Transduction — leading transformation — Issue #100

Benjamin P. Taylor
18 min readSep 1, 2023


This week:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Systems-change approaches
  • Cybernetics
  • Meta-complexity

Upcoming events:

Two new commissioning academies: coming this winter!

Exciting News! Introducing two Commissioning Academies.

  • We will be offering a new Virtual Commissioning Academy, launching in October, facilitated entirely online
  • and an In-Person Commissioning Academy launching in January, with in-person sessions held in Nottingham.

Both offer the same great content, accredited by the PSTA and Cabinet Office.

Join our flagship development program to transform outcomes for the communities we serve!

  • Be part of a national network of commissioning practitioners.
  • Learn to initiate and lead change across complex systems.
  • Develop capabilities to drive real transformation.
  • Access expert insights and collaborative learning.
  • Apply innovative ideas and approaches to your work.

Here’s what’s in store for you at the National Commissioning Academy:

  • Foundation concepts: Working as a system, outcomes thinking, collaborative working.
  • Commissioning for outcomes as a system: Systems thinking, asset-based commissioning, trauma-informed practice, prevention and early intervention.
  • Creating conditions for change: Systems leadership, coproduction, innovation, and promoting social value.

Expect a transformative experience with masterclass workshops, action learning, expert speakers, peer challenges, practical action planning, and membership in our nationwide alumni community.

Ready to make a difference? Apply now to secure your spot at the Academy! Contact David Mason at

OpEx follow up event

5 Sept, 3–5pm BST, All About the People — Five Core Leadership Practices for OpEx,


“All About the People” is a highly interactive and engaging event designed to introduce participants to the five core leadership practices for achieving Operational Excellence. This event aims to equip leaders and managers with the essential skills and knowledge required to create a culture of operational excellence within their organizations. Through a combination of expert presentations, practical workshops, and insightful panel discussions, attendees will gain valuable insights into effective leadership strategies and learn how to empower their teams to drive continuous improvement and operational success.

Event objectives:
• Educate leaders and managers on the importance of operational excellence and its impact on organizational performance.

• Introduce participants to the five core leadership practices that foster a culture of operational excellence.

• Provide practical tools and techniques for implementing the core leadership practices in real-world scenarios.

• Foster networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities among industry professionals and thought leaders.
• Inspire attendees to become catalysts for change within their organizations and champion operational excellence initiatives.

Drawing on multiple theories and over twenty-five years of practice, introducing agile transformation into a wide range of organisations.

The practices offer the potential to influence motivation, results, and evolving purpose will help beginners and battle-hardened veterans alike.
In this session, he will introduce :

  • ways to work towards productive conversations
  • ways to enhance clarity (of roles, tasks, programmes, relationships)
  • ways to build triple-loop learning
  • ways to shape passionate culture
  • and ways to shape good and clear intent.

These practices provide powerful organisational development interventions which really make a difference, and which, collectively, support lean, agile, and systems thinking in organisations of any kind.

Benjamin Taylor runs RedQuadrant, a network consultancy in the UK, that has particular expertise in the public sector. He is a business evolutionary and avid leader fascinated by systems | cybernetics | complexity and (public) service transformation.

The point is better experiences of organisations for people and employees, and better outcomes from public services for citizens and communities. He takes ethics seriously and tries to make the work of change fun — and there’s not much that’s more fun than a great insight.

Benjamin shares and teaches on his favourite topics widely, including the international small-group RedQuadrant tool shed.

26 September, Reforming Public Procurement Conference

Tuesday 26 September, 09:00–13:10, in person, Institution of Structural Engineers, London

Westminster Insight are pleased to announce this conference on public procurement, chaired by Benjamin Taylor. The proposed Procurement Act will radically change the way supplies, services and works are procured for the public sector. With the Act predicted to come into force in early 2024, Westminster Insight’s Conference will help contracting authorities prepare for the forthcoming changes to ensure effective delivery.

We recommend early booking. Secure your place today and use code EARLY4040Z for 20% off. Please email us for group bookings — Pay online by credit card and receive a further 10% off

View the full agenda here. And secure your place here.

