Transduction — leading transformation — Issue #126

Benjamin P. Taylor
29 min readApr 5, 2024

This week:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Systems and Complexity in Organisation
  • Cybernetics
  • Philosophy

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:

I’ll always remember overhearing a conversation between three street drinkers, on a bench on Kilburn High Road, piles of cans of Special Brew around them.

Just the sort of people and scene that we work hard to stop from… happening.

One of them turned to his friends. ‘You know, I was just gonna stay at home today. I’m *so glad* I came out today, and had this amazing chat with yous’.

What do you take from this conversation?

Join the discussion on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/antlerboy_ill-always-remember-overhearing-a-conversation-activity-7180824687252254721-s7nY What did the street drinker mean? What are the implications?

‘Cybernetic’ volumes 1 and 2 (1985 and 1986)

You’ve gotta respect that, in 1985 and 1986, the world’s leading cyberneticians got together and… made themselves a fanzine… about their favourite things!

Volume 1 Click to access Cybernetic_Vol_1_No_1_1985.pdf

Volume 2 Click to access Cybernetic_Vol_2_No_1_1986.pdf

Cliodynamics

[Well, it’s not for me, but it is a thing]

Cliodynamics (from Clio, the muse of history, and dynamics, the study of why things change with time) is the new transdisciplinary area of research at the intersection of historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.

Mathematical approaches — modeling historical processes with differential equations or agent-based simulations; sophisticated statistical approaches to data analysis — are a key ingredient in the cliodynamic research program (Why do we need mathematical history?). But ultimately the aim is to discover general principles that explain the functioning and dynamics of actual historical societies.

Cliodynamics: History as Science — Peter Turchin

Peter Turchin’s blog https://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliodynamics

Journal https://escholarship.org/uc/irows_cliodynamics

USING A SYSTEMS THINKING APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT — A NECESSARY PARADIGM SHIFT? Halder (2024)

A BUSINESS ARCHITECT`S PERSPECTIVE

by Kaustuv Halder

Businesses are operating in environments that are drastically more complex than the times traditional management methods were developed for. A Systems Thinking approach to management that helps us make the transition from viewing businesses as machines to thinking of them as living organisms, from looking at the “parts” to looking at the “whole”, is considered by experts and leading organizations like OECD as the paradigm shift needed to deal with complexity. Incorporating Systems Thinking principles within Strategy, Organizational Design and Problem Solving equips leaders with the tools and perspectives needed to manage in times of complexity.

This paper presents nine key Systems Thinking principles, where each principle is framed as a management question. In addition, Kaustuv also discusses the interesting and often overlooked synergy between Business Architecture and Systems Thinking and argues why Business Architects could be champions of a Systems Thinking approach.

USING A SYSTEMS THINKING APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT — A NECESSARY PARADIGM SHIFT? — Enterprise Architecture Professional Journal

Booking now: Complexity and Culture, the 2024 Complexity and Management Conference — 7–9 June 2024, Roffey Park Institute, Horsham, UK

Booking now: Complexity and Culture, the 2024 Complexity and Management Conference — https://lnkd.in/eS4ah78X

The concept of culture in organisations is widely used but often poorly understood. So how do group identities and a sense of belonging emerge, and what methods might we employ to understand them better? How might we do justice to the contradictions and tensions that are constant themes shaping the experience of group life?Working with the intersection of symbolism, politics and culture, Professor Candida Yates will talk about a current research project where she is trying to understand how the community imaginary is developed and sustained. Drawing on work she is undertaking with a community on the south coast of the UK, Professor Yates will give examples of art-based and psycho-social approaches to exploring to the emergence of meaning in a UK maritime community through the exploration of thoughts, feelings, politics and experience.Candida Yates is Professor of Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University.The annual Complexity and Management Conference is intended as an antidote to the sense of drift and thoughtlessness which can afflict managers in organisations because of the sheer complexity and pace of work, and the abstractions of contemporary management discourse. The currency of the conference is conversation, reflection and meaning-making about things that matter to us in and beyond the workplace. Saturday afternoon will be given over to delegate-led workshops to explore the conference theme.The conference begins at 7pm on Friday 7th (unless you attend the one day workshop, which begins at 9.30am) and finishes at 2pm on the 9th June. The fee includes all board and lodging at Roffey Park Institute, Horsham, UK.

