2011 Workshops

Sunday Workshops


10:00 to 16:30 Modelling and Simulation

Allenna Leonard and Leonie Solomons, Derwent CS2

Are you a person whose interest or work requires you to address complex problems?  Are you interested in decision support systems that help the process of designing solutions? These design considerations could be one-off solutions (like building a dam) or evolving solutions (like a peace process).

If so, we welcome you to join us in conversation as we conceptually learn about the advantages and risks of modelling and simulation including gaining an appreciation via case studies of different simulation techniques. 

The focus of the workshop is to address complexity and the contribution Modelling and Simulation can make towards (a) understanding the problem, (b) designing solutions, (c) simulating solution scenarios, (d) evaluating solution alternatives.  The focus on modelling will be from the perspective of simulation whilst recognising the dynamic relationship between the system and its environment.

As our learning and conversations progress it is envisaged we will cover the following:

Understanding the distinction between a model and the system being modelled, including the underlying assumptions that must be identified as a prelude to modelling. 

Understanding what is meant by complexity - its basic elements and the mathematical implications that arise from it - permutations and combinations as well as probability.

The relationship between modelling and simulation plus the lesser recognised need for building a monitoring capability so the model itself can be progressively refined and thereby the simulation capability improved.

Identity of a system, its subjectiveness and who decides what the purpose of a system is

Introduction to Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety

Address the philosophical considerations that underpin modelling & simulation and thereby gain an appreciation of the advantages and constraints which inform the design of solution/s considerations.  

Appreciation of the maths behind simulation and implications thereof.  The mathematical techniques considered will be fuzzy logic (as used in Vester’s Sensitivity Modelling), Bayesian networks (as used by Queensland Uni in a forestry project) , dynamic partial differential equations (as used in Systems Dynamics) and Agent Based Modelling

Building a framework to evaluate which simulation package/s is appropriate for a project, including for different phases and/or aspects of a project.

Note:   If this workshop strikes an accord with those grappling with complex projects then it is hoped an on-going interest will prevail and an informal group will gather to continue the conversations started here.  Indeed, this workshop is the result of a conversation that began last year at Waterloo, Canada where two ISSS pre-conference workshops were conducted.  One, based on Bayesian Networks for a forestry project and the other using Sensitivity Modelling for a city’s future plan.


10:00 to 16:30 Relational Science: A Synthesis

John Kineman and Judith Rosen, Derwent SR5

Workshop sponsored by the “Relational Science” SIG  (formerly “What is Life/Living” SIG)

Relational complexity theory was introduced over the last three decades by Dr. Robert Rosen, a former President of the ISSS. Since his untimely death in 1998 his followers have been working to complete a synthesis of “Relational Science” using the principles he published in considerable mathematical detail. A major step toward that synthesis has been accomplished this year and is in press under the title Relational Science: A Synthesis. To a significant degree, this synthesis echoes Steven Hawking’s concept of “Model-dependent realism” published in The Grand Design (Hawking and Mlodinow, 2010); but to an even more significant degree it goes deeper, integrating the idea of an infinite number of mechanistic universes into a mathematically rigorous foundation for one relationally complex universe. This impending debate was predicted by Rosen in his analysis and definition of complexity vs. mechanism, in which he demonstrated that under current scientific thinking it requires an infinite number of mechanisms to explain one complex system. Hawking and Mlodinow triumphantly announce an infinite number of mechanistic universes.

In this workshop we will work through concepts that take us from mechanism to relational complexity and we will gain a deep understanding of what this debate is about: that we can learn more about the causal nature of reality by exploring the full nature of complex systems rather than building knowledge from simple systems. We will see that the two views are not really in conflict, but that the traditional view in physics is retained for consistency with previous non-complex theory structures. We will see clearly how the world described by physics is a reduction of the complex reality, and how complexity appears naturally in physical, biological, and ecological systems.  We will not explore the equations of physics, but will present the relational approach with examples in physics, biology, and ecology. We will discuss the underlying principles and theory structure in terms of a re-interpretation of Aristotle’s four causes and their closure in nature. We will introduce new techniques for analyzing complex systems in terms of category theory mappings, which bridge between quantitative and qualitative analysis, and also explore how to apply statistical and probability theory to practical problems in complex system analysis. The workshop will be at an advanced level conceptually and a basic level mathematically and computationally. The aim of the workshop is to sketch conceptual and computational tools for applying relational science in the natural and human world.


