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The Systems Movement: Engaging Communities with Traditions and Diversity, Gary S. Metcalf (ST-ON 2021-01-11)

To appreciate how systemicists worldwide collaborate, Gary S. Metcalf joined Systems Thinking Ontario for a conversation.  Gary served as president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2007-2008, and of the International Federation for Sysrtems Research 2010-2016.  From 2003 to 2018, he was a graduate instructor in Organizational Systems and Research on the faculty of Saybrook University.

The Systems Movement “may be characterized as a loose association of people from different disciplines of science, engineering, philosophy, and other areas, who share a common interest in ideas (concepts, principles, methods, etc.) that are applicable to all systems and that, consequently, transcend the boundaries between traditional disciplines.” (George Klir, Facets of Systems Science, 2001).

After the standard round of introductions, the conversation began with Gary speaking a little about his background, and how he came to the systems community after graduate studies in family therapy (in the web video, at about 22m42s in).  Participants were invited to ask questions and make comments freely.

The video file are archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 11
(2h04m)
[20210111_ST-ON_GarySMetcalf.m4v]
(nHD 281kbps 366MB) [on the Internet Archive]

For those who prefer digital audio on mobile devices, the audio was extracted as M4A from the video.

Audio
January 11
(2h04m)
[20210111_ST-ON_GarySMetcalf.m4a]
(113MB)

Since this talk, Gary has added to his writing and editing scholarly non-fiction works, with a new direction in science fiction. … Read more (in a new tab)

To appreciate how systemicists worldwide collaborate, Gary S. Metcalf joined Systems Thinking Ontario for a conversation.  Gary served as president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2007-2008, and of the International Federation for Sysrtems Research 2010-2016.  From 2003 to 2018, he was a graduate instructor in Organizational Systems and Research on the faculty of Saybrook University.

The Systems Movement “may be characterized as a loose association of people from different disciplines of science, engineering, philosophy, and other areas, who share a common interest in ideas (concepts, principles, methods, etc.) that are applicable to all systems and that, consequently, transcend the boundaries between traditional disciplines.” (George Klir, Facets of Systems Science, 2001).

After the standard round of introductions, the conversation began with Gary speaking a little about his background, and how he came to the systems community after graduate studies in family therapy (in the web video, at about 22m42s in).  Participants were invited to ask questions and make comments freely.

The video file are archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 11
(2h04m)
[20210111_ST-ON_GarySMetcalf.m4v]
(nHD 281kbps 366MB) [on the Internet Archive]

For those who prefer digital audio on mobile devices, the audio was extracted as M4A from the video.

Audio
January 11
(2h04m)
[20210111_ST-ON_GarySMetcalf.m4a]
(113MB)

Since this talk, Gary has added to his writing and editing scholarly non-fiction works, with a new direction in science fiction. … Read more (in a new tab)

IBM Advanced Business Institute (1989-2004), Palisades Executive Conference Center (1989-2016)

One of my millennial sons has framed IBM as “the Google of my generation”.  My career path included assignments and visits to the IBM Advanced Business Institute, in Palisades, NY.  Mentions of that team, and the Palisades Executive Conference Center where it was located, have mostly disappeared from the Internet.  As one of the younger IBM professionals to have known the ABI, I can provide some history.  (If friends want to correct me, I welcome that!)

  • 1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989
  • 2. The Executive Consulting Institute from 1993 was instrumental in education for IBM Consulting Group
  • 3. The Advanced Business Institute offered courses for customer executives 1989-2004

While the Facebook page for the IBM Palisades Executive Conference Center has recent additions, the venue hasn’t had that title for some years.

1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989

IBM Palisades is not to be confused with the IBM Learning Centre in Armonk, that was opened in 1979, a facility primarily for the (internal) management development of IBM executives.  IBM Palisades is also not the Thornwood Conference Center in Westchester County, opened in 1985, that was more often used for customer technical briefings.

IBM Palisades was originally designated for customer executive education, i.e. CEOs and VPs on corporate retreats hosted by IBM.  The grounds are well-secluded, and easy to secure.  The site is on the west side of the Hudson River, which most people would presume as being in New Jersey. … Read more (in a new tab)

One of my millennial sons has framed IBM as “the Google of my generation”.  My career path included assignments and visits to the IBM Advanced Business Institute, in Palisades, NY.  Mentions of that team, and the Palisades Executive Conference Center where it was located, have mostly disappeared from the Internet.  As one of the younger IBM professionals to have known the ABI, I can provide some history.  (If friends want to correct me, I welcome that!)

  • 1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989
  • 2. The Executive Consulting Institute from 1993 was instrumental in education for IBM Consulting Group
  • 3. The Advanced Business Institute offered courses for customer executives 1989-2004

While the Facebook page for the IBM Palisades Executive Conference Center has recent additions, the venue hasn’t had that title for some years.

