Adam Thompson’s Zen Organisations blog

Adam is a brilliant systems explainer, a consultant, and happily shares a lot of his conceptual background with me (Viable Systems, particularly a focus here, Systems Leadership Theory (Macdonald et al), Barry Oshry’s power+systems approach and a background in lean with some agile – he also draws from Theory of Constraints (and no doubt many others)

His regular updates and videos are well worth following:

videos directly here:

Systems Practice – new website and blog from Yoel Ben-Avraham

main page:

about us:

Blog – Systems Practice
Thinking in Systems : A Primer

Thinking in Systems: a Primer

Posted on 

Thinking in Systems is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem-solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global.[…]Posted in BooksResourcesTagged booksystems practicesystems thinking0 Comments

Kumu – Systems Mapping

Posted on 

Kumu is an analytics and visualization platform that creates interactive relationship maps. It can be used to summarise complex datasets with dozens of variables in a visually simple map.[…]Posted in PlatformResourcesLeave a comment

Systems Practice?

Posted on 

I don’t know about you, but every time I’m asked what it is that I do or “What the heck is Systems Practice?” I actually tell them!

Most people respond “Uhhh?” In this article I’ll share a choice selection of short answers to this question by others, far more famous than myself to see how they explained it


Blog – Systems Practice

Entropy | Special Issue : What is Self-Organization?

Complexity Digest

Many of us have used the notion of “self-organization” in our studies. What is it precisely, though? A constituent element could be, e.g., the emergence of non-trivial properties from comparatively simple rules. What would simple, non-trivial or complex emergence mean in this context?

In this Special Issue, we invite viewpoints, perspectives, and applied considerations on questions regarding the notions of self-organization and complexity. Examples include:

Routes: In how many different ways can self-organization manifest itself? Would it be meaningful, or even possible, to attempt a classification?

Detection: Can we detect it automatically—either the process or the outcome? Or do we need a human observer to classify a system as “self-organizing”? This issue may be related to the construction of quantifiers, e.g., in terms of functions on phase space, such as entropy measures.

Complexity: Is a system self-organizing only when the resulting dynamical state is “complex”? What does “complex” mean exact;ly?…

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ASC Speaker Series #3: Towards a Critical Cybernetics by Klaus Krippendorff Tickets, Sun, Feb 28, 2021 at 12pm EST | Free

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ASC Speaker Series #3: Towards a Critical Cybernetics by Klaus Krippendorff Tickets, Sun, Feb 28, 2021 at 9:00 AM | Eventbrite

FEB 28

ASC Speaker Series #3: Towards a Critical Cybernetics by Klaus Krippendorff

by American Society for Cybernetics FollowFree

Event Information

What’s solvable within one context doesn’t necessarily account for the larger social consequences. It’s affected by language.

Klaus Krippendorff has been involved with cybernetic thinking for many decades now. During this presentation he will discuss his current thoughts on what he refers to as “Critical Cybernetics,” as a follow up to his talk, “Agency Algorithms, New Forms of Oppression and How Cybernetics Might Help,“ at the American Society for Cybernetics conference in 2019.

Critical Cybernetics is his response to the observation that people often uncritically focus either on small problems they think are solvable within the context of existing institutions, are satisfied with their own understanding and describing their observations as outsiders, and are unaware of how their language affects what they are describing. All of which make it difficult the larger social consequences of what our interactions with technologies set in motion.

ASC Speakers Series: Cybernetics and humans’ knowing

Participant Bio

Klaus Krippendorff is the Gregory Bateson emeritus professor for cybernetics, language, and culture at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Philadelphia. He was a student of Ross Ashby, is a long-time member of American Society for Cybernetics and has a history of applying cybernetics to social phenomena; communication in particular. Klaus has a background in design which brings him closer to seeing the social world in which we live as being constructed and constantly reconstructed, by actions that are in turn shaped by different discourses, among which the reflexive language of cybernetics is an especially potent one.

