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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This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .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)

Whom, when + where do Systems Changes situate?

Covering practical wisdom (phronesis), the third of four lectures again was compressed for the Systemic Design course in the Master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. The students in the part-time session on February 7 extended their discussion period longer than those in the full-time session on February 5. I again jumped slides in the sequence to stay within the timebox.

The agenda was in four sections:

  • [preamble] Episteme, Techne, Phronesis (reordered)
    • Intellectual Pursuits (Rethinking Systems Thinking)
    • Systems changes as situated c.f. ideal-seeking
  • A. Value(s), Judgment, Soft Systems Thinking
    • Appreciative Systems (Vickers, Checkland)
    • Policy, impacts and consequences of systems changes
  • B. Service Systems (c.f. Production Systems)
    • Science of Service Systems (Spohrer, Kijima)
    • Material-products c.f. information-services as systems changes
  • C. Socio-Technical Systems Perspective
    • Tavistock Institute + Legacy (Trist, Emery, Ramirez)
    • Coproduction and design principles guiding systems changes

The web video can be streamed on Youtube.

Copies of the video files are downloadable for disconnected viewing.

Video H.264 MP4 WebM
February 7
(1h21m)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing HD m4v]
(HD 2477kbps 1.6GB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing nHD m4v]
(nHD 1344kps 866MB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing HD webm]
(HD VP8 375kbps 349MB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing nHD webm]
(nHD VP8 139kbps 206MB)

Readers who want to follow through on web link references may want to review the slides directly.

Whom, when + where do Systems Changes situated?

The same presentation slides were used for both lectures.  The questions from the students were considerably different across the class sections, so the diligent listener might want to compare them. … Read more (in a new tab)

Covering practical wisdom (phronesis), the third of four lectures again was compressed for the Systemic Design course in the Master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. The students in the part-time session on February 7 extended their discussion period longer than those in the full-time session on February 5. I again jumped slides in the sequence to stay within the timebox.

The agenda was in four sections:

  • [preamble] Episteme, Techne, Phronesis (reordered)
    • Intellectual Pursuits (Rethinking Systems Thinking)
    • Systems changes as situated c.f. ideal-seeking
  • A. Value(s), Judgment, Soft Systems Thinking
    • Appreciative Systems (Vickers, Checkland)
    • Policy, impacts and consequences of systems changes
  • B. Service Systems (c.f. Production Systems)
    • Science of Service Systems (Spohrer, Kijima)
    • Material-products c.f. information-services as systems changes
  • C. Socio-Technical Systems Perspective
    • Tavistock Institute + Legacy (Trist, Emery, Ramirez)
    • Coproduction and design principles guiding systems changes

The web video can be streamed on Youtube.

Copies of the video files are downloadable for disconnected viewing.

Video H.264 MP4 WebM
February 7
(1h21m)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing HD m4v]
(HD 2477kbps 1.6GB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing nHD m4v]
(nHD 1344kps 866MB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing HD webm]
(HD VP8 375kbps 349MB)
[20200207_OCADU_Ing nHD webm]
(nHD VP8 139kbps 206MB)

Readers who want to follow through on web link references may want to review the slides directly.

Whom, when + where do Systems Changes situated?

The same presentation slides were used for both lectures.  The questions from the students were considerably different across the class sections, so the diligent listener might want to compare them. … Read more (in a new tab)

Revisiting the Socio-Ecological, Social-Technical and Socio-Psychological Systems Perspectives

A report, plus a contributed article, on the socio-ecological, socio-technical and socio-psychological systems perspectives is now available.

The Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, from the 1950s through the 1980s, developed a legacy of research based in systems thinking that has had lasting impact on theories of organization design and change.  The International Federation for Systems Research biannually hosts a conversation event in Austria where systems researchers have the luxury of time to share in mutual learning.  A trigger question for a team was proposed:

  • In which ways is the Tavistock legacy still relevant, and which ways might these ideas be advanced and/or refreshed (for the globalized/service economy)?

