Why bother with systems thinking?:: presumably because you want to understand!


Team interactionI absolutely INSIST that you read this excellent 3 part series on ‘Systems Thinking’ (ST).

I came to ST along a path from insurance risk, to complexity and resilience but it made so much sense because, well, that is the way my brain is wired! When I was younger I didn’t buy in to the conventional Business Management books because they just didn’t feel right but ST did and, although it can, as John says, make you feel like you are going crazy! However, when the message is spelt out in such a readable manner I begin to see where I (and others) have been going wrong in our efforts to communicate the need for and benefits of change.

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Public managers should stop telling people how to behave | guardian.co.uk


Dave Clements has flagged-up further evidence of, what we [at Ontonix] have come to recognise as, EXCESSIVE COMPLEXITY. The inevitable culmination of years [and layers] of mismanagement, fluctuating budgets, changing legislation, increasing regulation, conflicting strategies – often driven by Corporate interests and, of course, a healthy measure of ill-conceived (often purely politically motivated) knee-jerk reactions to the latest crisis.

All-in-all a hybrid form of institutional abuse…the kind that kills trust, fails service users, drains frontline initiative, hurts society and paralyzes the institution!

“Thumbs up” to a transparent Big Society, built from the bottom up: collaboratively. But a “double thumbs down” to a prescriptive, top down approach.     

A truly active citizen acts of their own accord and not according to the imperatives of public management. The good news is that by ditching the policing of people’s behaviour we might emulate the vision of a big society in which responsible citizens take the reins. This is why we should adopt an alternative approach: one that genuinely enables people’s autonomy rather than smothering their initiative.

 

What is Debt? – An Interview with Economic Anthropologist David Graeber « naked capitalism


You may be interested in “eavesdropping” on a very interesting and informative conversation that, beautifully, illustrates how effective we are at ignoring history!

If you are really “hard core” you may want to check out “Mesopotamian complexity” in more detail here.

PP: Which do you see as playing a more important role in human history: money or debt?

DG: Well, it depends on your definitions. If you define money in the broadest sense, as any unit of account whereby you can say 10 of these are worth 7 of those, then you can’t have debt without money. Debt is just a promise that can be quantified by means of money (and therefore, becomes impersonal, and therefore, transferable.) But if you are asking which has been the more important form of money, credit or coin, then probably I would have to say credit.

PP: Let’s move on to some of the real world problems facing the world today. We know that in many Western countries over the past few years households have been running up enormous debts, from credit card debts to mortgages (the latter of which were one of the root causes of the recent financial crisis). Some economists are saying that economic growth since the Clinton era was essentially run on an unsustainable inflating of household debt. From an historical perspective what do you make of this phenomenon? Read more of this post

The complexity of influence is a challenge – and an opportunity | Guardian Professional


Influence is complex, and I mean that in the full “complexity science” sense of the word. Complexity is the phenomena that emerge from a collection of interacting objects. The interacting objects could be molecules of air and the phenomenon the weather. It could be vehicles and the phenomenon the traffic.

Human objects could be the population of Cairo, the 99%, sports fans in a sports stadium, people who like photos of cats, your customers, or your employees; in fact, any collection of people interacting with each other, influencing each other.

A characteristic of complexity is that studying the individual rarely betrays anything about the phenomena. You can’t learn much about the termite mound by studying the individual termite, or the traffic jam by studying the car.

via The complexity of influence is a challenge – and an opportunity | Media network | Guardian Professional.

SCHOOL – 1957 vs. 2010: How stupid we have become?


Scenario:
Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957
Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.
2010 –
Police called, arrests Johnny and Mark.. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. Both children go to anger management programs for 3 months. School board hold meeting to implement bullying prevention programmes

Scenario:
Robbie won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 –
Robbie sent to office and given 6 of the best by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2010 –
Robbie given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADHD. Robbie’s parents get fortnightly disability payments and School gets extra funding from government because Robbie has a disability.

Scenario :
Billy breaks a window in his neighbour’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 –
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2010 –
Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.

Scenario :
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 –
Mark gets glass of water from Principal to take aspirin with.
2010 –
Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario :
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from Guy Fawkes, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a bull ant nest.
1957 –
Ants die.
2010-
Police & Anti-Terrorism Squad called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism,  investigate parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario :
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary . Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 –
In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2010 –
Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.