Coevolving Innovations

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Ecological Limits to Development: Living with the SDGs | ST-ON | 2023-03-13

The book Ecological Limits to Development: Living with the Sustainable Development Goals, published in 2002 by Routledge, was released as open access in 2023 by Taylor-Francis for readers who don’t have access to a university library.

For the March edition of Systems Thinking Ontario, we were honoured to celebrate the release with editor-coauthors Kaitlin Kish and Stephen Quilley.  They were joined by contributing authors Sophia Sanniti and Kathryn Gwiazdon.  (There was minor confusion with two Katies/Katys on the call).

In a departure from the usual circle of introductions, we asked participants for a quick check-in via the chat.  The introducton to the book started after 3m15s in, with questions-answers beginning after 1h03m.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
March 13
(1h42m)
[20230313_ST-ON EcologicalLimitsToDevelopment_1920x900.m4v]
(HDPlus 1920×900 1197kbps 1.04GB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
March 13
(1h52m)
[20230313_ST-ON EcologicalLimitsToDevelopment.m4a]
(103 MB)

Katie Kish started the session by describing the origins of the book, as a discussion between her and her doctoral supervisor.  I recognized some of the themes from her 2018 University of Waterloo thesis, Ecological Economic Development Goals: Reincorporating the social sphere in ecological economic theory and practice.  Katie unfortunately had to leave the discussion after 1h25m, leaving responses to her coauthors for the last half hour.… Read more (in a new tab)

Systems Changes Learning: Recasting and reifying rhythmic shifts for doing, alongside thinking and making | JSCI

A special issue on “Sustainable, Smart and Systemic Design Post-Anthropocene: Through a Transdisciplinary Lens” in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics edited by Marie Davidová, Susu Nousala, and Thomas J. Marlowe has been released. In that issue, the journey of the Systems Changes Learning Circle from 2019 through 2022 is reviewed.

The editorial team, in the introductory article, wrote some descriptions about the contribution.

In the first paper, Ing (2023) presents an overview of the history, background, and philosophy of System Change Learning, integrating classical Chinese thought with Western professional practices to revisit the Aristotelean trilogy of doing (praxis), thinking (theoria) and making (poiesis) to construct a distinctly inter-/trans-disciplinary and collaborative approach that unifies the three.

The first paper invites a change of perspective through thinking based on in-depth exploration and explanation of the background, and philosophical approach of systemic learning, and the relationship to change. The author does this by introducing us to the concept of System Change Learning and unpacking the potential and versatility of this thinking for future applications, in particular, collaborative approaches.

This is the first fully peer-reviewed article about Systems Changes Learning in an academic journal!

Here’s the published abstract.


Abstract

Entering 2023, the Systems Changes Learning Circle completed in its fourth year of 10-year journey on “Rethinking Systems Thinking”. In a contextural action learning approach, the Circle has elevated rhythmic shifts as the feature that both resonates with practitioners in the field, and fits with a post-colonial philosophy of science bridging classical Chinese thought with Western professional practices.… Read more (in a new tab)

Appreciating Systems Changes via Multiparadigm Inquiry | ISSS 2022 Proceedings

In the ISSS 2022 Plenary talk, the first 25 minutes were a blast through (a) the rising interest in system(s) change(s); (b) appreciative systems (Vickers); (c1) the philosophy of architectural design; (c2) the philosophy of ecological anthropology; (c3) the philosophy of Classical Chinese Medicine; (c4) the philosophy of rhythms; and (d) methods of multiparadigm inquiry, and open theorizing.

The formal publication of the manuscript in the Proceedings of the 66th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences unpacks the content for those with an interest in really understanding the breadth of domains that the Systems Changes Learning Circle has explored, from 2019 through 2022.

This proceedings release is a milestone, as a coherent work that has been lightly reviewed. In a more thorough process of peer review, a publication may be further refined by anonymous comments requesting clarification of some points, or suggestions that some sections could be abbreviated. My style of writing presumes that readers might not know all of the references, so I’m explicit about sources. (This also helps me remember from whom I’m learning!)

Here’s the abstract, as it appears in the proceedings.


Abstract

In which ways is the subject of systems change(s), as a first-class concept, distinct from a reduction into (i) systems and (ii) changes? For practice, theory, and methods to be authentically rigourous, the philosophy underlying an approach to systems changes can be explicated. Through an appreciative systems framework, presumptions are surfaced as to (i) what are and are not systems changes; (ii) when, where, and for whom, systems changes are prioritized for attention; and (iii) how systems changes should be addressed.… Read more (in a new tab)

Sensemaking and Theory-Building | Gary S. Metcalf | ST-ON 2023-02-13

The theme for the February online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was sparked from the discussion from the January session on Root Metaphor and World Hypotheses.  What does it mean to have a theory?  How does sensemaking contribute to this?

