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Many organisations are preoccupied with Strategic Planning and the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with a clear desire to ‘get to where they want to go’.  On this journey, many fall foul of ‘The Tyranny of Meaningless Metrics’ (songs of the Sirens)  Worst still, if they do reach the destination, they may discover where they wanted to get to wasn’t the destination actually required to grow or survive after all! (“Alice: Would you tell me,... Read more
Three Horizons is a simple and intuitive tool for thinking about the future. It grew out of a wealth of experience in future thinking, notably in strategic scenario thinking. It is an easy to use but potent way of thinking about working towards the future in the present, including maintaining the best of the present system. It helps groups explore systemic patterns to identify which of the dominant patterns are no longer fit for purpose, how the ... Read more
Video
If your occupational health and safety policy states a commitment to providing a safe workplace, reporting accidents, continual improvement etc. have you considered this from a cybernetic viewpoint? Most organisations govern their safety management by trying to achieve Zero Harm through implementing corporate risk assessments, but accidents still happen, and management hunts down someone to blame for poor safety statistics on the management revie... Read more
This talk examines System Thinking by exploring the following themes: 1. System Thinking is embedded within a philosophical framework which is totally different from that of so-called “standard thinking” found in what may be called the Newtonian sciences, such as classical physics, DNA/ molecular biology, the monogenic conception of disease in Biomedicine, and so on. 2. Modern science beginning in the 17th century in Western Europe (which was/is... Read more
Video
Claims are frequently made about changing THE system.  Many talk about Whole System change. Then there is systematic change as well as systemic change.   What do practitioners do when they engage, or claim that they engage, with these types of change?  What are the elements of systemic praxis (theory informed practical action)? What are the implications for the use of methods and methodologies? And for situational change which constitutes an impr... Read more
Video
Ford's unique product wasn't the Model T - it was River Rouge: anybody could make the Model T but not everybody could make River Rouge. River Rouge was a special type of transactional organisation that gave Ford competitive advantage. This advantage comprised of Taylorising the activities by separating the Knowledge from the activity, and coordinating these activities by moving the car between stations. There was no communication/learning between... Read more
Video
Organisational agility is now a relatively hot topic, which it wasn’t when I first talked about this subject at SCiO 6 years ago. Since then, we’ve significantly developed and extended the model for measuring agility, so will be talking about the latest developments. We’ll start with the need for business agility, going beyond the hype to look at the business reality and strategic importance of agility. We’ll then go on to look at the different ... Read more
An introduction to the viable system model.
Video
One of the most important intersections between design and systems is their shared concern for ethics. When we think of ethical considerations in either context, we often do so in terms of applied ethics—as the application of ethical insight to guide practice, addressing issues such professional standards of conduct, and our relationships to the environment and to each other. There are, however, difficulties with thinking of the relationship bet... Read more
Video
It is often said that organisations are full of paradoxes. But this refers to contradictions and tensions. It is understood as something that needs to be taken care of. When organisations are looked at as social systems, however, it becomes clear that they are only possible because of paradoxes, and particularly paradoxes of self-reference. Understanding how these paradoxes create and maintain organisations is an important skill for practitioners... Read more
This session looks at organizational crisis – one that poses an existential threat to an organization, and at the VSM conditions, which can be used to understand and predict such organisational crises. The findings of a quantitative phd-study with 135 organizations shows that the (absence of) system viability is significantly and strongly connected with the occurrence of Organisational crisis. We discuss the limitations, implications and conseque... Read more
Sooner or later, most Agile teams find that it’s hard to sustain change, and harder to still to encourage the wider organisation to change with it. How about we turned it upside down, inverting the organisational pyramid so that supporting change becomes the organisation’s responsibility? How might we make that work?
Peter will provide insights from the use System Dynamics modelling over a 20yr career in health and social care consultancy.  He will provide people with a walk through of some existing models (see here) and explore some of the pitfalls and benefits of the approach.  There will be an opportunity to explore both quantitative and qualitative elements of systems and how they feature in SD modelling against a background of the culture and expectation... Read more
In elite sport recognition skills, pattern recall and decision-making are critical success skills that impact the outcome of a game. How good the decisions are, is determined not only by the quality of information available and the quality experience athletes draw or on the athlete’s self interest, memory and outside stimulus but the relationship between the coach and the athlete. The hockey coach / athlete relationship can be visualized as a cy... Read more
Video
Jonathan will talk about his experiences in designing and managing IT led transformations that use a combination of both waterfall and agile approaches and the issues of dealing with these two very different project methodologies in parallel.