Pointers to some of the relevant literature were provided.  Joining the team, at Linz, were:

Minna Takala led the development of the team report for the proceedings, as well as contributing an independent article extending learnings from the group.  An excerpt of these two publications is a repackaging from the full proceedings that comprise the work of four teams meeting in parallel.

A report, plus a contributed article, on the socio-ecological, socio-technical and socio-psychological systems perspectives is now available.

The Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, from the 1950s through the 1980s, developed a legacy of research based in systems thinking that has had lasting impact on theories of organization design and change.  The International Federation for Systems Research biannually hosts a conversation event in Austria where systems researchers have the luxury of time to share in mutual learning.  A trigger question for a team was proposed:

  • In which ways is the Tavistock legacy still relevant, and which ways might these ideas be advanced and/or refreshed (for the globalized/service economy)?

Pointers to some of the relevant literature were provided.  Joining the team, at Linz, were:

Minna Takala led the development of the team report for the proceedings, as well as contributing an independent article extending learnings from the group.  An excerpt of these two publications is a repackaging from the full proceedings that comprise the work of four teams meeting in parallel.

Socio-Technical-Systems, Sustainable Work, Open Systems Theory

I’ve received news about an Aalto University course on  “Socio-Technical Systems Paradigm: History and Further Developments” [see pdf], led by Frans M. van Eijnatten (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mari Kira (Academy Research Fellow at sustain.tkk.fi), scheduled  for September 27-28 in Espoo, Finland.

The course is associated with the Sustain Research Program that “focuses on creating sustainable work in contemporary working life”.  I also noticed a book on Creating sustainable work systems:  developing social sustainability, edited by Peter Docherty, Mari Kira and Abraham B. Shani (Taylor & Francis 2008) [preview at Google Books].

We would seem to be at the leading edge of research with this topic.  Since I’m active in the systems community, I was intrigued by a reference to an article in 2008 article in Systems Research and Behavioral Science by Mari Kira, and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations: A chaordic systems approach”.

This 2008 article has led to a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Merrelyn Emery, “Refutation of Kira & van Eijnatten’s critique of the Emery’s open systems theory” [available in early release].  She points out that the Emery variant of Open Systems Theory (OST) comes with a history of divergence in Social-Technical Systems (STS) thinking.  Emery cites continuing work with OST in a 2007 chapter by Emery and DeGuerre “Evolution of Open Systems Theory” [preview at Google Books in The change handbook:
the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems
, (Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, editors)].… Read more (in a new tab)

I’ve received news about an Aalto University course on  “Socio-Technical Systems Paradigm: History and Further Developments” [see pdf], led by Frans M. van Eijnatten (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mari Kira (Academy Research Fellow at sustain.tkk.fi), scheduled  for September 27-28 in Espoo, Finland.

The course is associated with the Sustain Research Program that “focuses on creating sustainable work in contemporary working life”.  I also noticed a book on Creating sustainable work systems:  developing social sustainability, edited by Peter Docherty, Mari Kira and Abraham B. Shani (Taylor & Francis 2008) [preview at Google Books].

We would seem to be at the leading edge of research with this topic.  Since I’m active in the systems community, I was intrigued by a reference to an article in 2008 article in Systems Research and Behavioral Science by Mari Kira, and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations: A chaordic systems approach”.

This 2008 article has led to a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Merrelyn Emery, “Refutation of Kira & van Eijnatten’s critique of the Emery’s open systems theory” [available in early release].  She points out that the Emery variant of Open Systems Theory (OST) comes with a history of divergence in Social-Technical Systems (STS) thinking.  Emery cites continuing work with OST in a 2007 chapter by Emery and DeGuerre “Evolution of Open Systems Theory” [preview at Google Books in The change handbook:
the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems
, (Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, editors)].… Read more (in a new tab)

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