Update — #NewMacyMeeting #1 — Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics? – Design+Conversation – Paul Pangaro


Update — #NewMacyMeeting #1 — Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics? – Design+Conversation


Update — #NewMacyMeeting #1 — Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics?

Click here for direct link to panel session on the conference webpage.

Here are more details for our first meeting of the revival of the Macy Meetings in cybernetics on Sunday September 13th at Noon EDT, first reported in this prior post, as follows:

Our speakers Larry Richards and Ben Sweeting will respond to the provocation, “Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics?”  Then our respondents will each answer the questions, “Where did the speakers agree?” and “What did they leave out?” Our confirmed respondents are BCE Scott and Patricia Ticineto Clough. The speakers are then allowed to respond, and the process repeats. Read below for a longer description of context and intention.

This one-hour session is part of the 2-day 2020 Global Conversation Conference, a joint effort of the American Society for Cybernetics and the British Cybernetic SocietyRegistration is required but a donation is completely optional. Please go to this ASC page for more information and the link to register. You will receive a Zoom video invitation thereafter.

The moderator the session, Paul Pangaro, has initiated #NewMacy in response to 21st-century global pandemics for which COVID is only one, while certainly vivid and immediately threatening. Click here for more details on the overall direction of the #NewMacyMeetings.  Read on below for the detailed description of this first experiment In the revival of #NewMacy.

Provocation: Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics? 

We live in the unprecedented era of multiple global pandemics. While the COVID-19 pandemic of biology has forced an immediate response, other pandemics have existed for some time: rapacious technology, uncontrolled climate change, inequitable healthcare systems, racist socio-economic structures, food and water insecurity… the list is long. 

In design circles such ‘wicked challenges’ are construed to encompass but also to require more than viewpoints of first-order complexity; they require articulation of worldview(s) in which purpose, human values, and humility are most prominent. This  second-order rhetorical step emphasizes the need for the dynamics of conversation, sufficient for shared understanding and coordinated action in the face of wicked challenges. 

Cybernetics purports to offer both a first- and second-order praxis. Can it help here? To stimulate debate, the prompt for the panel is: Why can’t cybernetics tame the wicked pandemics of today? The purpose is not simply to identify what is outside of cybernetics but to point out the limitations of cybernetics as a praxis for today’s pandemics. 

This panel is the first event in the revival of the Macy Meetings for the global challenges of the 21st-century. (See this doc for more details.)


Update — #NewMacyMeeting #1 — Why Can’t Cybernetics Tame Pandemics? – Design+Conversation

An emergence reading list – Axis, Praxis


An emergence reading list – Axis, Praxis

An emergence reading list

An old man is sitting with a large book from which he reads with a younger man

I initially wanted to devote individual blog posts to the best of these readings from our emergence journal club, but the previous post is getting an unexpected amount of attention, and there were some requests for reading material.

continues in source:

An emergence reading list – Axis, Praxis

Link to the relevant post:


An Introduction to Complexity Theory – The Tavistock Institute


An Introduction to Complexity Theory – The Tavistock Institute

An Introduction to Complexity Theory

As part of the highly successful lunchtime talk series, the contemporary Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) food-for-thought programme, Eliat Aram, the Institute’s CEO introduced staff and guests to some key concepts and philosophical underpinning of Complexity theory and its implications to understanding organisational praxis.

Eliat was a member of the pioneering faculty of the Complexity and Management Centre of Hertfordshire Business School for over 10 years prior to joining the TIHR and her own work, including her PhD thesis, is rooted in this thinking. In introducing some of the fundamental concepts of Complexity, including self organisation, emergence and paradox, Eliat draws her audience to ask themselves some questions on their own development of practice and theory and she fundamentally challenges them on the dominance of linear thinking in making sense of work/life. She also introduces them to the aesthetic configuration of fractals and invites them to experience through a simple exercise on the emergence of coherent patterns – patterns which are clearly organised yet with not one sole agent in control or a group who has planned for it to happen.

The page includes a film of Eliat’s talk, the exercise and the Q and A session with TIHR staff and guests and links to her presentation, which includes key references.

This introductory talk is envisaged to be first in a series of talks exploring the meaning and implications of the Complexity perspective to organisational studies.

Video of talk:



An Introduction to Complexity Theory – The Tavistock Institute

Online Symposium/Practicum November 28th 2020 – Conflict and Organising in the Time of Covid-19.

Complexity & Management Centre

The Complexity and Management Centre offers a one day Symposium/Practicum on Saturday November 28th to explore the experience of conflict during a time of radical uncertainty. The day is intended as an opportunity to bring practical dilemmas to a community of engaged inquirers, to reflect together and think out loud. In reflecting on conflict at work, we will also take seriously the experience of being together in an online forum.

Why do we think it is important to focus on conflict, and how do we understand it?

A variety of contradictory patterns are emerging in organisational life in the wake of responses to the pandemic. Changes in working practices which may have been considered ideal improvements at some point in the future have happened almost overnight. Everyone has had to be very creative to develop workarounds and innovative ways of being together. The usual negotiations, objections, reflections, adjustments have gone…

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Complexity Weekend – Oct 16-18 2020 online – hack event – Meet new collaborators and learn Complexity Science by doing

via complexity explorer

Meet new collaborators and learn Complexity Science by doing

Complexity Science is an interdisciplinary and inclusive framework for studying, designing, and controlling Complex system behavior, such as global pandemics, extreme weather events, electoral politics, economic recovery and poverty, and much more. Over the course of one weekend, you will experience Complexity from a variety of perspectives, while developing solutions to real-world problems in a team setting, such as:

  • Information flow in a time of global connectivity
  • Adaptive planning for communities amidst turbulence and uncertainty
  • Addressing climate change and extreme weather events
  • Ensuring fair and accurate elections
  • Evaluating shelter-in-place policy efficacy during a pandemic
  • Building resiliency into businesses, governments, and families
  • Healthcare policy and efficacy
  • Mental health and wellness
  • Any other difficult and ongoing problems you can identify

Source: www.complexityweekend.com

The Best Model of a Cat Is Several Cats – Gustafsson and Vallverdi (2016)


The Best Model of a Cat Is Several Cats – ScienceDirect

OpinionSpecial Issue: Industrial BiotechnologyThe Best Model of a Cat Is Several Cats

Author links open overlay panelClaesGustafsson1JordiVallverdú2Show morehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2015.12.006Get rights and contentUnder a Creative Commons licenseopen access


Complexity modeling. Biotechnology engineers living systems that are the product of evolution and can be discretized and organized following different organizational layers, each one with its own mechanisms and contexts. Bioengineering practitioners must be aware of the rich and complex relationships among these levels of complexity.

Reproducibility. Most of biotechnology cannot be reproduced for practical, temporal, and economic reasons. Despite this, designed bioengineered entities must work consistently and robustly when released as products.

Multi-heuristics. Several heuristics are implemented in parallel in modern biotechnology. Each one follows a reasoning procedure that provides possible solutions and logical explanations. They are not contradictory, just useful for pragmatic reasons. The challenge is to build engineering knowledge for a biological field.


The Best Model of a Cat Is Several Cats – ScienceDirect

Coastline paradox – Wikipedia

Coastline paradox

Coastline paradox – Wikipedia

Call for papers – Entropy | Special Issue : Complexity and Evolution


Entropy | Special Issue : Complexity and Evolution

From Frances Heylighen

Tomas, Olaf and I, supported by Daniela Flores, will be editing a special issue of the open-access journal “Entropy”  (impact factor 2.5) on the subject of “Complexity and Evolution”. We invite everyone to submit a paper. The full Call for Papers with instructions for authors is here:
The understanding of evolutionary processes is one the most important issues of scientific enquiry of this century. Scientific thinking in twentieth century witnessed the overwhelming power of the evolutionary paradigm. It not only solidified the foundations of diverse areas such as cell biology, ecology, and economics, but also fostered the development of several mathematical and computational tools to model and simulate how evolutionary processes take place.

