When Unfreeze-Move-Refreeze Isn’t Working: Doing, Thinking and Making Via Systems Changes Learning Practitioners coming to the systems sciences and/or systems thinking have an interest in “systems change(s)”. Many come from premise that that change occurs as “unfreeze-move-refreeze”, misattributed to Kurt Lewin. A more reflective view of systems changes not only sees distinctions between the intended and emergent recognized by Henry Mintzberg,... Read more
Systems Leadership and Systems Change are very popular phrases at the moment - search the web for a sense (and Medium.com if you really want to boggle your mind). Some of it is really good, some of it is risible, and much has little to do with systems thinking or systems practice. This session will explore some of the existing territory and dimensions and sketch out Benjamin's approach, drawing on two of his articles from last year (reading the... Read more
Nobody really understands their business....but how well does the business understand itself? In this talk will use a case study to demonstrate how a zombie organisation can transform itself into conscious collective and become the compute function for its own operation.
This presentation charts the journey of Public Health's engagement with systems thinking, initially via Theory U and later through Community Operational Research methods. The practical application, pitfalls, considerations of using these methods in community settings brings this, sometimes conceptual focus, into the "real" world. The emergence of Adult Development as a seam of research that helps to bring a sense of movement to seemingly intrac... Read more
Patrick talks about his new book ‘The Grammar of Systems’ which is in two parts: the ‘Grammar’ describing 33 Systems Laws and Principles and how to use them; and ‘How to think like a Systems Thinker’ which goes through 9 thought patterns involved in systems thinking. In the session he looks at the overall picture that the laws make when taken as a whole and then focuses on the 9 thought patterns, why each is important in systems, how they rel... Read more
Roger Duck and Jane Searles share their recent experience of creating conditions to enable exploration of transformational systemic change. The work involved the collaborative development of a visionary whole system transition architecture. The specific context was regional transport, but the systemic methodology is of more general application, and they are keen to discuss with others in the interest of mutual learning. This work was originally... Read more
In deze sessie vertrekken we vanuit de socio-technische systeemtheorie (STS). Seth heeft een lange academische opleiding en loopbaan genoten in deze wetenschap, en heeft deze benadering vervolgens met veel vallen en bijna even veel opstaan naar de praktijk gebracht in het afgelopen decennium. Een korte inleiding schetst STS als een theorie van zelfsturende teams. Aan de hand van praktijkvoorbeelden komen de mogelijkheden en beperkingen van deze t... Read more
Einführung in das Viable System Model durch Michael Frahm. Der Termin richtet sich an „VSM-Neulinge“, aber auch an alle Interessierten, welche sich eingehend mit den Basics des Models beschäftigen wollen. Nach der Präsentation und einigen Beispielen aus der Praxis besteht die Möglichkeit, Fragen zu stellen und zur allgemeinen Diskussion.
We describe the work of people who take a systems convening approach, whether they know it or not. We articulate the mindset with which they approach the work and the different dimensions of that work.It’s a context-based, non-prescriptive conceptualisation based on people’s experiences. Presenters: Bev and Etienne Wenger-Trayner; Social Learning Theorists & Consultants
Introducing scenario planning modified for quick deployment and iteration, adding a dimension to finding solutions for business with complicated or complex systems. Julio introduces the 7 phases of the matrix: identify, classify, articulate, numbers, systems, engage and evaluate, and offers examples for how this approach can be used in real-life situations. We can prepare for an ‘unknown’ future! Presenter: Julio Graham: Managing Director, Oliv... Read more
In this talk, Gerald Midgley will present the systems theory of marginalization that he has been developing and applying in systemic interventions for almost 30 years. This theory offers a generic model of marginalization processes that is equally relevant to relationships between people in small groups, organizations, communities and international relations. Both people and the issues that concern them can become marginalized. Gerald will share... Read more
Humans developed the capacity to walk x years ago. But without feedback we’d still be crawling. We would not have learnt from our stumbling mistakes. Can modern government work without feedback? Can any system? This session is a combined presentation and co-production.Cybernetics is its theoretical basis and circular causality or feedback—that is, where the outcomes of actions are taken as inputs for further action. The gaping hole at the centre... Read more
El sentido común nos impide abordar las transformaciones profundas que el mundo necesita, porque es justamente lo que ha generado los complejos problemas del Siglo XXI, como las desigualdades, las discriminaciones, la crisis climática, la destrucción ambiental, el narcotráfico o las oleadas de personas que migran buscando dignidad. El sentido común es un modo de actuar automático que está instalado en nuestras mentes y culturas desde hace cuatro... Read more
¿Por qué es relevante para la estrategia o el diseño organizacional? Permite identificar a las personas clave que pueden contribuir a mejorar el desempeño gracias a su influencia. Permite también identificar los vacíos estructurales que incrementan la fragilidad de la organización.
