C. West Churchman with Kristo Ivanov | 1987 | archive.org

Video is viewable through an online viewer, and downloadable in multiple formats (h264 MP4, MPEG2 VOB, OGG Video) on the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/Index_20180206_1053 .  This recording was producted by the department of Informatics of Umeå University in the spring of year 1987, with C. West Churchman interviewed by Kristo Ivanov.

Kristo Ivanov, in interview with C. West Churchman (1987)

The opening title reads:


Universicy [sic] of California, Berkeley

Interviewed by professor
Kristo Ivanov
on April 30, 1987,
at the University of Umeå ,
Sweden – department of
Administrative Data processing.

The second and third slide read …

This interview was made during a visit of professor Churchman as guest lecturer at the University of Umeå , following his being rewarded a honorary doctor’s degree in economic science in the autumn 1985.

A summary of professor Churchman’s life and work is given at the end of the recording.

The background song “Der Lindenbaum” – music by Franz Schubert and text by Wilhelm Müller – is sung by professor Churchman himself!


#systems-approach, #systems-thinking, #west-churchman

System change consulting skills programme | Health Education England

[Full disclosure – I offer this kind of thing too 🙂 Look good]

System change consulting skills programme

Healthcare leaders are increasingly required to facilitate transformational change in and across their system and organisations, often without power or authority.

The network of Northern Leadership Academies in the North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humber have collaborated to offer an in-place programme for leaders tasked with transformational change within the system. This programme has been designed to challenge and support leaders to develop their confidence, skills and mindset to work in a ‘change consultant’ capacity when engaging in organisational, cross-organisation and system change transformation and programmes of work.

Invitation to apply

Senior healthcare professionals working on a transformational change project or leading/supporting a strategic, complex system change are invited to apply. Alternatively, you may be a senior OD/HR or transformation professional working in and/or supporting others with transformational change projects? For example:

  • a clinician leading transformation programmes associated with The Sustainability Transformation Planning (STP) / Integrated Care Systems (ICS) / Accountable Care Organisation (ACS) new models of care, primary care home
  • a senior leader working to strategically transform their organisation.
  • a system change leader working across organisations
  • a senior OD/HR and transformation professional working in strategic OD

This programme will provide you with an intensive development experience designed to extend your confidence and skills to step into a system change leadership role utilising a system change consulting approach.

About the programme

The programme is highly experiential, using live, real time system transformation challenges experienced by participants. Learning is highly practical and can be readily applied between modules and in on-going work supported by a vibrant network of peer consultants.

Being an enabler and leader of transformational change across a system draws on a blend of relationally based consultancy skills, mindset, processes and techniques. How we connect with and relate to others impacts our ability to influence. Impactful and effective systems change agency isn’t simply about advocating a point of view, but rather how you choose to use your informal authority and presence to benefit the wider system.

The programme will help you to:

  • Be a confident, competent and courageous system change leader who can collaborate well, and influence system change and transformation ‘in place’ across your local healthcare system
  • Share the benefits of taking a more consultative and relationship-based approach to system-wide transformation, and follow a consultancy-led process
  • Have greater levels of self-awareness and a deeper understanding of how you impact others, how to use yourself more effectively to enable transformation and change, and identify your future development needs
  • Develop your perspective and mindset as to what creates successful transformation across the system and draw on a range of tools and approaches to assist you.
  • Identify how you could use your skills as a change leader and facilitator to work at a system level and support system-wide transformation outside your current organisation in the future.

There is an expectation that following the programme you will be more involved in working across your local healthcare system to support wider system transformation projects or work-streams.

Application process

Participation on the programme is dependent on a successful application , submitted by 25 July 2018. Participants should have ready opportunity for involvement in systems change/transformation projects

For further information contact leadershipenquiries.yh@hee.nhs.uk in the first instance.

Source: System change consulting skills programme | Health Education England

New article on entraining chaotic dynamics

woah… mind ‘splode.
literally… metaphorically.