Gary Metcalf volunteered to guide a conversation on these topics.  Two prereadings were to serve as an orientation for the diligent:

A smaller group convened for this discussion, enabling full participation by each and every attendee.  After a quick round of introductions , the conversation started around 4m20s in.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4v]
(QHD 2560×1440 265kbps 289MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4a]
(94.2MB)

The conversation flowed naturally.  I commented that before Gary was a professor of organizational systems, he had a prior career in family therapy.

Here is the original abstract sent in advance.


Some ideas have become everyday words.… Read more (in a new tab)

World Theories as Analytic-Deductive, Dispersive-Integrative

Philosophy underlies the distinction in the three volumes of the Tavistock Anthology:  founded on the World Hypotheses of Stephen C. Pepper, the Socio-Psychological Systems Perspective and the Socio-Technical Systems Perspectives are based on Organicism, while the Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective is based on Contextualism.

This thread on contextualism can be traced from the association between E.C. Tolman and Pepper in 1934, through the publication by Emery & Trist in 1965.

Fred Emery, in the edited paperback on Systems Thinking: Selected Readings (1969), cites World Hypotheses (1942) as a precedent to systems theory.  Stephen C. Pepper described the four Relatively Adequate World Hypotheses as two treatments with polarities, that can be structured into a 2-by-2 matrix, shown in Table 1.

Table 1:
Four relatively adequate world hypotheses
World Hypothesis Dispersive Integrative
Analytic
Formism
Root metaphor:
Similarity, as a recurrence of recognizable features
Mechanism
Root metaphor:
Machine, where exerting force or energy produces predictable outcomes
Synthetic
Contextualism
Root metaphor:
Situation, as a historic event in its living actuality
Organicism
Root metaphor:
Constructive development, with orderliness of changes from stage to stage

Pepper named four distinct world hypotheses with unfamiliar names, and coupled them loosely with prior philosophical schools. With each world theory, a root metaphor is induced.

  • Formism is associated with realism, and the idealism of Plato and Aristotle. Its root metaphor is similarity.
  • Mechanism is associated with naturalism or materialism, with philosophers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume.
Read more (in a new tab)

Root Metaphors and World Hypotheses | ST-ON 2023-01-09

Researching the philosophical foundations of systems theory to understand the meanings of “causal texture, contextualism, contextural” from the Tavistock legacy led to philosopher Stephen C. Pepper.

The philosophical lineage and contributions of Pepper were the focus for the January online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario.  A deep reading of Pepper’s work (over a month!) was digested on a wiki site on the Open Learning Commons at http://wh.daviding.wiki.openlearning.cc/view/welcome-visitors/view/world-hypotheses .  That is better as a reference resource than an easy explanation.

The online meeting began with usual self-introductions.  After 15 minutes, a quick overview of the wiki site was reviewed, interjected with clairifying questions by Zaid Khan, and moderation monitoring by Dan Eng.  Participants were engaged in making sense of the World Hypotheses as a precursor to systems thinking, continuing for well over an hour.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_1920x900.m4v]
(HDPlus 1920×900 952kbps 958MB)

[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses_640x300.m4v]
(640×300 162kbps 281MB)

[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was extracted from the video.

Audio
January 9
(1h59m)
[20230109_ST-ON RootMetaphorsWorldHypotheses.mp3]
(110MB)

Participation in this discussion was intended more to provoke thought and conversation about philosophical framings inherent in the evolution of systems thinking, than to explicate with the intricacies of an American pragmatist taking a position against logical positivism in the 1940s.… Read more (in a new tab)