¿Qué es el Análisis de Redes Organizacionales? Es la aplicación de la Teoría de Redes Sociales en el contexto organizacional. Describe las conexiones que existen entre las personas de un grupo social determinado asumiendo que la forma en la que están conectadas afecta a su acceso a la información, los recursos, el prestigio de los individuos y su inflencia en el grupo.
Organisations are coming under increasing pressure to work sustainably, both environmentally and socially. That will require a process of more or less adaptation, involving varying degrees of organisational learning. But what needs to be learnt? The Viable System Model has the potential to be a very powerful way of identifying what people within organisations need to learn. Based on extensive research carried out in the course of writing his for... Read more
Defining and Managing Organisational Identity using Structural Coupling and Fractal Enterprise Model
Saying, such as, “Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell who you are” or “Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are” presume that a person's identity could be derived from the person's environment. Can the same be done for organizational identity? According to Patrick Hoverstadt, it can be done by exploiting the concept of structural coupling that comes from biological cybernetic, more exactly from the works of Maturana and ... Read more
The Viable Systems Model is an elegant and profound intellectual achievement, but its practical impact and recognition is limited, at least in the world of business. In this talk Steve Morlidge will demonstrate how he has introduced cybernetic thinking into the design and description of innovative management practices to improve the regulation of organisational financial resources, specifically: Alternatives to traditional annual budgeting, Busin... Read more
Residuality theory is a revolutionary new theory of software design that aims to make it easier to design software systems for complex business environments. Residuality theory models software systems as interconnected residues - an alternative to component and process modelling that uses applied complexity science to make managing uncertainty a fundamental part of the design process.
Systems architecture provides a framing for systems thinking. Systems architecture has long been considered as both an art and a science. The systems architect uses heuristics, stories, and models to communicate complex architectural concepts to stakeholders. Since the earliest times, master building architects have developed their skills broadly across the technical, business, and fine art domains. Principles and practices of systems architectur... Read more
To introduce practical approaches to developing a more effective organisational system through gaining visibility of the informal networks that exist within the organisation. Understanding how informal networks operate is crucial to understanding organisational behaviour and identifying levers for positive change. The use of graphical representations of those informal networks is a key to getting everyone engaged in change processes - ‘people do ... Read more
[Presentation in English] The ever increasing variety in our daily practice makes it hard to create viable organizations, supply chains, and networks. We know the theory, but the big question is always “But how?”. USM, the method for unified service management, provides an effective answer, based on principles, architecture, systems, and complexity reduction. USM explains how practitioners have been sent in the wrong direction for three decades,... Read more
[presentation in Spanish] La esencial triple pregunta de los seres humanos, "quién soy, de dónde vengo y a dónde voy", es perfectamente aplicable a las organizaciones que, en definitiva, no dejan de ser agregaciones de personas conformando un sistema complejo. En este pequeño espacio vamos a realizar un rápido recorrido a las tipologías organizativas, sus estados de evolución y cómo descubrir "dónde está" cada una, aspecto fundamental para val... Read more
This development event explored what metaphors are how they use shapes thinking from two perspectives: non-conscious use of metaphors and the way they frame how people set and then solve problems; using metaphors to generate and explore new framings and conflicts in framing
The Variety Calculus was developed by Dr Gordon Niven and Lt Gen Sir David Capewell as an approach to addressing the increasing complexity of military operations and operating environments. It is a synthesis of concepts from cybernetics, complexity theory and systems thinking that seeks to provide a way of thinking about human organisations and purposeful endeavours that can inform how we can develop structures, processes and relationships that a... Read more
At the September 2020 SCiO Open Day Ray Ison and Ed Straw drew on their newly published book ‘The Hidden Power of Systems Thinking’. They presented a case for the importance of Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) for addressing a range of current crises including the climate emergency. They argued for a theory of change from within civil society and a need to move from understanding to action. In 2018 Somerset County Council (SCC) gained a nat... Read more
SCiO DACH Buch Club mit Dr. Martin Pfiffner und seinem fantastischen Buch „Die dritte Dimension des Organisierens“ erschienen 2020 bei Springer/ Gabler mit 348 Seiten für 34.99 € als Taschenbuch. eBook ISBN: 978-3-658-29247-8, Softcover ISBN: 978-3-658-29246-1 Donnerstag den 28.01.2021 von 16:00 bis 17:30 Uhr GMT virtuell Die 1. Dimension; die Aufbauorganisation Die 2. Dimension; die Ablauforganisation Die 3. Dimension des Organisierens; das ... Read more