13:00 to 16:30 System Theory and Our Mind, Thomas Wong, Derwent LT2

We use our body to experience the world around us but our mind is the one who is observing and making the decisions to change the world. System theory sees the world composed of the observer, the decision maker, the system, the environment, the boundary and the relationships between them. And there are two opposite forces in the world that constantly interacting with each other, creating the flow of energy, matter and information between systems and the environment. On one hand we have the disorder force governed by the second law of thermodynamics that drive everything into a equilibrium state with maximum entropy. On the other hand we have the organizational force governed by the constrains of a system that drive the system into a particular steady state with a low entropy.

Our mind are both the observer and the decision maker with a major problem. Throughout our life we have been looking for sanctification that brings happiness. Our government have been relying on economics to achieve this but 80% of the time we are dis-satisfied with the people and situations around us, bringing craving, aversion and ignorance into our minds and creating all sorts of problems in our society. This is called suffering in the teaching of Buddha, and he offered us with a three step solution for our mind. In this workshop we investigate the systemic view of these three step namely self protection, concentration and purification of our mind.

Death is the end of our lives or just the beginning of another new life? A system undergoes a transition of system state during death, but will the system continue in other forms at another places? Or will it just terminate totally? What are the possible new system states and are they sustainable? In this workshop we will investigate the sustainability of Heaven, Hell, Earth and Nibbana (null). And we investigate the way to prepare ourselves to transit into these states.

The governance of materialism around us are achieved through economics, and the governance of materialism within us are achieved through healthcare. The governance of spiritualism around us are achieved through religion, but how about the governance of spiritualism within us (our mind and mental contents)? We investigate a 10 days Vipassana mental healthcare program for people of all religions including scientific communities. It is believed such a program could bring happiness, peacefulness and harmony for our community.


15:00 to 16:30 Soft Power and Soft Systems, Workshop, Dennis Finlayson, Derwent SR3

Could Soft Systems assist in promoting the effectiveness of Soft Power to enable peaceful transitions in evolving societies in the 21st century in an analogous matter to the role played by Hard Systems in assisting the effectiveness of Hard Power since the 1940’s? How to lay the groundwork? Approaches to restoring cultural identity to countries and regions long dominated by dominant invasive cultures.

The term ‘soft power’ has recently become prominent in the debate about how to encourage transitions to more people responsive government in areas, such as North Africa and the Middle East, where there has been a recent history of repressive regimes. Many of these societies now seem to be impatient for change while the decision making processes in these countries are generally underdeveloped compared to some other areas of the world which otherwise enjoy similar levels of development. The questions posed then: “Is could soft systems that engage stakeholders more widely in decision making at all level of society play a role in assisting such societies in making more effective, less painful transitions and how could the groundwork for such engagement be promoted?



ISSS 2010 Welcome Reception and SIG Activities

5 pm– 8:30 pm, Derwent Café, Business School

Facilitated by Alexander and Kathia Castro Laszlo, and Joanne Tippett


This session is designed to accomplish two primary objectives:

  • to share with Conference Participants information about each SIG from their respective Chairs in an open and interactive setting, and
  • to stimulate ideas among and between the SIGs

Accordingly the session will be run as follows:

  • Alexander and Kathia will set the stage with general introductory comments and a message of welcome. Joanne will explain the KETSO process.
  • SIG Chairs will each be provided with no more than 3 minutes to present the theme and focus of their respective SIG. This portion will be conducted in the spirit and tradition of soap-box oratory in a market place of ideas.
  • The KETSO will be used to explore issues for working together in SIGs during the reception.
  • The session will conclude with closing remarks by the facilitators, and socialising until close of evening!


Monday Workshops


14:00 to 15:30 Workshops


ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility Supports Systemic/Cybernetic Behaviour

Matjaz Mulej

In October 2010 The International Standard Organizational lounched ISO 26000 on social responsibility. It advises humans and their organizations to behave in line with (1) interdependence and (2) holistic approach to (a) organizational management, (b) human rights, (c) labor relations practices, (d) environment, (e) fair business practices, (f) customers, and (g) involvement in and development of community.

Basically, given the current world-wide crisis, this means that the documents of United Nations and European Union of a decade ago, are strongly supported. All of them require honest behavior to replace abuse, (requisite) holism to replace one-sidedness, and the unrealistic feeling that the influential persons and their organizations may feel independent (not legally only to prevent being abused, but also in social and economic and natural reality, to allow them to abuse others, less influential ones).

As we all know from our daily practice, families, friendships, cooperation in personal and business lives as well as in politics work well and to shared benefit, as long as there is the practice and ethics of interdependence rather than dependence and/or someone's right of abuse. Stikes, poor work, riots, losing partners and markets etc. cause much more trouble than the effort to be honest. Interdependence also leads to mutual completing up of knowledge in (interdisciplinary) creative cooperation of mutually different specialists, thus leading to holism of apporach and wholeness of outcomes.

In other words, ISO 26000 on social responsibility fortifies N. Wiener's interdisciplinary work that has created cybernetics, and provides a know-how response to L. v. Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory's aim to fight over-specialization (not specialization, but specialists' poor readiness to hear others who use other viewpoints and make other insights and conclusions, as complementary rather than enimmies).

Thus, humankind has a better chance to find a way out from the current socio-economic crisis as a crisis caused by the neo-liberal fictious and unrealistic supposition that market can work without monopolies, as well as the government-power lovers that government can work with monopolies. Monopolies namely fortify one-sidedness and abuse, which are bringing humankind back to pre-democratic situation nd resulting lack of well-being.


Transdisciplinary Outcome Spaces: Making the Difference Matter

Cynthia Mitchell, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, Sydney Australia

Deep discipline-based research is essential but not sufficient to address the complex issues that arise in modern society: we need transdisciplinary (TD) research also, and it is materially different from discipline-oriented research. For us at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), TD research combines theories and generates knowledge and insights from different disciplinary frames with a practical intent to improve a situation, and it embraces emergence and change, includes lay knowledge, encourages values to be made explicit and allows for disciplinary knowledge to be questioned from other disciplinary perspectives (Mitchell 2010). These distinctions lead to qualitatively different kinds of outcomes. 

Outcomes impact the planning, design and operational stages of a project. If TD research is ‘different’, then it should be creating different outcomes. Through my reflections on working in this way over a decade, three distinct outcome spaces emerged (Mitchell 2009):

Knowledge Stocks and Flows – our work should contribute to the publicly available stocks and flows of knowledge, through websites and social media, grey literature, and peer reviewed materials

The Situation itself – there should be a discernable difference in the situation itself, such as a change in policy, a shift in an investment profile, a design modification etc.

Transformational Learning – because our intent at ISF is to create change towards sustainable futures, our goal is to shift practices.  So, all those who are closely involved in the project (‘clients’, ‘researchers’, ‘stakeholders’, etc.) should experience a directional shift in their understanding of the situation such that the next time they experience a related situation, their response reflects that new perspective.

In this workshop, my intent is to test the resonance or otherwise of these outcome spaces with other transdisciplinary and systems scholars and practitioners and to explore both implications of the outcome spaces and responses to implications for the institutions and processes we all engage with, such as research project design and costing, doctoral programs, or performance and quality assessment exercises.



16:00 to 18:00 Workshops


Systems Thinking in Action

Dr Zsolt Nyiri and Dr Ir Paul Ritter, Institute for Strategy and Complexity Management

Case Study: Historically we have seen that projects often fail, in spite of many attempts to get better grip on project development. There is a strong need for a significant breakthrough in realistic planning by previewing the elements that cause projects to underperform. The ISCM shows how consequent application of Systems Thinking provides a methodology to connect stakeholders' viewpoints with driving forces. The methodology helps to reflect on the effects of the driving forces causing different course of events, away from the original plan using behavioral computer simulations. Hence the stakeholders are not only made aware of each others' behavioral effects, but also involved in addressing the solution. This visualizes which managerial strategy is effective in achieving the desired transformation. 


Systems Theory and Eco-feminism, Anne Stephens

Bringing together both systems theory and ecofeminism has produced an original set of principles that contain implications for community development and social research.

The ‘systems’ theory contribution the principles enriches our repertoires of methods and tools with an emphasis on systems thinking, characterised by the use of boundary analysis, and ideally situated to enhance systemic intervention practice (an application of action research and participatory research practices). 

The ecofeminist contribution brings to the fore the importance of valuing and considering the voices of people at the margins of social research and community development projects and is an effort towards a new ontology and language of person and nature to adequately address environmental marginalization. 

This workshop will briefly describe the principles and their origin, but provide practitioners to use the principles in an evaluation exercise to assess the value of the principles to community development projects.  A case study will be presented to demonstrate recent findings, which will serve to scaffold practitioners own thinking as they explore the principles in the context of their own work.



