Systemic design methods in the 21st century have roots in systems theory developed in the 20th century, centering around prominent figures. Within the ecology of systems sciences, six schools of thought coevolved across a variety of domains.
(i) Wicked problems and Issues-Based Information Systems were the focus of Horst Rittel, continuing as argumentation schemes. (ii) The systems approach with inquiring systems from C. West Churchman fed the interactive planning of Russell Ackoff. (iii) Pattern language originated in the built environment by Christopher Alexander, was cross-appropriated into information systems by members of the Hillside Group. (iv) Ecological epistemology in anthropology started by Gregory Bateson has been extended and refined by Tim Ingold. (v) Hierarchy theory in ecological systems by Timothy F.H. Allen is a foundation for the panarchy and resilience science of C.S. Holling and Lance Gunderson. (vi) Interactive value and theory of the offering from Richard Normann led to business orchestration by Rafael Ramirez and Johan Wallin. During this period, the design profession has evolved with changes in technology. Building things and places centered on structuralism. Constructing experiences draws on phenomenology. The rise of information technology has resulted in a turn towards interaction and materiality.
Service systems thinking proposes a generative pattern language structured on (i) voices on issues (who + what), (ii) affording value(s) (how + why), and (iii) spatio-temporal frames (where + when). This approach comes through multiparadigm inquiry that builds on the history of systems theories developed from the 1960s into the 1990s. Paradigm interplay leads to a philosophical turn for systemic design in the context of the 21st century.
David Ing, "Wicked problems, systems approach, pattern language, ecological epistemology, hierarchy theory, interactive value: Multiparadigm inquiry generating service systems thinking", Proceedings of the PURPLSOC (Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change) Conference 2017.