Heart of the Art

To the Heart of Living Systems


Emma Loftus’ Posts

Understanding Focus

There’s a lot of focus on focus. It’s a core part of the work of psychologists and part of the heart of thinking about change in systems thinking. It forms part of positive psychology, Gestalt, coaching methodologies, and practices such as four orders and constellations, (to name but a few). But what do we mean and why does it matter?

Starfish Throwers

Real starfish throwers are those who have taken action in their communities, little everyday acts of kindness. Acts of kindness that reminds us that all of the world, everyone and everything deserves the love and care of being part of humanity. Small acts of kindness that started ripples of change in their communities. The start of everyday social movements.

Questioning Greatness

The world demands that our work and lives be great and meaningful yet gives no clues as to what that entails, other than leaving us with the somewhat humbling notion that we must somehow be great and change the world. Though whether that be for good or bad is left to our own imagination and consciences.

Uncommon Ground

The Photographer Dominick Tyler, is collating a glossary of terms used to describe the Great British Landscape. Along the way Tyler realised how much of our understanding of a thing, a concept, a place is dependent on the language we use. He realised that when we can’t connect through language, when we don’t have the ability to connect and share things, then we treat them differently as a result.

What’s love got to do with it?

Love has been held as the key epitome of human life since forever. Princesses, frogs, glass slippers, pumpkins and all of that. But there’s more to love than falling. Love isn’t just the act of being in love. It’s the act of feeling a part of the world. Connected.

Love Letters to Strangers

Hannah Brencher began sending ‘love letters’ to strangers in need in 2010, as a way of dealing with her own depression. She never anticipated the response that followed. She was inundated with requests for letters of love to be sent to those in need and despair around the world.

At the Fishhouses

For me the parting words from Elizabeth Bishop in her 1955 poem At the Fishhouses, are a wonderfully allegorisation of the sea as a medium of knowing. A metaphor for knowledge and the intransigence of change.

Be Absurd and Create the Future

Problems and change don’t come with easy solutions. Sticking with what’s known and been tried before really isn’t going to be all that helpful in solving complex, messy problems.

Defining Meaningful

Meaningful is the catch phrase of our times and a long over due one at that. Meaningful has become important. No longer is life just to be had, work to be done or change simply to be made. Now with the word ‘meaningful’ we state that we as human beings need so much more. Meaningful it seems is as elusive to define, as it is to create. Maybe the trouble is that what is meaningful is deeply personal and thus entirely subjective. And, perhaps more important than defining meaningful is our intent in our use of the word. Does it actually mean anything at all?

Transcendence in Systems Thinking

Exploring what transcendence means in the modern world. It is the indefinable ways in which society is bound together. The uniting energy between us. To make meaningful change systems need to understand those invisible connections and move into a way of ‘being’ where considering transcendence matters.

Mindful or Mindless?

Mindfulness underwrites the principles of much systems theory that considers the movement of practice and belief from ‘I’ to ‘we’. While to be mindless stifles creativity, limits our perception and prevents us from moving into new and better ways of doing things.

Bion’s Basic Assumption Groups

Bion suggested that all groups have a subconscious emotional drive that affects their every thought and action. It is determined by the group’s beliefs about ‘who or what will save us from this mess’. He termed these beliefs basic assumption groups. Understanding which assumption group is influencing behaviour is key to understanding the dynamics in a system and their responses to change.

Maturana and Varela: Autopoiesis (Living Systems)

Autopoiesis is actually a remarkably simple concept used by Maturana and Varela. At its most basic it is defined as a system that is self-supporting and self-producing. In other words a system that both creates and looks after itself.

Arygris- Theories of Action

According to Chris Argyris everyone and everywhere (systems) have an internal ‘mental map’. These mental maps influence behaviour, thought and understanding. He calls these mental maps Theories of Action. Theories of Action are made up of a combination of intention and… Continue Reading →

Lewin- Force Field Analysis

By Emma Loftus No, it’s not sci-fi. Force Field Analysis, sometimes called Field Theory, is a change tool developed by the systems theorist and psychologist Kurt Lewin, founded on the principles of Gestaltism and behaviourism. It is a tool based… Continue Reading →

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