SCiO – Systems and Complexity in Organisation – Virtual Open Meeting – September 2020 Tickets, Mon 14 Sep 2020 at 18:30 UK time | Steve Whitla and Ray Ison


SEP 14 Virtual Open Meeting

by SCiO – Systems and Complexity in OrganisationFollowingFree

On Sale 28 Jul 2020 at 00:00

Virtual Open Meeting, a series of presentations of general interest to Systems & Complexity in Organisation’s members and others.

About this Event

SCiO organises Open Meetings to provide opportunities for practitioners to learn and develop new practice, to build relationships, networks hear about skills, tools, practice and experiences. This virtual session will be held on Zoom, the details of which will be confirmed nearer the time.

The programme for 14 September is as follows:

18:30 – Welcome, SCiO notices, virtual housekeeping

18:40 – Community exercise

18:50 – Session 1 (presentation followed by Q & A ) – Steve Whitla

19:40 – Session 2 (presentation followed by Q & A) – Ray Ison

20:25 – Summary and close


Session 1 – Creating shared meaning for systemic change

Language is often a problem in complex organisational change, with different departments and stakeholder groups using the same words to mean different things, and using different words to mean the same thing.

As systems practitioners, we are constantly building models of organisations and their environments, but we too bring our own language and assumptions, and it’s often apparent that the models we create to tame complexity make little sense to those affected by it.

  • What would happen if we set out to represent systems in ways that maximised shared meaning for diverse audiences?
  • What might the consequences be, if a general audience affected by a systemic pattern had a simple, intuitive way of seeing, understanding, and sharing it with others?

This talk by Steve Whitla will provide a simple model for how we think about shared meaning, the pre-conditions necessary to create it, and some practical suggestions on how to bring systems models to life.

About Steve Whitla

Steve Whitla is the founder and director of Visual Meaning, a consultancy that draws together systems thinking and visual thinking for organisational change, and the co-author of the recently published Visualising Business Transformation (Routledge, 2020).


Session 2 – The hidden power of Systems Thinking – governance in a climate emergency

In the age of the Anthropocene the need for new ways of thinking and acting has become urgent. But patterns of obstacles are apparent in any action, be they corporate interests, lobbyists, or outdated political and government systems.

In this presentation Professor Ray Ison will show how and why failure in governance is at the heart of the collective incapacity to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies. He will go beyond the analysis of the problem and demonstrate how incorporating systems thinking into governance at every level would enable us to break free of historical shackles.

The talk will also highlight some of the systemic failures of contemporary governance systems. A new generic governance system with three additional elements is proposed. To make the new system functional, effective, recovery of our systemic sensibilities, investment in cybersystemic literacy and systems thinking in practice (STiP) capability is needed. In addition to praxis reform old institutions that restrict STiP will have to be discarded and new institutions invented, Ray proposes 26 principles for designing/enacting systemic governance.

About Professor Ray Ison

Ray Ison is a Professor of Systems at the Open University since 1994, his research and scholarship spans the biophysical and social and is primarily interdisciplinary and collaborative. At the Open University, he was the head of the former Systems Department and Director of the Environmental Decision Making Program.

In addition to this he is also involved in: (i) managing and presenting the post-graduate program in Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) and undertaking associated Systems scholarship; (ii) contributing to the activities of the Applied Systems Thinking in Practice (ASTiP) Group, including leading an initiative to create a LEVEL 7 (Masters) Apprenticeship for the Systems Thinking Practitioner based on the UK Apprenticeship Levy and (iii) undertaking international research.


About SCiO

SCiO is a community of systems practitioners who believe that traditional approaches to running organisations are responsible for many of the problems we see today. We believe that systemic approaches to designing and running organisations offer radically new and better alternatives.

SCiO has three main objectives:

  • Developing practice in applying systems ideas to a range of organisational issues
  • Disseminating the use of systems approaches in dealing with organisational issues
  • Supporting practitioners in their professional practice.

Many systems practitioners can feel isolated in their organisations. SCiO provides a way to talk to and get support from a wide range of like minded people and see how they are addressing similar challenges.

SCiO is a charity and social enterprise – SCiO started in the UK, but there are now groups throughout Europe. Please visit our website for further details and sign-up to become a member: