Make Me Care: Systems Thinking

  • Fable

The Blind Men & The Elephant: Wall, Spear, Fan, Snake, Tree, Rope

Different mental model of the same thing. In this case they associate something they have never seen, associate with something that they’re familiar with. 

  • Topic

Seeing Things As A Whole

Understanding How Systems Work & The Relationships Within It To Create An Impact or Change

There are many complex systems in our society. Many of us complain about a system, whether it be transportation or the government. But somehow, we find it easy to talk but difficult to make a change. Why? Because we don’t where to start.

We don’t know how because we don’t know the entire system. We only know the small part and we don’t see the whole thing.

We’re all part of a system and we’re all empowered to make a change. But how can we do it if we don’t know what exactly is the system that we’re trying to solve?

  • Personal Story

Childhood Dream - Marine Biologist where I can make an impact on our Environment - Illustrator for 2 years instead

With my time as an Illustrator, I realised that impact comes in many forms: 

  • Supporting a cause
  • Creating an action
  • Inspiring Others

So I have this goal of creating an impact - Environment 

There was a time when I had this mini-project where I designed a print, made limited edition copies of it, sold it and donated the funds to a cause held by WWF that aimed to save The Last 55 Maui Dolphins in New Zealand. 

This small act, made me feel empowered. 

Capacity to make a change - Made Me Empowered - Things Go A Long Way With Those Things

Change starts with us. 

“I don’t have to be a Marine Biologist to create an impact on our environment. I just had to understand how things were connected to each other and how I can make my own (small) impact in order to create a ripple and affect a larger cause in a larger system."

If we break it down: Me - Community (WWF) - Larger System (Marine Ecosystem or Environment) 

As an Interaction Design principle, systems thinking is an essential skill. Understanding how things work as a whole and the relationships that play within it is important, because 1) Everything is connected, 2) Cause & Effect is iterative, 3) Context matters.

  • Project Story

Systems, Spring 2018: Affecting Change In A Complex System

First Approach: Mapping Out A System - Looking For Areas of Dysfunction - Solving That Dysfunction or Problem

However, my partner and I didn't approach it this way.

Pick Topic - Solution Driven Mindset, meaning we jumped in with solutions of a problem we felt was needed to be solved instead of discovering these problems through system mapping and doing primary research to really look into the hidden pain points so that we can address them. 

How can you design a solution if you don’t fully understand the problem and the needs?

Long story short, we ended up having to shift our topic with only a week left to work on our project. But I learned a lot in that span of a week and the importance of stepping back and seeing things as a whole gave me so many insights that led us to a more successful approach than our first one. 



  • Problem & Solution (Be problem driven, not solution driven.)
  • Understand The Relationship (How One Thing Affects The Other - Map Things Out, System Models)

Change or impact happens in small scale which, over time, creates change in a bigger scale and causes a ripple effect in the system, and change starts within you.

As an Interaction Designer, I learned to see things from a different perspective, approach things in a new light. To seek for problems, not what we think should be solved, but what we discover in the system that needs to be solve.

If you want to make a change, you first need to understand how the system works.

“Take what you lean in the classroom and use to make an impact outside these walls.” (Barry Katz)

  • Principle

That is the power of Systems Thinking.