The Cybernetics of a Society:

Harish's Notebook - My notes... Lean, Cybernetics, Quality & Data Science.

In today’s post, I will be following the thoughts from my previous post, Consistency over Completeness. We were looking at each one of us being informationally closed, and computing a stable reality. The stability comes from the recursive computations of what is being observed. I hope to expand the idea of stability from an individual to a society in today’s post.

Humberto Maturana, the cybernetician biologist (or biologist cybernetician) said – anything said is said by an observer. Heinz von Foerster, one of my heroes in cybernetics, expanded this and said – everything said is said to an observer. Von Foerster’s thinking was that language is not monologic but always dialogic. He noted:

The observer as a strange singularity in the universe does not attract me… I am fascinated by images of duality, by binary metaphors like dance and dialogue where only a duality creates a unity. Therefore, the statement…

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Ecosystems, collapse, resilience, complexity and scale – visual maps from open courseware design for master’s program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University (2010)

Soo much rich stuff linked from this blog post from @David Ing:

Learning about teaching: systems thinking and sustainability course in Finland

The two that caught my eye were:

Ecological complexity and scale

Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management? – Milly, Betancourt et al (Nature, 2008)

Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management? January 2008 Paul C D MillyJulio BetancourtJulioShow all 13 authorsRonald J Research Interest 956.9 Citations 1,789 Recommendations 0 new 3 Reads 15 new 3,123 See details Overview Stats Comments Citations (1789) References (30) Related research (10+) Download Save Recommend Recommend this work Follow Get updates Share Share in a message Related research Climate change – Stationarity is dead: Whither water management? Article Full-text available March 2008 Download View more Abstract The article presents the authors’ claim that the concept of stationarity, the idea that the systems for management of water fluctuate within an unchanging domain of variability, is dead. According to the authors, the idea of stationarity had ceased due to the substantial anthropogenic change of the Earth’s climate which alters the means and extremes of precipitation, evapotranspiration and rates of discharge of rivers affecting water cycle. They denote that the rational planning framework developed by Harvard University’s Water Program helps address the changing climate to manage water system.

(11) (PDF) Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?

As cited frequently by Ray Ison as an era-marking observation; the finding that we can no longer assume that water system variables will maintain within historic ranges as we enter into the anthropocene.

alt link:

Further selected references on ‘systemic evaluation’

The really interesting curation of links in the “collection of systems/complexity links regarding evaluation”
prompts me to add a few more (selected – not complete by any means!) references, if of interest:

Bamberger M, Vaessen J and Raimondo E (2016) Dealing with Complexity in Development Evaluation,
a Practical Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Caffrey L and Munro E (2017) A systems approach to policy evaluation. Evaluation 23(4): 463–78.

Catwell L and Sheikh A (2009) Evaluating eHealth interventions: The need for continuous systemic
evaluation. PLoS Medicine 6(8): e1000126.

Duffy DN (2017) Evaluation and governing in the 21st century: Disciplinary measures, transformative
possibilities. In: Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy. London: Palgrave Macmillan

European Evaluation Society (EES) (2018) 13th European Evaluation Society Biennial Conference,
‘Evaluation for more resilient societies’, Thessaloniki, 1–5 October. Available at: (accessed 5 January 2020).

Forss K, Marra M and Schwartz R (eds) (2011) Evaluating the Complex: Attribution, Contribution and
Beyond (Comparative Policy Evaluation Series 18). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Gates E (2018) Towards valuing with critical systems heuristics. American Journal of Evaluation 39:

Kusters C, et al (2019) Conference report: Monitoring and evaluation for inclusive and sustainable food
systems. Report WCDI-19-066, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen
University & Research, Wageningen, 3–4 April. Available at:
(accessed 5 January 2020).

Mitchell, A (2017) Second-order learning in Developmental Evaluation: new methods for complex conditions. Springer, International Publishing. Kindle Edition. (

Midgley G (2007) Systems thinking for evaluation. In: Williams B and Imam I (eds) Systems Concepts
in Evaluation, an Expert Anthology. Point Reyes, CA: American Evaluation Association, 11–34

Ofir Z, Singh G, Beauchamp E, et al. (2019) From monitoring goals to systems-informed evaluation:
Insights from SDG14. IEED Briefing, March. Available at:
(accessed 5 January 2020).

Patton M (1994) Developmental evaluation. Evaluation Practice 15(3): 311–20.

Patton M (2011) Developmental Evaluation Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and
Use. New York: Guilford Press.

Patton M (2018) Principles-Focused Evaluation. London; New York: Guilford Press.

Patton M (2019) Blue marble evaluation. Available at:
(accessed 5 January 2020).

Piirainen KA, Gonzalez RA and Bragge J (2012) A systemic evaluation framework for futures research.
Futures 44(5): 464–74.

Reynolds M (2015) (Breaking) The iron triangle of evaluation. IDS Bulletin 46: 71–86.