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    • daviding: “Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading …” April 23, 2024
      Pre-announcing April 30 Dialogic Drinks session I'm leading on "#Yinyang and Daojia into #SystemsThinking through Changes", online 18:30 Singapore, 11:30 London, 6:30am Toronto. Repeating May 2, 8:00pm ET. Official #EQLab notifications https://www.eqlab.co/newsletter-signup
    • daviding: “Diachrony (or diachronic shifts) resurrects a word from 1857…” April 10, 2024
      Diachrony (or diachronic shifts) resurrects a word from 1857, better expressing *changes through time*. A social practice publication in 1998 contrasts synchronic with diachronic. https://ingbrief.wordpress.com/2024/04/10/diachronic-diachrony/
    • daviding: “Web video introduction of 15 minutes for 1-hour Lunch and Le…” March 22, 2024
      Web video introduction of 15 minutes for 1-hour Lunch and Learn #CentreForSocialInnovationToronto on "Systems Changes Dialogues for Social Innovation" invites practitioners for upcoming monthly meetings. Evocative animated images, details deferred to conversations with mentors. https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-changes-dialogues-csi/#SystemsThinking
    • daviding: “Web video of slides from "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Sys…” March 21, 2024
      Web video of slides from "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning" for Dialogic Drinks of #EQLab represents only 1/5 of the time compared to peer-led discussions. Concise hosting called for brevity, and richer presentations. https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/from-unfreezing-refreezing-eq-lab/ #SystemsThinking
    • daviding: “Hosting multiple Dialogic Drinks on "From Unfreezing-Refreez…” March 8, 2024
      Hosting multiple Dialogic Drinks on "From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning" online, March 12 (Europe), March 14 (Americas), March 15 (Australia). #Leadership meets #SystemsThinking . Short presentations, longer discussions https://www.eqlab.co/from-unfreezing-refreezing-to-systems-changes-learning-david-ing
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    • The Nature and Application of the Daodejing | Ames and Hall (2003)
      Ames and Hall (2003) provide some tips for those studyng the DaoDeJing.
    • Diachronic, diachrony
      Finding proper words to express system(s) change(s) can be a challenge. One alternative could be diachrony. The Oxford English dictionary provides two definitions for diachronic, the first one most generally related to time. (The second is linguistic method) diachronic ADJECTIVE Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “diachronic (adj.), sense 1,” July 2023, https://doi.org/10.1093/OED/3691792233. For completeness, prochronic relates “to […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2”, edited by F. E. Emery (1981)
      The selection of readings in the “Introduction” to Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2, Penguin (1981), edited by Fred E. Emery, reflects a turn from 1969 when a general systems theory was more fully entertained, towards an urgency towards changes in the world that were present in 1981. Systems thinking was again emphasized in contrast […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings”, edited by F. E. Emery (1969)
      In reviewing the original introduction for Systems Thinking: Selected Readings in the 1969 Penguin paperback, there’s a few threads that I only recognize, many years later. The tables of contents (disambiguating various editions) were previously listed as 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings. — begin paste — Introduction In the selection of papers for this […]
    • Concerns with the way systems thinking is used in evaluation | Michael C. Jackson, OBE | 2023-02-27
      In a recording of the debate between Michael Quinn Patton and Michael C. Jackson on “Systems Concepts in Evaluation”, Patton referenced four concepts published in the “Principles for effective use of systems thinking in evaluation” (2018) by the Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group (SETIG) of the American Evaluation Society. The four concepts are: (i) […]
    • Quality Criteria for Action Research | Herr, Anderson (2015)
      How might the quality of an action research initiative be evaluated? — begin paste — We have linked our five validity criteria (outcome, process, democratic, catalytic, and dialogic) to the goals of action research. Most traditions of action research agree on the following goals: (a) the generation of new knowledge, (b) the achievement of action-oriented […]
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    • What to Do When It’s Too Late | David L. Hawk | 2024
      David L. Hawk (American management theorist, architect, and systems scientist) has been hosting a weekly television show broadcast on Bold Brave Tv from the New York area on Wednesdays 6pm ET, remotely from his home in Iowa. Live, callers can join…Read more ›
    • 2021/06/17 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 2
      Following the first day lecture on Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1 for the Global University for Sustainability, Keekok Lee continued on a second day on some topics: * Anatomy as structure; physiology as function (and process); * Process ontology, and thing ontology; * Qi ju as qi-in-concentrating mode, and qi san as qi-in-dissipsating mode; and […]
    • 2021/06/16 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1
      The philosophy of science underlying Classical Chinese Medicine, in this lecture by Keekok Lee, provides insights into ways in which systems change may be approached, in a process ontology in contrast to the thing ontology underlying Western BioMedicine. Read more ›
    • 2021/02/02 To Understand This Era, You Need to Think in Systems | Zeynep Tufekci with Ezra Klein | New York Times
      In conversation, @zeynep with @ezraklein reveal authentic #SystemsThinking in (i) appreciating that “science” is constructed by human collectives, (ii) the west orients towards individual outcomes rather than population levels; and (iii) there’s an over-emphasis on problems of the moment, and…Read more ›
    • 2019/04/09 Art as a discipline of inquiry | Tim Ingold (web video)
      In the question-answer period after the lecture, #TimIngold proposes art as a discipline of inquiry, rather than ethnography. This refers to his thinking On Human Correspondence. — begin paste — [75m26s question] I am curious to know what art, or…Read more ›
    • 2019/10/16 | “Bubbles, Golden Ages, and Tech Revolutions” | Carlota Perez
      How might our society show value for the long term, over the short term? Could we think about taxation over time, asks @carlotaprzperez in an interview: 92% for 1 day; 80% within 1 month; 50%-60% tax for 1 year; zero tax for 10 years.Read more ›
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