Dr. Tom Froese

We show that it is possible for a participant to interactively control a chaotic system by entraining with its dynamics, with the effect that they become more regular while the participant becomes more chaotic.

This has implications both for researchers interested in controlling chaotic systems, and also for practitioners in movement rehabilitation.

Entraining chaotic dynamics: A novel movement sonification paradigm could promote generalization

Dobromir Dotov and Tom Froese

Tasks encountered in daily living may have instabilities and more dimensions than are sampled by the senses such as when carrying a cup of coffee and only the surface motion and overall momentum are sensed, not the fluid dynamics. Anticipating non-periodic dynamics is difficult but not impossible because mutual coordination allows for chaotic processes to synchronize to each other and become periodic. A chaotic oscillator with random period and amplitude affords being stabilized onto a periodic trajectory by a weak input if…

View original post 167 more words

“Use of Self as an Instrument of Change” Study – thanks to CoCreative Consulting newsletter, plus other links

Thanks to the excellent newsletter from the excellent CoCreative Consulting (The Work is Growing! News, resources, and tools for system change – have a look for much more on collaboration, systems change, and network building), I found this piece:

“Use of Self as an Instrument of Change” Study

Dr. Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge of Quality & Equality and Professor David W. Jamieson of the University of St. Thomas have released an intriguing new survey about how we as change leaders use ourselves intentionally as instruments of change. Although the research team is focused on the field of OD, we got permission to invite people who are leading and facilitating change in larger systems. With over 137 assessment items (the intent of the survey is to narrow their future inquiry), we found the survey to be a useful and compelling tool for self-reflection.To participate, you must have 5 or more years of OD practice experience, internally or externally, or 5 years of actively facilitating complex systems change. Find more information here

Also, (links with further info in newsletter link at top), two great visual pieces – agendas in collaborative innovation, and systems conditions guiding their (CoCollaborative) work:

Living Systems | James Grier Miller | 1978

The 1100+ page Living Systems book published in 1978 by the founder of Behavioral Science in 1956, James Grier Miller, became available as a softcopy on the Internet Archive in May 2017.

What is a living system and what does it do? Many scientists coming from diverse scientific backgrounds, when engaged in the search for general principles to integrate our understanding of the phenomena of life, have placed major emphasis on the notion of living systems composed of interrelated units. The various “systems theories” differ greatly in their concepts and definitions of basic terms. Their common goal is to organize the findings in some or all of the sciences of life and behavior into a single conceptual structure.

1. One general theory of living systems

The general living systems theory which this book presents is a conceptual system concerned primarily with concrete systems (see page 17) which exist in space-time. Complex structures which carry out living processes I believe can be identified at seven hierarchical levels (see page 25) — cell, organ, organism, group, organization, society, and supranational system. My central thesis is that systems at all these levels are open systems composed of subsystems which process inputs, throughputs, and outputs of various forms of matter, energy, and information. I identify 19 critical subsystems (see page 32 and Table 1-1) whose processes are essential for life, some of which process matter or energy, some of which process information, and some of which process all three. Together they make up a living system, as shown in Fig. 1-1. In this table the line under the word “Reproducer” separates this subsystem from the others because that subsys- tem differs from all the others by being critical to the species or type of system even though it is not essen- tial to the individual. Living systems often continue to exist even though they are not able to reproduce. Subsystems in different columns which appear oppo- site each other have processes with important similar- ities — for instance, the processes carried out by the ingestor for matter and energy are comparable to those carried out by the input transducer for information. In general the sequence of transmissions in living systems is from inputs at the top of Table 1-1 to outputs at the bottom, but there are exceptions. [p. 1]

A generalized living system interacting and intercommunicating with two others in its environment

Fig. 1-1 A generalized living system interacting and intercommunicating with two others in its environment.

Subsystems which process both matter-energy and information: Reproducer (Re); Boundary (Bo).

