Transduction — leading transformation — Issue #28

Benjamin P. Taylor
11 min readDec 11, 2021


Published on LinkedIn, GetRevue and substack, this is my weekly roundup of things I’ve shared in the last week — and I’ve dropped back in time to share the highlights from two older newsletters from the summer…

top phive of the week

My top LinkedIn posts (you won’t BELIEVE number 77!) ;-) — the once-chosen path
I joined LinkedIn way back in April 2007, thanks to a colleague who came back from a course at the Harvard Kennedy School and told me that everyone in the US was on it. Around that period, and particularly from 2009 onwards, it was a good way to tell which public service clients were doing…

How to hack
Every Monday and Wednesday I do a LinkedIn post that I put some special effort into. I’ve been doing this religiously for some time and (including a few ‘normal’ posts that got a bit of traction, I’ve now done 176 such posts. The last few have had really good ‘viewing figures’: 34,875 Will you come … Continue reading How to hack LinkedIn →

An outline approach to organisation or service
What tools, approaches, perspectives do you reach for when you have to review an organisation, service, team, or department? Here’s my ‘go to’ list when I am asked to look at a whole ‘service’, usually in public services. This is a sketch of methods and views we use to try to get a rounded view … Continue reading An outline approach to organisation or service review →

What do you think when you see someone flying this flag?
My view is that the least British thing of all to do is to fly the flag, outside of very special ceremonies and very limited occasions. In the ‘Cool Britannia’ era, ‘progressives’ like me began to feel it was ‘safe’ — and maybe a good thing — to embrace a bit of patriotism. This was perhaps not unconnected to … Continue reading What do you think when you see someone flying this flag? →

What is work? What’s your definition? — the once-chosen
It’s a deeply cybernetic concept — and it’s incredibly useful to realise this. Gangs of men on relief work during the depression, 1930s, by Sam Hood Work is: >> ‘effort, to a purpose, using judgement and discretion, within boundaries, over time’. << (This is based on two definitions by Elliott Jacques, given with citations below).…

systems | complexity | cybernetics

Why fruit rots: theoretical support for Janzen’s theory of microbe–macrobe competition | Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
We present a formal model of Janzen’s influential theory that competition for resources between microbes and vertebrates causes microbes to be selected to make these resources unpalatable to verteb…

The Cybernetics of Complexity: | Systems Community of
Brilliant from Harish.

Lee Kee Kok — Life and thought 20210415 — YouTube | Systems Community of
In the chat on, David Ing says: Keekok Lee was interviewed in April 2021 by the Global University for Sustainability, at . I listened to the whole talk (while bicycling), and have provided the link with the index to 58m27s of a rather long life history running 1h52m40s. I’m a completist, so…

ISSS conference 2021 videos online | Systems Community of Inquiry
Online 2021 Public ISSS 2021 Annual Conference was online using the cvent platform, July 7–14 2021. Select video recordings from essions are here for public viewing. For these videos all participants have agreed for the video recordings from sessions to be shared publicly. Many other video recordings are reserved for members only on a different pageOnline…

The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order” | Kauffman (1990) | Systems Community of Inquiry

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association: Vol 1990, No 2 The Sciences of Complexity and “Origins of Order” Stuart A. Kauffman AbstractPDF Abstract This article discusses my book, Origins…

The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity | Birhane (2021) | Systems Community of Inquiry

Artificial Life | MIT Press June 11 2021 The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity Abeba BirhaneAuthor and Article Information Artificial Life (2021) 27 (1): 44–61 Abstract On the one hand, complexity science and enactive and embodied cognitive science approaches emphasize that people, as complex adaptive…

Systems Convening (Wenger — Trayner) — Systems Changes — Open Learning Commons ¦ David Ing | Systems Community of Inquiry

Systems Changes daviding Given that Etienne Wenger’s original research coming out of the Institute for Research on Learning at Xerox popularized Communities of Practice (mind the subtitle of Learning, Meaning and Identity), I can’t say that I’m surprised at the continuing development of their work. The focus is on the…

After “Jane-Jacobs-Thought”| Doug Saunders | 2021 — Systems Changes — Open Learning Commons | Systems Community of Inquiry

Systems Changes cities urbanism Aug 8 1 / 2 Aug 9 1m ago daviding 14h When Jane Jacobs passed in 2006, she was said to have been studying suburbs. Her work had been famous in urban cores. As a systems thinker, however, part of her curiosity about suburbs was…

Observations on Observing, The Case Continues: | Harish’s Notebook — My notes… Lean, Cybernetics, Quality & Data
Art by Audrey Jose In today’s post, I am continuing from the last post, mainly using the ideas of Dirk Baecker. We noted that every observation is an operation of distinction, where an observer crosses a line, entering a marked state. This is shown in the schematic below. Here “a” refers to the marked state…

Complexity Management Theory: Motivation for Ideological Rigidity and Social Conflict — Peterson and Flanders (2002) | Systems Community of Inquiry

Cortex 38(3):429–58 DOI: 10.1016/S0010–9452(08)70680–4 Source PubMed Jordan B PetersonJoseph L Flanders We are doomed to formulate conceptual structures that are much simpler…

Finally — I’m seen! | Wenger-Trayner | Systems Community of Inquiry

Systems conveners: essential workers long term In 2014, we wrote a chapter on what we called “systems conveners,” people who work to increase learning capability across a whole social landscape that includes many practices, institutions, and stakeholders. It’s not just…

public | service | transformation

One Team Gov’s one big goal for 2022 (and a few smaller ones) | by DavidBuck | OneTeamGov |
Drafted by Nour Sidawi and DavidBuck and reviewed by the ever generous Sam Villis on behalf of everyone at One Team Gov. One Team Gov is a public sector reform movement whose aim is to take practical…

Long live commissioning — PSTA
Commissioning is dead. So why the hell won’t it go away?

