Systems Thinking Ontario – 2021-06-14


Systems Thinking Ontario – 2021-06-14


June 14 (the second Monday of the month) is the 91sh meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration is on Eventbrite at

Synthesis Map Expo 2021 (#1), Strategic Foresight and Innovation program

Every year Systems Thinking Ontario hosts a series of summer evening events for presentations of synthesis maps (complex systems maps) created in systemic design courses in OCAD University graduate programs.

  • This first evening, June 14, we have three presentations.
  • The second evening, July 12, we’re considering to have another three presentations.
  • The third evening, August 9, we’re holding if there is more interest

Synthesis maps are rich visualizations that illustrate the real-world complexity of systemic challenges, and typically used to not only “map system problems” but to propose design recommendations for systems change and policies (from health to public policy, from service experiences to social change) from evidence gathered in stakeholder research. Policymakers and organizational stakeholders use synthesis maps for strategic advising, long-term planning, and considering interventions for social and systemic challenges (wicked problems).

While we are still sorting out the final slate of presenters, we are expecting:

  • Emerging Possibilities for Users in a Web 3.0 Social Media Ecology (Frontiers for Facebook?)
  • New Economics Team – Social Purpose Economy in Canada
  • TBD


  • The link for a Zoom conference will be sent upon preregistration.
  • It’s really too bad that we can’t use the OCADU Visual Analytics Lab to meet in person!

Suggested pre-reading:

What are Synthesis Maps and Gigamaps? at

ASC Series #7: Partial Memories of Mary Catherine Bateson – Nora & Sevanne Tickets, Sun, Jun 20, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST

We start with Jude Lombardi interviewing Mary Catherine’s daughter Sevanne and sister Nora and then you tell us your story.

ASC Series #7: Partial Memories of Mary Catherine Bateson – Nora & Sevanne Tickets, Sun, Jun 20, 2021 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite
American Society for Cybernetics just announced a new event
ASC Series #7: Partial Memories of Mary Catherine Bateson - Nora & Sevanne
 ASC Series #7: Partial Memories of Mary Catherine Bateson – Nora & Sevanne Sunday, June 20, 2021 at 12:00 PM

Centre for Sustainability Transitions webinar – Rethinking – Thursday June 10, 13:00-14:00 (Standard South African Time)

Webinar Invite: Rethinking Public Governance for Systems Change

Webinar Registration – Zoom
CST WEBINAR SERIESYou are invited to join the CST webinar on
 Rethinking Public Governance for Systems ChangeThursday, June 10th
from 13:00-14:00 
(Standard South African Time)This webinar will take place online.
Register in advance for this webinar:
Join the CST webinar for a discussion on
 Rethinking Public Governance for Systems ChangeFor nearly 10 years, the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP) has been working with local and provincial government to build its capacity to meaningfully collaborate across spheres of government, across departments of government, and between government and the private sector and civil society. Specifically, the EDP has been interested in understanding how governance innovation could become a lever for systems change.
This webinar will focus on lessons learnt from EDP practice, drawing on the example of the Western Cape Government Whole of Society Approach Project, to unpack the opportunities for, and challenges of, implementing innovative governance practices.

Presenter: Rushka Ely (development practitioner at Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP))
Discussants: Rika Preiser (CST)This webinar will take place online.
Register in advance for this webinar:
Rushka Ely is a development practitioner with a focus on local, city, and town-scale challenges, processes, and solutions. She leads a number of programmes for the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP), a government support organisation enabling collaboration across governments, sectors, and regions. This role builds on her experience working within the South African government, having been a part of the green economy team at Western Cape Government.
Rushka has extensive experience working with local and regional governments, as well as the private sector and civil society and has worked on a range of developmental challenges such as economic development, regional collaboration, housing, urban development, and governance. 

View from the Left Eye – Modes of Observing:

Harish's Notebook - My notes... Lean, Cybernetics, Quality & Data Science.

I was introduced to the drawing above through Douglas Harding who wrote the Zen book, “The Headless Way.” The drawing was drawn by Ernst Mach, the 19th Century Austrian physicist. He called the drawing, “the view from the left eye.” What is beautiful about the drawing is that it is sort of a self-portrait. This is the view we all see when we look around (without using a mirror or other reflective surfaces). If we could draw what we see of ourselves, this would be the most accurate picture. This brings me to the point about the different modes of observing.