Subsystems which process matter-energy: Ingestor (IN); Distributor (DI); Converter (CO); Producer (PR); Matter-energy storage (MS); Extruder (EX); Motor (MO); Supporter (SU).

Subsystems which process information: Input transducer (IT); Internal transducer (IN); Channel and net (CN); Decoder (DC); Associator (AS); Memory (ME); Decider (DE); Encoder (EN); Output transducer (OT).  [p. 2]

Systems at each of the seven levels, I maintain, have the same 19 critical subsystems. The structure and processes of a given subsystem are more complex at a more advanced level than at the less advanced ones. This is explained by what I call the evolutionary principle of “shred-out,” a sort of division of labor (see Fig. 1-2). Cells have the 19 critical subsystems. When mutations occurred in the original cells, the mutant could continue to exist only if it could carry out all the essential processes of life of the 19 subsystems; otherwise it would be eliminated by natural selection. The general direction of evolution is toward greater complexity. As more complex cells evolved, they had more complex subsystems, but still the same 19 basic pro- cesses. Similarly as cells evolved into more complex systems at advanced levels — organs, organisms, and so on — their subsystems shredded out into increasingly complicated units carrying out more complicated and often more effective processes. If at any single point in the entire evolutionary sequence any one of the 19 subsystem processes had ceased, the system would not have endured. That explains why the same 19 subsystems are found at each level from cell to supra- system. And it explains why it is possible to discover, observe, and measure cross-level formal identities (see page 17). [pp. 1,4]

Shred out
Fig. 1-2 Shred-out. The generalized living system (see Fig. 1-1) is here shown at each level. The diagram indicates that the 19 subsystems at the level of the cell shred out to form the next more advanced level of system, the organ. This still has the same 19 subsystems, each being more complex. A similar shredding-out occurs to form each of the five more advanced levels — organism, group, organization, society, and supranational system.  [p. 4]

For each subsystem I identify about a dozen variables representing different aspects of its processes. It would be easy to identify more if one wanted an exhaustive list. Each of these variables can be measured at each of the levels, and the sorts of variation discovered can be compared across the levels. The interactions between two or more variables in a single subsystem or in multiple ones can also be observed, measured, and compared across the levels. This is how cross-level formal identities, basic to a general theory of living systems, can be examined (see page 27).

This book is an effort to integrate all the social, biological, and physical sciences that apply to structure or process at any of the seven levels. Physiology, biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, medicine, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and psychology are all almost entirely relevant. Physical science and engineering also contribute. Logic, mathematics, and statistics yield methods, models, and simulations, including some involving the relatively new approaches of cybernetics and information theory. [p. 4]


Miller, James Grier. 1978. Living Systems. McGraw-Hill. https://archive.org/details/LivingSystems.

#james-grier-miller, #living-systems

Behavioral Science, A New Journal | 1956 | James Grier Miller

The founding of Behavioral Science in 1956, with James Grier MIller as the founding editor, was sponsored through research into mental health.  This interdisciplinary approach was a precursor to the organization now labelled as the International Society for the Systems Sciences.

The remarkable growth of interdisciplinary interest in behavioral science duirng the last decade is the fundamental justification for this new periodical. [….]

Man’s most baffling enigma remains, as it has always been, himself. He has been unable to fathom with any precision those laws of human nature which can produce social inequality, industrial strife, marital disharmony, juvenile delinquency, mental illness, war, and other widespread miseries. [p. 1]

