Most social systems are embedded in various ‘designs’ for societal governance (i.e. ‘cybernetics’ from a systemic perspective) or are the dominate governing system themselves in some cases. One form of governance that is still in the process of development is ‘democracy’. Although very old, it is still under construction, repair or reformation and we are still exploring what is possible and desirable of democracy. Although many, if not most, organizations are not democracies themselves they are often entangled with democratic governance systems. The ‘democracy files' being developed collaboratively by a colleague and friend, Birger Sevaldson, is an example of using a ‘design’ stance and approach to something that can be said to be ‘important’, contrasted to something ‘urgent’, or merely ‘gainful’.
When ‘looking’ (see graphic below) at how ‘design’ is used within organizations, for example, it is equally important to look ‘around’ to see how design externally effects organizations—to look at the environments and contexts within which social systems and organizations are embedded. Democracy is one of those critical cybernetic systems that many organizations are embedded in. A systemic design approach facilitates adaption to, or improvement in, this seminal design for human governance.