Critical Cybernetics

Klaus Krippendorff will present his latest insights about how cybernetic technologies not merely mediate between members of society but tend to confine human agency.

“Critical Cybernetics” is his response to the observation that people often uncritically focus either on small problems they think are solvable within the context of existing institutions, are satisfied with their own understanding and describing their observations as outsiders, and are unaware of how their language affects what they are describing. These approaches make it difficult to address the larger social consequences of what our interactions with technologies set in motion.

  • Klaus will show that over the last 50 years, reliance on uncritical cybernetics, namely circular causal explanations, has advanced the design of cybernetic technologies but remained blind to their larger social implications. One of its unintended consequences is the exponential growth of digitalizing business and government practices that thrive on the economic benefits of cybernetic technologies. As a consequence, corporations and bureaucracies have become increasingly automated, algorithmized, and closed to human control, thus rendering the population of innocent users as mere customers and operators.
  • Klaus’ main thesis is that our own everyday vocabularies, metaphors in dominant narratives mistakenly attribute agency to technologies and social systems which implies the blind surrender of our own agency and entraps us in submission to the algorithmic logic of cybernetic technologies. Uncritical cybernetics’ lack of considering these social consequences has fed the unfettered growth of huge technologically driven complexes and encouraged a new form of oppression.
  • Critical cybernetics is critical insofar as it aims to emancipate members of social systems from burdensome entrapments by uncritically designed and used cybernetic technologies. It recognizes that language not merely describes observations; using it can change observations. Modifications of how we language reality into being can liberate speakers from this new form of oppression. Klaus is not promoting a particular ethic, rather he is encouraging critical cyberneticians, and all who care, into new conversations capable of critically examining the social consequences of all imaginable cybernetic technologies. He argues that this is a way to regain human agency where it was lacking or felt intolerable.

book at source:

ASC Speaker Series #3: Towards a Critical Cybernetics by Klaus Krippendorff Tickets, Sun, Feb 28, 2021 at 9:00 AM | Eventbrite

An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems with Gerald Midgley | – 4 MAR 2021 2:00 PM-3:30 PM Swedish time

An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems |

4 MAR 2021 2:00 PM-3:30 PM 

An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems

Welcome to a seminar in informatics organized by the Linnaeus University Systems Community field of knowledge and Centre for Systems Studies, Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull, UK.

Title: An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems

Lecturer: Gerald Midgley, international guest professor at the Department of Informatics, Linnaeus University

OrganizerLinnaeus University Systems Community and Centre for Systems Studies, Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull, UK


We are increasingly facing ‘wicked problems’. They are stubborn, challenging and often have to be managed rather than solved. They frequently involve interlinked issues, multiple agencies with different perspectives on both the problem and potential solutions, conflict over desired outcomes or the means to achieve them, power relations making change difficult, and uncertainty about the possible effects of proposed changes. While traditional scientific, policy and management approaches can make a useful contribution, we need something more than these if we want to gain a bigger picture understanding of how to act in the face of wicked problems. Systems thinking can help. In this talk, Gerald Midgley will introduce a framework of systems thinking skills, plus a variety of systems ideas and methods that can help people put these skills into practice. He will illustrate the use of the methods with a number of examples from his own social policy, natural resource management and community development projects in the UK and New Zealand. In this way, he will show how we can begin to get a better handle on wicked problems.

