Story-Based Systemic Design (SBSD) is a participant-driven framework for systemic design that integrates systems thinking and storytelling in seeking community-developed solutions to wicked problems.
The Human-Centered Design (HCD) framework facilitates change. Story-Based Systemic Design (SBSD) is a related approach that works to integrate systems thinking throughout the process. The goal is to help people use systemic design to change the systems they interact with to foster more desirable outcomes. Social innovation and sustainability are central to the process.
What's unique about SBSD?
Story-Based Systemic Design differs from prominent design frameworks in three important ways:
SBSD explicitly integrates system thinking processes throughout the framework. In other frameworks, it’s up to the facilitator to make this a part of the process.
Storytelling is also included throughout the framework. Human beings communicate through stories. It’s how we’re wired. We tell stories in SBSD to help build a shared understanding of the challenges and circumstances we’re working with, to build mental models that help participants reconceive the possible, and to foster the engagement necessary for a participant-driven process.
SBSD shifts the process leader’s role. Instead of being the lead problem solver, they’re tasked with taking on a more facilitative role wherein they work to enable groups to solve their own problems. Participants bring their diverse knowledge and expertise, as well as the experience of living with the circumstances of the challenge, as they work collaboratively to develop solutions. The process leader helps them find their way as they guide the groups through a variety of lessons, processes, and exercises. The overarching goal is to empower groups and individuals to solve their own problems.
A note about the SBSD facilitator's role
The facilitator's role shifts according to the need. They can be an instructor, a coach, a companion, or a sounding board, but rarely (if ever) are they in the role of the expert with all of the answers. The overwhelming complexity of systemic design challenges obviates the possibility of lone heroes solving wicked problems. Instead, SBSD leads help participants to take on ever-greater control in a manner similar to climbing Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation (overview below).