Video
Wiltshire Council has been using systems thinking as its improvement approach for eleven years; over that time the council has applied the approach with its principal delivery partners in increasingly large systems. One reason for this evolution is that the approach has proved better at tackling complex ‘hard to solve’ problems than other methods (which often did the opposite). Over the last 18 months, we have focused our keenest attention on wh... Read more
As companies increasingly need to collaborate to deliver large projects, and as the world of work gets evermore complex with short-term contracts and the ‘gig economy’, it is getting harder to structure organisations that are fit for purpose and adaptive to changing needs. In this session Alexandra will share with us her experience and some of the ideas and tools she has developed to work systemically in organisation design and think about questi... Read more
Video
John Warfield and Aleco Christakis developed the field of Interactive Management in the US in the 1980s, and Christakis subsequently evolved it into the methodology Structured Dialogic Design. In its various forms (and under different names) it has been widely applied across the globe in enabling groups to tackle wicked problems and complex challenges, but is not well known in the UK. This presentation will outline the methodology, it’s provenanc... Read more
Presentation
This presentation will outline the STREAMS ideas and Philosophy.  STREAMS is a set of ideas about how to build and manage an Enterprise based on a common, rigorous STREAMS Philosophy. It leads to methodologies, methods and techniques for building, managing, evolving and innovating Enterprises that can be applied in practice but, like an Engineering approach, its methods are grounded in rigorous research and understanding. Common to the three mai... Read more
Between each of the VSM constituent systems there are feedback loops.  An explanation of the nature of the kinds of processing that each feedback loop may require to support the principle of “Clear Line of Sight” on a coherent basis such that the impact of inferential distance can be reduced  and at the same time detect anomalies associated with “Inversion of Control” and their impact.
Presentation
Kim will talk about his work using system dynamics modelling to model businesses, strategy and change.
Presentation
Stemming from the Enlightenment period, science has come to be viewed as the best way to establish truth from an objective standpoint. In its quest for the black and white outcomes of “guilty/not guilty”, it is perhaps not surprising that the legal system has become affected by the dominant reductionist narrative of positivism. Positivist politics have been enforced though both the technicalities of law and the details of legal procedures that ha... Read more
Video
A talk describing an investigation into ITIL and IT service management from a systems perspective - particularly making use of the viable systems model.
This will be a practical session on visualising systems in ways that other people can understand. If “all models are wrong but some are useful”, we propose that some of this usefulness comes down to how meaningful the model is to those who didn’t create it. If you have ever built an elegant, powerful, predictive model of a system that excited little or no interest from the people affected by it, then this workshop is for you! You can apply the p... Read more
An introduction to the viable system model.
Many of us are searching for 'neat and complete' answers to the messiness and complexity of (organisational / social / economic / ecological) life. Me too, though I've always known it's impossible. Then I stumbled across Bongard games on meaningless.com thanks to Mike Haber, and discovered a way to demonstrate - through experience - why it's not possible. I'll invite you to experience the joy of Bongard, and lead a discussion on Meta-contextualit... Read more
We refer to 'healthcare' as a system, suggestive of structures and boundaries.  What can we take health to mean beyond healthcare?  Are our efforts to create 'person centred healthcare' simply a matter of re-drawing organisational charts with patients at the middle?  If we define patient as a person in the care of a health professional, are we increasing reliance on a system geared toward the treatment of illness?  If we assume free supply is met... Read more
An introduction to the viable system model (VSM).
In this session, I wish to explore 3 themes (1) the nature of 'thinking systemically' (2) the role of critical reflection in thinking systemically (3) the interplay between use of diagramming, critical reflection and thinking systemically. The approach will be a mix of presentation and participant discussion. I will present some of my own thoughts on each theme, and at intervals ask participants to consider this input and discuss their views on ... Read more
The fourth industrial revolution is powered by cognitive computing, which automates many aspects of the human intellect. Algorithms are increasingly capable of identifying connections, patterns and co-evolution in big data, enabling us to make sense from a systemic perspective. At the same time complexity is paralyzing innovation in ecosystems. It is more and more difficult to describe interconnections between parts of an eco-system and while ind... Read more
Gregory Bateson’s influence reaches deep into the fabric of NLP which can be defined in essence as ‘the study of the structure of subjective experience’. All its major techniques are based on cybernetic principles. We will explore some key systemic NLP concepts and what these might offer the conversation between the inner world of the individual and the larger systems that form its life conditions. We might also explore why Bateson developed a cl... Read more
Presentation
Natalie Marguet is currently a PhD student at Alliance Manchester Business School.  The session focuses on an emergent and unexpected finding of her PhD that is aligned with VSM. Her PhD uses Personal Construct Theory and organisational sensemaking to explore the ways that decision are actually made within organisations. The research considers three interconnected levels of decision making (individual, group and organisation) and utilises a  lon... Read more
Video
Miles Davis merely changed the face of music 4 or 5 times in his career. To be a successful jazz musician and leader is a challenge; to sustain that over more than 30 years is astonishing. He was an indifferent trumpet player and had a reputation as a difficult and arrogant performer. (His controversial personal life has also come under attack, but that falls outside the scope of this work.) Yet aspiring jazz musicians dreamt of playing with him,... Read more
Video
Adoption of systems thinking and systems approaches in a hierarchical public sector organisation such as defence can be challenging. The Systems of Systems Approach (SOSA) change programme has spent the last 5 years trying to help the MoD tackle complex problems and improve coherency across defence. This presentation will be an interactive discussion on the application of Systems Approaches and how we communicate them to a non-expert audience in ... Read more
An introduction to the viable system model.(partial video)
Video
Mike is a currently a consultant supporting ‘transformational’ projects in UK local government.  His previous career has included roles in the Civil Service, Higher Education and a range of Local Authorities, including as Head of Performance & Risk at Swindon Council and Senior Business Change Manager at Trafford Council.  Mike has also followed the well-trodden path of the Open University STiP course, due to complete the MSc this April. Mik... Read more
Patterns of Strategy has been described as: “the first major new approach to strategy in a long time.”* It is also the first systems approach developed specifically for understanding and formulating strategy. This extended session will introduce the Patterns of Strategy approach, some of the systems theory behind it and then we’ll move into a practical workshop where the participants will use the approach working in groups on strategic issues of... Read more
An introduction to the viable system model.
