Systemic Design eXchange (SDX)

A collaboration between government and community, Systemic Design eXchange (SDX) is an Edmonton-based community of practice for people interested in learning about systemic design as a methodology for addressing complex, real world issues. Together, we explore systems thinking, design thinking, and change lab approaches. With a bias towards learning by doing, SDX aims to be a watering hole where multiple sectors can come together, learn together, and act together.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Systemic Design eXchange (SDX) is an Edmonton-based community of practice where people from across sectors and disciplines can come together to learn and practice systemic design. Broadly, we explore systemic design as a methodology to help address complex challenges. With a bias towards learning by doing, SDX aims to be a watering hole where multiple sectors can come together, learn together, and act together.

A community of practice (CoP) is a group of diverse people who come together to learn, share practices, and co-create knowledge around shared areas of interest. Informal CoPs pop up in organizations around the water cooler, but when purposefully stewarded, CoPs can become powerful, positive forces that help people navigate complex challenges together.

SDX is a collaboration between government and community. It is convened by the Government of Alberta CoLab and the Skills Society Action Lab (the conveners). Alberta CoLab is an innovation unit based in the Government of Alberta’s Department of Energy. Skills Society is a disability services organization providing services to people with developmental disabilities. As a social enterprise, Skills Society runs Action Lab, a workshop and gathering space. All SDX sessions are held at Action Lab, in community.

The idea for SDX was conceived by Alberta CoLab in an attempt to help bridge siloes between government and community, provide ways for public servants to interact with and learn from others working for similar scales of change, and help build the field of systemic design practice. Working with Action Lab, Alberta CoLab works to design, convene, and lead approximately six events per year where participants learn a new tool or method, practice it together, and learn from each other’s experiences. SDX also acts as a space for people trying out new and innovative approaches to change to practice, test their ideas, and gain feedback from an audience of interested and engaged fellow practitioners.

Outside the regular workshop series, the conveners also host two annual social events to invite new people into the group. Alberta CoLab also manages an online Medium blog and social media presence for SDX, and conducts regular evaluations of SDX using a developmental approach.

SDX has hosted multiple guests since its inception, including leaders in the social innovation and systems change field. Last year, it hosted its first full day conference.

Members of the SDX community include people working in all orders of government (city, provincial, and local federal government), people working in the social sector, private sector consultant, academics, students, and others.

Over time, SDX has become a diverse community of people with similar aspirations for change and changemaking. A number of collaborations have resulted from the introductions that have taken place at SDX between people who may not have met otherwise. SDX has a vibrant online presence that has attracted followers from around the world, and is being looked to as an inspirational model by others seeking to bring their changemaking communities together.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Year: 2015
Level of government: Regional/State government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:

Join our community:

It only takes a few minutes to complete the form and share your project.