Heart of the Art

To the Heart of Living Systems



Wicked Problems and Category Mistakes

Certain statements about problems are likely to be rendered false or meaningless if it can be shown that the problem is actually wicked,

Dialogue- Isaacs

Often the typical meeting room is full of people holding a series of conversations that come preloaded with hidden paradigms of belief, expectation and personal ambition. What this means is that the communication taking place is driven by a mixture of agendas, with everyone seeking to direct and steer the conversation in ways that withhold their point of view. This is limiting.

Kantor – 4 Player Model

The Four Player Model developed by David Kantor is at the core of the theory of structural dynamics. Structural dynamics is rooted in systems dynamics, and is specifically concerned with how human communication does, or does not work. Kantor explains that people behave differently in different situations, contexts and conversations.

The ethics of systems leadership

When you consult to a system who is your client? How do you know if you are doing the right thing? What constitutes doing good here and who decides? You cannot please everyone all the time. There is a difference between a reflexive action, changing the mood of a conversation through a comment or smile just because it feels to be going in an unhelpful way and a deliberate one such as considered reflection on events

Myron Rogers: Communities of practice

Interested in Communities of Practice? Myron Rogers has been working with the South London Health Innovation Network developing pan-London Patient Safety Communities of Practice. This just released brochure, co-authored by Myron, describes the work, and includes a comprehensive conceptual and practical guide for cultivating Communities of Practice.

The Butterfly Effect and The Doll Affair

When we think about operating in systems, doing systems thinking, we seek to find and understand how systems work and how we may work within them. But of course there is another question we need to ask when considering this way of thinking. And that something is why? Why do we need to think in this holistic tangled way in the first place? When for the most, our lives and the organisations, tasks, roles and people within them, function perfectly well in the very lightness of thinking that is simple and linear, A to B thinking. (By Emma Loftus)

Working with Systems

From John Atkinson. I get repeatedly asked about the difference between working with the ecosystem (or human system) and working with formal organisations. For me this is largely a perceptual difference and yet perception is a critical and deeply influential thing.

Cass Sunstein on Nudge Theory

In this excerpt from the event, ‘Why Nudge?’, renowned public thinker Cass Sunstein defends his groundbreaking nudge theory.

TED: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

In this TED talk Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”

A biological perspective of emergence (Video)

A short video exploring the properties of emergence in biology. Discussing how and why ‘irreducible’ or ‘unexpected’ properties arise out of a collection of more fundamental properties.

Small world networks, consciousness and nature

A video exploring small world networks in the human world and throughout nature.

Twelve Simple Rules of Systems Thinking for Complex Global Issues

We are increasingly aware that many our living systems – human and natural – are at risk today, as we face incredibly complex and interconnected challenges related to global security, environmental degradation, and inter-woven economies. Understanding the nature and dynamics of living systems, therefore, can shed light on how we think about our problems and our resources, and about the assumptions and the choices we make.

Hidalgo: Relationships between individual and collective knowledge

In this video Cesar Hidalgo at MIT asks intriguing questions about how social and economic systems interact. He sees networks as holding the knowledge and know-how necessary to ‘crystallise’ information into the things we use every day. The capacity of a network to hold this sort of knowledge and know-how is thus for him directly linked to economic activity. It helps explain how economic growth is variable and differs from place to place. It says that a theory of economics that doesn’t take into account the social complexity of society and its networks is incomplete. This 20 minute address at the RSA is a rapid tour through Cesar’s work. It is expanded in more depth in his book ‘Why information grows’. If you are exploring how social networks relate to economic activity this is well worth a look.

A Physics Talk for Non-Physicists: Chaos, Complexity, and Entropy

Chaos is a purely mathematical concept; it is an undeniable mathematical fact. We know that theoretical physics is built on mathematics, and that all theoretical physicists are applied mathematicians. The first question that I want to examine, then, is: why is it that, among all the practitioners of science, applied science, engineering disciplines, and human sciences, physicists were practically the last ones to be interested in chaos and to use it in their work?

Daniel Kahneman- Thinking, Fast and Slow

The work that spawned ‘Nudge’ and the study of heuristics, a way of looking at the patterns in our brains and how they can lead us into advantage and disadvantage.

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