Transduction — leading transformation — Issue #124

Benjamin P. Taylor
23 min readMar 22, 2024

This week:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Systems and Complexity in Organisation
  • Local democracy
  • Systems Community of Inquiry

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:

Speaking at the Procurement Act Expo, I advocate for a shift beyond traditional purchasing towards a broader commissioning approach. The Act aims to revamp post-”Brexit” procurement, prioritizing speed, simplicity, and value for money while supporting SMEs and voluntary sectors. However, initial years may see risk-averse procedures due to unfamiliarity, favoring resource-rich suppliers. Yet, there’s potential for innovation and transformation.

Procurement professionals must embrace this opportunity by focusing on upstream intervention, considering downstream consequences, and fostering partnerships for social value creation. This entails prioritizing relationships over processes, strategic collaborations, and early involvement in decision-making. Leveraging open data mandated by the Act and fostering knowledge-sharing within the procurement community are crucial.

I advocate for a strategic shift where procurement becomes a proactive partner in organizational goals, emphasizing long-term impact, market influence, and community well-being. This change necessitates a mindset of innovation, collaboration, and strategic foresight in procurement practices.

#PublicSector #procurement is ripe for disruption.

At The Public Service Transformation Academy, we prioritise adult learning, action learning, and peer learning to drive real change in public services. Building on the Commissioning Academy’s legacy, we offer transformational programs focused on contract management, outcome-based commissioning, and the National Commissioning Academy.

Our Contract Management program emphasizes an outcome-focused approach, supported by experienced facilitators like Paul Rackham and Jim Nicholls, who share practical insights alongside theory. The Ten Steps to Outcome-Based Commissioning program fosters innovation and constructive approaches, guiding participants to move beyond quick fixes.

The National Commissioning Academy, our flagship program, offers a comprehensive blend of in-person and online learning, tailored to empower leaders in shaping outcomes that truly matter for citizens and communities. Whether you’re interested in joining or know someone who could benefit, spread the word and help us drive positive change in UK public services.

What do you think makes a development programme transformative?

what are the problems with systems thinking? — a book bringing together a big, old, LinkedIn thread

1,850 perspectives by 120+ subject matter experts between Jul 2011 — Feb 2012

http://www.systemswiki.org

series: the cognitive arts 1,850 perspectives — june 2011 to february 2012

compiled into ebook by http://www.kapaigroup.net

Webinar: What does it mean? Beyond connecting the dots — MARCH 28 @ 12:00 PM — 1:30 PM AEDT

DETAILS: March 28, 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm AEDT

Cost: Free: Chapter Events, Webinar

ORGANIZER Oceania ChapterView Organizer Website

The Oceania Chapter of the System Dynamics Society Webinar Series.

What does it mean? Beyond connecting the dots.

Presenter: Gene Bellinger, Storyteller & Recovering Systems Thinker

Abstract:In this webinar, Gene will share some of his most memorable ‘aha’-moments that occurred during his almost five decades of searching for understanding on the other side of complexity.
Gene is highly respected member of the systems thinking community, authored hundreds of models and articles, and over 1000 videos on Systems Thinking.
He developed Systems-Thinking and SystemsWiki websites and has been a major contributor to the development of Insight Maker and Kumu. In 2013, he co-authored “Beyond Connecting the Dots: Modeling for Meaningful Results” with Scott Fortmann-Roe, the developer of Insight Maker.
Presently, Gene’s effort is expressed in “SystemsWiki’s Musing”, understanding relationships and their implications.

The Oceania Chapter of the System Dynamics Society Webinar Series.

Webinar: What does it mean? Beyond connecting the dots — System Dynamics Society

Moving off the Map: How Knowledge of Organizational Operations Empowers and Alienates — Huising (2019)

[I know this isn’t precisely systems thinking — though ethno-methodography has a rich and related history — but it is very interesting and relevant. See below for two interesting facts!]

Harvard Business Review

https://hbr.org/2019/12/can-you-know-too-much-about-your-organization

How much do you know about the end-to-end operations of your organization? If you looked closely, would you see a deliberate strategy or the results of years and years of patches, workarounds, political truces, and shadow systems? Now imagine you had carte blanche to clean it up — redesign operations to be more efficient, more effective, more focused on getting things done. Would this experience change how you see your current efforts and responsibilities? According to research, it might: A study of six project teams tasked with redesigning their organization’s operations found that many ended up disillusioned with the patchwork systems they saw. Further, almost half of the participants left their established careers as managers, feeling as though they couldn’t enact meaningful change in their roles.

Paper:

Abstract: This paper examines how employees become spontaneously empowered and alienated by detailed, consistent knowledge of the actual operations of their organization, drawing on an inductive analysis of the experiences of employees working on organizational change teams. As employees build and scrutinize process maps of their organization, they develop a new comprehension of the structure and operation of their organization. What they had perceived as purposively designed, relatively stable, and largely external is revealed to be continuously produced through social interaction.

