Systems Thinking for Service Designers

a 6-session training course

Systems thinking helps us expand our understanding of the interrelationships between events that are distant in time and space. It also assists us in finding meaningful similarities across seemingly different phenomena.

This university-accredited, small-class course will provide not just an opportunity to learn, but also an opportunity to discuss with peers.

Cohort #1 and cohort #2 are ongoing. Applications are now open for:

  • cohort #3, starting March 10th
  • cohort #4, set to start April 1st
  • and future cohorts.

We set out to create a different type of service design training, by making it constructive, reflective, and interdisciplinary.


Instead of handing you descriptions of tools, we provide tools for thinking and reflection mechanisms. As a result, you will not just understand the complex and multifaceted nature of service design better, but you will become a constructor of tools, instead being a mere user.


Enabling you to explore your designer’s mindset, dissect your own thought process, and define your own place and your own transformation in a design project.


Instead of approaching service design as one discipline, the lessons will combine insights from a variety of disciplines, such as systems thinking, analytical psychology, mythology, ethnography, experiential learning, and cybernetics. 


Instead of pre-recorded video, the emphasis is on 6 interactive, virtual live sessions, each lasting 100 minutes. Participants are still required to go through preparatory materials before each session.


Each course includes a maximum of 10 participants, to optimize peer learning, and participation. Your peers are not just co-learners, but an integral part of the course material. Each session will include debriefing, reflection, questions and answers. Participants are encouraged to bring examples and cases from their professional experience.


Upon fulfilling requirements, the course leads to a certificate of completion issued by an accredited university in Switzerland.

We sought a new approach not just in course content, but also in course structure

6 interactive online sessions
100-minute weekly classes
10 participants maximum per cohort
1st and 2nd cohorts are live
3rd & 4th cohorts are open for application

Who should apply?

Your place is here…

  • …if you seek new challenges
  • …if you want topic discussion instead of just topic consumption
  • …if you feel that existing service design courses are repetitive and tool-focused

You may come from business, marketing, graphic design, service design, psychology, public sector, or any other area. If your goal is doing your utmost to bring great services to people, you will feel right at home.

This is an advanced service design course. Participants should have an understanding of processes and tools of service design.

When not apply?

If you are looking to learn about fundamental Service Design concepts and tools, then this course is not for you. While service professionals without Service Design expertise will benefit from our course, we do not teach Service Design. If you are looking for courses on this, we recommend you check out the Swiss Innovation Academy, or courses by The Service Design Show.

Accredited Certificate

Upon fulfilling requirements, the course leads to a certificate of completion issued by The Taylor Institute at Franklin University Switzerland.


Full cost: 870 EUR  

For future cohorts, scholarship by Franklin University Switzerland is available, but not guaranteed, and is capped at 50%.

Cost includes 6×100 minute online sessions and Certificate of Attendance issued by The Taylor Institute at Franklin University Switzerland

Course Dates & Cadence

  • Cohort #1 and Cohort #2 are live
  • Cohort #3: starts Wednesdays at 18:00 CET, from 10th March
  • Cohort #4: starts Thursdays at 18:00 CET, from 1st April
  • Future cohorts: weekly cadence, exact dates to be defined. Asia Pacific, Europe-Africa, and Americas timezones are all being considered

Course Schedule & Content

I. Systems, thinking, and systems thinking

Exploring the origins and the principles of systems thinking; silo versus holistic thinking, dynamic versus detailed complexity, non-linearity, recursion and emergence.

II. Causal tracing and diagramming

Developing insights into complexity by visualizing and mapping cause-effect relationships between elements within a system that are distant in time and space.

III. Systems archetypes

Gaining an understanding of the commonly recurring patterns of behavior in a system, such as limits to growth, shifting the burden and tragedy of the commons.

IV. Patterns of behavior

Developing an intuitive understanding of the dynamic behavior of a system over time such as exponential growth and decline, s-shaped growth and overshoot and collapse.

V. Leverage points in systems

Enhancing capability to intervene in complex systems by examining the leverage points or the places for an effective intervention in a system.

VI. Learning in and about complex systems

Developing our capacity of learning how to learn in complex systems; refining our mental models, thought patterns and decision rules.

the team

The Professor

Arash Golnam

Dr. Arash Golnam

University Lecturer and Systems Scientist

Arash completed his Ph.D. in Management of Technology (Systems Modeling) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and holds a Master of Science in System Dynamics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

His experience includes working as a system dynamicist on large scale simulation platforms of socio-technical systems. Currently, he works part-time as a scientist at EPFL, researching the application of systems theory and principles in designing services.

Arash teaches systems thinking and system dynamics at universities in Geneva and Lausanne area, where he has been awarded as the distinguished member of the faculty several times

The Facilitator

Peter Horvath

UX and Service Designer

An economist by training, with an executive MBA in management of innovation, Geneva-based Peter Horvath is a connecter of dots.

With work experience in agency, startup, corporate, consulting and educational environments, he has worked in project and product management, strategy, UX and service design, in Switzerland, Hungary and Canada.

Peter is an active driver of the community through local events, Service Design Network’s Swiss chapter, and as co-initiator of ‘24 Hours of UX’. He also teaches design related classes at Swiss Universities.

Institutional Partner

The Taylor Institute logo

The Taylor Institute - at Franklin University Switzerland

The Taylor Institute at Franklin University Switzerland develops and manages Executive, Research and Graduate programs related to business and management. The aim of the Institute is to prepare for critical thinkers who are culturally literate, ethically aware, intellectually courageous and business savvy.

Franklin University Switzerland is a small, international university located in the southern Swiss city of Lugano. Founded in 1969, Franklin was among the first institutions to bring American Liberal Arts education to Europe, and it is the only liberal arts university in the world accredited in both the United States and Switzerland. It is the only university in the world that offers interdisciplinary, experiential learning, placing Academic Travel at the core of its curriculum.

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[From the 4 ways of treating a problem], Dissolving the Problem is the best way to create lasting change. We can only dissolve a problem through design. More specifically, by redesigning the system that has it, so that the problem no longer exist.

Dr. Russel Ackoff