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Being a scholar-practitioner, humble inquiry, human and non-human systems

With recent invitations to mentor graduate students, I’ve had to more strongly assert my identity as a scholar-practitioner.  It’s now been over 10 years since I “graduated” from a career at IBM of 28 years.  University students are often amused to discover that, besides having spent a lot of time around universities, I first entered a Ph.D. program in 1982.  When I met my future spouse, I was a doctoral student.  Many years later, I’m still a doctoral student.

My colleagues in the Systems Changes Learning Circle have surfaced an interest in humility.  This reminds me that in spring 1982, I met with Edgar Schein in his office at the MIT Sloan School of Management.  (In the end, I was #2 on a list of 1 for admission into the doctoral program on information systems research, so my life took a different path).

The ties from organization development back into systems theory surfaced in a 2021 interview with Ed Schein.

— begin transcript of Rainey and Schein (2021) —

[35:30 Chris Rainey] Ed, I’ve seen you speak quite a few times, now, about diagnosis versus intervention. Could you share more of your thoughts on this, because I found it very interesting.

[35:42 Ed Schein] Well, I think, the thing that we haven’t yet come to terms with, is a phrase that important philosopher by the name of [Sir Geoffrey] Vickers stated, is the human systems are different.… Read more (in a new tab)

With recent invitations to mentor graduate students, I’ve had to more strongly assert my identity as a scholar-practitioner.  It’s now been over 10 years since I “graduated” from a career at IBM of 28 years.  University students are often amused to discover that, besides having spent a lot of time around universities, I first entered a Ph.D. program in 1982.  When I met my future spouse, I was a doctoral student.  Many years later, I’m still a doctoral student.

My colleagues in the Systems Changes Learning Circle have surfaced an interest in humility.  This reminds me that in spring 1982, I met with Edgar Schein in his office at the MIT Sloan School of Management.  (In the end, I was #2 on a list of 1 for admission into the doctoral program on information systems research, so my life took a different path).

The ties from organization development back into systems theory surfaced in a 2021 interview with Ed Schein.

— begin transcript of Rainey and Schein (2021) —

[35:30 Chris Rainey] Ed, I’ve seen you speak quite a few times, now, about diagnosis versus intervention. Could you share more of your thoughts on this, because I found it very interesting.

[35:42 Ed Schein] Well, I think, the thing that we haven’t yet come to terms with, is a phrase that important philosopher by the name of [Sir Geoffrey] Vickers stated, is the human systems are different.… Read more (in a new tab)

Systems Thinking through Changes: An action learning guide | Canadian Digital Service | 2022-03-04

In the 4th year of an espoused 10-year journey, the Systems Changes Learning Circle reached a major milestone.  With Code for Canada, the team conducted its first educational workshop based on the contextural action learning approach currently under review for publication.  The client was the Canadian Digital Service .

The presentation outlining the basic ideas and guiding questions was scheduled for a quick 60 minutes. After lunch, the participants convened for 3 hours in three parallel breakout groups, discussions guided by templates provided in the workbook.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
March 4
(58m25s)
[20220304_CodeForCanada SystemsThinkingThroughChanges CC-BY-SA_1920x912.m4v]
(1920×912 169kbps 127MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

Audio
March 4
(58m25s)
[20220304_CodeForCanada SystemsThinkingThroughChanges CC-BY-SA.mp3]
(22.9MB)

Here is a description of the session.

There are a variety of approaches to systems thinking in practice.

Systems Changes Learning takes a view of living systems over time. As individuals, groups and organizations, we are lines (lifelines) co-responding alongside each other. Our lines have rhythms. Sometimes, the lines weave together in synchrony. At other times, the lines might clash, or get tangled up.

Interest in systems thinking arises when people feel “stuck”. A system could be trapped in a rut, or struggling through an abrupt transformational change. We look into dysfunctions as rhythmic shifts in the primary system of interest, and/or in co-related systems of influence.… Read more (in a new tab)

In the 4th year of an espoused 10-year journey, the Systems Changes Learning Circle reached a major milestone.  With Code for Canada, the team conducted its first educational workshop based on the contextural action learning approach currently under review for publication.  The client was the Canadian Digital Service .

The presentation outlining the basic ideas and guiding questions was scheduled for a quick 60 minutes. After lunch, the participants convened for 3 hours in three parallel breakout groups, discussions guided by templates provided in the workbook.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
March 4
(58m25s)
[20220304_CodeForCanada SystemsThinkingThroughChanges CC-BY-SA_1920x912.m4v]
(1920×912 169kbps 127MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

Audio
March 4
(58m25s)
[20220304_CodeForCanada SystemsThinkingThroughChanges CC-BY-SA.mp3]
(22.9MB)

Here is a description of the session.

There are a variety of approaches to systems thinking in practice.

Systems Changes Learning takes a view of living systems over time. As individuals, groups and organizations, we are lines (lifelines) co-responding alongside each other. Our lines have rhythms. Sometimes, the lines weave together in synchrony. At other times, the lines might clash, or get tangled up.

Interest in systems thinking arises when people feel “stuck”. A system could be trapped in a rut, or struggling through an abrupt transformational change. We look into dysfunctions as rhythmic shifts in the primary system of interest, and/or in co-related systems of influence.… Read more (in a new tab)

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