I have been trying to develop a coherent attitude (if not response) to the various calls for ‘a NEW SYSTEM’ to replace the political, economical, production etc. ‘systems’ that seem to be in trouble and claimed to be unable to meet the challenges humanity as a whole is facing. Discussions such as Helene Finidori’s attempt on LinkedIn’s ‘Systems thinking World’ forum to get systems thinkers to suggest an answer to Ban Ki-Moon’s 2011 call for ‘revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival’ led me to the following views:
1 There does currently not seem to be such a coherent ‘global’ model that has a chance to gain common — global — acceptance.
2 There are, however, many partial, usually local initiatives in many domains that explore and experiment with alternative models for their respective domains. There is increasing communication on various media between these, but no systematic sharing and evaluation of basic principles and experiences that might eventually lead to common acceptance.
3 The assumption that one ‘universal’ — global — model will be needed to meet global challenges is in conflict with many positions that oppose (centralized?) global governance systems and instead advocate small governance entities with participatory decision-making aimed at ‘consensus’- based decisions; supported by claims of success in small teams or communities. There is little information about how these many ‘local’ entities will avoid and resolve conflicts with other such entities.
4 A ‘temporary’ strategy would be to adopt a policy to
a) Acknowledge, legitimize, and actively support those many alternative experiments;
b) on the condition of sharing their positive and negative experiences in a common forum or platform:
c) A platform that also can serve to develop the basis for some necessary (rules-of-the-road-type) agreements aiming at preventing those initiatives from getting in each others’ way; and
d) preparing the principles for a ‘global’ ‘NEW SYSTEM of such agreements — if it turns out that such a global system is desirable or necessary, based on the discussion of those experiences.
5 An urgent first priority, therefore, seems to be the development of the DISCOURSE platform for that discussion.
I have made some proposals for such a ‘planning discourse’ platform (rf. various papers on Academia.edu) based on starting assumptions drawn from Rittel’s ‘argumentative model’ of design and planning, and my work on the systematic evaluation of ‘planning arguments’. One such assumption is that the platform must be based on a conceptual framework that is open to participation in conversational language — one that is as ‘general’ as possible — into which various other conceptual frames of reference (such as systems thinking and modeling, or the ‘Pattern Language’, to mention only two examples, could be translated or expressed. The assumption is that the basic question-answer format of the argumentative model is one such, if not the most general such framework.
Because these different ‘approaches’ tend to recommend that common public discourse should adopt the concepts and principles of the respective framework, (which makes the Argumentative Model appear as just another example of special ‘brands’ of such new tools), that basic assumption must of course be examined together with the claims of the ‘competing’ approaches.
Thus, the questions I would like to propose for discussion here, as the basis for any more work on the platform, are the following:
[A] “Should a comprehensive (potentially ‘global’ but of of course locally applicable) planning discourse platform be developed?
[B] What should be the basic conceptual framework for the design of that platform?
(‘Abbeboulah’ aka Thorbjoern Mann)