5–6 October, StretchCon: Compass Tech Summit, 5-in-1 conference


Benjamin Taylor will be speaking this year at StretchCon. StretchCon is an International conference dedicated to engineering leadership as part of the Compass Tech Summit. This year it will be not only organized as an individual conference but as part of something new. Compass Tech Summit will bring together under one roof several tech conferences, such as Reinforce, Crunch, Amuse and Impact with topics like engineering leadership, UX/UI, data, AI and product management. Register now:

We can also offer you a coupon code: use the SpeakerSentMe coupon code for 10% off all Compass Tickets, except Student, Workshop, Combo and Teaser tickets.

Systems Thinking Apprenticeship (2023)

We are delighted to share the news that there is now a Level 7 Systems Thinking Practitioner Apprenticeship available in England.

Systems thinking practice was developed specifically to address highly complex, adaptive, and dynamic situations. It helps you to model each situation as a system incorporating many different parts, dependencies and relationships. Systems thinking practitioners are uniquely equipped for achieving large-scale transformational change.

If you live in England, you can benefit from the scheme. The Apprenticeship is a two-and-a-half year, day release, post-graduate qualification with government funding of up to £18,000 per person. It is fully supported by expert tutors, comprehensive learning materials, and ongoing action learning.

This is a practice-based, portfolio assessed programme which draws on core systems approaches and practice skills. You’ll be supported in your job to actually put the learning to work right away, and you will be evaluated on how you incorporate your continual learning into your practice.

It’s been designed by practitioners for practitioners — the people who have not just read the books, but have written them. More importantly, these are people who have been there, done it, know about all (or at least most) of the pitfalls, and can guide you away from them.

The professional body for systems practice, SCiO, is providing world-class systems practitioner-tutors, and is supporting the curriculum development and overall approach of the programme. They are acting in collaboration with Cherith Simmons Learning and Development, who provide the apprenticeship. Further details are available here.

If you’re not in England, you can still sign up to individual modules here.

And if you are interested in developing your transformation skills, take a look at the RedQuadrant tool shed. This is a small group action learning journey with Benjamin Taylor, founder of the consultancy RedQuadrant, supported by 24 online modules covering all aspects of organisational transformation. Get a 20% discount by mentioning Enlightened Enterprise Academy.

Leading Self, Leading Systems (October 10 & 17):

Are you ready to embrace profound transformation in today’s rapidly changing world? Join our highly engaging and thought-provoking workshop to become a catalyst for positive change in your life, organization, and community.

🌐 Online Sessions: October 10th & 17th, 2023 🕘 Time: 0900–1300 BST | 1000–1400 CEST

💡 Unlock Your Leadership Potential: Leadership is not confined to titles; it’s a practice available to everyone. Discover the power of leading self and systems to create something new in the world.

🔍 Session 1 — October 10th: Explore the impact of context on relationships and behaviors through an interactive online simulation. Distinguish between personal and systemic factors with powerful frameworks. Increase self-awareness to overcome reactive patterns and boost your contribution.

🎯 Session 2 — October 17th: Immerse yourself in an organizational exercise designed to challenge your assumptions about leadership. Break down communication barriers, generate a shared vision, and lead in partnership. Learn to recognize underlying patterns that influence relationships and enhance your leadership choices.

🌐 Where: Online on Zoom 💲 Workshop Fee (Both Sessions):

  • Standard Fee: £399 (VAT included) for private sector companies.
  • Reduced Fee: £299 (VAT included) for charities, public sector, NGOs, and non-profits. 👥 Group Discount: 20% off for 3 or more participants from the same organization (use promo code GROUP).

🤝 Making a Difference: We believe in widening the impact of our work and offer bursaries for grassroots change-makers who cannot afford organizational rates. Reach out to to request bursary places.

🗣️ What People Say: Our workshops bring together diverse participants from various sectors and communities, providing a stimulating and revelatory experience. “Experiential, immersive, illuminating.” “A game-changer in online learning.” “I was engaged throughout the session and immediately saw opportunities to grow and build on my work.”