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pattern making

Welcome

This website shares reflections and insights from intentional pattern makers, exploring the patterns of our everyday lives through writing and art.

March 2024 Note: Collaboration takes time! We are currently supporting new contributors as they refine their work. pattern making today is the foreshadowing of what is to come. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch!

pattern making

Communities of practice within and across organizations — a guidebook (2nd edition) — Wenger-Trayners et al, (2024)

[Apologies to anyone getting these updates directly, for the influx — I am catching up and also being unusually lenient today — but this is too useful not to share]

Etienne Wenger-Trayner, Beverly Wenger-Trayner, Phil Reid, Claude Bruderlein

a publication of the Social Learning Lab
Sesimbra, Portugal

From the back cover:

What does it take to launch and sustain a community of practice initiative? This book helps guide individuals, teams, and organizations through the process.

It is for organizational leaders creating a conducive environment, community leaders launching and sustaining their communities, people in various roles facilitating meetings, activities, and the use of technology, and evaluators accounting for the value communities create.

It reflects the combined experiences of the authors in cultivating communities of practice within and across organizations.

Communities of practicewithin and across organizationsa guidebook (2nd edition)Etienne Wenger-Trayner, Beverly Wenger-Trayner, Phil Reid, Claude Bruderleina publication of the Social Learning LabSesimbra, PortugalFrom the back cover: What does it take to launch and sustain a community of practice initiative? This book helps guide individuals, teams, and organizations through the process.It is for organizational leaders creating a conducive environment, community leaders launching and sustaining their communities, people in various roles facilitating meetings, activities, and the use of technology, and evaluators accounting for the value communities create.It reflects the combined experiences of the authors in cultivating communities of practice within and across organizations.

CoP guidebook — wenger-trayner

Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics — Kahneman (2023)

AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW VOL. 93, NO. 5, DECEMBER 2003 (pp. 1449–1475)

Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral EconomicsDaniel KahnemanAMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEWVOL. 93, NO. 5, DECEMBER 2003(pp. 1449–1475)

Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics — American Economic Association

Encounters with the Other (second edition, revised) — Oshry (2024)

Encounters with the Other​How we continue to misunderstand, dehumanize, scorn, humiliate, oppress−and even kill−others. And how we can stop.​Barry OshrySystems Thinking for Societies

Encounters with the Other — Triarchy Press

History of Philosophy without any gaps 442. Scott Williams on Disability and the New World

[Another one with lots of systems | cybernetics | complexity implications and applications — adding philosophy of disability to the ‘fellow travellers’ list]

Posted on 31 March 2024

In this interview we learn about the main issues in modern-day philosophy of disability, and the relevance of this topic for the European encounter with the Americas.

442. Scott Williams on Disability and the New WorldPosted on 31 March 2024In this interview we learn about the main issues in modern-day philosophy of disability, and the relevance of this topic for the European encounter with the Americas.

442. Scott Williams on Disability and the New World | History of Philosophy without any gaps

System effects mapping: a tool for promoting collaborative community ecological action — Baker et al (2024)

System effects mapping: a tool for promoting collaborative community ecological action

COMMUNITY CASE STUDY article

Front. Environ. Sci., 09 February 2024
Sec. Environmental Citizen Science
Volume 12–2024 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2024.1356065

System effects mapping: a tool for promoting collaborative community ecological action

Virginia Baker1,2 Mat Walton1 Suzanne Manning, Jamie Ataria3, Carla Gee4, Robin Taua-Gordon5

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2024.1356065/full

Frontiers | System effects mapping: a tool for promoting collaborative community ecological action

Luke Craven on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/posts/lukecraven_openaccess-systemeffects-activity-7179992956643295232-r8Gz/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_ios says:

🎉It is wonderful to see a new application of System Effects published in Frontiers, this time used to visualise how people connect to and value their local waterways.

