Blog Post

The Systemic Design Practice Wheel – Resource

by | 10 Sep, 2022 | Blog, Collaboratory Podcast, Resources

What is it?

The Systemic Design Practice Wheel was designed by Emma Blomkamp to guide practitioners taking participatory and creative approaches to complex problems. The five core domains of the wheel cover what she identifies as the key considerations for people working on shared challenges.

Excerpt of Miro board that worked through a series of activities related to the dimensions of the Systemic Design Practice Wheel

Why do we like it/what do we find useful about it?

We’ve found the Systemic Design Practice Wheel useful in talking people through what a co-design or collaborative process includes and reminding everyone that we can’t just jump straight to the ‘practice’ before unpacking the other elements first. 

How are we using it?

So far we’ve used it during Co-design training sessions to help us structure the discussions and activities in a way that covers all aspects of the wheel and encourages people to think beyond the “obvious” tools or methods they might usually associate with co-design. This was particularly useful to initiate discussions of scope and some systems mapping activities (related to the ‘Place’ dimension) and acknowledge that there are more than the “end-users” or “people with lived experience” who are involved in a co-design process. It’s helpful to have shared language and validation that we must consider who we are and what we’re bringing to the process, rather than see the process as separate from ourselves (as facilitators).

It’s also been a helpful framework to design further project planning sessions with clients working on collaborative projects to ensure we’re covering all the dimensions along the way. The principles dimension is critical to come back throughout the process (whether it be a workshop or whole design process) to see if/ how we are living up to them.

Delivering some internal co-design training with an ACT Government department, Nicole and Maya ran a series of activities based on the Systemic Design Practice Wheel. Participants worked in small groups to generate ideas about key principles they were committed to (Principles), the context and scope of their project (Place), the end-users and key stakeholders involved (People), how they might engage with these stakeholders (Process) and what tools they might use to do so (Practice). While the activity was fairly rapid, it did give everyone a sense of everything that needed to be considered when planning their upcoming co-design process.

Further resources

Emma’s blog post on the Systematic Design Practice Wheel and how to use it

Read the Open Access Article, Emma Blomkamp, “Systematic design practice for participatory policymaking, Policy Design and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/25741292.2021.1887576

PDF Diagram