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    Scott Forman-Roe has explained that it’s not a question of money, just time and that he doesn’t interact with the code regularly. So the bug that caused him to ask the question has been ‘fixed’, but he didn’t get to the root cause and does not have time to do so. There are some good suggestions in the responses - thanks! (And a gratifying number of them) so let’s collectively have a think about future alternatives. But, code allowing, the site won’t go away tomorrow, and will ‘continue on autopilot’ as long as it does… Happy new year, all!

    1. 1

      John Raven said:

      The answer is “YES”

      While I read only a tiny fraction of the posts, every so often one of the titles catches my eye and I have been very pleased to read them.

      I might comment more often if I could remember how to do so … and how to find posts that I know are there. I do have the necessary instructions written down somewhere … but finding them requires some effort.

      In contrast, I find the Linkedin site impossible and NEVER go there. For a start I have to find the instructions on how to do so!

      But there is always a dilemma. I cannot cope with most of the entries people try to send me and filter them out at SPAMARREST. And I do not have the time to check out the websites of all the organisations I belong to … so it never gets done and I miss all sorts of things that I ought to know about.

      So I am heavily dependent on 4 or 5 real people who act as gatekeepers for the information that reaches me.

      Model Report posts are posted to a special inbox which opens automatically when there are new posts … so the titles appear on the screen before I close the box … and remain there for future reference until I delete them individually.

      So. Yes. It suits me. But, then, I’m not into media … even newspapers.

      Best wishes,


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        Jonlo Prim said:

        Even though i’ve never replied or posted to model.report - I do clink on the links to it here and go read it.

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          David Steare said:

          I hope model.report or a successor continues to provide much needed up to date and historical learning resources for learning about systems thinking. Like many people, the more I learn the more I realise how much more I need to learn.

          1. 2

            Curt McNamara said:

            I don’t really understand it, however follow through most of the links i see on fb. About 10% of those get used by me or an associate in our teaching, so it has a bigger impact than you can see. I am willing to make a contribution if that helps.

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              If you aren’t a member to comment here, you can: a) email benjamin.taylor@redquadrant.com to express support and/or join b) request to be added at https://model.report/invitations/request and I will add you

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                  Ben, have you been involved in the SWARM beta testing? Are you Pobblebonk63? I am ThornyDragon23 and have major questions with their Bayes-Ball model report, as well as their whole approach to the teamwork. If you are Pobble, could you please answer the question I left for you in the rubric, as well as what I wrote in the response section. I don’t agree with their answer because they use a very small sample set in a strange way. Thanks! The two problems seemed to me to be an exercise in getting people frustrated, not getting us to work together. Their training for Bayesian probability was nowhere near enough to get people to understand the different archetypes.

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                    sad to say I am not the wonderfully-named pobblebonk - I signed up but found it all too complicated and decided I didn’t have time!

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                    I thought it odd, given his significant contribution to the field, that Gerald doesn’t feature more strongly here. I suppose it is because his work, despite many valuable populist and public forays, is centred in the academic? And perhaps, from my limited social media interactions, he is a natural academic and less self-promoting that some? In any case, he well merits his wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Midgley

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                      appropriate point to put a plug for Gerald Midgeley’s four-volume master-overview, now republished due to demand. At £645, it’s not going in the RedQuadrant library unless the public sector market picks up significantly, but it should be available from university and the biggest libraries: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/systems-thinking/book225004

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                      Thanks to the Facebook group and Dennis Pachernegg, here’s an English translation in pdf https://monoskop.org/images/5/51/Bogdanov_Alexander_Essays_in_Tektology.pdf

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                        They don’t write them like that any more. Or maybe they do, but the journals don’t publish them any more.

                        I’d love to see Mintzb why he thinks that might be? Is he still with us?

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                            This must be one of your best finds for me, Ben. Many thanks, David

                            1. 1

                              Pleased to hear it! It’s a classic and one of the two papers usually cited as the basis of the concept of ‘wicked problems’.

                                  1. 2

                                    content (located down the page at https://web.archive.org/web/20101103083624/http://sysparatem.co/blog/)

                                    Wrecking Synergy to Stakeout Territory

                                    Posted on October 3, 2010 by Mike Parker

                                    I came across a blog entry the other day written by an afficianado of the Lean school of thinking which was complaining about the inaccuracy, deliberate or otherwise, of continued comments being made by a very vocal and well known afficianado of the systems thinking school.

                                    What struck me as painfully apparent was that the complaints about the comments being made were entirely justified. The systems chap had laid into the lean corpus of thinking in ways which were clearly perjorative and supported by de-contextualised quotes.