Gerald Midgley is Professor of Systems Thinking in the Centre for Systems Studies, Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull, UK. He also holds Adjunct Professorships at Linnaeus University, Sweden; the University of Queensland, Australia; the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Mälardalen University, Sweden; and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has held research leadership roles in both academia and government, having spent ten years as Director of the Centre for Systems Studies at Hull, and seven years as a Senior Science Leader in the Institute for Environmental Science and Research (ESR), New Zealand. Gerald has written over 300 papers for academics and practitioners on systems thinking and community operational research, and has been involved in a wide variety of public sector, community development, health service, technology foresight and resource management projects. He was the 2013/14 President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, and has written or edited 11 books. These include: Systemic Intervention: Philosophy, Methodology, and Practice (Kluwer, 2000); Systems Thinking, Volumes I-IV (Sage, 2003); Community Operational Research: OR and Systems Thinking for Community Development (Kluwer, 2004); and Forensic DNA Evidence on Trial: Science and Uncertainty in the Courtroom (Emergent, 2011). Gerald is also the editor of a Systems Thinking book series for Routledge, with the first two titles released in 2020, and his forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Systems Thinking will be published in 2021.2:00 PM3:30 PMVia Zoom, SalavatiAdd to your calendar

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An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems |

IV ISA Forum of Sociology (February 23-28, 2021) – conference with stream on sociocybernetics starts today ($50/25 for students, 800 sessions in total)

confrence link –

Program of the RC51 (sociocybernetics) ISA FORUM:

Organisers say:

“If you are presenting a paper, thanks for being one of the 60 participants have prepared a paper proposal to discuss Sociocybernetics as a way to observe “the Blind Spot of Society” and as a toolbox to think differently. Sessions will include topics such as the digitalization and societal innovation, the transnational spaces and digital divide, complexity and truth. Art, resistance, otherness, ageing, agency, reflexivity, scientific citizenship, democracy and inequalities will be at the core of our debates. The program has some key instructions and particularly a full view of RC51 sessions.  You can also can have a view online of the full RC51 program with links to every session, abstract and participant.

If you are not presenting paper this time, there is still time to register with View-Only Registration (regular fee USD50, student fee USD25). This will give you access to all 800 live sessions, to the session recordings posted after the Forum & to Congress Program Book & Book Abstracts. Most importantly, you will be able to see the 16 full RC51 program sessions :D.

The program attached includes a preview of two JoS call for papers. Andrew Mitchell has recently joined the JoS project to be part of the editorial team. Along with Fabio Giglietto, they have produced two CfP. One for the Forum papers and other the special issue on Felix Geyer contributions to Sociocybernetics.  More information in the attachment

RC51 is on the move. Be active part of it.

On behalf of the RC51 Board

Raija, Martina and Patricia

RC51 ISA Forum Coordinators

Enabling coherent explore spaces. | by Sonja Blignaut | Feb, 2021 | Medium


Enabling coherent explore spaces. I have written before about the need to… | by Sonja Blignaut | Feb, 2021 | Medium

Enabling coherent explore spaces

Sonja Blignaut1 day ago·16 min read

Image for post
Image by EvGenIt, Pixabay

I have written before about the need to embrace messy coherence or in more technical terms, coherent heterogeneity, a term I first encountered in the work of Dave Snowden. While most intuitively understand this need, how to achieve it practically remains elusive. We are emerging from a time where alignment and efficiency were pursued like the holy grail. The shift towards embracing messiness and diversity seems almost impossible, especially to leaders and managers who equate competence with control. Yet, I encounter similar questions in almost every conversation: how do we distribute decision-making and authority? How do we build strong coherent cultures AND nurture diversity and adaptation? How do we maintain momentum when we are not able to plan and set clear goals? How do we organise and structure ourselves in ways that enable adaptation? There is no recipe for achieving this, however I think a possible key to finding our way lies in understanding how to enable coherence.

Embracing messy coherence requires us to let go of long-held assumptions of a world where stability, certainty and predictability are the norm. In this world, we were taught to use linear, deterministic management methods and tools and also that alignment to shared goals and values is key to success. The COVID19 pandemic and climate change, among others, have made us realize that we do indeed inhabit a complex and entangled world, one that is unpredictable. Like a deer in the headlights, we easily become paralyzed when dealing with uncertainty, which is the last thing we can afford. It is now necessary, for a post-pandemic world, to move forward rather than reverting back to the previous practices that failed us during these recent events.

In Abraham Lincoln’s words, we need to “think anew and act anew.”

