Sustainability through global systems education [Robert Flood, ISSS 1998 Plenary Session, July 22/98]

[Plenary session, July 22/98, 10:45 a.m.]

Chair: Kjell Samuelson

Robert Flood, U. of Hull, contributor through Systems Practice.

Bob Flood

How the group in England got there, and the impact on systemic practice.

Three paradoxes, if systemic thinking has its way

Related to complexity. Implications to strategic planning, sustainability: Mind walk from reductionist thinking to complexity thinking: from causal factors to systemic awareness. Things are systemic, interrelated. Recognition of utility for systemic idea, and dynamics. Have to go farther than inter-relatedness, need to introduce emergence, and spontaneous self-organization (from complex systems). Book: Ralph Stacey (incoherent but good) People are not supreme planners and masters over their own lives What does systemic thinking tell us? 30 years ago: to West Churchman's idea of boundary judgements. Two issues:
  1. Interrelatedness
  2. If we are going to bound, who is to judge what view is most acceptable?
Within the boundaries, can we be explicit about what we're thinking. Leave an action area -- perception of the issues and dilemmas we're in, and the client's measurements. Implications on practice.

Scenario-building: choosing and implementing improvement strategies.

Mixing scenario building with system thinking. Suggesting some principles for action?

Ackoff's Interactive Planning, Checkland Soft Systems Methodology, Jackson/Flood Systemic Intervention

Suggest we can employ the idea of boundary judgement through scenario building, but build three types of scenario.
  1. The future.
  2. The ideal we work towards.
  3. How we might change direction.
Title of "through": Can lead to improvement in human condition through three paradoxes.

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