We talked about how rituals are a systems design tool at the 9th Relating Systems thinking and Design Conference. You can watch our talk or read the paper we wrote.
Ritual is a lost technology of being. We propose that co-designed rituals are a way for people to consciously identify and navigate their relationships to the systems they are embedded in, and to construct or reshape selves to seek well-being.
Using experiences from a toolkit we have created to support the design of secular rituals, we show that making rituals designable creates agency for people trying to cope with intractable situations. We further show how the process of co-designing and preparing for rituals is itself a large part of dealing with challenging situations, and pose questions on how this approach may be replicated in more formal systems change and organizational contexts.
We believe that this approach to ritual design is a promising avenue to engage in the production of systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the tensions and inequities in our global economic and social systems. It is becoming increasingly clear to a large portion of humanity that some change is desperately needed. While political action can mitigate some of these impacts, deep systemic change will unavoidably require changes to how we see ourselves as citizens and agents.