Monday Evening - 18:30 to 20:30 Workshops


Reacting Systemically to Regional Disasters, Gerhard Chroust and Dennis Finlayson

Mankind has always been threatened by regional disasters. Both the awareness of threats and the occurrence of actual disasters (many caused by nature but often triggered by human activities) have become more acute during the last decades, endangering a growing number of persons and areas in multiple ways. Society has a basic interest of ensuring its environment to behave like a dependable system (exhibiting safety, reliability, or survivability, etc.). This implies the necessity of preventing, eliminating or at least mitigating the negative impacts of disasters in order to safeguard or re-establish dependability as fast as possible.

In today’s complex world this requires a holistic, systemic approach:

  • to anticipate potential disasters and to design adequate avoidance strategies,
  • to prepare appropriate emergency plans both for the general public and for the interventions of emergency personnel based on sufficient knowledge and logistic support,
  • to consider psychological and cultural differences and problems,
  • to plan and anticipate appropriate post-disaster recovery activities.

Today’s information and communication technologies provide the means for improving prevention and recovery in many different ways:

  • applying disaster prediction methods,
  • providing adequate information on the status-quo and on best-practices fast and
  • reliably by fault-tolerant communication means,
  • establishing support logistics,
  • simulating and optimizing interventions by tactical guidance, prediction and forethought planning,
  • realistic training environments.

This workshop will bring together practitioners (especially first responders), system scientists, IT-specialists, human factor specialists, psychologists, etc. for different viewpoints and an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.

Overall Schedule:

Monday July 18, 18:30 – 20:45 Regional Disasters caused by Floods

Friday July 19, 13:30 to 16:30 Systemic Analysis of and Reaction to Disaster and Final Discussions and Future Work

Hull was flooded in 2007 and this will provide first-hand information to the audience. On Monday evening we will generalize and abstract from flood disasters and take a systemic look at all types of disasters, identifying similarities, analogies, and differences.

The topics to be discussed pervade both sessions:

  • Classification of disasters and their interactions and effects (e.g. floods, air traffic breakdown due to volcanoes, ...),
  • Analysis of typical emergency scenarios (e.g. the flooding of Hull 2007),
  • Training support for First Responders using modern technology (e.g. Virtual and Augmented Reality, System Dynamics models, human evaluation models),
  • IT support for prediction, tactical and strategic planning, and interventions (victim detection by RFID, infrared, heat, pattern recognition, etc.)
  • analysis of deficiencies and improvement of organizational structures (e.g. Viable System Models, ISO standards),
  • protection of emergency personnel (e.g. early danger detection and warnings),
  • identification of road maps for further studies and investigations.


Traditional Chinese Medicine Healthcare Protection Program, Thomas Wong

Reductionism was the major scientific view before world war II, its development leads to industrial revolution and modern medicine. Traditional medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Western Herbal Medicine was then considered as alternative medicine because they are seem incompatible with reductionism and allopathic medicine. However, reductionism was found to be a incomplete scientific view after world war II and a more holistic scientific view was developed namely system theory.

Systemic thinking is to consider both the system and the environment when analyzing or maintaining a system, or its environment. When analyzing a particular component within a system, all other components should be considered as well.

Traditional medicine has been analyzed with the incomplete scientific theory for logical explanations of its medical theory and practice, resulting in confusion and misunderstanding. This workshop will demonstrate a method to use system theory to investigate the holistic nature of a particular traditional medicine namely Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is believed that all other traditional and alternative medicine could be better understood in this holistic scientific view of system theory.

The Taichi Yin-Yang system theory was developed when combining both the traditional Chinese thinking and the systemic thinking. Taichi is considered as the organizational force in the universe, and the Yin-Yang combo is considered as the log2 information gathering process, the current state determination process, and the steady state regulation process.

According to the Taichi Yin-Yang system theory, the Taichi (Yin, Yang) structure should be used in all analysis. The possible analysis of health system are:

  • Health (physical, mental) - the Cold-Hot spectrum
  • Health (chronic, acute) - the Deficient-Excess spectrum
  • Health(external hygiene protection, internal healthcare protection) - the Superficial-Internal spectrum

Our resilient planet produced lots of complicated health problems but our government did not have a holistic healthcare system. This workshop will demonstrate a possible solution to the missing component of the healthcare system, namely Traditional Chinese Medicine HealthcareProtection Program which is simple and effective for promoting in the community. Helping the poor with money will never be enough, but helping the poor to make money themselves is a more permanent solution and may even have a positive feedback to the helper. A internal healthcare program should teach the community how to take up the responsibility of their own health in a simple and effective manner. The Traditional Chinese Medicine HealthcareProtection Program composed of three components:

the TCM diet on how to choose food from the Cold-Hot food spectrum,

the TCM Taichi exercise therapy on how to regulate our body and Chi (Qi) from the fully Open-Close movement spectrum,

the TCM 24h healthcare lifestyle on how to use our health wisely for work and fun from the Human-Environment spectrum.