Reynolds M and Schwandt T (2017) Evaluation as public work: An ethos for professional evaluation
praxis. In: UK evaluation society annual conference: The use and usability of evaluation:
Demonstrating and improving the usefulness of evaluation, Evaluation Society, London, 10–11 May.

Reynolds M, Gates E, Hummelbrunner R, et al. (2016) Towards systemic evaluation. Systems Research
and Behavioral Science 33: 662–73.

Reynolds M, Fross K, Hummelbrunner R, et al. (2012) Complexity, systems thinking and evaluation
– An emerging relationship? Evaluation Connections Newsletter of the European Evaluation
Society, 7–9.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (2019) Scaling solutions toward shifting systems initiative:
Assessing systems change: A funders’ workshop report. Available at:
(accessed 5 January 2020).

Schmidt-Abbey, B, Reynolds, M and Ison, R (2020) Towards systemic evaluation in
turbulent times – Second-order practice shift. Evaluation . 26 (2): 205–226.

Schwandt T (2015) Reconstructing professional ethics and responsibility: Implications of critical systems
thinking. Evaluation 21(4): 462–6.

Schwandt T (2019) Post-normal evaluation? Evaluation 25(3): 317–29.

Schwandt T and Gates E (2016) What can evaluation do? An agenda for evaluation in service of an
equitable society. Evaluation for an Equitable Society: 67–81.

Stephens A, Lewis E and Reddy S (2018) Towards an inclusive systemic evaluation of the SDGs:
Gender, equality, environments and marginalised voices (GEMs). Evaluation 24(2): 220–36.

Wadsworth Y (1997) Everyday Evaluation on the Run, 2nd edn. Sydney, NSW, Australia: Allen &

Wadsworth Y (2010) Building in Research and Evaluation. Human Inquiry for Living Systems. Sydney,
NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Wadsworth Y (2016) Everyday Evaluation on the Run: The User-Friendly Introductory Guide to
Effective Evaluation, 3rd edn. Abingdon: Routledge

Williams B (2013) Three core concepts: Inter-relationships, perspectives, boundaries. In: Evaluation
connections: Newsletter of the European evaluation society, June 2013, 7–8.

Williams B and Hummelbrunner R (2009) Systems Concepts in Action, a Practitioner’s Toolkit.
Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.

Williams B and Imam I (eds) (2007) Systems Concepts in Evaluation, an Expert Anthology. Point Reyes,
CA: American Evaluation Association.

Communication without Coding: Cybernetics, Meaning andLanguage (How Language, becoming a System, Betrays itself) – Glanville

Communication without Coding: Cybernetics, Meaning and
Language (How Language, becoming a System, Betrays itself)

Systems Thinking in project management: A case study in success for the NHS webinar | APM


Systems Thinking in project management: A case study in success for the NHS webinar | APM

Systems Thinking in project management: A case study in success for the NHS webinar

Published on29 Jun 20200 comments

Systems Thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns rather than static ‘snapshots’. Systems Thinking is a discipline for seeing the ‘structures’ that underlie complex situations.

This presentation held on Tuesday 30 June 2020 looked at some of the principles and techniques of Systems Thinking and illustrated their practical application to a real project; the launch of a new NHS website.

The talk covered not just Systems Thinking during design, but also linked all project elements and disciplines together during project execution to deliver overall success, despite all the hurdles in its way.

NHS technology projects have a poor track record of success, but this project was delivered on time, on budget and was so effective, it won four awards, including a Queen’s award for innovation.

APM System Thinking SIG. Having joined the University of Manchester as a Visiting Lecturer in 2011, teaching project management to organisations including Rolls Royce, E-ON, AMEC and Sellafield Ltd, he teaches in parallel to his consultancy practice, and has just published a book on project success.He is a Fellow of APM and a Chartered Project Professional, active both as a member of the APM North West Branch committee, liaising with Corporate Partners, and as Secretary of the APM Systems Thinking SIG.This webinar is suitable for professionals with any level of experience.

Andrew has very kindly allowed his presented material to be made available for viewing. The webinar recording is on YouTube and also embedded below for your information.

 #apmsystemsthinking  #apmwebinar  #apmnorthwest


Systems Thinking in project management: A case study in success for the NHS webinar | APM

Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference – Olufemi O. Taiwo

Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference Olúfémi O. Táíwò © Melody Overstreet From The Philosopher, vol. 108, no. 4 (“What is We?”). 

Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference – Olufemi O. Taiwo

Gettig to the other side of POMO complexity – see also:

APM Systems Thinking SIG chair interview – Certes


APM Systems Thinking SIG chair interview – Certes

APM Systems Thinking SIG chair interview


Interview with Dr Michael Emes MEng PhD MIET MAPM MINCOSE, APM Systems Thinking Specific Interest Group (SIG) chair.