🔍The project, undertaken by ESR — Science and Research in partnership with the local community, explored issues of environmental pollution and contamination within the Whau River catchment, an urban estuarine system in the west of Auckland City, Aotearoa, New Zealand.

🛠System Effects was used by ESR scientists as a tool for local action and planning, collaborative sense-making and more complex problem structuring.

📊The paper concludes that the use of the tool enabled the ESR team to have more meaningful impacts for the local community.

👏Well done, Mat Walton and colleagues, for bringing this application to life!

🌐You can read the full hashtag#OpenAccess paper here: https://lnkd.in/gkh_xQKm

hashtag#SystemEffects

The Layers of Irony Model

The Philosopher’s Meme

“The Layers of Irony Model: How a metameme spread across academia and subcultures”. 2024–03–17. Seong-Young Her, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Presented at the University of Bucharest for the 2024 Philosophy of Memes Conference. Mentions works by YouTubers @oliSUNvia@JREG@fromthedeskofprofessorskye(@professorskye) @iDubbbzTV@HydeWars Slides, references, and supplementary materials will soon be made available on

https://thephilosophersmeme.com

. Please consider supporting this work via / thephilosophersmeme and joining the Discord server via / discord .

The Layers of Irony Model — YouTube

https://thephilosophersmeme.com/2016/01/18/the-revised-quadrant-model

https://thephilosophersmeme.com/irony

How Our Perceptions Shape Society | Karl Friston Λ Anna Lembke — Theories of Everything with Curt Jaimungal

[The premise of ‘theories of everything’ sort of annoys me and sometimes these conversations are too technical or self-involved for me to listen all the way through — also, panel discussions on podcasts can be very annoying, and the ‘day in the life of a podcaster’ is one of the most accidental revealing, yet amusing and earnest, bits you could find about aspirant public intellectuals () — but the earnestness and engagement often do generate good results.

Anyway, sharing because this is one where I was just wryly resisting screaming ‘cybernetics, folks!’ — obviously particularly in the Active Inference bit].

Theories of Everything with Curt Jaimungal

Theories of Everything with Curt Jaimungal

In today’s episode, Karl Friston and Anna Lembke emphasize the urgency of reevaluating our personal and societal practices in the face of environmental, mental health, and addiction crises, through the lens of “active inference”. Please consider signing up for TOEmail at

https://www.curtjaimungal.org

How Our Perceptions Shape Society | Karl Friston Λ Anna Lembke — YouTube

Bateson on meaning, shared by Bhavana Nissima

[Sharing as this is such a zinger]

Bhavana writes:

This quote from the Chapter 7 “G. Spencer Brown on the Paradoxes of “Not”– And Gregory Bateson on the Richness of Analog Communication” of this book by Phillip Guddemi “Gregory Bateson on Relational Communication: From Octopuses to Nations.”Me is quiet, pondering about our worlds.

Test reads ‘Inspired by cybernetics, Bateson interprets meaning as a function of the restriction of possible meanings (1971: 17), and it can never be definitive. With an increase in the data provided, the probability of an interpretation can be improved, but the process of “the approach to non-ambiguity” (1971: 17) is asymptotic and endless. The method of inquiry is therefore one which “postpones” (1971: 18) the question of meaning, in favor of asking about how a change in the sequence of events or their contexts might produce a change in meaning. So meaning is understood at the first derivative level before it is understood in “itself.”’