Besides the application of the evolutionary paradigm and the discovery of the evolutionary features for diverse processes, there is another interesting aspect which touches upon the emergence of novel evolutionary processes. Generally, the emergence of an evolutionary process requires a complex transition between a prior form where no evolutionary process is undergoing and a posterior form where the evolutionary process has been triggered. Most advanced methods to understand the emergence of evolutionary processes require the consideration of systemic features such as self-organization, resilience, and contextuality, among others.

In order to address the multiple facets of evolution, it is necessary to propose and apply methods that on the one hand incorporate recent advances in the modeling of complex systems, and on the other hand leverage both the increasing modeling power as well as growth and integration of databases associated with evolutionary processes. We welcome interdisciplinary articles that aim to advance our understanding of the role played by complexity in the evolution of natural and artificial processes. We welcome articles related to any of these topics:

    Biological evolution;
    Cognitive evolution;
    Social evolution;
    Evolutionary processes of artificial systems;
    The emergence of evolutionary processes;
    Novel methods to study the structural properties of evolutionary processes.
Guest Editors
Prof. Dr. Francis Heylighen
Dr. Tomas Veloz
Dr. Olaf Witkowski
Ms. Daniela Flores


Entropy | Special Issue : Complexity and Evolution

Introduction to Humna Leaning Systems (in public services) 5 October @15:00-16:30 via Zoom – free webinar

Something close to my heart since about 2001!

An Introduction to HLS
On Monday 5th October @ 15:00-16:30 via Zoom, Andy Crosbie (Collective Impact Agency) and Brendan Hill (The Concern Group) will be running a free webinar ‘Introduction to Human Learning Systems.’The Human Learning Systems approach (HLS) starts with the belief that public service exists to create the conditions which enable each person to create good outcomes in their lives. To do this, we believe:That public service must embrace the complex reality of the 21st Century world;That focusing on the relationships between people creates better ways of working and better places to work;That prioritising learning together over deliverology creates the safe space for innovation and lasting improvement; and That thinking in systems – understanding things as connected and interdependent – leads to better outcomes for all.If you’d like to learn more about HLS, register in advance for this session here.After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pdeutrDkjHNSySndryWMXH1QIN2FmZxzP

Clean Up, Wake Up, Grow Up – Ken Wilber – YouTube and Medium

Dr Connie Zweig: https://medium.com/@conniezweig/a-call-to-grow-up-clean-up-wake-up-show-up-2bd42ff2c683

Double Binds: Damned If You Dare and Damned If You Don’t | Kenneth Silvestri


Double Binds: Damned If You Dare and Damned If You Don’t | Psychology Today

Kenneth Silvestri Ed.D.

A Wider Lens

Double Binds: Damned If You Dare and Damned If You Don’t

How to address being caught between two conflicting options.

Posted Feb 09, 2020

“Human nature seems to me like the Alps. The depths are profound, black as night, and terrifying, but the heights are equally real, uplifted in the sunshine.” —Emily Greene Balch

We all have, in far too many instances, felt the pressure of being in a circumstance described as being damned if you dare and damned if you don’t. Well here is the scoop of how a double bind occurs and a means to resolve this painful situation.

What Is a “Double Bind?”

A double bind is a dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, with one message negating the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other, so that the person will be automatically wrong regardless of their response. The nature of a double bind is that the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither comment on the conflict, resolve it, nor opt-out of the situation.

One of the first times I was able to grasp the devastation of being in a double bind was watching a film of a family therapy session at the beginning of my studies at Columbia University. The mother of a ten-year-old asked her son if he loved her. He hesitated and wearily answered,  “Yes.”  His mother then followed with “Why do I have to ask you?” He was damned either way and this affected his consequent behavior.