Why is systems thinking important to you?
Systems thinking helps me get to grips with challenging problems. Having too narrow a focus leads to solutions that aren’t effective in the long term. I’ve learnt this from my project work, from teaching and from research.

How is systems thinking relevant to the project managers of today?
To some extent, systems thinking is part of project management’s DNA. Projects are systems of activities with critical inter-dependencies and ‘hard’ systems thinking can help to optimise projects to minimise use of resources for example. But systems thinking really adds value when you realise that the world of projects is imperfect and uncertain, not deterministic, and has a significant human dimension where ’soft’ systems thinking comes into play. Not only do tasks often take longer to complete than anticipated due to unforeseen events and re-work, but we often start projects without a clear understanding of what the project’s objectives are. Systems thinking gives us the tools to attempt both complicated projects (with many interfaces and distributed supply chains – such as building a new aircraft) and complex projects (where stakeholders don’t agree on the fundamental objectives – such as building a new runway for London or using IT to deliver improved healthcare services). Ultimately, systems thinking helps us to do a better job of managing risk and project scope.

continues in source

An Epistemological Foundation for Communication – Krippendorff – 1984 – Journal of Communication – Wiley Online Library

An Epistemological Foundation for Communication

Klaus KrippendorffFirst published: September 1984


NAE Website – Policing as a Complex System


NAE Website – Policing as a Complex System

Santa Fe Institute@sfiscience·“How might #policing be reengineered to achieve a substantial reduction in the use of deadly force?” Treating US policing as the decentralized #ComplexSystem it is, Brendan O’Flaherty & SFI’s @rajivatbarnard (both at @columbia_econ) write for @theNAEng:

ARINA | TIP – The Integral Process for Working on Complex Issues


ARINA | TIP – The Integral Process for Working on Complex Issues

The Integral Process For Working On Complex Issues tm  (TIP)

Called “TIP” for short, this is a mature, research-based process for groups of any size, in any settings, to deal with thecomplex issues, questions, and decisions they must grapple with.

Its powerful effectiveness comes from its design, using critical thinking and core processes of healthy change and development. This is how it fosters healthy change and development as people work on issues of any kind. This is why TIP is rated “5” on the Scale of Public Interactions.

Its common steps and templates empower users to address any issue. This means it is replicable for use on a wide variety of issues and transportable to any setting, at any scale.  

This process can transform perspectives, assumptions, cultures, relationships, system change efforts, and therefore how public or organizational business is done. It transforms how issues are understood and addressed.  This isn’t magic. Rather, it results from many years of action research and issue analyses, and mature use of solid theory.

Full pdf:

Case study:

Systems Change Alliance : “conversation between Sacred Activism leader, Andrew Harvey and Systems Change vanguard, Roar Bjonnes. Friday 29th Jan at 20h UTC


Radical Regeneration: Sacred Activism and Systems Change – A conversation with Andrew Harvey

Free  · Facebook liveMoreAboutDiscussionInterestedInvite


 Systems Change Alliance

Friday, January 29, 2021 at 8 PM UTC – 9 PM UTC

Duration: 1 hr


Andrew Harvey is a world-renowned author of more than 30 books and the Founder and Director of The Institute for Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective, and practical agents of institutional and systemic change, in order to create peace and sustainability.Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world. Harvey believes that the large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants.Harvey was born in India in 1952 and lived there until he was nine years old. At the age of 21, he became the youngest person to be awarded a scholarship at All Soul’s College, England’s highest academic honor. But he soon became disillusioned with academic life and returned to India where a series of spiritual experiences initiated his spiritual journey. He has studied Buddhism, Sufism and Hinduism extensively and written many books on these subjects as well as translated the poetry of Rumi
and Kabir.Harvey speaks extensively throughout the world and has received many honors for his writings, including the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind, Body, Spirit Award.Join the conversation live on Facebook or YouTube or catch it later in our Films archive.

Stuart Umpleby: The Unknown Ashby – Ultrastability (Club of Remy video)

Cryptographic Nature – Krakauer (2015)

David Krakauer

I consider the many ways in which evolved information-flows are restricted and metabolic resources protected and hidden — the thesis of living phenomena as evolutionary cryptosystems. I present the information theory of secrecy systems and discuss mechanisms acquired by evolved lineages that encrypt sensitive heritable information with random keys. I explore the idea that complexity science is a cryptographic discipline as “frozen accidents”, or various forms of regularized randomness, historically encrypt adaptive dynamics.

Subjects:Populations and Evolution (q-bio.PE)
Cite as:arXiv:1505.01744 [q-bio.PE]
 (or arXiv:1505.01744v1 [q-bio.PE] for this version)

Submission history

From: David Krakauer [view email
[v1] Thu, 7 May 2015 15:27:25 UTC (15 KB)


[1505.01744v1] Cryptographic Nature

Strange Attractor – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics


Strange Attractor

Strange Attractor – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics