With a focus on “ecological systems”, the second of four lectures planned for the Systemic Design course in the Master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University proceeded as a timeboxed presentation: targeting 40 minutes of content (skipping slides to stay within time constraints), followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Since the slides are rich with content and links to sources, students were directed to pay attention to what I was saying, over trying to read the slides projected behind me.
The agenda was in four sections:
[preamble] Errors, Attention and Traps (Ecological Understanding)
Systems Changes Learning Circle (Bateson, Gibson, Ingold)
(Resistances to) Changing as primary system of interest
A. Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective
Tavistock Institute (Emery, Trist)
Organization as primary system of interest
B. (Social-) Ecological Systems + Panarchy
Stockholm Resilience Centre (Holling, Walker, Peterson)
Ecology as primary system of interest
C. The Ecosystem Approach
Resilience Alliance (Waltner-Toews, Kay)
Sustainable development project as primary system of interest
Online, the video is available on Youtube for streaming.
Viewers who prefer to watch video on a disconnected device can download a video file. Read more...(407 words, 1 image, estimated 1:38 mins reading time)
This lecture begins with the rising interest in “systems change”, that is related to “theory of change” from funders of social innovation programs. From there, the lecture aims to recast (speak in a different way) and reify (make some specified ideas more prominent) an understanding of systems thinking.
The presentation was overprepared — we can’t predict how engaged students will be on the ideas, before their brains are full. Of 55 slides, we stopped on slide 37. For streaming, the video is accessible on Youtube. (with a 6-minute excerpt on the Luoyang Bay abalone farms from the documentary Watermark, by Edward Burtynsky, removed).
Viewers who prefer to watch video on a disconnected device can download a video file. Read more...(617 words, 1 image, estimated 2:28 mins reading time)
This dialogue-oriented workshop will be framed by two short position papers (< 30 minutes each) towards energizing a discussion on the prospects for systems thinking and ecological economics.
(1) Systems Changes research program
Shifting the emphasis from stable states to a fluid world, what patterns describe shifts due to (i) human will, and (ii) nature? The Systems Changes program aims to extend research from the 1970s (e.g. West Churchman systems approach; Horst Rittel wicked problems; Christopher Alexander pattern language; Eric Trist and Cal Pava action learning) with 21st century advances (e.g. holons and hierarchy theory; resilience science; ecological anthropology; open sourcing).
(2) Environmental Deterioration: What have we learned about systems change(s) over the past 50 years?
Since the 1960s, nations have enacted regulations towards environment issues, sustainability of resources and stewardship of the environment: USA EPA (1969); Canadian EPA (1988/1999); EU Treaty of Maastricht (1993). Yet in 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Centre declared that human activity has exceeded two thresholds of nine planetary boundaries. Is it too late for the human race to act, or even to try? The 1979 Ph.D. dissertation on “Regulation of Environmental Deterioration” from the University of Pennsylvania will be considered retrospectively.
(3) Dialectic: Group Discussion
In an open group discussion, in what ways might a shift from “systems thinking” towards “systems changes” make a difference (or not)?
At the conference, we had a relaxed and wide-ranging conversation
In synthesizing some appreciation of the discussion from that workshop, we decided that I would take the lead on trying to capture some of the ideas. Final revisions were accepted in October, and magazine production was completed by December. Here’s a rendering of the preprint. Read more...(2936 words, 1 image, estimated 11:45 mins reading time)
Joining these online platforms may not be as convenient as having a commercial enterprise “take care” of communications amongst individuals. While I personally participate (and am named in groups of administrators) on most major social platforms involving systems thinking, my depth of involvement is consciously selective based on terms and conditions. On a Dec. 23 thread on The Ecology of Systems Thinking group on Facebook, I responded to some questions, and have permission to repost the exchange publicly. Read more...(2044 words, 2 images, estimated 8:11 mins reading time)
From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, methods for organizing for service engagements at scale were developed at IBM. Although this investment in knowledge management was huge, changes in the organization by the late-2000s saw this rich body of intellectual capital practically disappear. Appreciation for the framework remains in the memories of practitioners in the IBM Global Services organization — particularly the methodologists — immersed during that period. Some foundational historical artifacts can be rediscovered on the open Internet:
The resemblance to pattern language, as prescribed by Christoper Alexander, is not accidental. Excerpts from these three sources are provided here, to entice readers who might seek out the full articles.
1. Configurable Development Processes (2002)
The Work Product based methods started in IBM at the rise of object-oriented methods. With OO as a new paradigm, incompatibilities across the variety of approaches frustrated clients trying to get work done. The end results seemed pretty much the same. The resolution for IBM came through centering on ends (work products) first, and means (techniques) second. The methods originating in software development became cross-appropriated into services engagement for other domain offerings (e.g. business strategy, organizational change). Read more...(2556 words, 7 images, estimated 10:13 mins reading time)
One of my millennial sons has framed IBM as “the Google of my generation”. My career path included assignments and visits to the IBM Advanced Business Institute, in Palisades, NY. Mentions of that team, and the Palisades Executive Conference Center where it was located, have mostly disappeared from the Internet. As one of the younger IBM professionals to have known the ABI, I can provide some history. (If friends want to correct me, I welcome that!)
1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989
2. The Executive Consulting Institute from 1993 was instrumental in education for IBM Consulting Group
3. The Advanced Business Institute offered courses for customer executives 1989-2004
1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989
IBM Palisades is not to be confused with the IBM Learning Centre in Armonk, that was opened in 1979, a facility primarily for the (internal) management development of IBM executives. IBM Palisades is also not the Thornwood Conference Center in Westchester County, opened in 1985, that was more often used for customer technical briefings. Read more...(2857 words, 10 images, estimated 11:26 mins reading time)
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Lecture on "Are Systems Changes Different from System + Change?" at #OCADU_SFI #SystemicDesign master's, web video and digital audio now at http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/are-systems-changes-different-from-system-change/ . Lecture of 1h18m covered 37 of 55 slides, all online for #SystemsChange #SystemsThinking #theoryofchange
The 2019-2020 fires in Australia are associated with a slow history of human activity. > Three hours north, in Sydney, the air quality was worse than in Jakarta. [....] > There is no doubt that the fires are growing more ferocious. Even without the changing climate, it would be inevitable; 250 years of land mismanagement […]
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Satire can be an antidote, says Prof. #PaulBabbitt @muleriders , to #bullshit (c.f. rhetoric; hypocrisy; crocodile tears; propaganda; intellectual dishonesty; politeness, etiquette and civility; commonsense and conventional wisdom; symbolic votes; platitudes and valence issues).
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