Transduction — leading transformation — Issue #118

Benjamin P. Taylor
22 min readFeb 2, 2024

This week:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Systems Convening
  • Systems and Complexity in Organisation
  • Metaphysics

Upcoming Events:

SE Stakeholder Engagement — Productive Conversations (0.5d)

This training programme could equally be called ‘honest conversations’, ‘difficult conversations’, ‘constructive conversations’, or ‘challenging conversations’.

Fundamental to the success and flavour of organisational life — and systems practice interventions — are the quality of conversations we are able to have. If we can develop an honest and shared attempt to get at shared understanding — shared ‘truth’ if you like — or at least to fully appreciate each others’ understanding — then we can make true progress.

This interactive session will:

  • Discuss different types of feedback / difficult conversation
  • Understand how the brain rationalises and protect us
  • Increase awareness of our own habits and perceptions
  • Prepare and plan for a difficult conversation
  • Have effective performance conversations
  • Learn how to respond / look after yourself in the moment

And help you to have productive conversations even when it seems most unlikely. You will need to bring a record of an ‘unproductive’ conversation you have had, or fear having, and be prepared to work with others around it and other examples. You will end the session with the ability to surface more productive conversations even when it is difficult.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£250 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ise-stakeholder-engagement-productive-conversations-05d

ILG Large Group Interventions (1.0d)

In a classic 2005 article, ‘Techniques to Match our Values’, Weisbord set out the ‘learning curve’, with a movement from ‘experts solve problems’ to ‘’everybody’ solves problems’ to ‘experts improve whole systems’ to ‘’everybody’ improves whole systems’. Inherent in the development of systems practice from the start has been recognition of ‘the whole’, which comes in various forms from group dynamics to organisational viability.

This programme will give an overview of intervention approaches which ‘bring whole systems into the room’ rather than have a few experts work on individual issues. We will look at some of the history and the wide range of interventions that have been developed, and provide an overview of some of the most interesting.

We will compare and contrast these approaches and provide ‘ways in’ to consider when, and which, large group intervention might be an appropriate part of a systems practice intervention.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£500 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ilg-large-group-interventions-10d

ICS3 Workshop Design (0.5d)

This module provides learners with an understanding of the design of workshops and relevant considerations, taking into account the potentially very different contexts and definitions of what a ‘workshop’ is. It introduces a range of tools and approaches for workshop design, building on the facilitation module. It gives tools to consider evaluation and learning about workshop design, and compares various approaches, enabling learners to better select and apply appropriate workshop design approaches to their context.

A workshop can be distinguished from a meeting (though the boundaries may be blurry at times), by some of the following indicators:

  • intensive discussion and activity, designed to progress thinking and planning
  • intentionally designed activities (rather than simply an agenda), or flow
  • an impact focus, usually above and beyond just a discussion or decision — some kind of output taking an intervention or initiative forward

An alternative use of the work, to workshop (something), refers to taking a product or idea into a period of intense focused experimentation and development, often bringing in fresh or different perspectives than the original developers of the product or idea. This is of course closely related, but implies some partly-developed ‘content’ as the workshop focus, as opposed to simply a product or idea. In either case, some input is expected to a workshop, whether process, content, or both.

The learning will cover:

  • What a workshop is
  • Where and when we might use a workshop
  • A range of tools and approaches
  • How to appropriately select an approach, and design a workshop to fit the requirements in context
  • The importance of reflection and how to evaluate and build a learning loop
  • Workshop design tools, core and conceptual

This is a very practical, hands-on course based on you creating an initial workshop design from your context, using sources offered, and sharing and discussing it in the session.

This course complements the course on Facilitation for systems practice interventions, though they can be done independently or in any order.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£250 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ics3-workshop-design-05d

ICS2 Facilitation Skills for Systems Practice Interventions (0.5d)

This course provides learners with an understanding of the facilitation relationship in the context of systems intervention itself, and of the challenges it brings. It introduces a range of tools and practices for facilitation and provides guidance on workshop planning. Finally, it compares various approaches to facilitation, enabling learners to develop a stronger sense of the kind of facilitator they want to be.