Objective reality? Common errors and what to do about it.

Timothy Allen

The issue at hand is the prevalence of naïve realism in science, where an objective reality is given privilege.  We are now in a post-modern age (or at least beyond modernism) but the modernists are still the majority in science, and in much of the establishment.  Modernism has an external criterion for quality, that is scientific models are better if they are closer to reality.  It surprises the presenter that so many in the ISSS still adopt that posture, or at least they seem to do so.  In a post-modern world we acknowledge that we only get to deal with our perceptions, which are focused by past experience.  We see what we expect.   So bottom line is there may be an objective reality, a real substance that does not require observation to exist, but we only have access to what that might be through observation. 

Observation cannot get rid of the subjectivity of choosing how observations are to be made, nor can it remove the significance that is assigned to what we experience in observations.  Note that I am not saying there is no objective reality, it is just that if it were there, it would be beside the point.  Of course once you have done your analyses and have reported your findings, it is up to you choose metaphysical view as to what it all means for the reality of the situation.   But objective realty certainly cannot be used as a justification for what we think, because we cannot know of objective reality given our subjectivity. 

Arthur Koestler referred to philosophy as being in practice philosophology, about addressing what other people thought, rather than addressing thinking itself.  That sort of philosophology is a valid disciplinary objective, but it will not solve our issues in systems science.  So we will not go through a scholarly chronology of what philosophers have thought about objective reality.  Rather we will do our best to identify problems that come with a belief in objective reality, mostly in doing science.   Bottom line, this is a discussion about epistemology that surrounds objective reality, rather than the metaphysics or ontology of objective reality.   We can do ontology in the pub later.

My definition of objective reality is the full set of infinities in what is external to us.  It is undefined and undefinable.  Realists would say that it is the real world that is the anchor to what we experience.  I prefer to remain agnostic on that point.  So how can we proceed if the situation is undefinable?  We define things anyway, but will lose the infinity of any objective reality there might be.  Definitions compress and freeze the world into named situation.  We compress the infinity of objective reality in two ways.  Most science spends much of its time compressing experience into models.  However, there is a prior compression into a narrative that most scientists take for granted.

A common error in erecting models is to insert irrelevant things because the observer knows that such things are present when taking some other point of view.  The justification may be the thing we are forcing into the model is in there in the infinite reality.  No, it is in there in other models.  Tim Allen has experienced this error in dealing with ecologists and ecology.  In this workshop he hopes to elicit similar issues in the experience of workshop attendees from other disciplines and discourse.  In ecology, for instance, ecosystems are profitably seen in terms of flows and flux of water, nutrients and energy.  The prevailing explanation in an ecosystem sodescribed is mass balance.  Yes, theorganisms are evolved, but the mass balance of intake of materials and energy with theoutput of the same does not inform, nor is informed by, evolution.  The ecologist knows that organisms are in the material system being addressed, and so wishes to include them as named, evolved entitiesin the model.  Things probably exist in the world but not as things.  We give them their thingedness.  The trouble is that organisms as discrete evolved entities confuse the ecosystem model and divert its point away from process.   Organisms need to be present to perform some ecosystem functions, but not there in the model as bounded named organisms per se.   Grazing animals, for instance, are often interchangeable as to species, and are less things in themselves.  They are more connecters between compartments.  A cow connects its teeth in one time and place to its anus at another time and place.  Living primary producers in, and detritus out. 

Other discourses must have the same problem, in business for instance.   Herbert Simon won his Nobel Prize for pointing out that business people do not make rational decisions about competitive moves.  They do not have sufficient data about the market in which they sit.  If they did they would not have memory enough to hold it,  nor analytical power sufficient to handle it.  There may be an objective real market, but business people muddle through, not making the best decision, but the first satisfactory decision to come along.  That is usually what they did last time.  Yes business people are logical in the manner of all humans, but the rational actor, who maximizes leverage in a way that uses the real material objective marketplace, simply does not exist.  As you arrive in the workshop, come having thought about your field in these terms, so you can share your experience with us all.  So that is how we will deal the first compression, models.

