SCiO Virtual Open Meeting – 14 September 2020 18:30-20:30 with Steve Whitla and Ray Ison, and member-only event and videos

open meeting link

SCiO Virtual Open Meeting – September 2020 | SCiO

(Membership only £30/year –

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We are continuing with our virtual events using Zoom. As we are running sessions every month, we will send out a notification each month with the next couple of months’ events included. We are continuing to alternate a Development Event and an Open Event. There is also a networking event a week after the Open Event (details in next mailing).

Our second members-only Virtual Development Event is in a couple of weeks’ time on the evening of 10th August. Our second open-to-all Virtual Open Meeting is in about seven weeks’ time on 14th September.


SCiO Virtual Development Event – 10th August, 18.30 – 20.30 UK time (MEMBERS ONLY)

SCiO’s Development Days offer an opportunity to draw upon the collective expertise of SCiO members in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. By taking Development Events online, using the Zoom meeting platform, we aim to make them accessible to more SCiO members

Development Events are both for members who are just starting out on a journey to explore systems thinking approaches, and for those who have many years of exploration and practice.

We use break-out rooms within Zoom to keep group sizes friendly and interactive. Each ‘room’ is facilitated by SCiO members who have experience of systems thinking principles and practice. Following brief introductions, groups will discuss three topics, proposed and selected by attendees, which will then be briefly introduced and discussed. During these discussions your confidentiality and IP rights (where relevant) will be fully respected.

Please book via the website ( Members booking prior to 4th August are invited to propose topics for discussion (optional) and to take part in a poll to choose which topics are selected for discussion at the 10th August event. Please provide a title and a brief (75 words or less) description of your proposed topic. Please email by clicking on the ‘book’ button and complete these details.

Note that introductions should not exceed 5 minutes and it is important also to consider what you want from the session. Not all proposed topics can be selected but we encourage you to take part even if yours is not.

Members booking after 4th August are still welcome to book to take part. Booking will close on 9th August.

A Zoom meeting invitation will be sent to all booked members.

Lesley Rowan – Development Day Director


SCiO Virtual Open Meeting – 14th September, 18.30 – 20.30 UK time (ALL WELCOME)

Our second Virtual Open Meeting is in about 7 weeks’ time  on Monday 14th September, early evening 18:30 – 20:30h UK time. The event is free but there are only 100 “places” so if you wish to attend, please book asap via Eventbrite

or via the SCiO website ( The sessions and Q&As will be recorded. Zoom details will be send out 24 hours before the meeting and again 2 hours before.

The programme for the virtual Open Meeting on 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 – Creating shared meaning for systemic change

19:40 – Session 2 (presentation followed by Q & A) – Ray Ison – The hidden power of Systems Thinking – governance in a climate emergency

20:25 – Summary and close

More details of speakers and sessions:

Session 1 – Creating shared meaning for systemic change – Steve Whitla

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 – Ray Ison

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.

We look forward to seeing you online!

Open Meeting Director – Parag Gogate


See also: Past Open Meetings Videos (Members only)

While you are in lockdown could be a good time to watch videos of previous Open Meeting Sessions. These videos of many past Open Meetings are available on the website – mostly for members only. The videos from the sessions are in the resources section as sessions. If you want to find just the sessions with attachments, select “resource type – sessions” and “attachments – yes”.  For each session the videos are visible as a video icon at the RH side of the blue bar under the main item. Other links/attachments also appear there.

Open meeting link

SCiO Virtual Open Meeting – September 2020 | SCiO