Right now, you are most likely reading this on a screen of some sort or perhaps you are listening to this as a podcast. You were not paying attention to the phone or computer screen – until I pointed it out to you. You were not paying attention…

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Metaphorum Webinar Series June-November 2021

The program for the end of the year is detailed below. See more details of each webinar at our webpage <a

Metaphorum is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Meeting ID: 819 4398 1395
Passcode: 758276

You can find the recordings of previous webinars and details on forthcoming webinars, on our webpage.

Metaphorum Webinar Series



Date Speaker Title
June 9th Markus Schwaninger Covid19 Pandemic – Dealing with the Unpredictable: Crisis Management in a Federation
June 23rd Angus Jenkinson What Is the Identity of an Organisation?
July 7th Panagiotis Panagiotakopoulos
The role of VSM in designing and managing future-fit organisations
July 21st Alfonso Reyes A.
A new organisational from for a trans-disciplinary university. The case of Universidad de Ibagué
Aug 4th Maurice Yolles Mindset agency theory. Prof. M Yolles
Sept 29th Pam Sydelko A Viable System Model Board Game for Designing Interagency Responses to Wicked Problems
Oct 13th Robin Asby Thinking Systems
Nov 10th Mark Lambertz "Let's build a productive social system by connecting people’s needs and technology’s capabilities – and get the job done.”

Managing Failure: Systems Thinking and the Butterfly Effect |

Managing Failure: Systems Thinking and the Butterfly Effect Failure may not always be completely preventable, but with the right thinking and PLM platform, it should always be manageable. May 18th, 2021 Mark Reisig

Managing Failure: Systems Thinking and the Butterfly Effect |

Via John Pourdehnad, who adds: FYI. PLM is the PRODUCT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT module sold by SAP 

Managing Failure: Systems Thinking and the Butterfly Effect

The 2021 Texas power crisis was the result of many things—being unprepared for an extreme snowstorm, inadequately winterized power equipment, power grids isolated to the state, and so on. However, it’s fair to say this crisis was largely a miscalculation of risks. It was a failure to predict and mitigate a series of compounding factors, which led to a break under pressure. We can call it a failure in Systems Thinking.

After the fact, it’s easy to say that Texas should have winterized their wind turbines, but that’s only one detail—the crisis was the sum of much more. All power took a hit, including coal and nuclear. Worse, gas production froze along with pipelines.

As heating demands rose sharply, the lack of natural gas was problematic as many of Texas’s power plants rely on gas to generate their electricity, thus the power grids going offline was inevitable. The halt of gas production was perhaps the biggest culprit in the power crisis, but the broader system—particularly electrical infrastructure across much of the state—had little recourse without it. It was an inability to mitigate undesirable emergent behaviors and cross-dependencies that resulted in catastrophic failure.

Again, a failure in Systems Thinking. 

Systems Thinking says nothing lives in isolation. Everything affects everything. It’s like the butterfly effect of chaos theory, which isn’t to say butterflies set off chain reactions that blow volcanos or cause tsunamis, but that the Earth is a complex and interlinked system, where even something as small as a butterfly is moving with everything else.

The idea of managing complexity in systems is nothing new—System Thinking has been around for decades. The challenge now is that many organizations still aren’t giving Systems Thinking its proper due, sometimes with a great cost. This is true even of PLM and its users, but vendors are catching up.

The concept of the butterfly effect was first used to describe the impossibility of predicting the weather far into the future, because weather systems are too complex for us to track every proverbial butterfly. Similarly, it is impossible for any one person to fully understand today’s design complexity, which is increasing at an ever-accelerating pace. No one can or should predict every little variant or mistake on their own. So rather than chasing butterflies, we can govern our design complexity with effectively applied Systems Thinking.

We do this with a modern PLM platform capable of tracking all life cycles of the system, from conception and design to operation and maintenance.