The other compression, narrative, deals with a different aspect of summary, they impose constraints.  Narratives are neither true nor untrue, they are in fact announcements of a point of view.  Paradigms are narratives, and as Kuhn says, they announce what is seen as significant in a discourse.  Significance is not an objective thing, even when it changes physical outcomes.  Fine forceps are needed to dissect values away from physical materiality.  What is the story versus what is material requires precision of thought? There may be physical outcome in measurement, but it is always after a set of decisions have been made. The decisions are not a matter of objective reality.  For instance, a given gene may be dominant in a situation described in some prescribed way, even though the assignment of dominance and recessiveness is a normative value system, not a matter of external objective reality.  In fact all genes are both dominant and recessive, it depends on your point of view and the question you ask.  We will invite attendees to offer similar situations from their own discourses.  Time is short and so we will discourage grandstanding, but come ready to speak.

I am using narrative in a special way, and so as to unpack that meaning, we will address more obviously narrative stories in terms of an announced point of view.  Checkland’s  Soft Systems Methodology is a device familiar to systems scientists for coming up with a good story.  He comes in knowing something is problematic, but unclear.  He paints a rich picture, attempting to miss as little as possible of the infinities of the objective reality of the situation.  Of course he, like the rest of us, misses most of the objective reality that might be there.  But all this is prior to his creating a story.  The rich picture is not useful in itself.  In fact the richer it is the better, but the less useful it is in itself, because in greater richness there is all the more to be in conflict and confusion.  So then Checkland makes the rich picture useful by making decisions about definitions.  He bounds and types: the Client; the Actors; the principal processes or Transformations; the values invoked in the World view; the Owners who can pull the plug if they don’t like the remedy; and finally he defines the things in the Environment the system must take for granted.  The acronym for bounding and typing is CATWOE.  As an exercise in narrative building we will assess the conventional definitions in stories like the 3 Bears, and Cinderella.   Then we will seek other clients (not Cinderella, but someone else) that are generally not the protagonists in the traditional value set to see how the story changes.  If we can thus change something imagined where we are in charge and can easily limit the universe of  discourse (it is fairy tale of our choosing), in the presence of the infinities of an objective reality, the potential for alternative findings is much greater.

The workshop will start with introductions.  The first exercise will be brain-writing (brainstorming except you write your ideas down and have the person next to you read your response) on the questions about objective reality.   Then we will know something of the points of view that have walked in.  Brain writing gets all the ideas out while discouraging hogging the conversation. 

Then Tim Allen will give a short presentation on objective reality, narratives and models. 

In response to that, attendees will analyze fairy tales to identify the point of view that is embodied in the conventional telling of the stories.   Taking advantage of Checkland’s process of creating  a narrative,  in groups we will find alternative points of view to the conventional telling of the story.  Each group will have a note taker and a reporter, who will tell of the groups’ findings.

In the light of the clarification in the workshop thus far, we will ask for difficulties like those found in ecology by Tim Allen, from the attendees of the workshop, as they bring their frustrations that come from their specialties.  

In the end we will attempt to find as a group a good protocol for blunting misuse of objective reality in such general terms as to apply to all of the frustrations from the various disciplines presented. 

The workshop will be shorter than some.  With time to spare, those of us eager for more will walk to the Old Grey Mare, a public house at the entrance to the University of Hull Campus.



Nurturing and Networking the International Community of Post-graduate Students: Launch of My Supervisor.com

Anne Stephens

Anne Stephens is the Manager of an online network of students, research professionals, supervisors and academics.  Anne will provide an overview of a new service, due to be launched in July 2011.

The service is called MySupervisorOnline.com  or MSO for short. 

It is a registration-based website containing a range of functions that combine popular social networking tools, with content, newsfeeds, personal organiser and management functions, and professional feedback/editing services.  We provide relevant information to Masters and PhD candidates, and research professionals, at various phases of their research projects. 

Our mission is to improve the wellbeing, health, academic attainment and completion rates of Masters and PhD students, and research professionals, by providing access to a nurturing, socially networked community of learners, online, from around the world.

Using the MSO’s search engine can connect students with other students and academics working within a highly specialised research fields and students can obtain feedback on a range of academic documents including final thesis review and professional editing.

We provide a safe and secure platform.  The intellectual property of all work produced, shared and developed remains with the author (unlike some other social networks available).  The site fosters and promotes the highest standards of research integrity and quality.

MSO seeks to nurture and support, higher education students worldwide, to complete their higher degrees and launch their careers.



