Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Learning only a single systems method is reductive.  A course that exposes breadth in a variety of systems methods encourages students to reflect on their circumstances-at-hand, and their explicit and implicit influences on guiding others in projects espousing systems thinking.  This was a premise behind the structuring of “Systems Thinking, Systems Design“, an Information Workshop (i.e. 6-week elective quarter course) offered to master’s students at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information (iSchool).

The first class day had a short course introduction focused on the history of the systems sciences, and a minimal orientation to the most basic concept in systems theory.  Then, for the four class days that followed, student groups led 8 presentation-facilitations on a research reference cluster (with the instructor on standby as a subject matter expert on the content).  The topics included:

  1. Object Process Methodology
  2. Dialogue Mapping
  3. Idealized Design
  4. Soft Systems Methodology
  5. Viable System Model
  6. Resilience in Socio-Ecological Systems
  7. Service Systems
  8. Generative Pattern Language

After each of the four days, students wrote Personal Appreciation Diary Logs (blog posts), mostly on the open web.  These provided feedback to the instructor for commentary (and some remediation) at the beginning of the subsequent class meeting.  We could review common understandings, difficulties and misconceptions about systems methods.

For the last (sixth) class meeting, each student group was asked to “prepare and present an infographic poster on their impressions about the system approaches most relevant to their research”.  The conclusions reflected different interests, experiences and orientations amongst the iSchool students.

Group 1 (Megan Ferguson and Anna Lutsky) focused on a question most relevant to their immediate career direction:  “How can librarians use systems thinking and modeling to plan for the future, enhance library services and better assist patrons?”  They emphasized Soft Systems Methodology, Service Systems, and Dialogue Mapping.

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Systems Thinking for Librarians: Megan Ferguson, Anna Lutsky

Group 2 (Nadine Finlay and Hadley Staite) selected “Developing Systems Thinking” with “The new problem solving methods”.  They liked Object Process Methodology, Idealized Design, Dialogue Mapping, and Service Systems.

May 21st, 2018

Posted In: systems

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