Topics covered include:

  • The facilitraining rainbow — where do you stand?
  • Divergence, emergence, convergence;
  • Differentiation and integration method;
  • Adaptive change;
  • Facilitation for ‘robust systems’;
  • Session planning and session flow;
  • The perceptual positions;
  • Ground rules for workshops and ways into partnership;
  • Maintaining your authenticity;
  • Peter Block’s ‘six conversations that matter’;
  • Chris Corrigan’s ‘seven little helpers’;
  • Hosting and guiding and/or customer services;
  • Context cues;
  • History and three futures;
  • Power tools and making concrete — Naming The Thing.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£250 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ics2-facilitation-skills-systems-practice-interventions-05d

ICS1b Consulting for Systems Practice Interventions — (b) Core (0.5d)

This course provides learners with a deeper understanding of:

  • Discovery and research into the client system;
  • Power questions, layers of analysis, and objectifying ‘the system’;
  • Research and action-based approaches;
  • Third-party and whole systems approaches;
  • Maintaining the balance of responsibility for deep engagement;
  • Structuring analysis and feedback, developing commitment;
  • Choosing dirty or clean consulting.

To maximise your chances of being effective in achieving positive change, you should combine a sound understanding of systems approaches with well-developed intervention skills.

This in turn requires a clear conception of the role of the systems practitioner as ‘consultant’, of their relationships with stakeholders, especially the ‘client’, and the nature of the practitioner’s influence on the organisations they seek to transform.

Drawing on Flawless Consulting, Barry Oshry’s Organic Systems Framework, and more, Consulting for Systems Practice Interventions emphasises a collaborative approach and equal responsibility between the intervention practitioner and the client, navigating a path between the twin traps of ‘consultant as boss’ and ‘consultant as servant’.

These courses are relevant to anyone — consultant or not! — who is engaging in organisational change.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£250 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ics1b-consulting-systems-practice-interventions-b-core-05d

ICS1a Consulting for Systems Practice Interventions — (a) Foundation (0.5d)

This course will provide learners with key principles and a structure for interventions. Topics covered include:

  • The five phases of the consultative process;
  • ‘Techniques are not enough’: relationships in consulting;
  • Dealing with ‘the space of service’;
  • Setting up a clear ‘contract’ for interventions — including triangular and rectangular contracting;
  • Authenticity and setting your assumptions;
  • The client behind the client and the problem behind the problem;

To maximise your chances of being effective in achieving positive change, you should combine a sound understanding of systems approaches with well-developed intervention skills.

This in turn requires a clear conception of the role of the systems practitioner as ‘consultant’, of their relationships with stakeholders, especially the ‘client’, and the nature of the practitioner’s influence on the organisations they seek to transform.

Drawing on Flawless Consulting, Barry Oshry’s Organic Systems Framework, and more, Consulting for Systems Practice Interventions emphasises a collaborative approach and equal responsibility between the intervention practitioner and the client, navigating a path between the twin traps of ‘consultant as boss’ and ‘consultant as servant’.

These courses are relevant to anyone — consultant or not! — who is engaging in organisational change.

Trainer
These courses are delivered by Benjamin P Taylor, an expert in systems, cybernetics, and complexity in service transformation.

Pricing Info

£250 +VAT

To enquire please go on this link: https://www.systemspractice.org/courses/ics1a-consulting-systems-practice-interventions-foundation-05d

Link Collection:

My Weekly Blog post:

Seeking medical attention mirrors a royal audience: I petition my doctor through intermediaries, granted a time slot at his discretion. I present papers punctually or risk forfeiting my chance. In the waiting room, I await his summons. Eventually, I’m called to his chamber, where he consults the oracle of modern knowledge — the computer. There, I share my grievances.

Modern medicine often ends with a prescription, akin to royal decree. Yet, the fulfillment of prescriptions is uncertain. Despite the grand ritual, adherence to medication is inconsistent. This echoes broader challenges in public services. The elaborate process contrasts with the reality of healthcare access and patient compliance. The implications extend to healthcare efficiency, resource allocation, and patient outcomes. Improving medication adherence demands more than symbolic rituals; it requires addressing systemic barriers and promoting patient education and empowerment within public services.

Prescriptive Power?

