How systems thinking enhances systems leadership – Catherine Hobbs and Gerald Midgley – Integration and Implementation Insights

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How systems thinking enhances systems leadership – Integration and Implementation Insights

How systems thinking enhances systems leadership

April 13, 2021

By Catherine Hobbs and Gerald Midgley

authors_catherine-hobbs_gerald-midgley
1. Catherine Hobbs (biography)
2. Gerald Midgley (biography)

Systems leadership involves organisations, including governments, collaborating to address complex issues and achieve necessary systemic transformations. So, if this is the case, how can systems leadership be helped by systems thinking?

Systems leadership is concerned with facilitating innovation by bringing together a network of organisations. These then collaborate between themselves and with other stakeholders to deliver some kind of service, influence a policy outcome or develop a product that couldn’t have been achieved by any one of the organisations working alone.

Recognising that a network of organisations can achieve something that emerges from their interactions involves a certain amount of implicit systems thinking. After all, the classic definition of a ‘system’ is an identifiable collection of two or more parts that has properties, or achieves outcomes, that can only be attributed to all of the parts interacting, not any one of the parts in isolation. These properties or outcomes may be intended (eg., a service, policy or product), unintended (eg., contributing to climate change), or both.

However, systems thinking, when pursued explicitly, involves much more than just recognising that a network of collaborating organisations is a system. It helps leaders review a wide range of opportunities for change by encouraging them to question the existing system – the boundaries of it, different perspectives on it, the relationships within it (and between it and its wider environment) and how the parts cohere into a system with particular emergent properties, achievements or impacts. Any or all of these forms of questioning could be relevant to addressing a complex issue and achieving a transformation.

Through systems thinking, leaders can generate deeper insights, guard against unintended consequences and co-ordinate action more effectively. Various systems thinking approaches exist. They can help guide (but should not dictate) processes of deliberation to improve complex problematic situations and develop more desirable futures.

Although each individual systems thinking approach has its own strengths and weaknesses, the true power of systems thinking comes from exploring the unique context at hand and designing a bespoke programme that draws on the best of many approaches. Principles and methods may be borrowed from one or more of the available approaches and creatively combined. Some of these are discussed below.

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How systems thinking enhances systems leadership – Integration and Implementation Insights

Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving – Meyvis and Yoon (2021)

07 APRIL 2021 Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving A series of problem-solving experiments reveal that people are more likely to consider solutions that add features than solutions that remove them, even when removing features is more efficient. Tom Meyvis & Heeyoung Yoon

Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving

Avoiding the bullies: The resilience of cooperation among unequals

Complexity Digest

Foley M, Smead R, Forber P, Riedl C (2021) Avoiding the bullies: The resilience of cooperation among unequals. PLoS Comput Biol 17(4): e1008847.

Individuals often differ in their ability to resolve conflicts in their favor, and this can lead to the emergence of hierarchies and dominant alphas. Such social structures present a serious risk of destabilizing cooperative social interactions or norms. Why work together to find food when a more aggressive or stronger individual can take all of it? In this paper we use game theory and agent-based modeling to investigate how cooperative behavior evolves in the presence of powerful bullies who have no incentive to cooperate. We show that when individuals can choose their interaction partners, bullies do not always destabilize cooperation. Instead, cooperative norms survive as individuals learn to avoid dominant individuals who become isolated in the population. When competitive ability itself depends dynamically on past success, complex…

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Teacher Tom: “First Puzzles are Hard, Then You Turn them Easy”

monday, april 12, 2021 “First Puzzles are Hard, Then You Turn them Easy”

Teacher Tom: “First Puzzles are Hard, Then You Turn them Easy”

ESSENTIAL BALANCES – Ivo Velitchkov. Webinar at SCiO.be – YouTube

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ESSENTIAL BALANCES webinar at SCiO.be – YouTube

ESSENTIAL BALANCES webinar at SCiO.be

12 Apr 2021

Ivo Velitchkov

This is the most recent and, so far, the longest Essential Balances session recorded. The seminar took place online on the 10th of February 2021. It was organized by SCiO* Belgium.