I trace how this altered comprehension of the organization’s functioning and logic changes employees’ orientation to and place within the organization. Their central roles are revealed as less efficacious than imagined and, in fact, as reproducing the organization’s inefficiencies. Alienated from their central operational roles, they voluntarily move to peripheral change roles from which they feel empowered to pursue organization-wide change. The paper offers two contributions. First, it identifies a new means through which central actors may become disembedded, that is, detailed comprehensive knowledge of the logic and operations of the surrounding social system. Second, the paper problematizes established insights about the relationship between social position and challenges to the status quo. Rather than a peripheral social location creating a desire to challenge the status quo, a desire to challenge the status quo may encourage central actors to choose a peripheral social location.

[PDF] Moving off the Map: How Knowledge of Organizational Operations Empowers and Alienates | Semantic Scholar

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Moving-off-the-Map%3A-How-Knowledge-of-Organizational-Huising/409921a252db8f9610cb22ff24acd6fc8e153e64

[Interesting facts time

  1. as pointed out by @meaningness (David Chapman), this paper took a really long time to be published!

2. in googling the author, she has the highest ratings I’ve ever seen on that student review thing for professors (as well as universally positive comments on Twitter)]

Meta-rational practices: Overview 1 — Norms, processes, operations, methods — Chapman (2024) — part paid (substack

Norms, processes, oprations, methods

DAVID CHAPMAN

MAR 9, 2024

This post features a draft of a piece of my meta-rationality book. It is the first half of the second chapter of Part Four of the book. (Got that?)

The first chapter was an introduction to Part Four; you can read it here.

This second chapter is an overview of meta-rational practice. It has six sections:

  • When to get meta-rational
  • Meta-rational norms
  • Meta-rational processes, operations, and methods
  • Opportunities for meta-rational improvement
  • Meta-rational maxims
  • Fluid competence

This post includes the first three sections. I’ll publish the second three as a separate post, so they’re each about the right length for a newsletter issue.

(Right? Or is this too long? Or would you rather have had the whole chapter at once?)

My thanks to the nine readers who signed on as paying subscribers after reading my last post! I really appreciate it. This one is part-paid: there’s a paywall about halfway through.

Meta-rational practices: Overview 1Norms, processes, operations, methodsDAVID CHAPMANMAR 9, 2024∙ PAID3ShareThis post features a draft of a piece of my meta-rationality book. It is the first half of the second chapter of Part Four of the book. (Got that?)The first chapter was an introduction to Part Four; you can read it here.This second chapter is an overview of meta-rational practice. It has six sections:When to get meta-rationalMeta-rational normsMeta-rational processes, operations, and methodsOpportunities for meta-rational improvementMeta-rational maximsFluid competenceThis post includes the first three sections. I’ll publish the second three as a separate post, so they’re each about the right length for a newsletter issue.(Right? Or is this too long? Or would you rather have had the whole chapter at once?)My thanks to the nine readers who signed on as paying subscribers after reading my last post! I really appreciate it. This one is part-paid: there’s a paywall about halfway through.

Meta-rational practices: Overview 1 — by David Chapman

Systems Dynamics Society recognises the contributions of women in Systems Dynamics

System Dynamics Society

🌟 JOIN US in honoring the invaluable contributions of women in System Dynamics!

Their dedication and leadership have reshaped our discipline, paving the way for greater gender diversity. Together, let’s celebrate their resilience and visionary leadership. 👩🏻‍🦱👩🏼‍💼🧕🏻👩🏻‍🦰👩🏾

Donella Meadows is one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the twentieth century. Dana’s unique blend of rigor, insight, and humility made her a revered figure in the System Dynamics and systems thinking community and beyond. Her writings and speeches challenged us to think deeply about our role in shaping the world, while her humor and warmth inspired us to take action with compassion and conviction. ✨

Learn more about her work and be inspired by her wisdom.
📗 Thinking in Systems: A Primer: https://ow.ly/tUsS50QOCx9
📙 Beyond the Limits: https://ow.ly/eA2J50QOCx2
📘 Limits to Growth: A 30-Year Update: https://ow.ly/1SaI50QOCx3

We compiled a list of publications by women in the field. Join us in recognizing the immense contributions of women to System Dynamics and systems thinking.

🔗 See compilation: https://ow.ly/z5eb50QOCx4

#SystemDynamics #systemsthinking #InternationalWomensDay

Post | LinkedIn

From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning by David Ing — online

[In his posts, David says March 12 (Europe), March 14 (Americas), March 15 (Australia) — I suspect the US may have booked out.]

From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning by David Ing.

The field theory (circa 1947) from Kurt Lewin has largely been portrayed as “unfreeze-move-refreeze”. In the history of systems thinking, Lewin was foundational for the Socio-Technical Systems (STS) and Socio-Ecological (SES) perspectives of Fred E. Emery and Eric L. Trist. With rising interests in Systems Changes, might we theorize (and philosophize) differently?