Systems Convening: leading social learning to transform your system — webinar with Etienne and Beverley Wenger-Trayner — 6 Feb 2023, 12:30pm UK time

Join our workshop with Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner to explore how Systems Convening skills can help you catalyse change and learning across boundaries. This is the the final workshop in our series on how to build and lead effective networks and communities.

6 Feb 2024–12:30–14:00

https://q.health.org.uk/event/systems-convening-leading-social-learning-to-transform-your-system/

CSCS Seminar | Twists, triangles, and tentacles: A guided tour of high-dimensional basins in networked dynamical systems — 1 Feb 2024, 11:30am, University of Michigan (in person only)

Yuanzhao Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Fe Institute

Thursday, February 1, 2024–11:30 AM-1:00 PM — 747 Weiser Hall Map

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Coffee and snacks will be provided. This talk will be recorded for later viewing.

Abstract: In this talk, I will explore the interesting geometries that emerge in high-dimensional attraction basins, which are important in applications such as protein folding, cell differentiation, and neural networks. Using simple networks of coupled oscillators, I will show that high-dimensional basins are generally highly nonconvex and nonlocal, with most of the basin volume concentrated in tentacle-like structures. Next, I will show that introducing non-pairwise interactions in the network can make basins deeper but smaller — the attractors become linearly more stable but much harder to find due to basins shrinking dramatically. I will end with a few applications to neuroscience.

CSCS Seminar | Twists, triangles, and tentacles: A guided tour of high-dimensional basins in networked dynamical systems: Yuanzhao Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Fe Institute | U-M LSA Center for the Study of Complex Systems

Saturday, February 10Mind, Ecology, Enaction: Encounters between Bateson and Varela — Feb 10, 2024 12pm UK time — SOLD OUT (sadly and rather oddly?)

In this conversation Evan Thompson, Bruce Clarke, and Dulmini Perera explore the relationships between Bateson and Varela’s work.

Saturday, February 10Mind, Ecology, Enaction: Encounters between Bateson and VarelaIn this conversation Evan Thompson, Bruce Clarke, and Dulmini Perera explore the relationships between Bateson and Varela’s work.

Mind, Ecology, Enaction: Encounters between Bateson and Varela Tickets, Sat, Feb 10, 2024 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

SCiO London Open Meeting — 18 March 2024, 09:30–17:00 London time, London

Face-to-Face Open Meeting: A series of presentations of interest to Systems and Complexity in Organisation’s members and others.

By SCiO — Systems and Complexity in Organisation

Date and time: Mon, 18 Mar 2024 09:30–17:00 GMT

Location: Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Street London WC1R 4RL United KingdomShow map

Refund Policy: Contact the organiser to request a refund. Eventbrite’s fee is nonrefundable.

About this event:

  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Mobile eTicket

SCiO holds Open Meetings to provide opportunities for practitioners to learn and develop new practice, to build relationships, networks hear about skills, tools, practice and experiences. This meeting will be held face-to-face in London, with details of speakers confirmed shortly.

This open meeting explores specific application of systems thinking practice methods and learning, with five sessions. The programme for the evening is as follows:

09:30 — Introduction to Systemic Intervention (pre-event) — Simon MacCormac

10:00 — Welcome, SCiO notices and community exercise

10:45 — session 1 tbc

11:45 — Break

12:15 — What’s Stopping Us Stopping Climate Change? — Ed Straw

13:15- Lunch Break

14:30 — How to transform organisations by Managing Tensions not People — Russ Lewis

15:30 — Break

16:00 — session 4 tbc

17:00 — Later in the Bar social

Monday, 18 MarchSCiO London Open Meeting — 18th March 2024Face-to-Face Open Meeting: A series of presentations of interest to Systems and Complexity in Organisation’s members and others.By SCiO — Systems and Complexity in Organisation202 followers26% of attendees are repeat customersFollowingDate and timeMon, 18 Mar 2024 09:30–17:00 GMTLocationConway Hall25 Red Lion Street London WC1R 4RL United KingdomShow mapRefund PolicyContact the organiser to request a refund.Eventbrite’s fee is nonrefundable.About this event7 hours 30 minutesMobile eTicketSCiO holds Open Meetings to provide opportunities for practitioners to learn and develop new practice, to build relationships, networks hear about skills, tools, practice and experiences. This meeting will be held face-to-face in London, with details of speakers confirmed shortly.This open meeting explores specific application of systems thinking practice methods and learning, with five sessions. The programme for the evening is as follows:09:30 — Introduction to Systemic Intervention (pre-event) — Simon MacCormac10:00 — Welcome, SCiO notices and community exercise10:45 — session 1 tbc11:45 — Break12:15 — What’s Stopping Us Stopping Climate Change? — Ed Straw13:15- Lunch Break14:30 — How to transform organisations by Managing Tensions not People — Russ Lewis15:30 — Break16:00 — session 4 tbc17:00 — Later in the Bar social