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EMBRACE THE VOID podcast — What’s Left of Meritocracy with Gil Morejón

[Some really interesting themes — meritocracy of course, and the complex interplay between individual attributes and actions (effort, talent) and systemic forces (social, economic conditions). Capital accumulation and societal rewards and feedback loops, generl complexity of social systems, adaptive systems and policy responses, and value pluralism and systemic diversity] March 16, 2024

What’s Left of Meritocracy with Gil Morejón

Embrace the Void

Download

My guest this week is Gil Morejón, a historian of ideas currently teaching at Grenell college, one of the 4 amazing hosts of the What’s Left of Philosophy? Podcast. We discuss leftist takes on meritocracy, possible alternatives, and the differences between doing politics and ethics. Enjoy!

What’s Left of Meritocracy with Gil Morejón — Embrace The Void

A Viable System Model: Consideration of Knowledge Management — Leonard (1999)

Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, August 1999

Allenna Leonard, PhD, The Complementary Set

ABSTRACT:

Contends that individual and organizational knowledge is difficult to value and therefore difficult to manage. Looks at the management of knowledge from the perspective of the individual, the network and the organization using Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model, a powerful descriptive and diagnostic tool to map management capacities and promote viability.

http://www.tlainc.com/articl12.htm

The Viable System: An Introduction — Leonard (1992)

Allenna Leonard, PhD

Volume 14, Issue 1 | https://doi.org/10.1177/014233129201400102

Abstract

This article provides an introduction to the Viable System Model (VSM). The importance of organisational identity is described. The VSM is shown to be a model which enables the recognition of patterns necessary for survival within organisations. The five systems of the VSM are outlined. Emphasis is given to the distinctive channels of communication made explicit by the VSM. The importance of developing common perspectives and common languages is highlighted. The VSM is put forward as a useful contribution in this endeavour. Examples were chosen from the public sector.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/014233129201400102?icid=int.sj-abstract.similar-articles.1

https://sci-hub.se/https://doi.org/10.1177/014233129201400102

The Systems Perspective: Methods And Models For The Future — Leonard and Beer (2001)

Abstract

CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I INTRODUCTION A Brief History The Field Today II FOCUSING ON THE SYSTEM AS A PURPOSEFUL WHOLE Time and Motion Probability Complexity and Variety III DESIGNING AND BUILDING MODELS Establishing a Purpose Defining The System Data Gathering and Illustration Testing and Revision IV STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE SYSTEMS APPROACH A Situational Example A Reductionist Model Outlook for the Systems Approach Some Specific Models Interactive Planning How To Do It When to Use Interactive Planning Comparison/Combination with Other Models Outlook for the Future Living Systems Theory How To Do It When To Use It Comparison/Combination with Other Models Futures Research Methodology The Systems Perspective EXIT AC/UNU Millennium Project Futures Research Methodology The Systems Perspective Outlook for the Future Operations Research How To Do It When To Use It Comparison/Combination With Other Model

The Systems Perspective: Methods And Models For The Future | Request PDF

Introducing managers to the VSM using a personal VSM — Robinson (2013)

David T. Robinson

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368–492X

Article publication date: 4 January 2013

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a short research study that introduced a group of busy managers, in an organisation in turmoil, to Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM) through the use of a personal construct, developed by Allenna Leonard.

Design/methodology/approach: This study, designed as systemic action research, was a final project towards an Open University Masters in Systems Thinking in Practice. Initially managers were introduced to the personal VSM and invited to design their own VSM as systemic action learning. This was followed by an introductory collaborative inquiry to enable the managers to use their VSM learning to interrogate their organisational domain through the VSM lens.

Findings: The managers engaged well with the personal VSM (PVSM). All the managers reported that the PVSM was a useful learning tool and provided beneficial professional development to help clarify activities, priorities and their roles. They reported that the collaborative meeting was a very useful means to help them see others’ perspectives and work towards gaining a shared understanding of the issues and challenges within the organisation through the VSM lens.

