Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Normal Accidents, High Reliability, Wicked Messes (ST-ON 2021-08-09)

Choosing topics for a Systems Thinking Ontario session, it seems as though the term “Normal Accidents” was not one familiar to many, particularly those who were not old enough to recall popularization coinciding with the 1979 movie The China Syndrome.  The interest then on High Reliability Organizations would also be news to most of our usual attendees.  Thus, a session based on readings was announced ….

Have we learned from brushes with disaster, or have we become complacent about complexities in everyday life?

This video has been archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses FHD.m4v]
(FHD 578kbps 456MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was transcoded from the video into MP3.

Audio
August 9
(1h32m)
[20210809_ST-ON_Ing NormalAccidentsHighReliabilityWickedMesses.mp3]
(90MB)

On March 28, 1979, an accident with a nuclear reactor occurred at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. Twelve days earlier, an Academy Awards winning film The China Syndrome had opened with a story fictionalized from a 1975 fire at a nuclear plant in Brown’s Ferry, Alabama, raising public awareness of an issue. For a Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, sociologist Charles Perrow contributed organizational analysis report. On a sabbatical to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1981-1982, that report expanded to include other high-risk systems, becoming the Normal Accidents book, published in 1984.

In the 1990s, a group at Berkeley initiated by Todd LaPorte noticed some high-hazard organizations who able to consistently manage risks to be failure-free.… Read more (in a new tab)

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)

Patterns and Pattern Languages Supporting Cross-boundary Collaboration | Doug Schuler (ST-ON 2021-04-12)

Doug Schuler joined the monthly Systems Thinking Ontario meeting for a conversation about the potential for patterns and pattern languages to help address wicked problems on a large scale, via technology, loose coordination, and social commitments.

Doug was exposed to the original A Pattern Language in the mid-1970s. It aimed to generate towns and buildings that would be alive and life-affirming. That framework and perspective served to orient and structure collaboration under the auspices of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). The Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing conference in 2001 attracted over 100 pattern proposals. These were ultimately transformed into the Liberating Voices pattern language containing 136 patterns by 75 authors. This body of work is available online and in a book published by MIT Press in 2008.

This pattern language addresses collaboration and civic intelligence, a critical under-developed resource necessary for democratic societies and public problem solving. Doug has led workshops in his teaching at the Evergreen State College, and with community groups designing actions and projects, around the world.

The video file is archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
April 12
(1h50m)
[220210412_ST-ON_PatternLanguages.m4v]
(FHD 15936kbps 1.33GB) [on the Internet Archive]

Audio playable onto mobile devices was transcoded to MP3 from the video.

Audio
April 12
(1h50m)
[20210412_ST-ON_PatternLanguages.mp3]
(40MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Douglas Schuler is currently chair of ACM SIGCAS and president of the Public Sphere Project as a non-profit organization in the State of Washington.… Read more (in a new tab)

Coexploring Systems Literacy, Peter Tuddenham (ST-ON 2021-03-08)

Literacy has been proposed as an understanding of a small number of pervasive principles appropriate to making informed personal and societal decisions.

  • Systems literacy includes an understanding of systems that influence you, and your influence on systems.

Peter Tuddenham has been leading an initiative on Systems Literacy across a variety of systems organizations, particularly with the International Society for the Systems Sciences, where he was president (2018-2019).

Peter joined Systems Thinking Ontario in conversation, to share his going work, with the College of Exploration.  He also invited participants to join in the monthly scheduled Cafe and Pub.

The video file is archived on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
March 8
(1h26M
[20210308_ST-ON_SystemsLiteracy.m4v]
(4K UHD 1226kbps 840MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Audio downloadable onto mobile devices was also produced M4A.

Audio
March 8
(1h26m)
[20210308_ST-ON_SystemsLiteracy.m4a]
(79MB) [on the Internet Archive]

Open access versions of papers by Peter D. Tuddenham may be available on his ResearchGate page and/or his Academia.edu page.

This session was one in the Systems Thinking Ontario series.

Systems Literacy

Creative Systemic Research, Susu Nousala + Jelena Sucic (ST-ON 2021-02-08)

The Creative Systemic Research Platform (CSRP) Institute, led by Susu Nousala and Jelena Sucic, is distinctive in approaching systemic design from a bottom-up, longitudinal perspective.  The co-presidents were able to join us in conversation at a Systems Thinking Ontario session, remotely from Finland and Switzerland, at a significant time disadvantage.

Many approaches to systemic design presume a top-down, abstract predisposition of a world that might be.  The Creative Systemic approach emphasizes learning within communities towards the development of resilience.  Scholarly communities are nurtured at a local level, distributed across multiple peri-urban regional geographies.  The work of mapping and investigating emerging economies is informed by activities that include creative expression in social complexity that produces communal well-being.

  • Susu Nousala is a professor with the College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai (People’s Republic of China).  She has previously had research positions at Aalto University (Finland), University of Melbourne (Australia), and Chiang Mai University (Thailand).
  • Jelena Sucic is a researcher in systemic design and sustainable processes based in Switzerland.  She previously led as the field specialist and project manager in the nascent research group, as she completed a double degree in the PoliTong project, completing a Master of Fine Arts in Product Service Service Design at Tongi University, simultaneously with a Master of Science in Systemic Design at Politecnico di Torino.

For brevity, the usual circle of introduction was requested written in chat, rather as verbal self-introductions.  This meant that our featured speakers start just a few minutes into the web video . … Read more (in a new tab)

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)

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