Many different approaches have been used in the study of behavior — mathematical biology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, anthropology, history philosophy, and others. Though the term “interdisciplinary” is widely current, and for a long time efforts a t collaboration have been made, true unification of these fields still remains an unattained goal. And within each are various schools. Their approaches and skills are specific, but the problems are general. Can the scientific method solve the larger, more pervasive questions about man as well as the smaller, more particular ones? Is the tool with which man has won his victories over the physical world applicable to uncovering the laws which govern man’s conduct, the deepest causes of our strife and our harmony? If the fragments of multiple sciences were brought together in a unitary behavioral science and all the separate skills focused on the study of human behavior, perhaps the time required to find answers to these questions could be reduced. It is possible that inadequacies in the present studies of man could thus be avoided. The uniformities among disciplines could be recognized; better communication among them established ; generality of findings magnified; additional benefits derived from comparing theories in diverse fields, explaining both similarities and differences; and the validity and applicability of empirical work increased by planning individual studies as components of an explicit mosaic of research strategy. [pp. 1-2]

About 1949 a group of faculty members at the University of Chicago, some of whom have now moved to the University of Michigan, began to consider whether a sufficient body of facts exists to justify developing empirically testable general theories of behavior. This group used the term “behavioral science” to cover the diverse areas of their interests, primarily because its neutral character made it acceptable to both social and biological scientists.

Most of the participants were at first skeptical that our comprehension of these different areas had advanced sufficiently to justify such activity. The first meetings engendered a general hopelessness as the diversity of languages and the multitude of approaches to the study of man became increasingly apparent. But then we began to see among us certain commonalties of thinking, despite their many linguistic disguises, and this agree- ment gave us hope that our efforts were not unrealistic.

Members of this group have met intensively for several years as the Committee on Behavioral Science at the Universit,y of Chicago. Some are continuing this activity at Chicago; others went to staff the new Mental Health Research Institute, established in August, 1955, at the University of Michigan; and there they were joined by still others. The Regents of the University and the Legislature of the State of Michigan established this Institute on a permanent basis. [p. 2]

The aim is to conduct basic research; the expectation, that from such research will flow contributions, particularly in the field of mental health and disease, that will help to solve the many problems of human relations. Our understanding of mental illness is primitive compared with our knowledge of other forms of disease, partly because of the complexity of the problems and partly because research efforts have not been commensurate with their magnitude. Public interest in these issues is growing rapidly, as evidenced by the new or greatly increased appropriations for investigation by state legislatures and the Congress, and by additional support from foundations. [pp. 2-3]

In this area of behavioral science there are numerous schools with conflicting beliefs. No one as yet has seen how the insights of psychodynamics, the projective techniques of psychology, the facts of neuropathology, the discoveries of endocrinology, biochernistry, and neurophysiology , and the concepts of social science can be merged into a single framework for explaining the biological and psychiatric and social phenomena of mental illness. There is need now for renewed and exhaustive examination of these separate matters, and for creative attempts to integrate them, to test them empirically, and to apply them.

Such studies should be carried out at various levels. Our present thinking-which may alter with time-is that a general theory will deal with structural and behavioral properties of systems. The diversity of systems is great. The molecule, the cell, the organ, the individual, the group, the society are all examples of systems. Besides differing in the level of organization, systems differ in many other crucial respects. They may he living, nonliving, or mixed; material or conceptual; and so forth.

The strategy of the Michigan Institute’s work will emphasize identification of general principles, which extend across various levels of systems. We shall attempt to clarify and make precise both the general principles and the particular differences; and to test — in laboratories and in clinics, by group studies and by social surveys, with whatever methods prove appropriate — the validity and usefulness of such analysis. Research techniques will probably be derived from several areas, including the physiological, psychological, economic, political, social and cultural.

Although the Institute expects to pay particular attention to the similarities and dissimilarities among different behaving systems, this is only one of many legitimate approaches to behavior theory. Behavioral Science, as a journal with wider scope than any single Institute, will welcome articles which are constructively critical of this orientation or which advance other alternative strategies, as well as articles which present relevant empirical studies. [p. 3]

This is the official publication of the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan. As such it wil contain edited records of roundtable discussions on theory and reports of other activities involving the Institute. It is hoped that Ann Arbor can in the summer offer its facilities as a meeting center for scientists, many from other institutions, who are concerned with behavior theory or mental health or with related experimental and clinical work. Reports of such conferences and workshops will also be included in this journal. [pp. 3-4]

Other centers are carrying out closely related work. The Committee on Behavioral Science at Chicago, for example, maintains its original interests, and other universities are supporting or planning comparable programs. A particularly significant focus of activity is the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences established by the Ford Foundation and located at Stanford, California. This journal will welcome contributions from scholars a t these centers or elsewhere. It should serve as one channel of communication for members of the ever-increasing group engaged in advancing the sciences of man.