Practical implications: The VSM is not well understood or routinely used in current management thinking. This method of introducing the VSM to managers has wide implications for providing managers with an introduction to systems thinking and an opportunity to engage openly with a valuable tool that will help their understanding of modern organisational complexity.

Originality/value: Using the personal VSM with managers has not been reported before and this study provides new opportunities to develop a means to introduce complex conceptual systems models to busy managers.

Keywords

Citation

Robinson, D.T. (2013), “Introducing managers to the VSM using a personal VSM”, Kybernetes, Vol. 42 №1, pp. 125–139. https://doi.org/10.1108/03684921311295529

Introducing managers to the VSM using a personal VSMDavid T. Robinson KybernetesISSN: 0368–492XArticle publication date: 4 January 2013 Permissions DOWNLOADS1003AbstractPurposeThe purpose of this paper is to present the results of a short research study that introduced a group of busy managers, in an organisation in turmoil, to Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM) through the use of a personal construct, developed by Allenna Leonard.Design/methodology/approachThis study, designed as systemic action research, was a final project towards an Open University Masters in Systems Thinking in Practice. Initially managers were introduced to the personal VSM and invited to design their own VSM as systemic action learning. This was followed by an introductory collaborative inquiry to enable the managers to use their VSM learning to interrogate their organisational domain through the VSM lens.FindingsThe managers engaged well with the personal VSM (PVSM). All the managers reported that the PVSM was a useful learning tool and provided beneficial professional development to help clarify activities, priorities and their roles. They reported that the collaborative meeting was a very useful means to help them see others’ perspectives and work towards gaining a shared understanding of the issues and challenges within the organisation through the VSM lens.Practical implicationsThe VSM is not well understood or routinely used in current management thinking. This method of introducing the VSM to managers has wide implications for providing managers with an introduction to systems thinking and an opportunity to engage openly with a valuable tool that will help their understanding of modern organisational complexity.Originality/valueUsing the personal VSM with managers has not been reported before and this study provides new opportunities to develop a means to introduce complex conceptual systems models to busy managers.KeywordsManagers Organizational structures Change management Adaptability Action research Viable System Model Personal VSM Systems thinking Collaborative inquiryCitationRobinson, D.T. (2013), “Introducing managers to the VSM using a personal VSM”, Kybernetes, Vol. 42 №1, pp. 125–139. https://doi.org/10.1108/03684921311295529

Introducing managers to the VSM using a personal VSM | Emerald Insight

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/03684921311295529/full/html

https://sci-hub.se/10.1108/03684921311295529

WOSC 19th Congress 2024 — Shaping collaborative ecosystems for tomorrow — 11–13 September 2024 at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, UK

The complexity of interactions and relationships in our world have consistently surpassed our ability to fully comprehend and govern. The presence of intelligent tools, both in the digital and physical realms, is progressively enhancing our capacities to act on personal, organizational, national, and international levels, leading to both intended and unintended consequences. Collectively, these changes are reshaping our primary habitat — the planet Earth — at a speed and scale that necessitate earnest consideration. In the midst of uncertainty, the development and utilization of these new capabilities would greatly benefit from CyberSystemic approaches and methods of learning. This advancement is crucial for fostering a sustainable understanding and taking actions to avert major threats to our civilization.

Therefore, Congress’s submissions are encouraged but not constrained by the following themes:

1 Enhancing Active Citizenship and democratic processes

1.1 Enabling Active Citizenship
1.2 Enhancing democratic processes

2 Integrating ecological, social, and economic dimensions of organizational governance and management

2.1 Systemic Governance and Management
2.2 Exploring the nexus of ecology, society, and economics in organizational governance
2.3 A Shift in paradigm: how the Viable System Model shapes collaborative, self-governing organisations and networks

3 Combining Physical, Digital, Natural, and Artificial worlds into CyberSystemic ontologies

3.1 AI in the environment of uncertainty
3.2 CyberSystemic examination of Interactions, relationships, and agents of change