Tuesday Workshops


14:00 to 18:00 Workshops


International Federation for Systems Research, Bringing Systems Home: Workshop on Designing the Content for the 2012 IFSR Conversation in Linz, Austria

Systems-related issues tend to be thought of as large-scale challenges like the recent global financial crisis, or the "Arab Spring" which has brought down long standing governments. Terms such as resiliance and sustainability have become the latest media buzzwords, but they also reflect rapid and fundamental changes which are felt on a daily basis both at the individual level and within our communities. Rarely, though, are systems thought of at those local levels - the places with which most of the world identifies. 

You are invited to participate in a systems-focused exercise, describing the challenges that we experience in a personal way.  The ideas generated will help to provide themes for the next IFSR Conversation in Linz, Austria, in April 2012.  There, teams of systems theorists and practitioners will have an opportunity to further develop the ideas and consider interventions. 

This facilitated session promises to be participatory and to demonstrate the use, in truncated form, of a systems method in practice. If you want to learn more about how others manage to integrate practicing systems into their personal and professional lives, please join us.


Picture Yourself being Understood: The Importance of Visual Explanation

Billy Dawson

Stimulated by the work of French cartographer and theorist Jacques Bertin, and his work “The Semiology of Graphics,” this workshop features the works of artists, theorists, and thinkers including Christopher Alexander, Rudolf Arnheim, Stafford Beer, Scott McCloud, Henning Nelms, Charles Percy Snow, Edward Tufte and many,many others.

This interactive session is designed for people in the system sciences but also for people in education, business, and other disciplines where effective visual communication is important. This workshop will introduce perspectives on the importance of becoming more visual and will include exercises, tips, and techniques for becoming more visually effective.

Billy Dawson is an independent scholar, writer, photographer, business consultant, and full time Flaneur. An enthusiastic reader in many disciplines, Billy is also an avid golfer and tennis player. Billy lives in Chicago, Illinois (USA) with his wife of 25 years, Tuesday.



16:00 to 18:00 Workshops


Development of a Natural Life and Society Science

James R Simms

The workshop treats the recent development of precise definitions and measures of knowledge and information, which are shown to be universal phenomena of life and society.  Knowledge and information are applicable to all levels of life from genetic to societies. The measures and measurement units of knowledge and information are equivalent to those of the natural sciences such as physics and chemistry.

 There is a long history of efforts to make life and social sciences equivalent to the natural sciences.  The start was the desire of philosophers to use Newton’s methods to erect a science of social systems.  Miller developed the foundation for living systems science.  In 1978, when his book Living Systems was published, it contained the prediction that the sciences that were concerned with the biological and social sciences would, in the future, be stated as rigorously as the “hard sciences” that study such nonliving phenomena as temperature, distance, and the interactions of chemical elements.  In 1999, Miller wrote that the book Principles of Quantitative Living Systems Science begins an attempt to fulfill that prediction. The recent development of the universal measures of knowledge and information provide the basis for fulfillment of Miller’s prediction.



Getting Action Research Ideas into Print: A SPAR Manifesto

Simon Bell

The Journal Systemic Practice and Action Research aims to encourage authors and practitioners into print. This article describes both the publishing world into which SPAR has emerged and the systemic and inclusive thinking behind the journals policy. The paper sets out a manifesto for a fair and open system of academic publishing.

“A rich and diverse set of potential bibliometric and scientometric predictors of research performance quality and importance are emerging today — from the classic metrics (publication counts, journal impact factors and individual article/author citation counts) to promising new online metrics such as download counts, hub/authority scores and growth/decay chronometrics. In and of themselves, however, metrics are circular: They need to be jointly tested and validated against what it is that they purport to measure and predict, with each metric weighted according to its contribution to their joint predictive power. The natural criterion against which to validate metrics is expert evaluation by peers; a unique opportunity to do this is offered by the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise, in which a full spectrum of metrics can be jointly tested, field by field, against peer rankings.” (Harnard 2008)

“A spectre is haunting Europe….”



Wednesday Workshops


14:00 to 18:00 Workshops


The Big Society Workshop

Eve Mitleton-Kelly, Greg Fisher, John Seddon, Mike Jackson


INCOSE Working Group Workshops I and II, Gary Metcalf, Stuart Arnold



16:00 to 18:00 Workshops


Leadership Theories and Stories: An Open-Space Exploration, Shankar Sankaran

We invite the society's members to participate in an interactive workshop to explore four Western leadership theories – authentic leadership, servant leadership, spiritual leadership and relational leadership with stories and narratives from non-Western cultures to build connections between these traditions. The workshop will be facilitated using an Open Space Technology Meeting format (Owen 1997) to facilitate dialogue between participants to explore these connections and move from passion to action. The theme for the open space meeting is leadership research in not-for-profit charitable or church-based organizations in which the one of the facilitators is deeply involved. The facilitators will briefly introduce the four leadership theories being discussed and provide vignettes from stories from Eastern and Southern leaders that reflect aspects of these theories. They will then describe the Open Space Technology process and its four principles and one law. Participants will then announce discussion topics at the village marketplace that will be created during the workshop. Reflection and dialogue will take place in the open space (a circle of chairs with a space within). Summaries of discussions held at the marketplace will be collected and posted to all participants after the workshop.