In 2013, an aritcle on “Rethinking Systems Thinking” was published. In 2019, the Systems Changes Learning Circle was founded in Toronto on an espoused 10-year journey to collectively explore progressing the rich legacy of the systems movement. In 2022–2023, two pilot consulting engagements were conducted, with materials openly accessible under Creative Commons licensing. From 2023, three (academic) peer-reviewed journal articles have been published, and a fourth is in final review. Passing the halfway point in the journey, the Circle now has subgroups on explaining theory and refining practices aligned with a new approach.

In this Dialogic Drinks session, we will discuss:

  • What if we resequence thinking on “systems” as “genetic-social” before “clockworks”?
  • What if we resequence thinking on “systems changes” as “ecological” before “behavioral”?
  • What if we resequence thinking on “systems changes learning” as “propensity” before “causality”?

This DD conversation has been planned with a subsequent deeper philosophical session on “Yinyang and Daojia into Systems Thinking”.

David Ing is a Research Fellow with the Creative Systemic Research Platform Institute (Switzerland, Spain, Finland). He served as president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (2011–2012), and is currently Representative of the Trustees to the Board of Directors. For 28 years at IBM, he had assignments in management consulting, executive education, market development and headquarters planning. The father of four sons, all in successful careers, he lives in Toronto Canada with his supportive spouse. He blogs at

https://coevolving.com

From Unfreezing-Refreezing, to Systems Changes Learning by David Ing

https://www.eqlab.co/from-unfreezing-refreezing-to-systems-changes-learning-david-ing?fbclid=IwAR0nRQG949C6zBAh-qsmU7h_wnX7AzH730v_SmWXru0AFUTEy8nO3-hkK_c

Cybernetics in Music — Pickles PhD Thesis (2016) and Amergent Music: behavior and becoming in technoetic & media arts — Herber PhD Thesis (2010)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of Philosophy

Abstract

This thesis examines the use of cybernetics (the science of systems) in music, through the tracing of an obscured history. The author postulates that cybernetic music may be thought of as genera of music in its own right, whose practitioners share a common ontology and set of working practices that distinctly differ from traditional approaches to composing electronic music. Ultimately, this critical examination of cybernetics in music provides the framework for a series of original compositions and the foundation of the further study of cybernetic music.

Cybernetics in MusicDaren PicklesFAH School of Media and Performing ArtsStudent thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of PhilosophyAbstractThis thesis examines the use of cybernetics (the science of systems) in music, through the tracing of an obscured history. The author postulates that cybernetic music may be thought of as genera of music in its own right, whose practitioners share a common ontology and set of working practices that distinctly differ from traditional approaches to composing electronic music. Ultimately, this critical examination of cybernetics in music provides the framework for a series of original compositions and the foundation of the further study of cybernetic music.Date of Award2016Original languageEnglishAwarding InstitutionCoventry UniversitySupervisorTom Williams (Supervisor)

Cybernetics in Music — Coventry University

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED PRESS CIC is offering 4 FREE BOOKS (PDFS) to recognise World Book Day.

Systemic Inquiry: Innovations in Systemic Practitioner Research.
Gail Simon & Alex Chard (Eds.)
https://lnkd.in/dN8xxxkZ

Systemic Therapy as Transformative Practice.
Imelda McCarthy & Gail Simon (Eds.)
https://lnkd.in/di9wr35F

Towards a New ‘Fluid’ Common-Sense Understanding of Relational Becomings.
John Shotter
https://lnkd.in/dwUiGFfG

A Wild Impatience. Critical Systemic Practice and Research.
Gail Simon
https://lnkd.in/d2Ft3TSh

Everything is Connected Press CIC

https://eicpress.com

is a systemic writing, publishing and research not-for-profit which supports the independent open access journal, Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice

https://murmurations.cloud

http://eicpress.com

(26) Post | Feed | LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7171405430693216256

This mug I drink from when I’m at my dad’s (acquired from Brent Anti-Apartheid movement in about 1983) is in a museum. Strange feeling.
Bristol City Council : Museum Collections https://museums.bristol.gov.uk/details.php?irn=384718

This version is simply labelled ‘Anti-Apartheid Movement’, and there’s a version in the collection of Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand — a *fantastic* museum) which has a whole history connected with the movement against sports tours in Apartheid South Africa.
https://bit.ly/3wPcFyY

museums.bristol.gov.uk Bristol City Council : Museum Collections An introduction to our collections- index page

Moving off the Map: How Knowledge of Organizational Operations Empowers and Alienates — Huising (2019) https://stream.syscoi.com/2024/03/10/moving-off-the-map-how-knowledge-of-organizational-operations-empowers-and-alienates-huising-2019/

“examines how employees become spontaneously empowered and alienated by detailed, consistent knowledge of the actual operations of their organization”

Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods? | Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
John Hunter @curiouscat
has been producing this quality of content since 2004. 2004!
And somehow I’ve been reading him pretty much all this time. Him, Shelley’s (?) Measurement Blog, Knowledge Jolt with Jack — all stone cold classics. And probably recommended to me by Jack Schofield when he was at the Guardian, I suspect!

management.curiouscatblog.net Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods? | Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

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