4 Learning to develop new personal and organisational capabilities

4.1 Cybernetic and Systems Education: Past, Present and Future

https://wosc.world/index.php/wosc-congress-2024

Congress 2024

Santa Fe Institute community lecture — Comrades, Let’s Optimize! Tuesday, April 9, 2024 7:30pm Santa Fe time — also streamed live online

[[When I uploaded this, I thought it was — oddly — in person online. The latest update confirmed live screening] Reserve your free tickets through The Lensic Box Office online or call (505) 988.1234. Santa Fe residents are encouraged to attend in person. This lecture will be streaming from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and our YouTube page.

https://www.facebook.com/santafeinstitutehttps://www.linkedin.com/company/santafeinstitute/https://www.youtube.com/user/santafeinst

Lensic Performing Arts Center

BUY NOW

When Francis Spufford wrote Red Plenty, his celebrated novel about Soviet economic planning, he couldn’t have anticipated the reaction. Some saw it as a parable of the problems of capitalism after the financial crisis, others as an elegant demonstration in fictional form that capitalism never had any real alternative. Still others read it as a license to revive the dream of the planned economy. Were the vast economic apparatuses of Amazon and Walmart actually a blueprint for how to do socialism at scale? Now, as Silicon Valley tries to rebuild the economy around optimizing algorithms and AGI, old debates over markets and planning are opening up again. In this conversation, Henry Farrell, Professor of Democracy and International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, interviews Spufford about the old dream of socialist optimization and the new debates that have arisen since. Introduced by SFI President David Krakauer

Comrades, Let’s Optimize! | The Lensic

Berlin 2024 Conference — Creativity and Viability, 16–17 September 2024, Berlin Germany

Metaphorum 2024 Conference

Creativity and Viability

16–17 September 2024

Berlin, Germany

The Metaphorum 2024 Conference is set to take place in Berlin, Germany. This will be a two-day event from Monday September 16th to Tuesday September 17th.

This year’s conference theme centres around the role of creativity in sustaining viability. The primary conference activities are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, to be held at The Change Hub, an innovative space dedicated to creating sustainable transformation and social impact.

In keeping with the theme of the conference, this will be an innovative experience, unlike any other Metaphorum conference you have attended.

Berlin 2024 Conference — Creativity and ViabilityMetaphorum 2024 ConferenceCreativity and Viability16–17 September 2024Berlin, Germany The Metaphorum 2024 Conference is set to take place in Berlin, Germany. This will be a two-day event from Monday September 16th to Tuesday September 17th.This year’s conference theme centres around the role of creativity in sustaining viability. The primary conference activities are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, to be held at The Change Hub, an innovative space dedicated to creating sustainable transformation and social impact.In keeping with the theme of the conference, this will be an innovative experience, unlike any other Metaphorum conference you have attended.

Berlin 2024 Conference — Creativity and Viability — Metaphorum

Conway’s Game of Life Animation, with the dimension of time rendered — alecs.form on Instagram

alecs.form

Extension of “The Game of Life” into the third dimension by using time as z-axis. Done with the simulation zone of Blenders geometry nodes. It’s a cellular automaton developed by the British mathematician John Conway in 1970. The animation render had some hickups (missing and duplicate frames) which I had to correct manually afterwars. Still not sure what was causing it.

Simulation with Blender 4.0.0.
Rendered with Blender3D/Cycles.