                                    This was remarkable to me as one of the threads of systems thinking which is quite well developed is Critical Systems Heuristics which, amongst other things, takes the position that any approach of any type is necessarily bounded by the originators constructs and is as useful as the amount of light its particular perspective may shed on any given subject. The assumption is that there can be no one complete and right view of any situation.

                                    In terms of the blog-spat referreed to above it implies that we should exercise care and respect for the reference frameworks and structures of interpretation that others develop and use.

                                    In some ways this just seems like an academic statement that reasonable manners are a good idea. Actually I think there’s more to it.

                                    The perception that particular structures of interpretation can never be absolute but can all be useful leads to the interesting idea that we can produce dynamic mash-ups of a range of interpretive frameworks according to the kind of mix of forces and phenomena we see in a given situation.

                                    It is a question of applying the fundamental idea of Systems Thinking and its non-Cartesian roots that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

                                    I suggest this means that where we bring two or more meaning generating frameworks together we will create a larger and more powerful space of comprehension than with them considered seperately or sequentially.

                                    This is what I mean by the term IdeoConvergence and it is a process to which I would commend the researcher / practioner who is more concerned with delivering real improvements in external situations than in staking out a piece of academic real-estate at the expense of fruitful collaboration.

                                    Posted in Beliefs, Education, Influences and their ambience, Ideoconvergence, Synthesis | Tagged collaboration, Critical Systems Heuristics, Ideoconvergence, Lean, systems thinking | 11 Comments

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                                      I don’t think that there is such thing as “mental models”. I know it has a lot of currency especially among systems thinkers, but this notion belongs to the representationalist school of cognitive science (which is not very systemic, by the way, as extensively shown by Varela and his followers). It is true that we build models and interact with them, but that has nothing to do with the way we think. We can make a drawing of a bicycle to help us design a better one, but we learn to ride a bicycle without having any model of a bicycle in our head, we use the bicycle itself, or rather our evolving interaction with it.

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                                        yes, that’s a very good point

                                        mental models, actually, seem to be a kind of metaphor. it’s to some extent a useful metaphor - if it could be separated from the erroneous conception of actual models in the brain (which I agree is nonsense, unless we’re engaging in modelling) - because it seems to demonstrate a certain pattern that we seem to observe quite regularly.

                                        what we observe is that people behave in a way consistent with one sort of relationship to the world (in context - different contexts/contextual cues will relatively consistently and predictably generate different sorts of behaviours, of course) - and that people consistently seek to reinforce that consistency (even to the cost of negative results from that relationship to the world), until and unless they are forced by really negative or inexplicable results - or, sometimes, learning to have a different kind of relationship with the world (through mental insight, experience of observation of someone else with an alternative relationship etc)

                                        is the above a ‘clean’ description of that? I’m not convinced but it was an effort at that. ‘relationship to the world’ feels better than ‘interactions with the world’

                                        the big problem with my account, of course, is that it posits ‘the world’, and ‘a person’ and interactions between them, which carries a whole raft of assumptions etc. Might we say instead ‘ a way of going on in life’ or in a certain context?

                                        anyway - probably habits, ‘ways of going on’ (I’m pleased with the phrase because it’s very 20th Century English Philosopher), or similar would be a better description and implicit metaphor than ‘mental models’

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                                        dear Dr Hu

                                        this is a good initiative and i am interested, thank you !!!!!!!!!!!

                                        i published papers : ‘Fundamental problems in engineering education’ in 1994, ‘Development of curricula for engineering degree courses’ in 1996 based on ‘network modelling of engineering systems’ and ‘Systems thinking in engineering education’ which is being refereed now and is about the wider meaning of engineering including its technical meaning. this is based on ‘the new science of systems’. also, under revision paper ‘general principles of systems’

                                        however, i do not feel that it is a good idea constructing ‘systems’ courses based entirely on current largely speculative, fragmented, ‘not based on existing knowledge’, difficult to teach and without discipline character ‘systemic or structural view’ of parts of the world. i think i have recognised the problems in the ‘systemic or structural’ view as practiced and have written 4 books, currently writing another [‘new science of systems’] and published papers on an alternative approach. some details are available on google !!!!

                                        i should be glad to hear further and best wishes janos korn

                                        —–Original Message—– From: antlerboy-benjamintaylor Sent: Sunday, September 10, 2017 10:51 PM To: modelreport-vJnYCq4C0X@model.report Subject: Developing a standard curriculum for ‘system science’ - IFSR call for participation [_Education]

                                        International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences Joint Project on The Endorsed Basic Competency and Standard Curriculum of System Science

                                        Call for Participation

                                        Primary Facilitator: Dr. Jason Jixuan Hu, USA (hujixuan@gmail.com)

                                        The Need There has been a long-standing need to establish basic, introductory principles in systems and cybernetics. In part, this is needed to orient young minds to become future system scientists, systemic thinkers, system practitioners and systemic actioners. In order to provide effective and efficient education and training to those who are new to the field, it is our responsibility to provide a systemic set of definitions, competencies, key concepts, key principles, well established laws, key historic events, and information about currently active groups and communities with their enlightening questions.

