Complexity methods to support design

Stephen Grey addressed the Designing Health conference, held on 24-25 October 2016 in Adelaide, on methods stemming from the Cynefin framework that can be used to support health systems and service design. Laurel Sutton of Complexability delivered a workshop on the Cynefin framework and its use to understand how best to work with a complex system or complex elements of a system.

The conference brought together a wide range of people from within the Victorian and South Australian health systems, eminent keynote speakers from the UK and the USA, as well as carers, academics and consultants from the fields of operations research, design, risk and complexity.

In addition to touching on some more general points, Stephen's presentation focused on narrative based methods and the use of SenseMaker(TM) to work with large scale and geographically dispersed groups of stakeholders for both single pass and longitudinal exercises. It expanded on the points made in a recent article, Complex design thinking: beyond the designer’s point of view, published in The Mandarin.

The design approach of engaging with stakeholders and service users to build an empathetic understanding of their needs and preferences is clearly very valuable. Narrative based methods offer a means of going further towards allowing the end users' needs to emerge without external biases or restrictions. It also allows for inexpensively expanding the number of people who can be engaged in the process, the geographical spread that can be addressed and the length of time over which the process is sustained to provide up to date insight as a system is transformed or responds to external changes..

The presentation materials are available here