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. Required fields are marked *

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

  • RSS on IngBrief

    • The Innovation Delusion | Lee Vinsel, Andrew L. Russell | 2020
      As an irony, the 2020 book, The Innovation Delusion by #LeeVinsel @STS_News + #AndrewLRussell @RussellProf shouldn’t be seen as an innovation, but an encouragement to join @The_Maintainers where an ongoing thought network can continue. The subtitle “How Our Obsession with the New has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most” recognizes actual innovation, as distinct from […]
    • Republishing on Facebook as “good for the world” or “bad for the world” (NY Times, 2020/11/24)
      An online social network reproduces content partially based on algorithms, and partially based on the judgements made by human beings. Either may be viewed as positive or negative. > The trade-offs came into focus this month [November 2020], when Facebook engineers and data scientists posted the results of a series of experiments called “P(Bad for […]
    • 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings
      Social Systems Science graduate students in 1970s-1980s with #RussellAckoff, #EricTrist + #HasanOzbehkhan at U. Pennsylvania Wharton School were assigned the Penguin paperback #SystemsThinking reader edited by #FredEEmery, with updated editions evolving contents.
    • 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook”
      Resurfacing 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook” for interests in #SystemsThinking #SocioCybernetics #GeneralSystemsTheory #OrganizationScience . Republication in 2017 hardcopy may be more complete.
    • Wholism, reductionism (Francois, 2004)
      Proponents of #SystemsThinking often espouse holism to counter over-emphasis on reductionism. Reading some definitions from an encyclopedia positions one in the context of the other (François 2004).
    • It matters (word use)
      Saying “it doesn’t matter” or “it matters” is a common expression in everyday English. For scholarly work, I want to “keep using that word“, while ensuring it means what I want it to mean. The Oxford English Dictionary (third edition, March 2001) has three entries for “matter”. The first two entries for a noun. The […]
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2020/12 Moments December 2020
      Approaching winter solstice, the temperature in Toronto hovers around freezing, and we see a mix of rain and snow.
    • 2020/11 Moments November 2020
      Day shortening and temperatures dropping meant bundling up for bicycling.
    • 2020/10 Moments October 2020
      Clear autumn near home in Toronto, extended with a family vacation within Canada to Vancouver, where the Covid rates are more favourable
    • 2020/09 Moments September 2020
      Discovering more of the neighbourhood, bicycling mostly in the mornings.
    • 2020/08 Moments August 2020
      Moderate summer temperatures in a city normally overheated with activity, residents gradually emerging as public venues opened cautiously.
    • 2020/07 Moments July 2020
      Daytimes full of new work assignment and training, evenings and weekends bicycling around downtown Toronto as it slowly reopens from pandemic.
  • 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