Conway’s Game of Life Animation. Extension of “The Game of Life” into the third dimension by using time as z-axis. Done with the… | Instagram

SCiO international events update

Best to click on the link and see the events on the page — but they’re all listed below 🙂

Events | SCiO

Systems, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2024) — 42 articles [health warning: MDPI]

[Regular readers will know of my scepticism about MDPI as a publisher, as judged by my understanding of the value of their systems journals. I really conclude that something is broken here. I don’t *think* it’s me, but if it is, it might be by trying to read some of this. Trying to make it make sense, I idly followed the profile of the ‘Academic Editor, Prof. Vladimír Bure, who is a Professor (I think of Systems Engineering) at the University of Hradec Kralove — and perhaps the strangely wide range of topics in his published articles (https://sciprofiles.com/profile/255730) fits in Systems Engineering? And tried A System Dynamics Perspective on Workplace Spirituality and Employee Behavior (from the Administrative Sciences Journal — perhaps he can’t publish in Systems as he’s the Academic Editor?) — as the paper I might be most likely to make some sense of and… look, here’s a typical paragraph (the first):

“The corporate sphere has perpetually prioritized productivity and profitability. Researchers from developed nations consistently analyze potential factors impacting productivity and performance, aiming to propose strategies for optimizing resource utilization. It can be asserted that the most pivotal resource influencing organizational productivity is its human resources — the individuals comprising the organization. When organizational members experience satisfaction, their productivity and creativity tend to soar. Personal accomplishment and heightened morale are closely intertwined with superior performance, directly impacting the organization’s productivity and profitability. Conversely, a discontented work environment is prone to low morale, elevated turnover, burnout, stress-related issues, and increased absenteeism (Srivastava and Pradhan 2021).”

…which certainly is a collection of words? Then there’s the cover story of this actual journal, which is… a systematic review of papers? Which misspells “water shed” in the abstract. There’s an editorial for a special edition on public health, the articles of which appear (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/systems/special_issues/STMPH) to have been published in 2022 and 2023 (one of the two authors is from a Department of Computer Science & Software Engineer, does that make sense?), there’s at least one name I recognise, and I dunno, maybe they are all good and worthy papers but there seems to be no coherence of topics, methods, theory, citations or… anything? I suspose they do broadly all fit within the declared scope: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/systems/about

Most papers seem to be published within a month of submission — some within two weeks — and there’s a fee of CHF 2,400 (about £2,100) for publication, and apparently they are a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (did they deliberately name it COPE?!) and ‘take the responsibility to enforce a rigorous peer-review together with strict ethical policies and standards…’

Can anyone put me out of my misery? Am I just not understanding? Does it make sense? The ISSS affiliation and several names on the (apparently hundred-strong) editorial board remain]

Cover Story: Complex Systems Science (CSS) and Community-Based Research (CBR) have emerged as complementary disciplines. Yet, understanding their recent integration to tackle complex issues remains incomplete. Using DistillerSR, we conducted a scoping review of articles employing both CSS and CBR. Employing natural language processing, including a named entity recognition model and dynamic topic modeling, we analyzed the manuscript data. The findings show CBR topic frequency surpassing CSS, often utilizing CSS concepts and analytical techniques. Key topics driving this trend include social system collaboration, business management, food and land use, and watershed management. This review sheds light on the integration of CSS and CBR and its implications for addressing complex social, economic, and health-related issues. View this paper

Systems, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2024) — 42 articlesCover Story (view full-size image): Complex Systems Science (CSS) and Community-Based Research (CBR) have emerged as complementary disciplines. Yet, understanding their recent integration to tackle complex issues remains incomplete. Using DistillerSR, we conducted a scoping review of articles employing both CSS and CBR. Employing natural language processing, including a named entity recognition model and dynamic topic modeling, we analyzed the manuscript data. The findings show CBR topic frequency surpassing CSS, often utilizing CSS concepts and analytical techniques. Key topics driving this trend include social system collaboration, business management, food and land use, and watershed management. This review sheds light on the integration of CSS and CBR and its implications for addressing complex social, economic, and health-related issues. View this paper

Systems | March 2024 — Browse Articles

Still so needed :-(

I spent two week in the Manchester Royal Infimary with my dad over Christmas — almost nobody introduced themselves, nobody had a name badge I could read… they often just barged in and ‘did things’. This was on the wall though!

https://www.hellomynameis.org.uk/

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