Design Role: Systemizing: an introduction…

Systemizing corresponds to a series of design activities oriented towards organising synergies and multiplication effects between the different single projects or elements of the project. The synergies targeted range from a communication framework giving visibility to a series of Local Projects form the same region to the development of exchanges, collaborations and partnerships liking the single projects into an active network on the territory. Systemizing process consist in clustering local projects with similar patterns, recognizing potential relationships between them, activating connections and organizing collaboration. The result is the constitution of a Framework Project describing the most promising synergies in a vision to support local development and a related strategy to implement this vision.

Tentative guidelines:

• Promote the emergence of a systemic vision where the inter-linkage between the single local projects multiplies their value and strength…
• Focus on synergies, partnerships that are likely to have the strongest transformation effect with the lightest requested effort…
• Balance a loose approach following stakeholders intuitions with a design driven projection of possible partnerships to combine spontaneous bottom-up reticulation and top-down structuration of the system…

Detailed analysis:

A system of Local Projects
What are the main characteristics/aspects/dimensions of the activity?
A Framework Project is based on a number of Local Projects with a certain level of inter-linkage between each other. The nature of the links may be of different nature
In DOTT07 the different Local Project on food, energy, transport… develop in parallel with a low level of synergy between them. At the Framework Project level they represents a panorama of main need area in the North-East England region and demonstrate how design can involve and support each of these areas. But on the field, each Local Project has little to do with the other. The DOTT07 project act as a main glue between them, activating them through a series of common engaging activities such as performances, installations, awards, challenges… and wrapping them in a same communication push through the project website, the final festival… enhancing the overall visibility of DOTT07.
In Feeding Milan the Local Projects belong essentially to two categories: short food distribution and local tourism. The Framework Project doesn’t focus a complete panorama of the regional activities or need areas. But the subgroup of Local Projects considered shows strong linkage between them. Actors and resources are connected so that they generate synergies and, through collaboration they share risk and experience. This higher level of synergy is based on a vision (a rural-urban area where agriculture flourishes feeding the city and, at the same time, offers citizens opportunities for a multiplicity of farming and nature related activities) and a related strategy (‘zero mile food and tourism’) to implement this vision.

Searching for synergies…

How to start/develop/disseminate it?
The core of the systemizing activity consists in searching for more consistent and powerful synergies within an existing local context.
The first step is contained in the INVESTIGATING activity in order to explore and identify local potential. In the Amplify project, a systematic mapping of all promising social initiatives is undertaken in NY Lower East Side. A clustering process among all the cases collected shows a structure based on 4 thematic areas of healthy food, connected elderly, neighbourhood socialisation and local cultural heritage. The very fact of projecting this structure and recognizing groups of initiatives relating to the same goal raise potential connection, collaboration and synergies.
An activation of these thematic areas (giving them more visibility promoting the Amplify exhibition, supporting individual public design commission projects in DOTT07 or organising a political platform of workshops, seminars, meeting among stakeholders in Feeding Milan) can enhance their synergetic potential and reinforce them.
The systemizing activity is based on a mix of promoting bottom-up spontaneous adherence between Local Projects and projecting top-down design visions to start connections that are not likely to emerge by themselves. Malmö Social Innovation Living Lab promotes an open-ended structure that’s flexible enough to allow new collaborations to emerge. Cases that can be aligned get the opportunity to increase. Other cases decrease (until a new opportunity emerge). Connections may arise not only between cases themselves but also with private companies, public institutions or other close Framework Projects. Balancing a loose approach with a design driven process is important to leave the time to unexpected synergies to emerge and reveal stronger adherences than a first design envisioning activity would have pointed.

Looking for an acupuncture effect…
What are the expected results/outputs/benefits?
The result of systemizing activity should lead to a highest possible level of synergy between the Local Projects. In the Sustainable Periurban in Nord-Pas-de-Calais tentative Framework Project the challenge is to identify synergies with a potential to produce a systemic effect beyond the improvement of the single cases considered. The strategy follows the metaphor of acupuncture which is based on a low number of local points to activate particular flows of energy between them and obtain a systemic relief in the whole body.
Feeding Milan focuses only the food system but builds on a series of cultural leverage points in Italy such as the increased interest in revitalizing traditional food quality, the developed practice of agro-tourism hosted by local farms or the promotion of the rich cultural and architectural and landscape heritage. The expected results of this Framework Project is therefore likely to go beyond a new food and tourism network and achieve the revitalisation of the Parco Sud subpart of the region, improving the perception of the whole periurban areas, pointing virtuous circles of relationship with the nearby city of Milan and potentially prompting other developments in side sectors.
The ‘zero miles food and tourism’ strategy emerges as a pattern of Framework Project. It’s value is recognized beyond the case of Feeding Milan and was proposed by the design teams as a systemizing approach in the farming island of Chong-Ming nearby Shanghai or for the sustainable periurban around Lille.

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