Constraints and emergence – Systemic Insight (Marcus Jenal)

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Constraints and emergence – Systemic Insight

Constraints and emergence

 by Marcus Jenal

Besides attractors, constraints are an important way of describing and understanding dynamics in complex and emergent systems. There are different types of constraints and different ways these act in complex adaptive systems. What they have in common is that without any type of constraint, there would only be randomness and all possible outcomes would have the same probability. So, for any sort of order to evolve, there is a need for some sort of constraints. In that sense, constraints are the origin of both complexity and order.

Governing and enabling constraints

Constraints can either be governing or enabling. Governing constraints hinder actors to do something or only allow them to do it in a certain way. Enabling constraints make it possible for actors to do something that would not be possible otherwise (Juarrero, 1999). An example of a governing constraint would be a law that prevents companies from colluding, while an example of an enabling constraint would be legislation that enables people to establish companies which have certain rights and privileges. Governing constraints can also be physical, like walls or fences that prevent people from going somewhere; or they can be social like norms and taboos. An enabling constraint is for example kinship, as it enables humans to trust each other by binding them together.

Juarrero (1999:133) takes a physiological example to explain governing constraints:

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Constraints and emergence – Systemic Insight

Socio-Technical Perspectives in Information Systems – 14-15 October 2021, Trento Italy / online if needed

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Socio-Technical Perspectives in Information Systems

Importance of socio-technical perspective in research and practice

What:
A yearly workshop

Where: Trento, Italy / possibly online if needed

When:
14-15. October 2021


This year, the 7th International Workshop on Socio-Technical Perspective in IS development (STPIS’21) will take place in connection with the Italian Chapter of the Association for Information Systems (itAIS), in Trento in Italy. If travel is not possible due to COVID restrictions, or you prefer not to travel, we will be flexible and allow virtual presentations. If needed, STPIS’21 will be held virtually.

A socio-technical perspective sees an organization as a combination of two components – a social and a technical one. The real pattern of behaviour in the organization is determined by how well these parts fit each other. While analysing system problems of getting things done, adequate consideration should be given to technology as well as informal and formal interactions of people.

Despite that a socio-technical perspective has been around for over a half century, it is often forgotten in the IS discourse today. Consequently, many “new approaches” appear to reflect on IS systems problems, such as modern IT systems poorly adjusted to the external or/and internal environment (e.g. market, organizational culture) of organizations in which they are (to be) deployed. We strongly believe that it is high time the social-technical perspective took its proper place in IS research, practice and teaching.

Interested in submitting?

Submit

SUBMISSION DATE

Submission due16th Jul 2021

AUTHOR NOTIFICATION

Author notification20th Aug 2021

STPIS 2021

STPIS 2021 starts14th Oct 2021

STPIS 2021

STPIS starts: 14. October, 09:00
STPIS ends: 15. October, 15:00
ITAIS starts: 15. October, 12:00
ITAIS ends: 16. October, 23:00

STPIS 2021 STPIS starts: 14. October, 09:00 STPIS ends: 15. October, 15:00 ITAIS starts: 15. October, 12:00 ITAIS ends: 16. October, 23:00

Socio-Technical Perspectives in Information Systems

UKSS 21st International Conference – UK Systems Society – Systems Research in the Digital Age, 21 June 2021 (online)

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UKSS 21st International Conference – UK Systems Society
UK Systems Society

UK Systems Society

Promoting Systems Thinking for the 21st century

UKSS 21st International Conference

Systems Research in the Digital Age

The 21st UKSS International Conference will be online. The date is the 21st June 2021.

Announcement

Please submit your paper to Systemist [uk.systems.society@gmail.com] where it will be refereed and considered for publication in the next edition. It is worth remembering that papers published in Systemist will be open access and with the copyright remaining with the author.