🚀 Embrace the Future Today: Seize this opportunity to become a transformative leader in your life and beyond. Spaces are limited. Secure your spot now by visiting our website:

Link Collection:

My Weekly Blog post:

I’m dedicated to enhancing outcomes for communities, whether through managing private blood testing or promoting fitness. I empathize with those in the public sector after years of austerity. Our approach combines learning from experienced peers, collaborative in-room experiences, and online platforms. Implementing ideas through hundred-day plans is key. Our commissioning model encompasses various vital aspects, like tactics, compliance, innovation, and user-centricity. Exciting courses ahead include commissioning samplers and National Commissioning Academies.

We put as much thought into our learning design and delivery as we do into content at the The Public Service Transformation Academy.

Rethinking Education Podcast #16: Guy Claxton on neotraditional myths

Rethinking Education

Professor Guy Claxton is a hugely influential academic, thinker and author of over 30 books on learning, intelligence and creativity, including Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, Wise Up, What’s the point of school, Intelligence in the flesh, Educating Ruby and The Learning Power Approach. Guy previously appeared on the Rethinking Education podcast, an episode you can access here: / re07-guy-claxton .

Rethinking Education Podcast #16: Guy Claxton on neotraditional myths — YouTube

Or on podcast

Dataart Publishes Ukrainian IT Visionary Victor Glushkov’s Complete Memoirs For The First Time

DataArt IT Museum unveils Ukrainian cybernetics founder’s exclusive memoirs to commemorate his centennial anniversary.

Dataart Publishes Ukrainian It Visionary Victor Glushkov’s Complete Memoirs For The First TimeDate8/24/2023 10:01:04 AM Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter (MENAFN- EIN Presswire)DataArt IT Museum unveils Ukrainian cybernetics founder’s exclusive memoirs to commemorate his centennial anniversary.

Dataart Publishes Ukrainian It Visionary Victor Glushkov’s Complete Memoirs For The First Time | MENAFN.COM

Direct link:

BBC Great Lives Kate Raworth on Donella Meadows

Great Lives — Kate Raworth on Donella Meadows — BBC Sounds

Ashoka: Roots of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs Advance Systems Change in Africa

How do systems-change approaches address the root causes of deeply entrenched societal problems rather than the symptoms only? What are examples of systems-change strategies led by social entrepreneurs in Africa? What are key learnings for key stakeholders to scale social innovation on the continent?

Ashoka is launching the Roots of Change report with 5 cases of Ashoka Fellows in Africa to demystify systems change and contextualize it for the African continent. The report also distills How To’s and insights for social change leaders, impact investors and philanthropists, and influential players such as corporates and governments to accelerate positive change.

Much still needs to be done to support systems-changers in Africa. Please help us spread the word!

Roots of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs Advance Systems Change in Africa

Roots of Change Report | Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker

SCiO Global mini-Conference and AGM — Wednesday 4 October 2023, 9am UK time (details to be confirmed) — online

It’s six weeks to the SCiO Global mini-Conference and AGM on Wednesday 4th October 2023 — to be held online.

This is our first SCiO global meeting and we hope you will join us. The AGM will be held during the meeting — all can attend but only members can vote. ALL ARE WELCOME.

Details will be updated on the SCiO website — see

Please book via Eventbrite: Booking is FREE.

Details of speakers and sessions currently confirmed (not necessarily in this order!)

Whatever works — Adventures of a couple of systemic consultants in IT organizations — Ed van der Winden (SCiO NL)

In this light-hearted talk Ed van der Winden will share some of his experiences in trying to help IT departments move to a better place. A lot of systemic models have played a role in this: the talk will focus on examples of their practical use. Some of the more well-known models that will be discussed in this talk will be: The Viable System Model, causal loop diagrams and Fernando Flores’ conversations-for-action model. But also lesser known models have been used, such as the 4D-model for dealing with organizational stress (based on Perceptual Control Theory), Will McWhinney’s Paths of Change and the use of the makigami technique from Kaizen and Lean to ‘go to the gemba’.

The Purpose Thing…. — Patrick Hoverstadt

There is a split within Systems in both thinking and practice around purpose. Is it about ‘intention’ or is it about effects — the POSIWID position. This split is not limited to the field of systems, as an example it also splits the field of ethics, but for us in our discipline it has had enormous consequences. This talk will explore this from several angles — why the split exists, how different approaches are grouped either side of the split, how it has driven factionalism and mutual incomprehension in the past and how the split itself represents one of the most fundamental issues in systems thinking and presents a dilemma for the systems practitioner and one that needs to be worked with. Finally we’ll look at the resolution of this in practice.