The field of complexity, called by some the science of uncertainty, offers us a new lens or worldview when viewing social systems. When we shift from seeing human systems as machines and individuals as controllable and predictable cogs, to viewing them as complex adaptive systems through the lens of complexity science, new possibilities become evident.

(Have a look here if you want to find out more about complexity and the difference between Complex and Ordered systems, have a look at these posts)

In the past, we have relied on ordered systems due to them being predictable and controllable. These closed systems are easily managed through planning, goal setting, measuring, and feedback mechanisms that control the system’s outcomes. Closed systems operate using causal relationships (i.e., control the system’s outcome or ideal future state, B, by altering its input, A). I call this A to B thinking. And it is one of the primary reasons for the focus on alignment I described earlier.

continues in source:

Enabling coherent explore spaces. I have written before about the need to… | by Sonja Blignaut | Feb, 2021 | Medium

Mike Jackson on Alexander Bogdanov (at event – 9 декабря ENG “Системный анализ в экономике – 2020” Пленарное заседание – YouTube)

The work of Alexander Bogdanov is attracting increasing attention in physics (Carlos Rovelli), economics (Paul Mason) and systems/cybernetic theory. Here is my short introduction to his work and its contemporary relevance – From 2:32:33 – talk at the Systems Analysis in Economics Conference December 9, 2020, titled ‘Alexander Bogdanov and Modern Systems Theory’:

9 декабря ENG “Системный анализ в экономике – 2020” Пленарное заседание

Streamed live on 9 Dec 2020

CoCreative and the Academy for Systems Change – SPECIAL SESSION: Systems Change and Deep Equity – March 3, 2021 2-3:30pm EST

Systems Change pursued without Deep Equity is, in our experience, dangerous and can cause harm, and in fact leaves some of the critical elements of systems unchanged.  And “equity” pursued without “Systems Change” is not “deep” nor comprehensive at the level of effectiveness currently needed. Both need each other.– Sheryl Petty and Mark LeachDear friends,We are honored to co-host, in partnership with the Academy for Systems Change, a no-cost webinar exploring the monograph Systems Change & Deep Equity: Pathways Toward Sustainable Impact, Beyond “Eureka!,” Unawareness, and Unwitting Harm.” 

The 90-minute session will take place on March 3, 2021 at 11:00 am Pacific/2:00 pm Eastern time.Sheryl Petty, founder & principal of Movement Tapestries, will join us to share highlights from and engage in dialogue about the monograph released last year with Change Elemental.  So many in the U.S. and globally are deepening our reflection or beginning to wake up to long-time unawareness of inequity in our societies and world. This conversation can support that reflection and emergent awakening, galvanizing those in the systems change field further into our practice and commitment to be powerful and humble, collaborative agents of change.

We invite you to download and engage with the monograph and join us on March 3.

In service,

Marta Ceroni, Academy for Systems Change
Russ Gaskin, CoCreative

 PLEASE NOTEThis session is geared toward those who have read the monograph and/or undertaken some authentic work around equity. Be ready to be lovingly called to action and challenged. Download your copy today.Join the Guestlist

Understanding Society: Frankish kings and Mynyddog’s gold …

Paradigms, ontology, history, and nationalism…


Understanding Society: Frankish kings and Mynyddog’s gold …

Understanding Society

Innovative thinking about a global world

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Frankish kings and Mynyddog’s gold …

Chris Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000 is a fascinating book to read, if you are interested in how various strands of culture, politics, and economy developed in Europe between the fifth century and the beginning of the eleventh century — that is, between the end of the Roman Empire and the high medieval period. Wickham is an evangelist when it comes to understanding medieval history; he believes that our intellectual culture has seriously misunderstood the nature of society, politics, culture, and religion in the millennium between the fifth century and the fifteenth century. The opening words of the book capture this conviction:

Early medieval Europe has, over and over, been misunderstood. It has fallen victim above all to two grand narratives, both highly influential in the history and history-writing of the last two centuries, and both of which have led to a false image of this period: the narrative of nationalism and the narrative of modernity. Before we consider a different sort of approach, we need to look at both of these, briefly but critically, to see what is wrong with each; for most readers of this book who have not already studied the period will have one or both in the front of their minds as a guiding image. (3)

continues in source:

Understanding Society: Frankish kings and Mynyddog’s gold …

Insights from complexity science: More trust in self-organization needed | EurekAlert! Science News

Insights from complexity science: More trust in self-organization needed Study ‘Systemic Risk: The Threat to Societal Diversity and Coherence’ INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED SUSTAINABILITY STUDIES E.V. (IASS)

Insights from complexity science: More trust in self-organization needed | EurekAlert! Science News

Renn, O. and Lucas, K.: Systemic Risk: The Threat to Societal Diversity and Coherence. Risk Analysis, 1 (2021). DOI: 10.1111/risa.13654

Introduction to Systems Thinking with Pauline Roberts, Hosted online, 2 March 6pm AEST (paid) | Humanitix


Introduction to Systems Thinking, Hosted online, 2nd of March | Humanitix
Introduction to Systems Thinking Event Banner

Liquid Forest Labs

Introduction to Systems Thinking

Tue 2nd Mar 2021, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm AEDT

Price$128 AUD + BFGet Tickets

Event description

Taking a Systems thinking approach is becoming ever more popular in our complex world. Working across traditional boundaries, forming networks, co-ordinating, collaborating and adapting to our changing environment can pose us with some significant challenges.

In this session you will learn what we mean by ‘Systems thinking’. Why it has emerged as a way of thinking to help us move forward and why it is applicable in our world of work. We will look at how Systems thinking helps us to create the conditions for positive change to emerge. You will also learn some tips about the application of Systems thinking ideas and approaches and the opportunities and challenges that application of the thinking might present us with.

Learning Goals

  • learn what we mean by ‘Systems thinking
  • understand what are differences between systems thinking and other forms of thinking
  • learn about some of the major approaches to systems thinking
  • learn some some tips about the application of Systems thinking ideas and approaches 
  • develop an appreciation of some of the opportunities and challenges that application of the thinking might present us with

About the Facilitator

Pauline Roberts is a Systems Practitioner and independent consultant who has worked with a wide range of organisations, such as the NHS, Local Authorities, Ministry of Defence, pharmaceutical industry, charities and voluntary groups, applying systems thinking (in particular the VSM) to identify areas for improvements.

She is a Visiting Lecturer at City University Business School, London, in undergraduate Applied Systems Thinking and an Associate Lecturer with the Open University on the MSc Systems Thinking in Practice courses. 


Presentation with some opportunities to interact

Intended audience

Anyone can attend this session. No prior knowledge of System thinking is required.  The only thing required is a willingness to engage with different ideas and explore the complexity around you. 

What Attendees Get

  • List of useful references on systems thinking and its various approaches
  • 10% discount on any Liquid Forest Lab course – valid for 6 months 

Course Length

Online, 2h including 5-10 minutes break 


AUD $135 – one off introductory discount of 30%  (AUD $195.00 – full price)

Additional discounts:

  • AUD $128 – early bird 5% until 1 week before first day of course

book at source:

Introduction to Systems Thinking, Hosted online, 2nd of March | Humanitix

The Cybernetics of Ohno’s Production System:

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

In today’s post, I am looking at the cybernetics of Ohno’s Production System. For this I will start with the ideas of ultrastability from one of the pioneers of Cybernetics, Ross Ashby. It should be noted that I am definitely inspired by Ashby’s ideas and thus may take some liberty with them.

Ashby defined a system as a collection of variables chosen by an observer. “Ultrastability” can be defined as the ability of a system to change its internal organization or structure in response to environmental conditions that threaten to disturb a desired behavior or value of an essential variable (Klaus Krippendorff). Ashby identified that when a system is in a state of stability (equilibrium), and when disturbed by the environment, it is able to get back to the state of equilibrium. This is the feature of an ultrastable system. Let’s look at the example of an organism and its…

View original post 2,075 more words

The Secure Base Model


A Secure Base

Model (

A Secure Base

What is a secure base and why is it important for children’s development?