We are aware of no present journal with a primary policy of making its pages available to representatives of any field-the humanities, the social sciences, the biological and medical sciences, and the physical sciences — to discuss theory concerning behavior, and empirical studies clearly oriented to such theory. It has been rare for physicists, psychiatrists, political scientists, and historians to publish in, or even read, the same journal. We shall strive to achieve this end.


Franz Alexander
Alex Bavelas
David Easton
Ralph W. Gerard
Clyde Kluckhohn
Donald G. Marquis
Jacob Marschak
Anatol Rapoport
Ralph W. Tyler
Raymond W. Waggoner

Some this history is more fully explicated in the 2010 book The Science of Synthesis: Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory, by Debora Hammond.


Alexander, Franz, Alex Bavelas, Ralph W. Gerard, Donald G. Marquis, Jacob Marschak, James G. Miller, Anatol Rapoport, Ralph W. Tyler, and Raymond Waggoner. 1956. “Editorial: Behavioral Science, A New Journal.” Behavioral Science 1 (1): 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1002/bs.3830010102.

Hammond, Debora. 2003. The Science of Synthesis: Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory. University Press of Colorado. http://books.google.com/books?id=skSMuZycpTwC , or at a library near you.

Behavioral Science, A New Journal




#behavioral-science, #james-grier-miller

About the Merger [of Systems Research, and Behavioral Science] | 1976 | James Grier Miller

After 40 years of research, James Grier Miller reflected on the original direction for Behavioral Science in 1956, and how the field had evolved with Systems Research (which started publication in 1984).

Statement from the Founding Editor of Behavioral Science

About the Merger

After more than 40 years as the editor of Behavioral Science, it is time for me to turn that job over to someone else. The journal will continue under a new name, Systems Research and Behavioral Science. This reflects its merger with the journal Systems Research. I will remain with it in a secondary capacity under Mike C. Jackson, Editor-in-Chief.

From the beginning, Behavioral Science has been interdisciplinary in intent and fact. My editorial in volume 1, number I, asked: ‘Can the scientific method solve the larger, more pervasive questions about man as well as the smaller, more particular ones? Is the tool with which man has won his victories over the physical world applicable to uncovering the laws which govern man’s conduct, the deepest causes of our strife and our harmony? If the fragments of multiple sciences were brought together in a unitary behavioral science and all the separate skills focused on the study of human behavior, perhaps the time required to find answers to these questions could be reduced. It is possible that inadequacies in the present studies of man could be recognized; better communication among the established; generality of findings magnified; additional benefits derived from comparing theories in diverse fields, explaining both similarities and differences; and the validity and applicability of empirical work increased by planning individual studies as components of an explicit mosaic of research strategy?’

The original editorial board reflected this ambitious goal. It included, besides myself, Franz Alexander, a psychoanalyst; Alex Bavelas, a social psychologist; David Easton, a political scientist; Ralph Gerard, a neurophysiologist; Clyde Kluckhohn, an anthropologist; Marion J. Levy Jr, a sociologist; Donald Marquis, a psychologist; Jacob Marschak, an economist; Anatol Rapoport, a mathematical biologist; Ralph W. Tyler, Dean of the Social Sciences Division of the University of Chicago and later director of the Center for the Behavioral Sciences (the Ford Center) in Palo Alto, California; and Raymond W. Waggoner, a psychiatrist. All these people were leaders in their fields at the time.