We wish you good Systems practice 

Keep healthy 

Frank Stowell

President UKSS on behalf of the management team

Christine Welch, Ian Roderick, Gary Evans, Petia Sice

For information – download the conference flyer:

Advanced Notice – The Digital 21st UKSS International Conference

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UKSS 21st International Conference – UK Systems Society

The Manifesto of Ontological Design | by Daniel Fraga | DataDrivenInvestor

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The Manifesto of Ontological Design | by Daniel Fraga | DataDrivenInvestor

The Manifesto of Ontological Design

Daniel FragaFollowMay 27, 2020 · 10 min read

Ontological design is the design discipline concerned with designing human experience. It does so by operating under one essential assumption: that by designing objects, spaces, tools and experiences, we are in fact designing the human being itself. And the ability to design human beings is going to be central to survive the technological shifts of the coming decades with even a semblance of agency.Cognitive computing – a skill-set widely considered to be the most vital manifestation of…As its users, we have grown to take technology for granted. Hardly anything these days is as commonplace and…www.datadriveninvestor.com

The feedback loop

The key assumption of ontological design is this: when we create the objects and contexts that surround us, we are in fact designing our very selves. In other words: first, we design our tools, and then they design us in return.

This feedback loop is ontological design’s central idea as a discipline. It constitutes its chief operative principle. Here’s how it unfolds:

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The Manifesto of Ontological Design | by Daniel Fraga | DataDrivenInvestor

Improving the Systems Thinking Skills of the Systems Architect via Aesthetic Interpretation of Art – McDermott and Salado (2017) – and A perspective on systems thinking, architecting, and art (2019)

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(PDF) Improving the Systems Thinking Skills of the Systems Architect via Aesthetic Interpretation of Art

Improving the Systems Thinking Skills of the Systems Architect via Aesthetic Interpretation of Art

  • July 2017 INCOSE International Symposium 27(1):1340-1354

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(PDF) Improving the Systems Thinking Skills of the Systems Architect via Aesthetic Interpretation of Art

A perspective on systems thinking, architecting, and art

Tom McDermottAlejandro SaladoFirst published: 02 September 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.2622Citations: 9Read the full textPDFTOOLSSHARE

Abstract

Systems architecture has been considered as both an art and a science. The systems architect uses heuristics, stories, and models to communicate complex architectural concepts to stakeholders. Since the earliest times, master building architects have developed their skills broadly across the technical, business, and fine art domains. Why should engineering be different? Principles and practices of systems architecture are exhibited in the creation of film scores, fine arts, and building architecture. Why not teach art as a core skill of the systems architect? In this work, we explore a formal competency model linking art, systems thinking, and systems architecture. We associate competencies across these domains with the concept of elegant design. We explore formal education in the arts as a way to bridge the communication problems that technical architects have with their stakeholders. The goal is to improve the competencies of systems architects and systems thinkers by bringing the methods of the art studio class to systems education.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/sres.2622

pdf

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.sci-hub.se/doi/abs/10.1002/sres.2622

Cynefin and Critical Systems Thinking (CST): A further contribution to the debate | Professor Mike Jackson on LinkedIn

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Cynefin and Critical Systems Thinking (CST): A further contribution to the debate | LinkedIn

Cynefin and Critical Systems Thinking (CST): A further contribution to the debate

  • Published on April 8, 2021

Status is reachableDr Mike C Jackson OBECentre for Systems Studies9 articles Following

I recently wrote a CST review (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/critical-systems-thinking-overview-gapps-eu-science-jackson-obe/) of the EU Science Hub/Cynefin Centre Field Guide to leadership in times of complexity. Dave Snowden has written a detailed and considered response (https://stream.syscoi.com/2021/03/29/naturalising-narrated-cognitive-edge-dave-snowden-response-to-two-recent-mike-jackson-pieces/ ), for which I thank him. It has helped me gain a clearer understanding of his ‘naturalising’ approach to complexity and of our differences. This contribution to the debate is meant to further mutual understanding.

