Tools and Workshops by Prof. Peter Friedrich Stephan. We just moved, please allow a few days for recovery…

The Tools

We present…

– The Concern Canvas
… is a tool for transformation design
… is a diagram that helps to analyze complex socio-psychological dynamics
… makes you understand what drives stakeholder‘s minds and actions
… helps to find the best starting points for intervention, innovation and design
… builds a common ground for teams of designers and non-designers
… creates a »trading zone of knowledge«
… is based on experience from projects in transformation design

– The Hypercycle of Transformation
… models the dynamics of socio-technical systems
… gives a comprehensive view of interdependent aspects

– Cultural Formats
… link ethics and aesthetics
… bridge the gap between universal experiences and values/concerns

– Two Frames of Scenography
… show your product/service in context and on stage
… develops a narrative that engages the audience

more to come in a moment…

Transformation Design

Transformation Design (TD) facilitates and moderates transformation processes.
Instead of just following the needs of change Transformation Design anticipates future qualities and projects backwards to give orientation and direction.

The transformations of societies are driven by the megatrends of:
– technological innovation leading to disruptive changes in culture and business models
– globalization leading to an ever more dynamic exchange of ideas, people, work and goods
– migration with new tasks of coexisting and integrating different cultures
– demographic change and the global difference in birthrates

All of these processes are subject to the inherent dynamics of capitalism, technology and media. They do not wait for designers. Designers however play a vital role in shaping, propagating and distributing new values and models of future lifestyle.

Thus TD faces challenging tasks and questions that include:
– How can designers contribute to the transformations of society and ganizations?
– How can TD create and advertise new values for a future civilization?
– Can TD build on the concept of „matters of concern“ (Bruno Latour)?
– What are the differences between TD and Design Thinking or Change Management?
– How can TD be established as an academic field?

Two frames of Scenography

A ‘matter of fact’ as a clear-cut entity but without context and therefore fictional,
only virtually possible, as in CAD-Systems.

The »matter of fact« with a scenography that makes it a »matter of concern«
with context, interaction, and meaning.

The ‘scenography’ is everything that addresses the audience and thus is subject
to debate.
It is produced by the »machinery of a theatre«, which remains intransparent.
(Illustrations: PFS)

New role of designers

Traditional role of designers
The audience experiences and debates a scenography that is produced
by the assembly of producers hidden below. The designer is an invisible
part of this group together with engineers and marketing.

New role of designers
Designers make the assembly of producers transparent to the public
e.g. by using visualizations or leaking materials. Designer wear two hats:
They becomes visible as moderators and stay a part of the group of
producers at the same time.
(Illustrations: PFS)


… under construction


We present a series of tools for designing transformation.
These are free to download and use under the creative commons license.
We also offer workshops for groups and organizations that want to design transformations.
Additionally we would like to host communities working with these tools and developing them according to their needs.

Transformation is a chance and challenge for design:
The chance is to gain more impact as innovation and interventions need to be designed to contribute to positive change. The challenge is to develop new tools as a common ground and »trading zone of knowledge« (Galison) for diverse groups of stakeholders managing nd experiencing transformation.

Concepts and texts by Prof. Peter Friedrich Stephan, designer, consultant and eductor in Berlin and professor for transformation design at Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany. Graphic design of diagrams by Enno Hyttrek.

For more detailed information please refer to academic papers by Prof. Peter Friedrich Stephan published in international journals and available at Academia and Researchgate.

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How does it work?

The ConcernCanvas is centred around events and frames and organizes their context.
It fills the gaps between values and facts, concerns and issues. These categories are conceived as:

Everything you believe in (knowingly or not): god, love, happiness, health, trust, security…
Values are influenced by family, neighborhood and culture as well a personal growth.

Concerns are values in action. They drive people´s minds, preferences and decisions. The value health might drive different concerns for different stakeholders: Having access to clean water, being able to pay for healthcare or simply not eating too much. Concerns are not normative. They do not follow a hierarchy like Maslow’s pyramid of needs. People´s minds are specific sets of concerns of different scale: A loss of the local soccer team might be more important than a war in some distant country.

Interactions in daily life and the way you interpret them. The same situation will be experienced differently by different persons. Frames are influenced by concerns and issues.

Topics you deal with on a daily basis, most of them influenced by media. Priorities may be on personal life, family and work, but the impact of media might also construct more abstract issues.

Facts are the material conditions of life: billions of artifacts, some of them might be helpful and neccessary, others are obstacles, superflus and junk.