                                        The Goal

                                        To collectively develop a set of curricula representing widely agreed basic competencies of system science, that cover foundational and fundamental contents in the format of comprehensive courseware, which includes textbooks, teacher’s handbooks, classroom scripts, video materials, and online resource links, that could be recommended to K-12 school teachers and university professors around the world.

                                        Systems Science 101 – for one semester’s delivery to high-school students;

                                        Systems Science 201 – for one semester’s delivery to undergraduate students (3 credits);

                                        Systems Science 301 – for one semester’s study by graduate students at Master level (3 credits);


                                        The Process and the Schedule

                                        Phase I: Team forming:

                                        1. Call for Participation (in three categories) will be finalized and sent out to all IFSR member organisations members, who will be asked to send it to their individual members. 2017-08-14

                                        2. Sign-up as co-authors, advisors, and observers through email, deadline: 2017-09-01. (Further explanation about roles is provided below.)

                                        3. Online group discussion with three goals (2017-09-01 to 2017-11-30):

                                        (1) Consensus building on which online forum platform to use.

                                        (2) Consensus building on the length of chapters and the format.

                                        (3) Consensus building on the first outline of the three courses – i.e. key content selections;

                                        Phase II: Writing

                                        1. Online group discussion: First draft of both textbook and teacher’s handbook writing by coauthors; (2017-12-01 to 2018-03-31)

                                        2. The progress of the project will also be discussed as part of the IFSR Linz Conversation (2018-04- 08 to 13)

                                        as a special topic, as well as soliciting improvement suggestions from advisors;

                                        1. Beta version of the courseware development (2018-04-14 to 2018-07-011); Phase III: Reviewing and Reflecting

                                        2. As many co-authors/advisors as possible gather at ISSS 2018 conference 2 to finalize the first version;

                                        3. IFSR-ISSS-IASCYS joint strategy for publicizing and distributing the curricula and materials;

                                        4. Beta Test Delivery of the Curricula, sent out to all members in teaching positions, who might already be co-authors, advisors and observers of this project. Tailored use of any curriculum is permitted and encouraged.

                                        Phase IV: Promoting, Using and Updating of the Curricula

                                        1. Continuous Annual Updating for new versions starts through feedback and new contributions from all users.


                                        Via: http://www.ifsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/IFSR-ISSS-IASCYS-CFP-final.pdf

                                        Vote: https://model.report/s/sam0qb

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                                          I’m deleting this post as I have been informed that institutional support has been withdrawn from this initiative. I’m sure there’s a whole story behind this but, essentially, I’m told the project did not work out in the way originally envisaged at a workshop during the ISSS conference.

                                        1. 1

                                          A whole history of a branching and re-consolidating set of related systems / complexity / wicke problems / large group methods:

                                          A Brief History of Interactive Management and Structured Dialogue https://demosophia.com/a-brief-history-of-interactive-management-and-structured-dialogue/

                                          … This is a brief history of an important body of work to address [wicked, messyy] challenge[s], starting in the late 1960s and with a variety of names including Interactive Management, Structured Dialogic Design and Structured Democratic Dialogue.

                                          In 1966 John Warfield, who majored in electrical engineering with a specialty in communications engineering, joined the Battelle Memorial Institute to study the workings of complex societal systems, such as planning to meet educational needs or determining how large cities function. Warfield was searching for a way to allow human beings, with our inherent cognitive limitations, to understand complexity and to collaborate effectively in groups. He subsequently moved to the University of Virginia, where through his work in 1973-4 he created the mathematics and algorithms to efficiently allow ideas to be compared to other ideas and then have their influence on one another visually mapped.

                                          This breakthrough methodology was named Interpretive Structural Modelling (ISM); it uses a software tool to augment human capability and avoid cognitive overload, enabling a diverse group to co-create an Influence Map representing the challenge or opportunity they face.

