Design Innovation for Society









Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design 


University of Technology, Sydney

Keywords: social design; strength-based; narrative; re-authoring


This paper outlines an approach to Social Design that departs the practice of design as ‘problem solving’ and advocates for Appreciative Co-design, an approach that seeks to nurture strengths and co-construct empowering stories that give life to living systems. As Social Designers we’re working with increasingly vulnerable people in immensely difficult circumstances, and sometimes their lives become constructed around a ‘problem story’. These participants can be difficult to engage in the co- design process, they can be resistant to change or find it difficult to envision positive future alternatives. And as Social Designers it’s now our role to shift their perspective. This involves facilitating a process of social transformation within the design process itself, which is a new task for our practice. For guidance this paper explores Psychotherapy and Organisational Development which are other transformative practices that offer valuable strategies on shifting problem oriented mindsets and motivating people to construct new empowering narratives. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Munro, T. (2016). Appreciative Co-design: From Problem Solving to Strength-Based Re-authoring in Social Design. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

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