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Cynefin and Critical Systems Thinking (CST): A further contribution to the debate | LinkedIn

High Tech Heroes, #10, part 2: Heinz von Foerster and Cybernetics – YouTube

High Tech Heroes, #10, part 2: Heinz von Foerster and Cybernetics

High Tech Heroes, #10, part 2: Heinz von Foerster and Cybernetics – YouTube

Patrick Hoverstadt, ‘Strategy at the speed of thought’ – YouTube

Patrick Hoverstadt, ‘Strategy at the speed of thought’ SD 480p

Patrick Hoverstadt, ‘Strategy at the speed of thought’ SD 480p – YouTube

A guide to ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives for interdisciplinary researchers – Integration and Implementation Insights – Moon and Blackman (drawing on their 2014 article)

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A guide to ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives for interdisciplinary researchers – Integration and Implementation Insights

A guide to ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives for interdisciplinary researchers

May 2, 2017

By Katie Moon and Deborah Blackman

katie-moon
Katie Moon (biography)

How can understanding philosophy improve our research? How can an understanding of what frames our research influence our choices? Do researchers’ personal thoughts and beliefs shape research design, outcomes and interpretation?

These questions are all important for social science research. Here we present a philosophical guide for scientists to assist in the production of effective social science (adapted from Moon and Blackman, 2014).

deborah-blackman
Deborah Blackman (biography)

Understanding philosophy is important because social science research can only be meaningfully interpreted when there is clarity about the decisions that were taken that affect the research outcomes. Some of these decisions are based, not always knowingly, on some key philosophical principles, as outlined in the figure below.

Philosophy provides the general principles of theoretical thinking, a method of cognition, perspective and self-awareness, all of which are used to obtain knowledge of reality and to design, conduct, analyse and interpret research and its outcomes. The figure below shows three main branches of philosophy that are important in the sciences and serves to illustrate the differences between them.

guide-to-ontology-moon
Social science research guide consisting of ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives. When read from left to right, elements take on a more multidimensional nature (eg., epistemology: objectivism to subjectivism). The elements within each branch are positioned according to their congruence with elements from other branches so when read from top to bottom (or bottom to top), elements from one branch align with elements from another (eg., critical realist ontology, constructionist epistemology, and interpretivist philosophical perspectives). Subcategories of elements (ie., 3.5a–c and 3.6a–c) are to be interpreted as positioned under the parent category (ie., 3.5 interpretivism and 3.6 critical theory).

(Source: Moon and Blackman 2014)

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A guide to ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives for interdisciplinary researchers – Integration and Implementation Insights

Power dynamics: A systemic inquiry | by Anna Birney | School of System Change | Medium

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Power dynamics: A systemic inquiry | by Anna Birney | School of System Change | Medium

Power dynamics: A systemic inquiry

Anna Birney

Anna BirneyFollowingJan 20 · 17 min read

Why this article? Purpose and position

The word power keeps popping up wherever I turn. Through my ten years of doing my doctorate action research it was all over my notes and reflections. I kept pushing it out of what I was writing about and feeling scared to even go there as if the power of it itself was too much to face or to look at, as if it was just too complex and unknown. In the end I could not ignore the question and did reflect on what it meant for the work I had been doing. I concluded that the field of systems change did need to really integrate it more into its work. Fast forward a couple of years and the question kept on slapping me in the face, not literally but in the questioning of who you choose to facilitate a session, how you frame the work, make decisions and so forth — saying to me — come one you said it was important to what the hell are you doing about it!

This article therefore is trying to pull together some of the thread of the last four or five years of looking at the journey so far and what I have learnt. I have put off publishing this for eighteen months as if the final answer or way to present it will come, but that I also realise is a putting off — so here is some of the messy journey of stumbling around in the dark.

This article there has a few elements to it.

  • Firstly how the issue of power relates to the systemic sustainability challenges we are facing — from climate change, deep inequalities that through the mirror that is our time in Covid has been seen even more acutely and how we might see the way they interrelate and are part of the same issues.
  • Secondly exploring the concept of power and how it relates to systems change;
  • Thirdly, looking at some of the insights about what makes up the dynamics of power, that are based in both our histories, and wider context as well as how that manifests in us individually and needs work all levels;
  • Finally starting to explore some framings of the strategies we might take to work with power.

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