A secure base is provided through a relationship with one or more sensitive and responsive attachment figures who meet the child’s needs and to whom the child can turn as a safe haven, when upset or anxious. When children develop trust in the availability and reliability of this relationship, their anxiety is reduced and they can therefore explore and enjoy their world, safe in the knowledge that they can return to their secure base for help if needed.

The concept of a secure base is important, because it links attachment and exploration, and provides the basis of a secure attachment. A securely attached child does not only seek comfort from an attachment figure, but through feeling safe to explore develops confidence, competence and resilience.

Do adults also need a secure base?

Yes. As we move through the lifespan, we form new attachment relationships with friends and partners. These relationships serve the same function for adults as for children; they provide a secure base which offers comfort and reassurance and at the same time, allows us to operate in the world with confidence. In the words of Bowlby:

All of us, from the cradle to the grave, are happiest when life is organised as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figures. (Bowlby 1988)

What happens when children do not have a secure base?

Early experiences of separation or neglectful or abusive parenting will cause children to remain anxious and to distrust close relationships. Children adapt to the lack of a secure base by developing different patterns of behaviour. For instance, they may become wary and defended or especially needy and demanding of care and attention. Some children with unpredictable or frightening care may try to make their environment more predictable through role-reversing and controlling behaviour. All of these behaviours are characteristic of insecure attachment patterns.

What happens when children are removed from a harmful environment?

For many children, serious experiences of neglect and maltreatment will have had a profound effect. They will have developed negative expectations of adults as part of their internal working model of relationships. They will transfer these expectations into new environments (such as foster or adoptive families or in residential care), along with the patterns of defensive behaviour that have functioned as survival strategies in the past. In these circumstances, children will find it hard to let adults come close enough to establish trusting relationships and provide a secure base. The risk, then, is that feelings and behaviours might become fixed in destructive loops and the damage of the past will not be healed.

What can be done to help?

Attachment theory would suggest that exposure to warm, consistent and reliable caregiving can change children’s previous expectations both of close adults and of themselves and there is ample evidence from research and practice to support this (Howe 1996, Wilson et al 2003, Cairns 2003, Beek and Schofield 2004,).

The role of adults who can provide secure base caregiving, therefore, is of central importance. They must take on a parenting / caregiving role for the child, but they must also become a therapeutic caregiver in order to change the child’s most fundamental sense of self and others (internal working model). In order to achieve this, they must care for the child in ways that demonstrate, implicitly and explicitly to the child, that they are trustworthy and reliable, physically and emotionally available and sensitive to his or her needs. In addition, they must be mindful of the protective strategies that the child has learned in order to feel safe in the past and adjust their approaches so that their parenting feels comfortable and acceptable to the child rather than undermining or threatening. The ensuing relationships will provide a secure base, from which children can develop and be supported to explore and maximise their potential.

This outcome may be supported by the use of the secure base model across all services to vulnerable children.


A Secure Base

key papers:

Bowlby’s Secure Base Theory and the Social/Personality Psychology of Attachment Styles: Work(s) in Progress – Waters et al (2002) –

Waters, E., Crowell, J., Elliott, M., Corcoran, D., & Treboux, D. (2002). Bowlby’s secure base theory and the social/personality psychology of attachment styles: Work(s) in progress. Attachment & Human Development, 4(2), 230–242. doi:10.1080/14616730210154216 –

Internal Family Systems

The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s.[1][2] It combines systems thinking with the view that the mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its own unique viewpoint and qualities. IFS uses family systems theory to understand how these collections of subpersonalities are organized.[3]

Internal Family Systems Model – Wikipedia

IFS Institute – What is Internal Family Systems?