An introduction to the viable system model.
Organisations often see training as an important way to improve individual and team performance, but may fail to consider how training relates to broader organisational issues affecting performance, or how it may complement ongoing informal learning activities. Systems thinking as a broader concept provides a useful way of identifying how training can be designed so that it supports individual and team performance more effectively. Tools such as ... Read more
In this talk Angela will provide a brief review of development of complex systems approaches to management and sustainability research. In particular she will brief the ‘Viability and Sustainability (V&S)’ approach, its methodologies, tools and some recent applications. Then she will summarise the theory offered by the Complex Adaptive Systems approach to this research field, and reflect on examples of application. A comparison among cases st... Read more
Video
How do we regulate ourselves in practice? How do we bring elegance and aesthetics to our work? How can single double and triple loop learning prompt greater reflexivity in practice? How can we embody theoretical knowledge in a way that encompasses all our being and act with deep awareness? How do we ensure that the quality of the interventions we make are enhanced by an awareness of our internal states? This presentation will draw on a recent stu... Read more
Presentation
Mike Haber, a University IT Team Leader, and Tim James, a Health Care Commissioner, met at a recent SCiO Development Day and discovered they were independently leading Systems Thinking focussed workplace learning groups. In a time of tight or non-existent training budgets, both have tapped into a real appetite for bottom-up informal learning groups. They have also found a particular thirst among their colleagues for learning about genuine approa... Read more
Presentation
Richard will give an introduction to the constellations methodology used in 1:1 coaching and with organisations to explore underlying dynamics of systems. It will include an experiential element. The technique was originally devised within psychotherapy and now has a wide range of applications. Richard will explain the CareStellations structural approach that he is developing specifically for the care and health sector. Richard Pantlin is an ind... Read more
Benjamin will give a flying overview and critique some perspectives on 'system(s) leadership', including: - collaborative leadership and influencing models - living systems - 'whole systems' and large group methods - systems leadership theory - Barry Oshry's power+systems approach - adaptive leadership - leading in complexity - approaches based on behavioural and cognitive insights - approaches based on the viable systems model (and Patrick Hover... Read more
We live in a world of digital transformation, where ongoing change is disrupting organisations and business models. It is challenging and disrupting us as leaders or agents of change. It can inspire a pioneer mindset, to be excited and energized to find and build the future. It can be stressful, with too much to do, and too little time. It’s a VUCA world - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In his talk, Willson will take a fresh look at... Read more
The talk will reprise themes associated with a number of international addresses given in 2016 that address the question of what does the field of cybersystemics have to offer for governing in the Anthropocene? A response to this question entails examining how the concept 'system' has gone feral and its implications as well as what a field of cybersystemics might look like, and why? Through groundings in his own research Ray will explore what way... Read more
Presentation
This talk will look at some of the symptoms of a democracy that is clearly under attack; some of the toxins that are attacking it and some systemic solutions that offer an antidote and that will help restore it. Bay Jordan, Director of Zealise Limited is the author of several books including, "Lean Organisations Need FAT People" and "The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped." Bay is a Chartered Accoutant with f... Read more
This is a talk about systemic methods in practice. Roger and Jane have been addressing the architecture for future GB electrical power systems in various ways over the last three years. This talk will bring SCiO up to date on progress since their previous SCiO talk, in October 2013, on a distributed electricity architecture. They will address their experiences of grounding a wholly systemic approach and the learning which has ensued. Topics will... Read more
Presentation
A brief introduction to the viable system model.