1. The Palisades Executive Conference Center opened in 1989

IBM Palisades is not to be confused with the IBM Learning Centre in Armonk, that was opened in 1979, a facility primarily for the (internal) management development of IBM executives.  IBM Palisades is also not the Thornwood Conference Center in Westchester County, opened in 1985, that was more often used for customer technical briefings.

IBM Palisades was originally designated for customer executive education, i.e. CEOs and VPs on corporate retreats hosted by IBM.  The grounds are well-secluded, and easy to secure.  The site is on the west side of the Hudson River, which most people would presume as being in New Jersey. … Read more (in a new tab)

Systemic design agendas in education and design research

Research can take some time to wend through reflection, reviews and revisions.  An article coauthored with Susu Nousala and Peter Jones took about 2 years to formal publication.

While a working paper can be more open-ended, a scientific publication seeks greater closure.  From the conclusion, here’s a paragraph that wasn’t in our original 2016-2017 writing.

The RSD5 DesignX workshop provided for continuity and discourse building between members of various design programmes, practices and allegiances. It was a not intended as a venue for specifically articulating and defining the design research agendas linking DesignX with systemic design studies or with these agendas. Further development of these enquiries through other workshops and discourses will extend the continuity of the discussion and evolve something of a common language, if not a corpus, to better fulfil the potential of design research agendas in systemic design.

The RSD5 workshop held in Toronto October 2016 resulted in a rich body of conversations amongst participants that is only partially reflected in this summary.

Read more (in a new tab)

Research can take some time to wend through reflection, reviews and revisions.  An article coauthored with Susu Nousala and Peter Jones took about 2 years to formal publication.

While a working paper can be more open-ended, a scientific publication seeks greater closure.  From the conclusion, here’s a paragraph that wasn’t in our original 2016-2017 writing.

The RSD5 DesignX workshop provided for continuity and discourse building between members of various design programmes, practices and allegiances. It was a not intended as a venue for specifically articulating and defining the design research agendas linking DesignX with systemic design studies or with these agendas. Further development of these enquiries through other workshops and discourses will extend the continuity of the discussion and evolve something of a common language, if not a corpus, to better fulfil the potential of design research agendas in systemic design.

The RSD5 workshop held in Toronto October 2016 resulted in a rich body of conversations amongst participants that is only partially reflected in this summary.

Read more (in a new tab)

Education of the average Canadian worker and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The average Canadian worker has (at least) some college or university education.  This fact is counter to presumptions in a question on the first day at the World Economic Forum by Fareed Zacharia, in an interview with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  Zacharia asked:

What do you say to the average worker in Canada, who may not have a fancy college degree — and I’m thinking about the average worker in America or in Europe, as well — who looks out at this world and says “I don’t see what globalization is doing for me.  The jobs are going to South Korea and China and Vietnam and India.  Technology is great, but I can’t afford the new iPad Pro, and more importantly, this technology means that it increasinly makes me less valuable.  Why shouldn’t I be angry and involved the politics of progress?”

The response by Trudeau spoke to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the theme of the Davos conference.  He didn’t actually respond to the presumption on education.

In a national picture of educational attainment:

In 2012, about 53.6% of Canadians aged 15 and over had trade certificates, college diplomas and university degrees. This was an increase of 20.9 percentage points since 1990.

… says “The Indicators of Well-Being in Canada (2016)“, by Employment and Social Development Canada.

In the Economic Indicators for Canada,

Between 1999 and 2009, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education in Canada increased from 39% to 50%.

Read more (in a new tab)

The average Canadian worker has (at least) some college or university education.  This fact is counter to presumptions in a question on the first day at the World Economic Forum by Fareed Zacharia, in an interview with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  Zacharia asked:

What do you say to the average worker in Canada, who may not have a fancy college degree — and I’m thinking about the average worker in America or in Europe, as well — who looks out at this world and says “I don’t see what globalization is doing for me.  The jobs are going to South Korea and China and Vietnam and India.  Technology is great, but I can’t afford the new iPad Pro, and more importantly, this technology means that it increasinly makes me less valuable.  Why shouldn’t I be angry and involved the politics of progress?”

The response by Trudeau spoke to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the theme of the Davos conference.  He didn’t actually respond to the presumption on education.

In a national picture of educational attainment:

In 2012, about 53.6% of Canadians aged 15 and over had trade certificates, college diplomas and university degrees. This was an increase of 20.9 percentage points since 1990.

… says “The Indicators of Well-Being in Canada (2016)“, by Employment and Social Development Canada.

In the Economic Indicators for Canada,

Between 1999 and 2009, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education in Canada increased from 39% to 50%.

Read more (in a new tab)

Systems Thinking 2 course, Aalto University, February 2016

As part of the Master’s Program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University, I’ll be in Finland for 3 weeks in February, as an instructor.  I’m doing this as a favour for Katri Pulkkinen, who has been teaching the course since 2010, and felt that she needed some extra time to work on her Ph.D. dissertation.