For a more detailed description please refer to the papers by Prof. Peter Friedrich Stephan published in international journals and available at Academia and Researchgate.

10 Questions and Answers

1 What is it?
The ConcernCanvas (CC) is a tool for Transformation Design. It can help to identify crucial issues and find the best starting points for intervention, innovation and design.

2 How does it work?
The transformation of complex socio-technical systems brings together teams from diverse backgrounds. The CC is a tool to find out what drives people´s minds and behaviour. It helps to build a common ground for teams and organize trading zones of knowledge. Thus a shared understanding of the stakeholders mindsets emerges and agreements on the process for intervention, innovation and design can be created.

3 Where does it come from?
The CC is based on empirical data from Transformation Design projects and reflects experiences from the design process.

4 How to use it?
For each category the CC asks a question, e.g. What concerns determine the stakeholders behaviour? Try to answer the question by observation, interviews or speculation.

5 Is it just another design thinking tool?
The CC takes Design Thinking to the next level as it is more comprehensive and helps to find hidden agendas.

6 Is it a substitute for other methods?
The CC is a framework for other methods like cultural probes, personas and customer journeys.

7 Where can I get it?
The CC can be downloaded together with helpful casestudies that will be added continuously.

8 Is it free to use?
The use of the CC is free under the creative commons license.

9 Where can I get help for using the CC?
We offer introductions and workshops and there will be a growing community online that will be happy to exchange experience.

10 What’s next?
The CC is the first of a series of tools that will be developed and published online. The method tool box will be in continous development by a living community. We also work on a stack of method cards and welcome cooperation, please get in touch.

Background and Inspiration

Design Research
The ConcernCanvas is based on experience and research in Transformation Design. Ongoing design research, empirical study and academic reflection help to develop the ConcernCanvas. The notion of concerns is an inspiration from Bruno Latours work on Actor Network Theory. Additional insights comes from research in perception, creativity and behavioural economics (e.g. nudging).
For more information see chapter academic foundation.

We will be happy to share our insights and help you getting started working with the CC. With lectures and workshops we will introduce you to the mindset that lead to the development of the CC and is the driving force behind the Concern Canvas Community (CCC).

Transformation and Change
Change is conceived as being pushed by the past, whereas transformation is conceived as being pulled by the future. Change takes its values and orientation from categories of the past, whereas transformation sets a cause in the future.
Transformation includes an orientation to values (individual, organization, society), respect for the concerns of stakeholders (non-normative), insights into the dynamics of technological development and the importance of details.

Example 1: The first motorcars were built in Germany a hundred years ago. So there is much expertise in fuel based technology. The transformation to electricity however brings in new players that have a good chance to invent the future of mobility.
Example 2: Nokia was ruling the cell phone market. Then computer manufacturer Apple introduced the smartphone as a disruptive innovation that created a new market.

Contribution of Designers
Transformation does not wait for designers. Many competence fields work together and also against each other to bring about transformation. What can design contribute that other competence fields can not? Designers have to prepare to meet politicians and social scientists, economists, lawyers, and psychologists. Designers can be facilitators and moderators in this context, but also claim a distinct and original contribution in concept, aesthetics and functions of man – artefact – man relationships.

A concern based approach is not new to design. Parts of it have been used by designers earlier under different names such as radical design, participatory design and social design. Also Richard Buckminster Fuller´s Anticipatory Comprehensive Design Science can be considered to be an ancestor of a concern based approach like Transformation Design.
The ConcernCanvas however delivers a new framework for streamlining old and new methods into a comprehensive toolbox that can be used by designers and non-designers alike.


How to become a transformation designer?
Transformation Design (TD) is an emergent field. Academic programs start to integrate it into the design curricula. The programs have subtle differences and come under names such as »Transition Design« (Carnegie Mellon University) or »Design for social innovation« (School of Visual Arts, New York).
However, it is not the formal qualification that makes the difference, but the personal experience. You become a transformation designer by doing projects in Transformation Design, according to the ConcernCanvas: Reframe your professional mind to TD.

How to get a job as a transformation designer?
You can´t expect being commissioned with a TD project from the start as we work  in an emergent field. But you might start with a traditional design project and eventually persuade partners to adopt a TD framework. The CC will help you doing so.
TD emerges from new dynamics which are more bottom up than top down. You will have to be ready for self-employment, entrepreneurial thinking, and can do attitude. Your tasks will be: find a topic, develop a critical mass, search for partners, invent new models and build your own job.