Episode 122 Design-Led System Transformation


Episode 122

Design-Led System Transformation

An interview with daniel Wahl

March 15, 2019

In this episode, Haley talks with whole systems design practitioner, educator, public speaker, regenerative development consultant, and author, Dr. Daniel Wahl. Wahl shares stories from his journey in learning about complexity science, holistic science, and whole systems health, and how this journey ultimately inspired him to study natural design. During his interview Wahl says, “for me design is human intention expressed through interactions and relationships. It touches almost everything.” He also expresses his love for biomimicry and talks about the importance of learning from Gaia.


Show Notes


Quotes from this episode:

“We were exploring this wonderfully new participatory worldview where that fundamental shift from the goal of science shifting from prediction and control of a system that we observe as so called “objective observers” to a science that really understands that we are always subjective participants in the complex dynamic systems that we participate in and that the best science can do is to shift from this prediction and control obsession to aiming to guide appropriate participation.” — Daniel Wahl

“For me design is human intention expressed through interactions and relationships. It touches almost everything.” — Daniel Wahl

“For me the high level of biomimicry and ecomimicry is understanding that we are biological beings, first and foremost, and that if life creates the conditions conducive to life as a general pattern, than we better do our very best to learn from the more than human community of life how we can meet our needs in the same process and become stewards and caretakers of the ecosystems we inhabit.”  — Daniel Wahl

“If you think about it, in questioning there is a regeneration happening. It’s inviting you to look at the status quo and double check your experience and relationship with it.”  — Daniel Wahl

“Cultures, by and large, are what they are because of the interactions and relationships and stories carried in these cultures. The final product is an emergent properties. It’s a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s dynamic and non-predictable, therefore it’s non controllable and un-designable, but you can tune in to what patterns create conditions conducive to life and you can try to make design interventions and set the right intentions behind your design to aim to design for positive emergence.” — Daniel Wahl

“Paradigm shifts very quickly get framed in a “from this to that” “either/or” type way. And when you take the longer arch of the human endeavor and you look back, then you realize that every time we did that [paradigm shift] we threw out the baby with the bathwater. We didn’t ask ourselves enough, what is valid in what we’re currently doing that we actually cherish and need in the future?” — Daniel Wahl

“If we keep doing this paradigm shifting story we might lose some of the valid ideas that we have developed through science and technology because we will become reactive rather than transcending and including that.” — Daniel Wahl

“One of the insights I learned from Brian Goodwin is a complex dynamic system is any system with more than 3 interacting variables. It’s governed by nonlinear mathematics and it’s mathematically, fundamentally unpredictable and uncontrollable, unless you put a limited time boundary or space boundary around it, then we can do a bit of predication and control if you throw lots of computing power at it. But, this deeper lesson that we are dealing with of uncertainty and uncontrollability, makes you ask the question, how do you design for positive emergence?”  — Daniel Wahl


“We build collective intelligence by living the questions together, by understanding what answers are in the room. And just by listening to each other we soften and we experience our interconnectedness and our common humanity, our human current. We are part of this river of life flowing into a future. We are co-creating that future by the way we tell stories about it and the way we participate in it. We all shape the future everyday, just a little bit, and that makes us enormously powerful and enormously humble.” — Daniel Wahl  

Resources from this episode:

Daniel Wahl’s Medium blog

Donella Meadows Archives, “Dancing with Systems”

Project Drawdown

Daniel Wahl with Gaia Education