The session was filmed and when we looked at it frame by frame you saw non-verbal messages of anger from the mother that were not recognized with the naked eye, yet subconsciously internalized by her son. Upon further inquiry into a wider context, it was revealed that the mother had her son out of wedlock and lost a prominent job. Her resentment of what happened was in direct conflict with the sincere love that she had for her son. When she was able to understand the situation from a  wider perspective, it allowed for new ways to better communicate with her son.

A double bind generally includes different levels of abstraction in the order of messages, and these messages can be stated implicitly within the context of the situation or conveyed by tone of voice or body language. Further complications arise when frequent double binds are part of an ongoing relationship to which the person or group is committed. On a positive note, human communication and the mind itself function in an interactive manner like an ecosystem, which helps us understand the interdependence of different parts of a message.

The clue to rising above a double bind is to create perspective by seeing it in its context but also at the same time simultaneously within a larger context. It takes rigor and hard work to break the constraints of a double bind, but if you dare to appreciate it with a widened lens, stepping out of the box, you can construct a whole new world that graciously welcomes the inevitable paradoxes of nature and blends with them to produce new orders of endless possibilities.


Double Binds: Damned If You Dare and Damned If You Don’t | Psychology Today

Organizations as Architectures for Complexity — with Joe Norman | by Simone Cicero | Stories of Platform Design


Organizations as Architectures for Complexity — with Joe Norman | by Simone Cicero | Stories of Platform Design


Organizations as Architectures for Complexity — with Joe Norman

Joe Norman talks with us about decentralization and localism as a way to deflate globally rising risk factors and underlines the importance of tackling challenges of organising through a multi-scale variety lens. Our conversation further points in the direction of systemic health-embeddedness of organising through principles of precaution and subsidiarity, providing adequate constraints, rather than directions, for organic systems to evolve.


Organizations as Architectures for Complexity — with Joe Norman | by Simone Cicero | Stories of Platform Design

Complex System Analyser | Knowledge for policy

Source: European Commission

Complex System Analyser | Knowledge for policy

Complex System Analyser

Workshop-based tool designed to facilitate the systems thinking approach.

This tool was developed to decompose and analyse any complex system so as to identify the key leverage points on which to act if one wants to influence the system.

  • It was initially developed by the JRC to analyse the food chain in the context of Delivering on EU food safety and nutrition 2050 – future challenges and policy preparedness (Sustainable food system)
  • The tool provides a 1 to 2 day participatory process working in 5 stages
  • The Complex System Analyzer is available to any interested party under a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-SA). 
  • You are free to use and modify it, but you have to share the results of your adaptations under the same conditions and must attribute the work to its originators.
  • We are interested in any feedback on how you plan to use it and returns on experience, please contact us

Download the instructions and all the material to organise your own session.

Complex System Analyser – System Mapping instructions

English (1.81 MB – PDF)Download (1.81 MB – PDF)

Complex System Analyser – complete set

English (56.06 MB – ZIP)Download (56.06 MB – ZIP)


Complex System Analyser | Knowledge for policy

Explore | 7Vortex

I do not know exactly what this is but it is undoubtedly systems-y… h/t Systems Innovation

Inspired by nature
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Our vision is a creative society thriving in balance with the planet.

The challenges and opportunities that are constantly emerging from our rapidly changing environments, call for new approaches; understanding that everything is connected is fundamental to shift our perspectives and to generate transcendental value.

7Vortex has been designed by the principles of biological patterns, evolutionary strategies and ecosystems dynamics, as such, it blends human cantered design with relationship centred design, in order to transfer knowledge in a naturally connected way.

By connecting interdisciplinary knowledge, visualising its relationships and understanding the value that every network agent can bring to an ecosystem, we can use our collective wisdom to inspire a new generation of thinkers, creators, inventors and entrepreneurs, to pursue endeavours that generate positive and sustainable impact for a better future for all.

For more information about who we are, visit our company website:


Explore | 7Vortex


I usually forget there’s a systems thinking subreddit!


Systems Thinking r/systemsthinking

Systems Thinking