Long live commissioning! But what shall we call it? — the once-chosen path
What do you call an approach that moves #publicservices from ‘spending money on services to meet needs’ to ‘intervening and learning in the complex systems that actually shape our lives’? latest piece in the Municipal Journal The former sees ‘services’ as the whole universe, brought into being by our public service cash. The latter sees…

Level with us: Lords told social value must be 100% objective | The Social Enterprise Magazine — Pioneers
The House of Lords has been exploring how public services can be bolder in ‘levelling up’ communities around the UK. Three experts told the Lords Public Sector Services Committee why 15% ‘added value’ isn’t good enough.

150 more councils close to financial brink, government admits | Inside
Other local authorities, including Tory-run councils, are also finding themselves in a slough of despond Croydon is just one of 150 local authorities that have been in urgent talks with Whitehall over their precarious financial situation following 18 months of covid lockdowns on top of a decade of Tory austerity. That’s according to testimony to…

@ServiceReform: Video: ‘The Adaptive Council’ — the PSTA at Essex LearnFest here:>> What capability do #publicservices most need in 2022 and beyond? <<

organisational development / transformation

Why we need #metaconsulting — the once-chosen path
Have you ever seen #consultants deliver the right thing — in the wrong time and place? Go wrong because they were trying to impose their model, not adapt to circumstances? Many consultancies are one-trick ponies, and that kinda works. They do one thing and they do it well, giving people variants of the same approach. The less…

The Peter Block Community Exercise

connection, gifts, community: better than ‘a warmup’

Half of Gen-Z would leave job if not given a hybrid work
Even though two-thirds of workers surveyed by workspace technology company say hybrid benefits mental health and ultimately productivity, over half believe that their employers don’t seem prepared to implement it.

ethics in public service

Travel: ‘Profiteering’ PCR test firms removed from Government website are ‘reappearing under new names’
The Government has admitted that the providers listed on its own webpage ‘may not have full accreditation’ — and has insisted it has not ‘recommended or approved’ any firm

Traumatic Brain Injury and the criminal justice system — Russell Webster
Hope Kent and Professor Huw Williams highlight the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among people in contact with the justice system, and its links with offending.

The Death of the Last Good Chap — Byline
Why do those in positions of power now evade accountability despite numerous examples of incompetence, dangerous liaisons, lies, and even corruption at the heart of Boris Johnson’s Government? Because the British political system allows them to, says Gavin Esler

Understanding Society: The

Tories fined £17,800 for breaching electoral law over Downing Street flat refurbishment — Mirror Online
The Conservative Party has been fined by the Electoral Commission after failing to follow the rules over Boris Johnson’s lavish refurbishment of his grace-and-favour pad

Capita undercuts British Council to run Turing student exchange scheme | Students | The Guardian
Exclusive: Government strips council of role in programme, which replaced Erasmus after Brexit

Virginia Giuffre: Prince Andrew accuser files civil case in US — BBC
Virginia Giuffre alleges the Duke of York sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old.

environmental and social justice

Sheffield ‘needs 80% more cyclists and bus journeys’ to fight climate crisis —
The council has revealed how it plans to tackle the climate crisis

S. Janoff Chapter: Striving for Wholeness | Future Search
Our global systems are fragmented and collapsing in front of us. Here I share my perspective on why systems are broken, my experience working with intractable issues that cross many boundaries and my call to leverage our role as social scientists. I believe we can create a world that works for all, but it takes seeing our differences as resources, faith that we all aspire to wholeness and courage to discover what we do not yet know.

more brain food

The world is grey — and it’s a lot more interesting that way. — the once-chosen
What does the shift to the collective journey mean to you? I was raised on Star Wars. stay on target Almost literally; we went on exchange to the USA when I was five, and I saw the movie 14 times that year. I’m sure I could have recited the entire script for you well into…

Seeing Like a Finite State Machine — Crooked Timber
Reading this tweet by Maciej Ceglowski makes me want to set down a conjecture that I’ve been entertaining for the last couple of years (in part thanks to having read Maciej’s and Kieran…

There’s been a kerfuffle about ‘stage theory’. What do you think? — the once-chosen
Can we really say that people progress through different levels of ability to deal with #complexity across their life? And that we can measure and identify what level people are at? Predict how they’ll develop? And select and promote people based on that? Or, as Nora Bateson said when she began the tango, will it…

What does ‘the power to transcend paradigms’ mean? | by Benjamin P. Taylor | Medium
Epistemic status — just a rushed response when what I wanted to say became too long for a tweet stream. I agree — this is unlikely to happen unless people (or organisations) are at one of those ‘late…

The Parable of the Blobs and Squares — Ideas

an old classic

United on Sunday: The effects of secular rituals on social bonding and affect

Religious rituals are associated with health benefits, potentially produced via social bonding. It is unknown whether secular rituals similarly increase social bonding. We conducted a field study with individuals who celebrate secular rituals at Sunday Assemblies and compared them with participants attending Christian rituals.

2021/08/09 Normal Accidents, High Reliability, Wicked Messes | Coevolving Innovations | Systems Community of Inquiry

Have we learned from brushes with disaster, or have we become complacent about complexities in everyday life? On March 28, 1979, an accident…

Speaking gigs — what do you think? — the once-chosen path
Do you have tips how to get the best results out of them? My mission seems to be to spread the good-humoured word about systems | cybernetics | complexity. I wanted to change the world by transforming consultancy and transforming public services, and, well, in the words of Tesla about the ‘self-driving’ myth — ‘the…


Good old-school simple web chat.