Because of rising complexities in today and tomorrow’s products, with more functionality and more variance of functionality, often the design of a product has become the design of a system with many different implementations. PLM platforms came from the mechanical world that focused on just the product. Now they’re evolving to meet a world of systems—a world where you have to have to manage everything about a system as a system of systems first, without knowing the details of the design of products.  

We apply Systems Thinking to how we look at what PLM is managing. Because everything affects everything, it is critical the platform be able to connect the product at all stages to a system model, such as with a Digital Thread. Tools have to be able to show their data models to PLM data models. Whatever system PLM is going to manage in the future, it has to do so in the context of a data model of that system, where every change goes through said model. The system model is the connective tissue sitting inside PLM and everything in PLM connects through it. That is the crux of Systems Thinking.

PLM used to manage just design data. Now we’re managing design intent, which drives design data. We can’t predict the outcome of every storm, so we should instead prepare to mitigate their effects.

Steven Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking b

ackwards.” Predicting the future—and future failures like in Texas—requires full traceability from the beginning—in short, with a Digital Thread and the platform to support it. This is the strength of a PLM Platform, as they not only manage design data, but also the system across the entire lifecycle from the start to any indefinite point in the future. 

Failure may not always be completely preventable, but with the right thinking and platform, it should always be manageable.

Mark Reisig is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Aras.

A simple guide to chaos and complexity – Rickles, Haw, Shiell (2007)

‘a classic but a bit out of date’

A simple guide to chaos and complexity

A simple guide to chaos and complexity

Dean RicklesPenelope Hawe, and Alan ShiellAuthor informationArticle notesCopyright and License informationDisclaimerThis article has been cited by other articles in PMC.Go to:


The concepts of complexity and chaos are being invoked with increasing frequency in the health sciences literature. However, the concepts underpinning these concepts are foreign to many health scientists and there is some looseness in how they have been translated from their origins in mathematics and physics, which is leading to confusion and error in their application. Nonetheless, used carefully, “complexity science” has the potential to invigorate many areas of health science and may lead to important practical outcomes; but if it is to do so, we need the discipline that comes from a proper and responsible usage of its concepts. Hopefully, this glossary will go some way towards achieving that objective.Keywords: nonlinear dynamics, chaos theory, complexity

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A simple guide to chaos and complexity

Universal Service Management – USM


USM principles – USM portal

What is USM?

USM is a universal methodical approach for service management.

The USM method provides a standardized management system for a service organization to manage its people, its processes, its technology, and its services, based on an explicit service management architecture.

Service management architecture: a set of rules and guidelines for setting up and managing a service organization that enable consistent decision making in the future.

With that service management architecture, you lay the fundament for the structure of a successful service organization. Local choices then determine how you organize your own ‘floors’ on that fundament.

USM can be deployed in all service organizations and teams. For example, with USM you can easily provide popular reference architectures (TOGAF, eTOM) with a common management system, or realize standards such as ISO27001 or ISO20000 in a cheap and efficient way. USM offers an easily learned methodical approach to service management, based on business principles.

With USM, the organization comes in control of its routines in a quick and cheap way, creating order and tranquility and room for exploiting the creative potential of employees.

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USM is a method, based on Systems Theory. USM’s earliest ideas were created during the biomathematics study of USM’s chief architect, Jan van Bon, in the early seventies when he was working on the simulation modeling of ecosystems.

After working a decade as an academic researcher, the author moved to IT, to work in some large Dutch semi-government companies. The next step in the evolution of USM was initiated by the assignment to create a control system for a large IT organization. This is where the first ITIL practice guidance and theories on Quality Management delivered the inspiration for the initial setup of a simple management system, in the late 1980s.

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USM principles

USM specifies a service management architecture based on principles. The USM Study Guide describes a summary of these principles. You can read the detailed set of USM principles on this page.

The outline of the USM principles is shown in the figure below. The principles are organized according to the domains of the service management system in the USM Customer-Provider Interaction Model.

Each principle is defined in accordance with how the principles are developed in NORA & TOGAF: TITLE, STATEMENT, RATIONALE and IMPLICATIONS. You can unfold each principle to read the rationale and implications.


Reduce complexity by segmenting and creating standardized building blocks, and apply those building blocks consistently in continuously improving service delivery.

