Social design aims to create conditions in which the things you want to happen, happen more easily.
Social Design is the design of relationships; the creation of new social conditions intended to increase agency, health, creativity, equity, social justice, resilience, and connection to nature.
In cities, corporations, or any type of community, if the culture is a creative one, innovative ideas are generated there. In a culture aligned by social values, those values drive action over time. In a culture where people have a sense of agency and possibility, possibilities are repeatedly found. These attributes become the norm. It is the inverse of a culture where only certain people or departments are viewed as innovative or dictate social values, dependent on isolated events or interventions to create lasting change. Social design aims to create conditions in which the things you want to happen, happen more easily.
When applied to specific issues and places, desired outcomes are defined with precision, as concretely and fully as possible.
The skills required for social design are a toolkit of sorts, the kind a very good carpenter might carry, filled with some favorite old implements with worn handles and patina, and some new ones that are shiny and sharp. A number of these skills have been part of the designer’s art forever: like synthesizing complex information and making it accessible; visualizing data and invisible systems so that insights and revelations and connections are available to everyone; reframing problems and questions to uncover root causes instead of symptoms; abductive reasoning and sideways creative thinking; giving ideas physical form or representation, and then making them desirable – engaging and delighting people with the beauty or functionality of whatever has been created.