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What Can Systems Thinkers Learn From an Evaluation Mindset? | Cameron D. Norman + Tara Campbell | Systems Thinking Ontario 2024-02-12

At the 118th meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario in February 2024, behavioral scientist Cameron D. Norman and design strategist Tara Campbell were invitied for a conversation guided by Zaid Khan.  The panelists are both alumni of the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCADU.  Some time ago, they had conducted a research project on evaluation together, so this event was an opportunity for them to catch up at a relaxed pace.

As usual, participants had a round of self-introductions.   The panelists were guided through a conversation in three parts with focus questions, and participants were invited to offer their reflections and insights.  One linkage to modes of systems thinking was the distinction in approach by interest, e.g. Principles-Focused Evaluation, c.f. Developmental Evaluation.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4v
(1920×1080 1333kbps 1.16GB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4a]
(126kbps, 103 MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

The gist of the description is below, with pre-readings linked on the original abstract.


— begin excerpt —

Systems thinkers often seek to affect systems through their ideas and actions, but how do we know we’ve made a difference? How might we measure what matters in ways that respect the various dynamics at play in often complicated and complex systems?… Read more (in a new tab)

At the 118th meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario in February 2024, behavioral scientist Cameron D. Norman and design strategist Tara Campbell were invitied for a conversation guided by Zaid Khan.  The panelists are both alumni of the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCADU.  Some time ago, they had conducted a research project on evaluation together, so this event was an opportunity for them to catch up at a relaxed pace.

As usual, participants had a round of self-introductions.   The panelists were guided through a conversation in three parts with focus questions, and participants were invited to offer their reflections and insights.  One linkage to modes of systems thinking was the distinction in approach by interest, e.g. Principles-Focused Evaluation, c.f. Developmental Evaluation.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4v
(1920×1080 1333kbps 1.16GB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4a]
(126kbps, 103 MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

The gist of the description is below, with pre-readings linked on the original abstract.


— begin excerpt —

Systems thinkers often seek to affect systems through their ideas and actions, but how do we know we’ve made a difference? How might we measure what matters in ways that respect the various dynamics at play in often complicated and complex systems?… Read more (in a new tab)

Sensemaking and Theory-Building | Gary S. Metcalf | ST-ON 2023-02-13

The theme for the February online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was sparked from the discussion from the January session on Root Metaphor and World Hypotheses.  What does it mean to have a theory?  How does sensemaking contribute to this?

Gary Metcalf volunteered to guide a conversation on these topics.  Two prereadings were to serve as an orientation for the diligent:

A smaller group convened for this discussion, enabling full participation by each and every attendee.  After a quick round of introductions , the conversation started around 4m20s in.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4v]
(QHD 2560×1440 265kbps 289MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4a]
(94.2MB)

The conversation flowed naturally.  I commented that before Gary was a professor of organizational systems, he had a prior career in family therapy.

Here is the original abstract sent in advance.


Some ideas have become everyday words.… Read more (in a new tab)

The theme for the February online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was sparked from the discussion from the January session on Root Metaphor and World Hypotheses.  What does it mean to have a theory?  How does sensemaking contribute to this?

Gary Metcalf volunteered to guide a conversation on these topics.  Two prereadings were to serve as an orientation for the diligent:

A smaller group convened for this discussion, enabling full participation by each and every attendee.  After a quick round of introductions , the conversation started around 4m20s in.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4v]
(QHD 2560×1440 265kbps 289MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4a]
(94.2MB)

The conversation flowed naturally.  I commented that before Gary was a professor of organizational systems, he had a prior career in family therapy.

Here is the original abstract sent in advance.


Some ideas have become everyday words.… Read more (in a new tab)

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)

Schizophrenia, Alcoholism, Double Binds: From Practice to System Theory | Gary S. Metcalf | ST-ON 2021-02-21

Many might sequence systems thinking as (i) systems theory preceding (ii) systems practice.  This is not always the case.  There are situations where (i) systems practice has preceded (ii) systems theory, or the two advance in a tight learning loop.  Jack Ring once pointed out that applied science (engineering) precedes science, because human beings often have systems working before we understand why they work.

Gregory Bateson was consulting on questions associated with schizophrenia and communications, that expanded into a broader theory of double binds.  Along the way, he developed an appreciation for techniques amongst alcoholics where the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were leading to a more correct epistemology.

Before pursuing studies in systems sciences, Gary Metcalf was in practice with an earlier career in family therapy.  He explained how techniques and frameworks that he had previously applied became enriched with the deeper understanding of systems thinking, and a history of science associated with the double bind.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 21
(1h37m)
[20220221_ST-ON_Metcalf_SchizophreniaAlcoholismDoubleBinds_WQHD.m4v]
(WQHD 1042kbps 818MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

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

Audio
February 21
(1h37m)
[20220221_ST-ON_Metcalf_SchizophreniaAlcoholismDoubleBinds.mp3]
(33.8MB)

Gary provided some slides to guide the discussion.

Here is the original Systems Thinking Ontario session description.