USM follows a number of general principles. These principles are not USM-specific but apply universally, to all organizations that worked in a structured way, striving for sustainable improvement. USM explicitly follows these general principles.

GEN01 – BE CONSISTENT: Be consistent with the principles, but not uniform.

GEN02 – REDUCE COMPLEXITY: Make everything as simple as possible, but not too simple.

GEN03 – STANDARDIZE: Standardization secures predictability of performance.

GEN04 – SEGMENT: Structure systems by segmenting them and monitoring the relationships between components.

GEN05 – IMPROVE CONTINUOUSLY: Service delivery should be continuously improved to keep customers satisfied.


Specify and evaluate services according to a simple and unambiguous structure.

USM applies the following principles:

S01 – UNAMBIGUOUS SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES: Specify each service in terms of facilities and support, in order to manage and integrate services unambiguously and uniformly.

S02 – UNAMBIGUOUS ASSESSMENT OF SERVICES: Assess a service unambiguously and uniformly in terms of its functionality and functioning.


The service provider is a system with three components: People (the people in the organization), Process (the processes used by these people), and Technology (the tools used by these people when performing the processes). Not only the characteristics óf those components, but especially the relationships betwéén those components (the routines) determine the performance of the service delivery system.


Processes describe (only) activities, in an unambiguous and structured manner, and are included in an integral and integrated process model.

USM applies the following principles:

PR01 – UNAMBIGUOUS SPECIFICATION OF PROCESS: Throughout the organization, everyone consistently applies the same pure definition of the term ‘process’.

PR02 – PROCESS UNIFORMITY: Similar work is performed with similar processes, throughout the organization.

PR03 – INTEGRAL AND INTEGRATED PROCESS MODEL: The management system process model includes all activities relevant to managing service delivery and each activity appears only once in the process model.


Organize the people in the organization in such a way that their duties, authorities, and responsibilities (TAR) do not have undesired overlap or conflicts, and it is clear to everyone who has what TAR.

USM applies the following principles:

PE01 – SEPARATION OF DUTIES: Promote control by organizationally separating tasks, authorities, and responsibilities that may cause conflicts.

PE02 – UNAMBIGUOUS STEERING: Organize the coordination of executive actions unambiguously, through either hierarchical lines or process logic.


The tools for the people in the organization support the optimal execution of their work.

USM applies the following principle:

T01 – TECHNOLOGY FOLLOWS PROCESS: Technological tools support employees in carrying out their activities in the processes, and are not leading.


Organize the work in integral and integrated routines via workflows that follow the logic of the process model, and communicate in a structured way.

USM applies the following principles:

R01 – SYSTEMATIC ROUTINES: Optimal service delivery requires a systematic and structured design of routines, categorized by process, procedure and work instruction.

R02 – WORKFLOWS: Organize all work according to a uniform set of workflows.

R03 – STRUCTURED COMMUNICATION: Support structured routines with structured communication.


Apply the service provider principles consistently across supply chains and networks.

USM applies the following principles:

SC01 – UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES: Principles of service management apply to all disciplines of the organization, both primary and secondary. Service management is everyone’s job.

SC02 – ENTERPRISE INTEREST IS CORE: Team decisions all serve the enterprise interest.

SC03 – SUPPLY CHAIN AWARE: Teams and organizations are aware of the fact that as a service provider they are only a link in supply chains and networks. What applies within organizations with regard to cooperation and integration also applies between organizations.


Strive for value creation in a mature service delivery, by focusing on the customer’s interests.

USM applies the following principles:

CV01 – VALUE CREATION: Service delivery is focused on value creation, at least with the customer.

CV02 – CUSTOMER-DRIVEN: The interests of the customer are the starting point for the design of services.

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USM principles – USM portal

© COPYRIGHT SURVUZ Foundation, 2021. The information and materials on this website may be freely copied and distributed so long as our copyright notice and website address is included.

