Rick Farrell by Rick Farrell

System Thinking: 3 of the most inspiring (and impressive) examples

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A new design strategy has evolved from design thinking to critiquing and correcting throughout the whole design process. Welcome to System thinking. 

What is the purpose of System thinking? This new framework looks at the bigger picture of how a system is connected, rather than each individual part, like the product or interface, and how we can better use design in those processes. 

To inspire your creativity in this emerging design thought process, we’ve collected a few of the best system thinking examples we’ve seen. 

3 of our favourite system thinking examples

How Accenture helped its postal service clients embrace AI using systems thinking

Accenture was engaged  to conduct research into how technology could make more efficient deliveries for the postal and courier service. 

Their clients needed to implement not only what the customer wanted (a quick delivery), but figure out how to use technology to best serve constantly changing variables. 

They used system thinking to zoom out and better understand how the weather, traffic, rerouting, fuel efficiency and other factors affected deliveries. 

Instead of concentrating on blindly delivering packages quicker, by hiring a bigger workforce, AI systems were put in place with a newly designed demand forecasting model.

The new model was able to factor in all the variables to create the most effective routes, whilst ensuring the customer got what they wanted 一 a speedy, efficient delivery. 

System thinking was able to balance and consider all the variables mentioned to give context to the problem and create an efficient model that worked alongside an augmented workforce. 

How IKEA guides customers to a purchase using system thinking

IKEA’s shopping experience blends design thinking and system thinking to showcase both principles at work. 

When a customer walks into IKEA, they’re exposed to showrooms that present what it would be like to own the products they see. 

From there, the customer can walk into a warehouse and grab the products they’ve selected, or purchase the goods online or in-store and have them delivered to their home. 

By allowing customers the option of digital services (ordering when they get home), collecting their own goods (in the warehouse) and ordering in-store to be delivered to their home, it has implemented several systems at once to create a superior shopping experience. A classic incorporation of systems thinking.

They have connected the back-end and front-end experience of shopping at IKEA linking the context of IKEA and the customer’s modern life to provide a unified experience. 

Using system thinking to do more

In this news story, we see how something as simple as a chair was used to give a person with Alzheimer’s disease the ability to continue to enjoy reading by building smart home features into the chair. 

However, if the team who designed this chair were to re-approach it from a whole system thinking perspective, the result might fit more seamlessly into a modern context. 

It could incorporate any number of smart home devices and systems that are readily available, created in a way that is as useful to this individual as it is to the average user.

By broadening the ecosystem and context that the chair exists in, it can become more effective for this individual and others in multiple, different situations. 

Partner with Thunk for a modern, effective approach to system thinking

Thunk is a pioneer in design, applying advanced principles like system thinking examples into our work. Reach out to our team today and see what we can build for you.