Is there a pattern where you see a system is stuck? In the 1960s-1970s, anthropologist Gregory Bateson was working with cases of schizophrenia and alcoholism, leading to the development of systems theories on double-binds.… Read more (in a new tab)

Many might sequence systems thinking as (i) systems theory preceding (ii) systems practice.  This is not always the case.  There are situations where (i) systems practice has preceded (ii) systems theory, or the two advance in a tight learning loop.  Jack Ring once pointed out that applied science (engineering) precedes science, because human beings often have systems working before we understand why they work.

Gregory Bateson was consulting on questions associated with schizophrenia and communications, that expanded into a broader theory of double binds.  Along the way, he developed an appreciation for techniques amongst alcoholics where the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were leading to a more correct epistemology.

Before pursuing studies in systems sciences, Gary Metcalf was in practice with an earlier career in family therapy.  He explained how techniques and frameworks that he had previously applied became enriched with the deeper understanding of systems thinking, and a history of science associated with the double bind.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 21
(1h37m)
[20220221_ST-ON_Metcalf_SchizophreniaAlcoholismDoubleBinds_WQHD.m4v]
(WQHD 1042kbps 818MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

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

Audio
February 21
(1h37m)
[20220221_ST-ON_Metcalf_SchizophreniaAlcoholismDoubleBinds.mp3]
(33.8MB)

Gary provided some slides to guide the discussion.

Here is the original Systems Thinking Ontario session description.

Is there a pattern where you see a system is stuck? In the 1960s-1970s, anthropologist Gregory Bateson was working with cases of schizophrenia and alcoholism, leading to the development of systems theories on double-binds.… Read more (in a new tab)

Humanistic Principles and Social Systems Design | Douglas Austrom + Carolyn Ordowich (ST-ON 2021-05-10)

Douglas Austrom and Carolyn Ordowich shared some reflections developed jointly with Bert Painter (Vancouver, BC) on some draft humanistic principles, the three Tavistock perspectives, and a meta-methodology with Systems Thinking Ontario.

Proponents of Socio-Technical Systems design refer back to the 1960s-1980s research of Fred Emery and Eric Trist of the Tavistock Institute. Calls to reinvent approaches to organization design for hyper-turbulent environments may be better viewed through the whole systems view of three perspective for sensemaking:

  • social-psychological systems;
  • socio-technical systems; and
  • socio-ecological systems.

Those who live and work in a given social system should be given the voice and and choice in designing their system. Calvin Pava’s notion of deliberation design applies not only to non-linear knowledge work. It can serve as a meta-methodology for dialogic design of organizations, networks and ecosystems. The role of designers shifts from designing the social system itself, to co-designing the deliberations by which key stakeholders can dynamically design their own systems.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
May 10
(1h50m)
[20210510_ST-ON_HumanisticSocialSystemsDesign.m4v]
(FHD 1431kbps 1.2GB) [on the Internet Archive]

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

Audio
May 10
(1h50m)
[20210510_ST-ON_HumanisticSocialSystemsDesign.mp3]
(38MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Doug Austrom has four decades of consulting experience, having co-founded three change consultancies: Turning Point Associates, Adjutant Solutions Group, and People Powered Innovation Labs. He is an adjunct professor with Indiana University’s online MBA program, Kelly Direct.… Read more (in a new tab)

Douglas Austrom and Carolyn Ordowich shared some reflections developed jointly with Bert Painter (Vancouver, BC) on some draft humanistic principles, the three Tavistock perspectives, and a meta-methodology with Systems Thinking Ontario.

Proponents of Socio-Technical Systems design refer back to the 1960s-1980s research of Fred Emery and Eric Trist of the Tavistock Institute. Calls to reinvent approaches to organization design for hyper-turbulent environments may be better viewed through the whole systems view of three perspective for sensemaking:

  • social-psychological systems;
  • socio-technical systems; and
  • socio-ecological systems.

Those who live and work in a given social system should be given the voice and and choice in designing their system. Calvin Pava’s notion of deliberation design applies not only to non-linear knowledge work. It can serve as a meta-methodology for dialogic design of organizations, networks and ecosystems. The role of designers shifts from designing the social system itself, to co-designing the deliberations by which key stakeholders can dynamically design their own systems.

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
May 10
(1h50m)
[20210510_ST-ON_HumanisticSocialSystemsDesign.m4v]
(FHD 1431kbps 1.2GB) [on the Internet Archive]

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

Audio
May 10
(1h50m)
[20210510_ST-ON_HumanisticSocialSystemsDesign.mp3]
(38MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Doug Austrom has four decades of consulting experience, having co-founded three change consultancies: Turning Point Associates, Adjutant Solutions Group, and People Powered Innovation Labs. He is an adjunct professor with Indiana University’s online MBA program, Kelly Direct.… Read more (in a new tab)

Theoretical Grounds, Pragmatic Grounds: Methods for Reordering our Priorities through Systems Changes Learning (ST-ON 2020/10/19)

For the second of three workshops by the Systems Changes Learning Circle in October 2020, we convened a session for the monthly Systems Thinking Ontario meeting.  The focus of this workshop was a review of progress to date on methods by the scholarly team, informed by the adoption and use by the field team.