SCiO London Open Meeting — 18th March 2024 Tickets, Mon 18 Mar 2024 at 09:30 | Eventbrite

Launching the Healthy System Indicators: A new way of relational working across local and national systems

Posted by: alexfleming and vanessalefton, Posted on: 30 January 2024 –

How do we know if we are healthy? What do we look out for? We have a regular temperature, we know our energy levels, our body doesn’t ache. These are indicators of good health.

Much like the body, we can understand the environment within which a policy or services is being delivered as a system and we can assess how well that system is functioning.

In our recent project with the Changing Futures team in Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), we created and tested Healthy System Indicators. We learnt that the Indicators can help policymakers and stakeholders assess a policy/ delivery system together, and diagnose where interventions can be made to ensure the system can improve, ultimately resulting in better outcomes for citizens.

Launching the Healthy System Indicators: A new way of relational working across local and national systems — Policy Lab

Climate tipping point interactions and cascades: a review — Wunderling, von der Heydt et al (2024)

Earth systems dynamics

https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-15-41-2024

© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

26 Jan 2024

Climate tipping point interactions and cascades: a review

Nico Wunderling,Anna S. von der Heydt,Yevgeny Aksenov,Stephen Barker,Robbin Bastiaansen,Victor Brovkin,Maura Brunetti,Victor Couplet,Thomas Kleinen,Caroline H. Lear,Johannes Lohmann,Rosa Maria Roman-Cuesta,Sacha Sinet,Didier Swingedouw,Ricarda Winkelmann,Pallavi Anand,Jonathan Barichivich,Sebastian Bathiany,Mara Baudena,John T. Bruun,Cristiano M. Chiessi,Helen K. Coxall,David Docquier,Jonathan F. Donges,Swinda K. J. Falkena,Ann Kristin Klose,David Obura,Juan Rocha,Stefanie Rynders,Norman Julius Steinert,and Matteo Willeit

ESD — Climate tipping point interactions and cascades: a review

National Multiple Disadvantage Summit, 22 May 2024, London (all day, charged)

Wednesday, 22 May

Clarity and complexity: the reality of systems change

Join the MEAM Approach network and Changing Futures to explore the reality of transforming systems for people facing multiple disadvantage.

By MEAM

50 followers Follow

Date and time: Wed, 22 May 2024 10:00–16:30 BST

Location: Church House, WestminsterGreat Smith Street London SW1P 3AZ United Kingdom

Clarity and complexity: the reality of systems change Tickets, Wed 22 May 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/clarity-and-complexity-the-reality-of-systems-change-tickets-793240703297

Eryk Salvaggio: Conversations with Maverick Machines — On Gordon Pask and Generative AI

Often assumed to be derived from cybernetics, today’s generative AI ignores many of its concerns. This essay compares and contrasts two theories of the cyberneticist Gordon Pask with today’s thinking of AI, by looking at Pask’s conversation theory, black boxes, and “maverick machines”.

Eryk Salvaggio: Conversations with Maverick Machines

Kempinski — Neïl Beloufa Jan 29 — Feb 4, 2024

Kempinski is the third installment of Uncomputables: On Cybernetics and Alien Intelligences, an online program of films and accompanying texts convened by Agnieszka Kurant as the thirteenth cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Film.

Uncomputables: #3Kempinski
Neïl Beloufa
2007 14 Minutes

Artist Cinemas

Date: January 29–February 4, 2024

Add to Calendar

In this science-fiction documentary, Beloufa takes us to a village in Mali where inhabitants are invited to express their visions of the future. They speak of their present, but also come up with futuristic accounts and visions, where men couple with cows, cars talk, and rockets spy on people’s lives.