Systems Thinking 2 follows in a series of compulsory courses, each with specified learning outcomes:

  • Creative Teamwork: “The course focuses on working methods co-operation practices within the studies and the professional field of sustainability”.
  • Creating the Mindset of Sustainable Societies: “To create the common ground of sustainability studies and to learn to deal with different scopes of sustainability concept in complex environments. Understanding mindsets and sustainable societies: what this means in political, governmental, business, organizational, individual and groups/community levels”.
  • Systems Thinking 1: “Learning the basics of the systems thinking approach in the context of sustainability. The students who have participated actively in the intensive course will be able to use the basic vocabulary and concepts of the systems thinking approach. The students also develop their skills in working and presenting ideas in multi-disciplinary teams”.
  • Systems Thinking 2: “Learning how systems thinking can be applied in questions of sustainability in different fields. During this intensive course, the students familiarize themselves with different ways of using the systems approach to tackle problematic situations. The aim is to understand both the versatility of the systems approach and the importance of choosing the right systems tools for each case.
Read more (in a new tab)

As part of the Master’s Program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University, I’ll be in Finland for 3 weeks in February, as an instructor.  I’m doing this as a favour for Katri Pulkkinen, who has been teaching the course since 2010, and felt that she needed some extra time to work on her Ph.D. dissertation.

Systems Thinking 2 follows in a series of compulsory courses, each with specified learning outcomes:

  • Creative Teamwork: “The course focuses on working methods co-operation practices within the studies and the professional field of sustainability”.
  • Creating the Mindset of Sustainable Societies: “To create the common ground of sustainability studies and to learn to deal with different scopes of sustainability concept in complex environments. Understanding mindsets and sustainable societies: what this means in political, governmental, business, organizational, individual and groups/community levels”.
  • Systems Thinking 1: “Learning the basics of the systems thinking approach in the context of sustainability. The students who have participated actively in the intensive course will be able to use the basic vocabulary and concepts of the systems thinking approach. The students also develop their skills in working and presenting ideas in multi-disciplinary teams”.
  • Systems Thinking 2: “Learning how systems thinking can be applied in questions of sustainability in different fields. During this intensive course, the students familiarize themselves with different ways of using the systems approach to tackle problematic situations. The aim is to understand both the versatility of the systems approach and the importance of choosing the right systems tools for each case.
Read more (in a new tab)

Much of the best work is done by amateurs (1890)

The origin of “much of the best work” is “done by amateurs” dates back to 1890 in photography.  At that time, glass photographic plates was the norm for large images, as compared to the Kodak box camera released in 1888 with flexible roll film returned to the company for processing and reloading.

Thoroughness

Much of the best work one sees is done by so-called amateurs. In fact, good work can only be done by amateurs in the true sense; i.e., those who love their work, and the secret is thoroughness. One must be thoroughly interested in the work—make a thorough study of the subject, and have nerve enough to keep the holder out of the camera unless the light is satisfactory and the composition thoroughly good. The “you press the button and we do the work” method is often effective, but for plates of any size more often a waste than a gain.

Very frequently we see picture makers who carefully read and observe the instructions sent by the makers with each box of plates, and the result is favorable. I envy them their pictures and the ability to stick to instructions, but I can’t do it myself. I confess to having little interest in a picture after the first batch of prints, or even after the negative has shown its quality—for the chemistry and other details of the subject exhaust most of my zeal.

It has been my pleasure to incite some hundreds of persons to try the various branches of photography, pure and simple, while I have done some work in every branch from wet-plate to photo-engraving, and the criticisms here made apply equally to myself.

Read more (in a new tab)

The origin of “much of the best work” is “done by amateurs” dates back to 1890 in photography.  At that time, glass photographic plates was the norm for large images, as compared to the Kodak box camera released in 1888 with flexible roll film returned to the company for processing and reloading.

Thoroughness

Much of the best work one sees is done by so-called amateurs. In fact, good work can only be done by amateurs in the true sense; i.e., those who love their work, and the secret is thoroughness. One must be thoroughly interested in the work—make a thorough study of the subject, and have nerve enough to keep the holder out of the camera unless the light is satisfactory and the composition thoroughly good. The “you press the button and we do the work” method is often effective, but for plates of any size more often a waste than a gain.

Very frequently we see picture makers who carefully read and observe the instructions sent by the makers with each box of plates, and the result is favorable. I envy them their pictures and the ability to stick to instructions, but I can’t do it myself. I confess to having little interest in a picture after the first batch of prints, or even after the negative has shown its quality—for the chemistry and other details of the subject exhaust most of my zeal.

It has been my pleasure to incite some hundreds of persons to try the various branches of photography, pure and simple, while I have done some work in every branch from wet-plate to photo-engraving, and the criticisms here made apply equally to myself.

Read more (in a new tab)
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