead, the painting asks us to accept that there can be more than one answer and more than one interpretation. It also makes me think of how we might share experiences and knowledge to better understand the whole. I think this is a great illustration and reminder for product teams to hold space for other perspectives and understand the relationships between things before acting.

Applying a system lens to our questions

How will we avoid perpetuating the problems we are trying to address?

Image of the painting 'The Blind Men and the Elephant' by Hanabusa Itchõ

Resources for applying a systems lens to your work

Not to Scale by Jamer hunt

System practices from the field by School of System Change

Equity-Centred Community Design by Reactive Reaction Lab, which I learnt about in a workshop they did called How Traditional Design Thinking Protects White Supremacy.

Decolonizing design by Anoushka Khandwala

Governance — the overlooked route to transformation by Forum for the Future

Portals to Beautiful Futures by Omidyar Network & Guild of Future Architects

written by Aly Blenkin. Also available on Medium