May 9 (the second Monday of the month) was the 100th meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration was on Eventbrite at https://intention-attention.eventbrite.ca .

Intention or Attention? Humbling Design through ‘Systems Changes Learning’

Systems Changes Learning (SCL) is a body of work that offers an updated way of thinking about and responding to change. The three premises of SCL dramatically reposition how we look and understand changes: as rhythms over time that might shift, in accord with the natures of the systems involved.

What could we learn from mapping the SCL premises to designing? This presentation will explore the potential influence that Systems Changes Learning could have on designing and designers, in philosophies, in methods, and in practices.

As a core member of the SCL Circle, Zaid will extend the framing of “humility” - from his Major Research Project “Responding to Complexity with Humility” (2020) - as a lens through which to examine and explore new modes of designing.

An overarching theme that Zaid examines critically is designing with a bias-towards-(intended)-action, as compared to SCL’s bias-towards-attention. Rather than presuming “interventions” pursuing an idealized end, Zaid wonders what designing would be like if attention was drawn to the nature of rhythmic shifts over time. Could we recontextualize the role and value of designers with our communities by "humbling designing", or "designing with humility"? Taken even further, could this recasting of designing offer opportunities to reconnect the humble features of mainstream philosophies, or perhaps spiritual traditions with designing?

In parallel with the SCL pursuit of critically rethinking systems thinking, is there an opportunity to rethink designing?


  • Zaid Khan is a Research Communications Strategist with the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2020, he graduated with a Master of Design degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCADU. Previously, he was in the creative advertising world, as a Strategic Planner with Leo Burnett Canada.


Suggested pre-reading:


Post-meeting artifacts

Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.