​​​Our Approach

Alberta CoLab was disbanded in March 2020. This page exists as a historical record.

Alberta CoLab is an approach. We do things differently. Our approach involves:

  • Starting with the needs of Albertans
  • Collaborating across boundaries with unusual suspects
  • Scanning for weak signals and digging for deep drivers
  • Embracing complexity and ambiguity
  • Making our thinking tangible by creating and visualizing together
  • Building robustness and adaptability for an unknown future
  • Learning by doing, and iterating between action and reflection

Our primary toolkits are systemic design and strategic foresight.

Systemic design has been developed in close conjunction with and informed by strategic foresight.​ Both are rooted in systems thinking.​

While some of CoLab’s projects are rooted more in either systemic design or foresight, much of our work brings together both approaches.

The way CoLab talks about systemic design and foresight is based on Alex Ryan’s paper, A Theory of Systemic Design. Check it out.

In it, Alex outlines a framework for systemic design based on three integrated levels:

  • Methods: discrete ways to facilitate group processes that specify how members should work together
  • Methodology: an abstract logic for combining methods in a coherent sequence
  • Mindset: people's values and habits that guide their judgment when applying the methodology and selecting methods

We think this framework is a useful way to think about both systemic design and foresight.

Some of this can get pretty theoretical. Remember: both systemic design and foresight are best learned by doing.

Click the buttons below to further explore these layers.