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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Innovation Lab explores systems design and a practical toolkit for positive change

  • Matthew Lynch
  • |
  • Jul 31, 2020
Innovation Lab explores systems design and a practical toolkit for positive change

Design thinking is a great way to develop human-centred solutions but it’s not enough to achieve the innovation we need to tackle today’s wicked problems, explained Kristel van Ael at the latest Ivey Innovation Learning Lab session.

Van Ael is Creative Director and Partner at Namahn, a design agency based in Belgium, as well as Associate Professor at the University of Antwerp. She recently spoke to the Learning Lab about systemic design – the combination of systems and design thinking.

Systemic design methodologies help solve complex problems but for it to work, users need practical tools. That’s why Van Ael, along with other systemic design experts, created the Systemic Design Toolkit. The toolkit breaks down systemic design components into easily understandable exercises and helps organizations implement it in a way that is beneficial for both the organization and society.

Following Kristel’s keynote, participants had a chance to apply the toolkit to a real-world challenge of one of the Lab members. They practiced with two tools including Actants Mapping where participants looked at different personas within the system and analyzed their relationship with the organization. Participants also used Paradox Cards, which assess potential tensions that might arise in different innovation collaborations. By the end, participants walked away with tangible tools for innovation that can be applied to their own organizations.

More about the Innovation Learning Lab

The Lab brings together 20 organizations from diverse sectors, including mining company, Vale, that just joined the Lab.

Other participating organizations include: 3M; Ashoka Canada; Bell Canada; Co-operators Insurance; CPA Canada; Georgian Partners; Interac; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; Maple Leaf Foods; Mattamy Homes; McConnell Foundation; National Research Council Canada; NGen; Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund; Royal Bank of Canada; SAP Canada; Suncor; Triovest; and Walmart. Participants assemble every quarter to discuss the innovation process.

The Centre for Building Sustainable Value runs the Lab in partnership with MaRS Discovery District. Each session is animated by a world-class thought leader and includes discussion on the latest best practices and research, including Ivey’s own work on innovation and disruption.

Ivey Professor Tima Bansal created the Lab to bring together innovation leaders from the private and public sectors to improve their innovation process. The Lab deploys a cutting-edge approach to executive education, convening senior leaders and academics to co-create new insights on the frontier of knowledge.