                                          In parallel with this work, in the late 1960’s, Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist and philanthropist, was traveling around the world meeting with world leaders and trying to raise their attention to what he saw as an impending global crisis. In 1969 Peccei published ‘The Chasm Ahead’ and in the same year the planning theoretician Hasan Ozbekhan published ‘Toward a General Theory of Planning’. Together they proposed a systems approach to deal with “the tidal wave of global problems”, and initiated a new think tank, the Club of Rome. Ozbekhan published the prospectus in 1970 with the title ‘The Predicament of Mankind: A Quest for Structural Responses to Growing World-wide Complexities and Uncertainties”. It lists “49 continuous critical problems” spanning poverty, warfare, education, environment, and prejudices. At that time, the systems science required to tackle these problems was in its infancy. In 1969 Ozbekhan recruited Alexander (Aleco) Christakis to the Executive Committee of the Club of Rome. Christakis had degrees in theoretical nuclear physics from Yale and Princeton, but had moved back to Greece and into the world of architecture and planning, where a visionary employer (Constantinos Doxiadis) had challenged him to develop “the science of human settlements”. Through a series of seminars in Athens his thinking was influenced by prominent thinkers such as Margaret Mead, and it was at one of these seminars he met Ozbekhan. Ozbekhan and Doxiadis subsequently formed the Doxiadis-Systems Development Corporation, based in Washington DC, and Christakis moved back to the US as its Director of Research. Ozbekhan eventually joined the Social Systems Sciences program at the University of Pennsylvania with other leaders in the development of systems thinking (for example Russell Ackoff, C. West Churchman).

                                          Christakis and Warfield met at a United Nations conference focused on population growth and determined that they were working on similar problems. After visiting Warfield at the Academy for Contemporary Problems, a joint venture with Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute, in 1972 Christakis also joined the Academy where Warfield was already a Fellow. They worked together there and at Battelle, until 1981 when they moved to the University of Virginia (UVA).

                                          Together at UVA they developed the Center for Interactive Management, and in 1984 transferred it to George Mason University. Working together they developed the methodology of Interactive Management; this is a framework incorporating several meticulously selected tools, including Nominal Group Technique, DELPHI, and Interpretive Structural Modelling. The Center trained a large number of practitioners and spawned a global diaspora which continues to this day.

                                          Applications of Interactive Management grew in the 1980s and 90s, through academic routes and specialist consulting companies. Large corporations such as IBM and Ford in the US and Tata in India developed in-house capabilities. In 1993 Warfield and Roxana Cárdenas published A Handbook of Interactive Management listing 120 applications, spanning the globe and covering situations from ‘Developing a Design Culture in Higher Education’ to ‘Strategic Objectives for the São Paulo State Bank’. Other practitioners around the world applied the concepts and tools of Interactive Management and Interpretive Structural Modelling, often using proprietary names to differentiate their offer and developing their own frameworks and software tools. This has had the unfortunate effect of fragmenting the market, leaving the capability arguably much less well known than it deserves.

                                          Christakis subsequently reoriented the methodology as Structured Dialogic Design, emphasising social aspects such as the emancipation of stakeholders and development of equitable power relations. Christakis set up CWA Ltd as a commercial channel and tackled a wide range of challenges around the world during the 1990’s and 2000’s. In 2002, together with Kenneth Bausch, he set up the Institute for 21st Century Agoras, ‘a globally networked non-profit organization dedicated to the democratic transformation of society and culture’. In 2006 they published ‘How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future’, subtitled ‘to Construct the Future in Co-Laboratories of Democracy’, describing the architecture and scientific underpinnings of Structured Dialogic Design. Christakis continues his active involvement in evolving the science and in the arena of practice to this day.

                                          The last decade has seen a resurgence in interest and applications. In 2008 Yiannis Laouris, a neurophysiologist and systems scientist, set up the Future Worlds Center, “…aspiring to harness the power of emerging technologies and the science of structured democratic dialogue to accelerate positive social change”. In 2010, Tom Flanagan, working with Christakis, published ‘The Talking Point: Creating an Environment for Exploring Complex Meaning’, distilling several decades of wisdom learned from experience of applying the methodology. Kevin Dye, who worked with Christakis, continues to advance Interpretive Structural Modelling algorithms and conduct research. Jeff Diedrich created a web-based version of the ISM software and refines the methodology through his work with the Michigan Department of Education.

                                          In 2009 Andy Hegedus discovered the methodology and contacted Christakis. He went on to set up Demosophia LLC, with Christakis as Technical Advisor, and supported by a network of experienced process and technology experts including Tom Flanagan, Jeff Diedrich, Kevin Dye and Yiannis Laouris. In 2017 Peter Miles, who has been applying Bill Rodger’s Synplex brand of Interactive Management for many years in the UK, joined forces with Demosophia.

                                          The story continues, and efforts are now being made to reconnect the divergent strands of practice across the globe. In a world increasingly characterised by wicked problems, the powerful capability of structured democratic dialogue is needed now more than ever.


                                          Structured Democratic Dialogue and Colabs https://demosophia.com/what-to-expect-in-a-colab/

                                          case study: https://demosophia.com/portfolio-item/asaf-reasearch-laboratory/