The Impossibility of Automating Ambiguity

Complexity Digest

Abeba Birhane

Artificial Life

On the one hand, complexity science and enactive and embodied cognitive science approaches emphasize that people, as complex adaptive systems, are ambiguous, indeterminable, and inherently unpredictable. On the other, Machine Learning (ML) systems that claim to predict human behaviour are becoming ubiquitous in all spheres of social life. I contend that ubiquitous Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ML systems are close descendants of the Cartesian and Newtonian worldview in so far as they are tools that fundamentally sort, categorize, and classify the world, and forecast the future. Through the practice of clustering, sorting, and predicting human behaviour and action, these systems impose order, equilibrium, and stability to the active, fluid, messy, and unpredictable nature of human behaviour and the social world at large. Grounded in complexity science and enactive and embodied cognitive science approaches, this article emphasizes why people, embedded in social systems, are indeterminable and unpredictable…

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The Secrets of Sphagnum | Lorna Smithers


The Secrets of Sphagnum | LaptrinhX / News

The Secrets of Sphagnum

2021-04-28 Highfield Moss - Sphagnum Palustre II.jpg

For the past few centuries peat bogs (or mosslands as we call them here in Lancashire) have been considered god-forsaken wastelands, impassable ‘by man or horse’, ‘too dry to farm, too wet fish’. Drained and excavated they have only been valued in so far as they provide land for farming and peat for energy and horticulture.

Only, in the last fifty years, with the rise of the environmental movement and growing awareness of the climate crisis have we begun to recognise them as habitats valuable in the themselves and as carbon sinks that hold twice as much carbon as forests. 

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The Secrets of Sphagnum | LaptrinhX / News

Cybernetics for the Social Sciences – Bernard Scott (book on Amazon)

Cybernetics for the Social Sciences (Brill Research Perspectives in Humanities and Social Sciences) Paperback – 22 April 2021 by Bernard Scott (Author)

Cybernetics for the Social Sciences (Brill Research Perspectives in Humanities and Social Sciences): AmazonSmile: Bernard Scott: 9789004464346: Books


Cybernetics for the Social Sciences
Author: Bernard Scott
Bernard Scott has met a long-felt need by authoring a book that
shows the relevance of cybernetics for the social sciences
(including psychology, sociology, and anthropology). Scott
provides user-friendly descriptions of the core concepts of
cybernetics, with examples of how they can be used in the social
sciences. He explains how cybernetics functions as a
transdiscipline that uni

CECAN – Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation: Training and Support

Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation: Training and Support Our new CECAN training and support series ‘Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation’ will provide you with knowledge and practical advice to allow you to deal with complexity in policy analysis and evaluation.

Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation: Training and Support

How do systems get unstuck? – Greenpeace International – Wyler (2015)

How do systems get unstuck? Rex Weyler 23 April 2015

How do systems get unstuck? – Greenpeace International

How do systems get unstuck?

Rex Weyler 23 April 2015 |  0 CommentsShare on WhatsappShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via Email

Human enterprise appears stuck, like an addict, in habitual behaviour. We have plenty of data alerting us to global heating, declining species, disappearing forests, and rising toxins in our ecosystems. Yet, after decades of efforts to reverse these trends and some notable achievements — whaling moratorium, ocean dumping ban, renewable energy projects — the key trends appear evermore troubling. [1]

In December 2014, I attended a gathering hosted by the International Bateson Institute (IBI) and Centro Studi Riabilitzione Neurocognitiva Villa Miari, a clinic for paralysis patients in Schio, Italy. We observed therapeutic methods employed at Centro Studi to help us consider links between these methods and a efforts to address the ecological paralysis apparent in our social systems. “How Do Systems Get Unstuck” is a long-term, collaberative research project of the Bateson Institute.

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How do systems get unstuck? – Greenpeace International

Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt, and Cybernetics | Rhizome

Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt, and Cybernetics By Geeta Dayal Oct 21, 2009

Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt, and Cybernetics | Rhizome

We are experimenting with different approaches to systems transformation — here are five insights | Søren Vester Haldrup, UNDP Innovation | May, 2021 | Medium

We are experimenting with different approaches to systems transformation — here are five insights UNDP Innovation May 14·8 min read By Søren Vester Haldrup

We are experimenting with different approaches to systems transformation — here are five insights | by UNDP Innovation | May, 2021 | Medium