This paper describes ways to identify issues in complex environments using emergency response and recovery as an example. Emergency response and recovery is recognized as a complex problem. The complexity is the result of the number of entities involved and the frequently changing relationships between them. The paper describes a systematic way based on design thinking to analyze systems in complex environments and identify design issues to be addressed. It then shows how such issues can be used to develop joint value propositions that lead to conceptual solutions. The systematic design process begins by identifying manageable themes. It then looks at ways to address identified theme issues by defining joint value propositions and conceptual solutions. It draws on data from a number of disasters to identify issues especially in communication and its proposals. Solutions must be framed not only in the local relationships but also using frameworks such as resilience.