If systems thinking offers great power, what does great responsibility look like? Benjamin developed the ‘four quadrants of thinking threats’ with the involvement of the SCiO Board (but accepts all responsibility), a simple model seeking to help us all to identify some of the inherent risks in the potential of systems thinking, cybernetics, and complexity to help us to ‘see more’ and ‘know differently’. We will explore physically and intellect... Read more
The latest Gallup data demonstrates that 66% of the workforce is either sabotaging their workplace, or do not care, and six out of ten millennials are looking for a new job. In contrast, in the highest performing organizations, 70% of the workforce is actively engaged with their workplace, drive everyday innovation, create unparalleled customer value, and grow both personally and professionally. Understanding leadership as an organizational syst... Read more
[Presentation is in Dutch] In common parlance ‘systems thinking’ is understood as ‘thinking in systems’ (as the title of Donella Meadows’ posthumously published, widely read book suggests). It relies on systems concepts — such as stocks, flows, feedback loops, network and hierarchy — to structure the problem solving process in relation to particular design challenges. ‘Systems practice’ goes beyond that. It is ‘systems thinking and doing’, or ... Read more
Systems have formed a significant part of science over many-a-year... scholars such as; Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Peter Checkland, Ross Ashby, Russell Ackoff, Stafford Beer and many more have discussed, debated and placed front and centre the importance of ‘Systems Thinking’ in helping us to deal with, make sense of the complexities that we witness first-hand every day. With many black swan events in recent times, all of which seem to have a natur... Read more
This session is a brief introduction to what Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) is, how it fits, where it applies, how it works in a nutshell, and how it relates to other methods in the Systems Thinking meta-approach. There’s also a simplified practical example of CSH in practice, and hopefully a chance for some discussion about applying the method. About Tony: Tony is a specialist in organisational improvement, including leadership and manag... Read more
Presentation given to IPMA: Megaprojects are complex organizational structures that have a great influence on their parent organizations as well as on their environment. In order to be able to design and steer these complex systems, a suitable focus is necessary. This is provided by the approach to organizational viability. Viability expresses that large and megaprojects are to be designed in such a way that there is sufficient capacity to functi... Read more
[presentation is in English] In the world of New Work, Teal, Agile, Self-Organisation/Self-Management, Systems Thinking and Blockchain, talk about governance is the new black. Just try to remember how often you recently read about teams experimenting with new ways of collaborating and deciding together. One example could be Zappos, a daughter company of Amazon, which got known for using a governance framework called Holacracy. Its implementation... Read more
Patrick will introduce us to how the strategic fit between organizations drives their strategic direction. His work, which he developed together with Lucy Loh, is the first significant new approach to strategy in a long time. He unfolds a vital perspective for those who wish to understand how to maneuver their organization to change its strategic fit to their advantage. The framework allows one to examine both your own and your competitor's stra... Read more
In the age of the Anthropocene the need for new ways of thinking and acting has become urgent. But patterns of obstacles are apparent in any action, be they corporate interests, lobbyists, or outdated political and government systems. In this presentation Professor Ray Ison and Ed Straw will show how and why systemic failure in governance is at the heart of the collective incapacity to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies. They will go... Read more
Language is often a problem in complex organisational change, with different departments and stakeholder groups using the same words to mean different things, and using different words to mean the same thing. As systems practitioners, we are constantly building models of organisations and their environments, but we too bring our own language and assumptions, and it’s often apparent that the models we create to tame complexity make little sense t... Read more
The meeting is held in Dutch: SCIO-NL meeting in September 2020, in which we talked about the housing situation in the Netherlands. We explored ways in which we could use systemic models and reasoning to get a grip on some of the unwanted effects we see. We talked about causal loops, shared a VSM-like perspective regarding different recursive levels that play a role (from national government to individual citizen), and discussed looking at the ... Read more
Global economy putting pressure to digitalise at day to day interactions and business (micro) level. Digitalisation will transform not only the way we make business, but the way people interact, live in our cities and communities, commute and travel, and consume. It is difficult to appreciate the depth and consequences of this transformation and, I think, ST could make a difference.