New Meta-systems Thinking for Regenerative Leadership — Jan de Visch (SCiO Belgium)

Socially, we see a trend in organizations toward being more conscious and sustainable. The number of companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint to zero is growing. To achieve this, new business and operational models are emerging, often focused on ecosystemic collaboration. Often a broad common ground is lacking, and one must cooperate in diversity.

The leadership required for this requires significantly better assessing the parties’ positions to influence ideas and solution developments in real time. Systemic thinking is a necessary requirement here but perhaps insufficient. Meta-systemic thinking is needed to handle the potential areas of tension in real-time and make evaluative comparisons between different systemic options. It is thinking based on assessing the blind spots in systemic thought processes.

Jan De Visch illustrates how this meta-systemic thinking leads to the estimation of new opportunities the way CEOs deal with climate challenges and develop a kind of regenerative leadership.

Additional sessions and speakers to be confirmed

The Many Minds podcast / the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute: The five portals of cognitive evolution — Andrew Barron on behalf of the Major Transitions project

Note the care in making these distinctions with awareness of the teleological fallacy and the superiority fallacy.

The overall project at is fascinating from a systems | cybernetics | complexity perspective (I wonder if they have any reference to cybernetics?) in identifying possible major distinct forms of ‘intelligence’. It makes me speculate about how different forms of utopian (or merely normative) prescription for organisation might usefully be distinguished as targeting different forms of ‘cognition’ as ‘optimal’…

Episode transcript

  • August 9, 2023
  • Andrew Barron
  • 1 hr, 4 min

COMPUTATIONAL COMPLEXITY. Complexity Theory’s 50-Year Journey to the Limits of Knowledge — Brubaker in Quanta Magazine (2023)

How hard is it to prove that problems are hard to solve? Meta-complexity theorists have been asking questions like this for decades. A string of recent results has started to deliver answers.

Complexity theorists are confronting their most puzzling problem yet: complexity theory itself.

Ben Brubaker

Staff Writer

Editorial: ‘Bad apples’: time to redefine as a type of systems problem? — Shojania and Dixon-Woods (2023)

(A bad system may beat good people, but evil people often beat even quite good systems)

  1. Kaveh G Shojania1,
  2. Mary Dixon-Woods2
  3. Correspondence to Dr Kaveh Shojania, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Rm H468, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4N 3M5;

Designing interagency responses to wicked problems: A viable system model board game — Sydelko, Espinosa, and Midgley (2023)

European Journal of Operational Research

In Press, Corrected ProofWhat’s this?

Decision Support

Designing interagency responses to wicked problems: A viable system model board game

Pamela Sydelko

Angela Espinosa

Gerald Midgley…/pii/S037722172300512X

Abstract: Government agencies struggle to address wicked problems because they are open-ended, highly interdependent issues that cross agency, stakeholder, jurisdictional, and geopolitical boundaries. While both quantitative modelling and qualitative problem structuring methodologies have been used to support interagency decision making in the past, co-designing an effective interagency organization to collaboratively tackle wicked problems is more challenging. Few approaches have been developed to enable such efforts. This paper explains how the viable system model (VSM) was implemented through a board game, which was employed to co-design an interagency meta-organization that would be capable of more effectively collaborating to jointly address a wicked problem: international organized drug crime and its interface with local gangs in Chicago, USA. The board game was developed to make the VSM easier for the participants to learn, given that the cybernetic language and engineering-influenced diagrams in the original literature can be off-putting to leaders and managers. The board game was used as the final stage of a multi-method, systemic approach, which involved boundary critique and problem structuring as well as deployment of the VSM. The research findings indicate that the VSM board game, used as part of a larger mixed-methods systemic intervention, contributes to building trust in the value of systems thinking amongst the participants, and sets up a rich context for collaboration on multi-agency co-design. The game therefore offers significant promise as part of the co-design of interagency responses to wicked problems because it creates an embodied process for stakeholders to learn about the VSM. It also reduces the work involved in this learning. Thus, the game enables an effective appropriation of the VSM language and criteria.

Against Automaticity
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