Network Thinking for Social Impact

Loughborough University – Information Systems and Digital Innovation MSc

Module: Organisational Design and Network Thinking for Social Impact


–    Consider the societal challenges as articulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and appreciate how the complexity of these challenges require a systems / networked approach to develop innovative, multi-dimensional solutions that go beyond disciplines, individuals and organisations.

–    Gain an understanding of how networks can influence interaction and collaboration to create practical solutions to complex challenges and co-create conditions for collective benefit.

–    Analyse the design of Organisational structures and consider the emergence of fluid, agile and decentralised organisations that follow holacratic principles of self-organisation.

–    Utilise Design as a theoretical framework to develop and iterate ideas, solve problems, and prototype and test appropriate and considered solutions.

–    Encourage personal skills of communication, teamwork, decision-making and collaborative leadership. Encourage a holistic approach when dealing with the complexity of global social challenges.

–    Evaluation of new technologies, protocols and instruments for connection and collaboration.

–    Inspire the social impact leaders of the future.

Module design: Warren Bramley, Visiting Fellow in Information Management and Design.


Folk Design

I lead an annual participatory design workshop as part of the MSc Leadership and Innovation in the Public Sector program at Atlantic Technological University, which is open to civil servants from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The workshop draws a specific analogy between design and folk music, demonstrating that design can be as participatory and collaborative as folk music traditions, where everyone is invited to contribute regardless of their expertise.

‘over time each folksong becomes esthetically ever more appealing — it is collectively composed to perfection, as it were, by the community.’ – Cecil Sharp

To contextualize the importance of inclusive design practices and the plurality of design forms, the workshop draws upon various design thinkers and practitioners. By highlighting the works of the Scandinavian Cooperative Designers and Enid Mumford’s socio-technical design experiments of the 1960s, the workshop emphasizes the significance of participatory design, co-design, and collaboration in creating meaningful and inclusive designs.

The primary goal of the workshop is to foster an understanding of design as a participatory and collective process, where everyone has the opportunity to contribute their unique perspectives, skills, and experiences, resulting in more innovative, inclusive, and sustainable designs for the public sector. 

The workshop was developed in collaboration with designer Charlotte Bentley