This topic is aimed at taking stock of members’ experiences with using the VSM explicitly in combination with other methods. What went well? What did not? I will introduce the topic with a (very) short introduction of my own experiences (including causal loop diagrams, Deming and Cybernetic Big 5 Theory)
...- the high and low co-operate in the general system of unavoidable concatenation: People I talk to often seem a little wary of the term “systems thinking” – a bit abstract, perhaps, and far too intellectual. On other hand, anyone who can appreciate complex drama, from Shakespeare to modern TV shows like The Wire, is arguably already doing it, that is thinking, to some degree, systemically. These complex and involved dramas invariably reflect... Read more
...The Hyperobjective Media and Agency in Co-creative Design Processes: The session by Marie Davidova will focus on Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance (SAAP) design field and hyperobjectivity of its prototypes. The field discusses the question of cities’ adaptation to climate change and biodiversity loss. Current environmental ecology research shows that species that have adapted to agricultural land hundreds of years ago are recentl... Read more
The presentation is in Dutch: SCIO-NL meeting in July 2020, in which Joost van der Leij explains the VSM in a simple way from a top-down perspective. He emphasizes the recursion levels from a management perspective, distinguishing between senior and junior management.
The talk will look at the underlying concepts, design and practice of War Rooms as decision environments for dealing with complex and fast moving situations. Starting with Blackett’s invention of the War Room, through Beer’s Cybersyn to the work we are currently engaged on and its use with client in tackling complex strategic issues. We’ll talk through the difference current technology offers and the different ways our modern War Rooms can be use... Read more
The Viable System Model is one of the key capabilities that SCiO has focused on. It’s an implementation of cybernetics. “Viable system” suggests living system — and vibrant systems feel alive. Are they? Can organisations be organisms? And what difference would that make? This questions our questions and stimulates provocations. At a time when science is regenerating, does management need to as the same? If we start thinking organically, how many ... Read more
In common with all living human systems, organisations need differences to develop and transform. And yet, in organisations, as in all living human systems, we often dismiss, attack or try to convert differences. Indeed, we are primed neurologically to do this – our Flight, Fight, Freeze responses. Agazarian’s systems-centered method of functional subgrouping offers a way to lower our reactivity to differences, and to increase our capacity to sta... Read more
The theory of Constructed Development (as per Stevens’ 2019 PhD thesis) is a measure of a person’s awareness of their constructed intentions in the moment; this measure is time and context-specific and determines how much of their thinking is at choice. This choice leads to a number of possible responses in the moment. The individual’s capacity to choose their response in the moment informs personality and thus behaviour. When applying this theor... Read more
Training is an investment, much like introducing new technologies or processes, that organisations make in order to improve their performance. However, it is harder to evaluate the success of training than of 'hard' changes like technology or process. Since the 1970s the training profession has largely drawn on variants of the so-called 'Kirkpatrick framework' to evaluate training, even though there is a general agreement in the profession that i... Read more
Presentation during the SCiO DACH Camp in Aalen Germany about the application of System Thinking methods for the management of megaprojects with a special view on the pathological archetypes which were given in using the viable system model for the diagnosis of systems.
Alan is a leadership performance coach, working with people handling the complexities of technology, people and business in our hyperconnected world. He was around when the first computers hit the workplace, and his consulting career began when ideas like systems thinking, complexity, change management and transformation started to appear. A few years ago, frustrated that most of the advice was about trying to change others, he decided to focus... Read more