My focus on interdisciplinary science began early, at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, of which I was a Junior Fellow. The Society was modeled after the Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge. Like the young members of their English model, Junior Fellows received full support while pursuing studies in whatever field they chose. And all we had to do was go to dinner on Monday evenings! At those dinners I met as distinguished a group of scholars from all parts of the University as I have encountered anywhere since. Their interaction was fascinating, stimulating — and fun. The group of Junior Fellows I knew there were on their way to becoming leaders in the many fields they repre- sented. I met and became friends with James G. Baker, who specialized in astronomy and optics; Willard van Orman Quine, the logician; Arthur Schlesinger Jr in political science; Robert Woodward, Nobel prize-winning organic chemist, and Paul Samuelson, Nobelist in economics. Alfred North Whitehead, who had been my professor and mentor in my undergraduate studies, had been among the founders of the Society. He continued to be my friend and to encourage my interest in developing a comprehensive theory of human behavior comparable to those emerging in the ‘hard’ sciences.

After medical school and military service in the Office of Strategic Services, several years as Chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago again brought me in contact with distinguished people in my own and other disciplines. Among them was Enrico Fermi, whom I met at a discussion club made up of professors. He was certain that only a deeper understanding of human behavior could avert the destruction of human society on a scale vastly larger than he had helped to bring about with the atom bomb. He went with me to President Robert Hutchins and helped to secure funds and support for a Committee on the Behavioral Sciences, to be made up of people of a broad range of interests, who would work toward unifying theory in the sciences of human behavior.

The journal Behavioral Science was an outgrowth of that theory group. I invented the term ‘behavioral science’, which was later recommended by Donald Marquis as the name of the Center for the Behavioral Sciences to express the diversity of our interests. While our journal was planned and designed at the University of Chicago, it did not become a complete reality until several members of the theory group moved with me to the University of Michigan, which offered us an Institute, professorships, and a new building. We became the nucleus of an interdisciplinary group there. The new Institute was called the Mental Health Research Institute. Behavioral Science was published from there for several years, until I moved it to the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in 1973, when I became president of that institution.

Behavioral Science was planned as an interdisciplinary journal to include all the sciences from those concerned with cells to those that studied supranational systems. We stated it clearly: ‘The editors especially want manuscripts of a theoretical or empirical nature which have broad interdisciplinary implications not found in a journal devoted to a single discipline. Papers should be based on precise observation and quantitative data, and present hypotheses testable at more than one level. Preference is for empirical studies whose findings lead to hypotheses which are testable at various levels . . . Simulation, modeling, and artificial intelligence manuscripts which can lead to verification of general theories applicable across all levels of living and nonliving systems are particularly welcome.’

A second important influence upon the new journal was the then new systems movement which began when Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a biologist, was able to publish his ideas after World War II had ended. He was opposed to the ‘vitalism’ of that day, which insisted upon a nonscientific origin for living things—a first principle or God. He emphasized that they were systems, like the systems of the non-living subjects of the sciences of non-living matter, and could be studied and eventually understood in the same way. The American systems society grew from discussions at the Ford Center in which some of our discussion group members, including Ludwig von Bertalanffy, were involved. We embraced that point of view and it was important to our journal from the beginning.Now this journal moves again, this time to England, where a new editor, a new pubisher and a new name will continue its interdisciplinary emphasis and its basic philosopy. I wish it well, remembering all the people who have worked on it, written for it, and influenced its history. So far the goal of a comprehensive theory of human behavior has not been reached but I believe it is attainable.

James G. Miller
Founding Editor, Behavioral Science


Miller, J. G. 1976. “Statement from the Founding Editor of Behavioral Science: About the Merger.” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 14 (1): 3–4. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1743(199701/02)14:1<3::AID-SRES153>3.0.CO;2-F.

Statement from the Founding Editor of Behavioral Science:  About the Merger

#behavioral-science, #systems-research