This workshop was conducted online, as with parallel breakout groups, as part of the 9th Annual International Symposium on Relating Systems Thinking and Design.
Reordering our Priorities through Systems Change Learning
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The original presentation can be viewed on Google Slides.
(Web video has captured, and will available after some post-production work).
- Zaid Khan, David Ing, Dan Eng, Kelly Okamura, Zemina Meghji
The idea of "systems change" has risen in popularity over the past few years. To make this more than just another buzzword, how might we approach it? In what ways does "systems change" mean more than just "change"? Does "systems change" build on the large legacy of "systems thinking"?
The Systems Changes Learning Circle is now in year 2 of 10 year journey. Our aim is to reify systems changes as a first-class concept. This extends prior published research on social and organizational change, based in the systems sciences. At RSD8, the Khan and Ing (2019) presentation reflected the early explorations coming from the core group. For 2020, at RSD9, we propose a workshop to share some methods in early stages of development for initiating deeper deliberations into systems changes.
Systems changes may involve:
- shifting adaptively;
- shifting behaviorally; and/or
- shifting ecologically.
Living systems may respond through:
- systematic changes;
- systemic changes; and/or
- timescape-landscape changes.
Degrees of systems changes may be judged as:
- unfolding nature;
- fixing problems; or
- history making.
The multi-day, iterative workshop still under development takes a multi-paradigm approach based on learnings grounded in five philosophies:
- (i) learning which, as phenomenology;
- (ii) learning what, as ontology;
- (iii) learning why, as epistemology;
- (iv) learning whom+when+where, as phronesis; and
- (v) learning how, as techne.
To convene working groups in advance of iterations on the five learnings, we now propose a Question Zero conversation for orientation, on Reordering Priorities. This workshop on Reordering Priorities can be conducted within 90 minutes, in-person or online, with parallel breakout groups.
The workshop will be structured as multiple steps:
- Step 0: Participants will introduce themselves briefly. To encourage discussion, participants will be encouraged to cluster into small groups with others whom they do not know well.
- Step 1: As individuals, participants will each quickly jot down three top three systems changes in which they are interested. These systems changes may be ones that they would like to come faster, or ones they would like to not happen.
- Step 2: A two-dimensional map will be presented. Individuals will be asked to place their top three systems changes with axes along:
- urgent to important; and
- local to distant (Pepper, 1934; Tolman and Brunswik, 1935).
- Step 3: In groups, each individual will be asked to show their mappings, and provide background for having prioritized those interests.
- Step 4: Authentic systems thinking orders synthesis (putting thing together) before analysis (taking things apart). Each group will be encouraged to attempt to synthesize its priorities across its participants.
- Step 5: One reporter from each group will reflect on their collective experience on reordering priorities.
Artifacts and comments from the group reports will be collected for summarization, possibly for publication in the proceedings. This knowledge-creating exercise will be used to refine methods for groups engaging in action learning.
The Systems Changes Learning Circle (founded 2019) is a group convening at the Centre for Social Innovation (Toronto) emerging from Systems Thinking Ontario (founded 2012). We include postgraduates and instructors from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation Program at OCADU in Toronto. Our content at licensed as Creative Commons at http://systemschanges.com . We cooperate with the Open Learning Commons at http://openlearning.cc , and the Digital Life Collective at http://diglife.com .
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Khan, Zaid, and David Ing. 2019. “Paying Attention to Where Attention Is Placed in the Rise of System(s) Change(s).” In Proceedings of the RSD8 Symposium. IIT -- Institute of Design, Chicago, Illinois: Systems Design Association. https://systemic-design.net/rsd-symposia/rsd8-2019/systems-change/.
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