Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Reconciling Perspectives in Futures Research and Systems Thinking

The postgraduate course on Philosophical, Methodological and Pragmatic Approaches to Scientific Futures Research was offered by the Finnish Futures Academy at the University of Turku at the end of November 2012.  I had never taken a course on scientific futures research before.  I had never been to Turku before.  Since I was scheduled to be Finland in mid-November, this presented an opportunity to get expert knowledge from leaders in future studies.  I registered for the course.

In the typical style of Finnish intensive courses, a long list of articles was prescribed in advance.  On the course schedule, a lecture for systemic approaches — naming Soft Systems Methodology — was slated on the last of three days.  Working through the articles, the ties between futures studies and systems thinking led me to read about their parallel development, particularly through the 1970s.  While most graduate students would try to relate the course content to their thesis, I’m so far along on my dissertation that that wouldn’t be productive.  Thus, for my presentation, I decided to talk about the prescribed readings in futures research from my perspective founded in systems thinking.

The philosophy of Finnish school of scientific futures is based much in critical realism (via Alan Musgrave) through Wendell Bell (honoured in an August 2011 issue of Futures, edited by Paul Dragos Aligica).  I came to realize that my view of the world is based much more on foundations on the design of inquiring systems, originating from C. West Churchman.

The first day of the course was scheduled for student presentations.  I had requested to be scheduled near the end of the afternoon.  One of the instructor facilitators was Osmo Kuusi.  As I started my presentation, he asked if I was knew of the work of Ian Mitroff.  I then brought up the slide that described the overall context for my thinking.  Kuusi said that 20 years earlier, he had been encouraged to translate all of the works of Ian Mitroff into Finnish, but had declined to do so.

Based on the prescribed literature in futures research, how do I define my perspective?

In the background reading of “Futurists and their schools” (Samet 2010), and Comprehensive Situation Mapping (Acar and Druckenmiller, 2010), I rediscovered the work on Dialectic Inquiry (Mitroff and Emshoff, 1979), and updated the Wikipedia page on Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing.

In preparation the presentation for class, I included some slides to describe the design of inquiring systems in order to enable intelligibility.  When Kuusi saw these slides, he asked to borrow them for lectures on the following days.

By the end of the class, I came to have an understanding of the way that scientific futures research is conducted.  I’m clearly more oriented towards the perspectives of systems thinkers, which includes a respect for other approaches such as the evolved Delphi method.

[See the course description and presentation slides on “Reconciling Perspectives in Futures Research and Systems Thinking” on the Coevolving Commons]

References

Acar, William, and Douglas A. Druckenmiller. 2010. “Designing Insightful Inquiring Systems for Sustainable Organizational Foresight.” Futures42 (4): 405–416. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.025. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.025.

Mitroff, Ian I., and James R. Emshoff. 1979. “On Strategic Assumption-Making: A Dialectical Approach to Policy and Planning.” The Academy of Management Review4 (1) (January): 1. doi:10.2307/257398. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/257398.

Samet, Robert H. 2010. “Futurists and Their Schools: A Response to Ziauddin Sardar’s ‘the Namesake’.” Futures 42 (8) (October 1): 895–900. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2010.04.026. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2010.04.026.

Sardar, Ziauddin. 2010. “The Namesake: Futures; Futures Studies; Futurology; Futuristic; foresight—What’s in a Name?” Futures 42 (3) (April): 177–184. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.001. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2009.11.001.

1 Comment


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

    • daviding: “In the #anthropocene, humans can impact less.…” April 17, 2022
      In the #anthropocene, humans can impact less.> The report shows that Canada's economy can grow without increasing carbon emissions. The country's GDP grew 22 per cent between 2005 and 2020, but carbon emissions declined by 9.3 per cent over that period.https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/climate-change-pandemic-emissions-canada-1.6420159
    • daviding: “With #CodeForCanada , a presentation + workshop guide for #C…” April 15, 2022
      With #CodeForCanada , a presentation + workshop guide for #CanadianDigitalService on "#SystemsThinking through Changes: An #ActionLearning guide" is available CC-BY-SA https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-thinking-through-changes/ . A milestone release by #SystemsChanges Learning Circle for practitioners, alongside publication in review
    • daviding: “When there is a larger threat from outside, attention is dra…” March 25, 2022
      When there is a larger threat from outside, attention is drawn away from internal struggles within. #RobertReich puts a historical perspective on current affairs in the USA. > Putin has brought a fractured Nato together. Maybe he’s bringing America back together too. It’s the thinnest of silver linings to the human disaster he’s creating, but […]
    • daviding: “For those who are critical about "design thinking", #KarelVr…” January 27, 2022
      For those who are critical about "design thinking", #KarelVredenburg makes the strong distinction between design and pseudo-design. https://www.karelvredenburg.com/home/2021/10/9/cr2h7dllvanrttb1tn8cfx1zjuhqol
    • daviding: “"Why Science Does Not Know: A Brief History of (the Notion o…” December 4, 2021
      "Why Science Does Not Know: A Brief History of (the Notion of) Scientific Ignorance in the Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries" https://journalhistoryknowledge.org/articles/10.5334/jhk.40/?s=09
  • RSS on IngBrief

    • Book review of ZHANG, Zailin (2008) “Traditional Chinese Philosophy as the Philosophy of the Body” | Robin R. Wang | 2009
      In this review of a philosophical work written in Chinese, a comparison is made between Chinese philosophy centering on the body, in comparison to Western philosopy centered on the mind. (I found a reference to this book, tracing back from Keekok Lee (2017) Chapter 9, footnote 8.
    • Approche systémique
      The translation from English "systems thinking" to French "la pensée systémique" misses meaning. "Approche systémique" has lineage to "Conférences Macy", "General System Theory (Bertalanffy)" and "Gregory Bateson"
    • The Arrogance of Humanism (1978/1981) David W. Ehrenfeld
      When one chooses a guiding philosophy of life  -- and the modern world has chosen humanism -- one becomes responsible for all the consequences that flow from that choice. (David W. Ehrenfeld, 1981)
    • The evolution of service systems to service ecosystems | Brozović and Tregua 2022
      “Rethinking Systems Thinking” (2013) is cited by #DaniloBrozović (U. Skövde), #MarcoTregua (U. Napoli Federico II): The level of complexity in current service ecosystems is rising, not least due to technology (Barile et al., 2020), with the effect of such increased complexity of service ecosystems being perceived as ‘simple’. On the other hand, some systems researchers […]
    • 1995 Francois Jullien, The Propensity of Things
      Jullien views propensity in Chinese philosophy, as a counterpart to causality in Western philosophy.  Some unpacking of his writing in digests may be helpful. Jullien, François. 1995. The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China. Translated by Janet Lloyd. Zone Books. Introduction How can we conceive of the dynamic in terms of the static, in […]
    • Reformation and transformation (Ackoff 2003, 2010)
      In his system of system concepts, Russell Ackoff made the distinction between reformation and transformation in many of his lectures. Here are two written sources. From Redesigining Society (2003) … Systemic Transformation A system is transformed, as contrasted with reformed, when its structure or functions are changed fundamentally. Such changes are discontinuous and qualitative, quantum […]
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2022/04 Moments April 2022
      Spring sees art exhibitions opening up around Toronto, then a trip to the Bay Area in Northern California to visit family and friends.
    • 2022/03 Moments March 2022
      Emergence from hibernation at home, as winter gives way to spring
    • 2022/02 Moments February 2022
      Walking rather than bicycling in a colder winter this year, travel out of the neighbourhood by car.
    • 2022/01 Moments January 2022
      An indoor start to the year, with the combination of cold weather and pandemic restrictions coincident with writing a journal article to deadline at the end of the month.
    • 2021/12 Moments December 2021
      Shorter days with earlier sunsets, holiday season, and a trip via Vancouver, British Columbia, to visit with newlyweds in Oakland, California
    • 2021/11 Moments November 2021
      Academic research conferences in Brussels, visiting with friends, and sightseeing smaller towns in Belgium, as we've visited Brussels before.
  • RSS on Media Queue

  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal