Design Thinking needs to think bigger

We live in a massively complex, intricately interconnected global system. And it’s increasingly impossible to be designers (or human beings) without taking into account how we affect and are, in turn, affected by all the moving pieces of this organic machine. The challenge for designers is learning how to balance the production of evermore complex capability against the threat of a resultant breakdown. That’s why Steve Vassallo, general partner at Foundation Capital, thinks design thinking, which emphasizes solving problems holistically, needs to look at a bigger whole by incorporating another body of thought: systems thinking.

When appropriate, applying a systems mind-set to design thinking will give designer founders a powerful tool for circumnavigating the problems of the age. Focus on relationships over parts; recognize that systems exhibit self-organization and emergent behaviors; analyze the dynamic nature of systems in order to understand and influence the complex societal, technological, and economic ecosystem in which you and your organization operate.