Kempinski is the third installment of Uncomputables: On Cybernetics and Alien Intelligences, an online program of films and accompanying texts convened by Agnieszka Kurant as the thirteenth cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Film.

The film is presented alongside a text by Noam Segal.

Uncomputables: On Cybernetics and Alien Intelligences runs in six episodes released every Monday from January 15 through February 26, 2024, streaming a new film each week accompanied by a commissioned interview or response published in text form.

https://www.e-flux.com/film/556907/kempinski/

Dissipative delusions — Petter Holme on Prigogine

[I wonder how, if it all, people will react to this?]

DECRYPTING THE DNA OF MEGAPROJECTS: A Model-based Management Approach using the Viable System Model (VSM) — Frahm and Pfiffner (2023)

FEATURED PAPER

By Michael Frahm Baden-Württemberg, Germany and Dr. Martin Pfiffner Pfäffikon, Switzerland

Abstract

The following article is an introduction to the design of megaproject organizations based on the viable system model. It combines approaches from project management with approaches from systems theory. The understanding of complexity and how it is effectively managed by the organizational code is a central theme. After referring to current research and a short introduction, the application is shown by using an example. The article shows how important the „applied“ management model is for a successful management of mega projects.

Keywords: Majorprojects, Megaprojects, System Theory, Viable System Model, Organisation, Complexity

DECRYPTING THE DNA OF MEGAPROJECTS A Model-based Management Approachusing the Viable System Model (VSM) FEATURED PAPERBy Michael FrahmBaden-Württemberg, GermanyandDr. Martin PfiffnerPfäffikon, SwitzerlandAbstractThe following article is an introduction to the design of megaproject organizations based on the viable system model. It combines approaches from project management with approaches from systems theory. The understanding of complexity and how it is effectively managed by the organizational code is a central theme. After referring to current research and a short introduction, the application is shown by using an example. The article shows how important the „applied“ management model is for a successful management of mega projects.Keywords: Majorprojects, Megaprojects, System Theory, Viable System Model, Organisation, Complexity

Decrypting the DNA of Megaprojects — PM World Journal

Algebraic Dynamical Systems in Machine Learning — Jones, Swan and Giansiracusa (2024)

Download PDF

Applied Categorical Structures

Aims and scope

Submit manuscript

Abstract

We introduce an algebraic analogue of dynamical systems, based on term rewriting. We show that a recursive function applied to the output of an iterated rewriting system defines a formal class of models into which all the main architectures for dynamic machine learning models (including recurrent neural networks, graph neural networks, and diffusion models) can be embedded. Considered in category theory, we also show that these algebraic models are a natural language for describing the compositionality of dynamic models. Furthermore, we propose that these models provide a template for the generalisation of the above dynamic models to learning problems on structured or non-numerical data, including ‘hybrid symbolic-numeric’ models.

Algebraic Dynamical Systems in Machine LearningOpen accessPublished: 18 January 2024Volume 32, article number 4, (2024)Cite this articleDownload PDFYou have full access to thisopen accessarticleApplied Categorical StructuresAims and scopeSubmit manuscriptAlgebraic Dynamical Systems in Machine LearningDownload PDFIolo Jones, Jerry Swan & Jeffrey Giansiracusa 83 AccessesExplore all metrics AbstractWe introduce an algebraic analogue of dynamical systems, based on term rewriting. We show that a recursive function applied to the output of an iterated rewriting system defines a formal class of models into which all the main architectures for dynamic machine learning models (including recurrent neural networks, graph neural networks, and diffusion models) can be embedded. Considered in category theory, we also show that these algebraic models are a natural language for describing the compositionality of dynamic models. Furthermore, we propose that these models provide a template for the generalisation of the above dynamic models to learning problems on structured or non-numerical data, including ‘hybrid symbolic-numeric’ models.

Algebraic Dynamical Systems in Machine Learning | Applied Categorical Structures

Although ‘Statement of Levelling Up Missions’ does smack rather of 2012’s, ‘deliverance of sustainable legacy’ — and I’m sure the meetings were equally hard — these are sensible and potentially useful.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-levelling-up-missions/statement-of-levelling-up-missions#introduction

GOV.UK Statement of Levelling Up Missions

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