SOD is open source

From the very beginning, the techniques and methodology of systems oriented design were never thought to be precise descriptions of defined processes. On the contrary, each project or systemic intervention needs a variation of the process. Each situation is slightly unique and demands a rethinking and adjustment of the process. Process design is an integrated part of a SOD project. In that sense, SOD is a ‘methodology without a method’. Another aspect of this is that the research on SOD has always been shared in the academic context of the design research community.

Announcing SOD as open source actively declares this inherent nature of SOD and encourages others to participate in its development.

Open Source Guidelines and Checklist

As an open-sourced methodology, anyone is welcome to use any part of the methodology and change it in any way. As you think about ways to change SOD, we ask you to respect the following:

  • Please make a reference to this website, “based on systems oriented design“.
  • Please respect the core parameters of SOD.
  • If you find that your project is no longer aligned with SOD, please remove any reference to SOD.


To be regarded as a SOD project, your project should be able to check off all or most of the points below.

  1. Practicing a designerly way of understanding and creating systems
  2. Applying central SOD techniques, amongst them gigamapping
  3. Addressing complex problems using multiple perspectives
  4. Emphasising relations and interconnections
  5. Understanding soft as well as hard system approaches
  6. Applying the four views: Bird – Frog, Telescope – Microscope
  7. Working with problem fields, problem networks, and situations rather than singular problems
  8. Taking responsibility for intended and unintended consequences of the design
  9. Representing affected bystanders as well as non-human actors
  10. Facilitating participatory processes with stakeholders, experts and all relevant organizations and individuals.


The core of SOD represents the core values and perspectives that determine if a project can be seen as a SOD project. These are guidelines that were made by us, but we will not police these guidelines in any way. Please consider them and respect the core of SOD.

If your project corresponds to all or most core parameters, you are welcome to reference it as a SOD project. Please send a reference to the project and material to publish on this website to birger.sevaldson@aho.no.

  • If the project does not correspond to most of the core parameters, we kindly ask you not to refer to the project as a SOD project.
  • If the project is within the field of systems thinking in design, we suggest that you refer to the project as a systemic design project.
  • If your project is mostly on the systems side and does not contain an important element of design, design thinking and design practice, we suggest you refer to the project as a systems engineering project, a systemic development project, or something similar.
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About Systems Oriented Design

About Systems Oriented Design

The main mission of SOD is to help designers to become better at dealing with very complex problems. Complex problems are described as problem fields, networks of problems, wicked problems and problematiques.

The Mind Shifts of SOD

The Mind Shifts of SOD

We need to make several small shifts in our understanding to truly grasp systems thinking in general and to start to become systemic designers.