The framing of this presentation centered on developing methods that have validity balanced between theoretical grounds (i.e. it seems right based on logic and science) and pragmatic grounds (i.e. it works when applied in practice).

This workshop had more of a “teach-the-teachers” style to it, explaining the deeper choices in concepts, terms and techniques.  Compared to the other two workshops, this audience has a stronger grasp of systems theory.  Many regular attendees have attended meetings over the past 5 years.

In the web video , the presentation slides were mostly covered sequentially.  Attendees clarified their understandings with questions posed towards the end.

The video file are downloadable from the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
October 19
(1h57m)
[20201019_ST-ON_SystemsChanges.m4v]
(FHD 806kbps 790MB) [on the Internet Archive]

For those who like digital audio on-the-go, the session has been transcoded to MP3 .

Audio
October 19
(1h57m)
[20201019_ST-ON_SystemsChanges.mp3]
(44MB)

This session extended prior presentations on Systems Changes, with the benefit of the RSD9 version oriented towards designers having been completed just a few days earlier.  The freshness of that experience encouraged a reflections on ideas that had gone over over well fort the designers, as well as some examples and metaphors that may need to be rethought.… Read more (in a new tab)

For the second of three workshops by the Systems Changes Learning Circle in October 2020, we convened a session for the monthly Systems Thinking Ontario meeting.  The focus of this workshop was a review of progress to date on methods by the scholarly team, informed by the adoption and use by the field team.

The framing of this presentation centered on developing methods that have validity balanced between theoretical grounds (i.e. it seems right based on logic and science) and pragmatic grounds (i.e. it works when applied in practice).

This workshop had more of a “teach-the-teachers” style to it, explaining the deeper choices in concepts, terms and techniques.  Compared to the other two workshops, this audience has a stronger grasp of systems theory.  Many regular attendees have attended meetings over the past 5 years.

In the web video , the presentation slides were mostly covered sequentially.  Attendees clarified their understandings with questions posed towards the end.

The video file are downloadable from the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
October 19
(1h57m)
[20201019_ST-ON_SystemsChanges.m4v]
(FHD 806kbps 790MB) [on the Internet Archive]

For those who like digital audio on-the-go, the session has been transcoded to MP3 .

Audio
October 19
(1h57m)
[20201019_ST-ON_SystemsChanges.mp3]
(44MB)

This session extended prior presentations on Systems Changes, with the benefit of the RSD9 version oriented towards designers having been completed just a few days earlier.  The freshness of that experience encouraged a reflections on ideas that had gone over over well fort the designers, as well as some examples and metaphors that may need to be rethought.… Read more (in a new tab)

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    • daviding: “Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading …” April 23, 2024
      Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading on "#Yinyang and Daojia into #SystemsThinking through Changes", online 18:30 Singapore, 11:30 London, 6:30am Toronto. Repeating May 2, 8:00pm ET. Official #EQLab notifications https://www.eqlab.co/newsletter-signup
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      Diachrony (or diachronic shifts) resurrects a word from 1857, better expressing *changes through time*. A social practice publication in 1998 contrasts synchronic with diachronic. https://ingbrief.wordpress.com/2024/04/10/diachronic-diachrony/
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      Web video introduction of 15 minutes for 1-hour Lunch and Learn #CentreForSocialInnovationToronto on "Systems Changes Dialogues for Social Innovation" invites practitioners for upcoming monthly meetings. Evocative animated images, details deferred to conversations with mentors. https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-changes-dialogues-csi/#SystemsThinking
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      Hosting multiple Dialogic Drinks on "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning" online, March 12 (Europe), March 14 (Americas), March 15 (Australia). #Leadership meets #SystemsThinking . Short presentations, longer discussions https://www.eqlab.co/from-unfreezing-refreezing-to-systems-changes-learning-david-ing
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    • The Nature and Application of the Daodejing | Ames and Hall (2003)
      Ames and Hall (2003) provide some tips for those studyng the DaoDeJing.
    • Diachronic, diachrony
      Finding proper words to express system(s) change(s) can be a challenge. One alternative could be diachrony. The Oxford English dictionary provides two definitions for diachronic, the first one most generally related to time. (The second is linguistic method) diachronic ADJECTIVE Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “diachronic (adj.), sense 1,” July 2023, https://doi.org/10.1093/OED/3691792233. For completeness, prochronic relates “to […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2”, edited by F. E. Emery (1981)
      The selection of readings in the “Introduction” to Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2, Penguin (1981), edited by Fred E. Emery, reflects a turn from 1969 when a general systems theory was more fully entertained, towards an urgency towards changes in the world that were present in 1981. Systems thinking was again emphasized in contrast […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings”, edited by F. E. Emery (1969)
      In reviewing the original introduction for Systems Thinking: Selected Readings in the 1969 Penguin paperback, there’s a few threads that I only recognize, many years later. The tables of contents (disambiguating various editions) were previously listed as 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings. — begin paste — Introduction In the selection of papers for this […]
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      More work than play for first part of month, in anticipation of trip to Vancouver to visit family.
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