This is the first of a series of similar workshops that are being planned followed by a workshop at an action research conference in Brisbane and a workshop in the US. The themes captured form these workshops will form the basis of future collaborative research.


Thursday Workshops


14:00 to 18:00 Workshops


Dialogue Workshop: Leadership Development at Daimler, Markus Rettich

This workshop gives you an insight in the practice of executive education and leadership development at the Daimler AG with its Brands Mercedes Benz, Smart, Freightliner etc.

Together we will embark on a journey to find elements which are in connection with systems theory. 

In particular we will focus on the following questions:

  • What are the building blocks of the executive education programs?
  • What are the system-theoretical connections that we use and how do we make sense of them?
  • What are the limitations and opportunities of using system-theoretical concepts in the context of leadership development at Daimler?

Markus focuses on leadership development for vice presidents and directors and provides management consultancy to business unit specific development processes. Having studied science of education and psychology, Markus joined Daimler in 1996. Since then he has held several positions in the field of leadership and organization development. He has led and coached many projects to implement significant changes of strategy, performance and culture. His main interest is in the dynamics of organisation culture and leadership behaviour to drive strategy and performance.



14:00 to 15:30 Workshops


Principles of living systems: An integrated systems approach for coaching, team development and change management

Andreas Hieronymi

What can we learn from principles of living systems for contributing to the development of individuals, teams and organizations?

Systems science is fragmented into multiple subdisciplines such as general systems theory, cybernetics, complexity science and network science. Although there are many overlapping topics and similar objectives, the disciplines are often unnecessarily separated. This makes it difficult for practitioners and researchers to easily search, apply and connect the many valuable principles, concepts and insights.

This presentation suggests that, from these separate sources a set of ten interlinked system principles can be developed, which can serve as an integrative and common framework to order and structure research areas and methodologies. This framework and its specifications are mainly based on principles of living systems as well as the stairs of knowledge and a cybernetic system model. The system model suggested has similarities with concepts such as the Viable System Model (VSM) of Stafford Beer and the Living Systems Theory (LST) of James Grier Miller, but it also incorporates aspects of knowledge management, innovation research and cognitive science.

An integrated pluralism of system concepts can help to teach systems thinking and to analyse, change and evaluate processes in complex systems. In the business context this is especially useful for dealing with challenges in multi-level systems that involve top-down and bottom-up processes, for instance between organizations, teams and individuals. Tools derived from system principles can enhance coaching, team development and change management and provide new insights. This approach has empirical underpinnings and is now being applied in the business field. One purpose of the presentation is to explain current applications by the presenter and to invite cooperation on future research, applied projects and publications.

  • Theoretical basis.
  • Proposed key principles and models.
  • Practical applications.
  • Next steps and open questions.

Andreas Hieronymi is an organizational psychologist, working as a consultant and project leader at DIACOVA, a Swiss company in the field of human resource development. He also has a background in philosophy of science and computer science.



16:00 to 18:00 Workshops


The SOARS Agent-based Modeling Program, Hiroshi Deguchi and Manuba Ichikawa

SOARS -Spot Oriented Agent Role Simulator- is the new type agent based simulation language for the social simulation and the social simulation and gaming. This simulation language is designed for everyone to use it easy to make a social simulation model. SOARS supports for the graphical user interface development and requires “point and click by the mouse” and “quite a few types by the keyboard” to make a model. This means that SOARS does not require any skills of programming languages and people who do not have experiences of using programming languages can have a chance to make a social simulation model.

SOARS consists of several applications and they are VisualShell, Simulator, Animator, Explicator and so on. VisualShell is the application for modeling, Simulator is the application for simulating models, Animator is the application for making a animation from simulation logs and Explicator is the application for cutting and seeking the huge simulation logs. Besides these applications, SOARS has more useful applications. For example, for gaming creators, SOARS helps you to make computer based simulation and gaming easily.

In this tutorial, we are going to introduce the history, the concept and some social simulation models of SOARS, and also have a lecture about how to make a social simulation model by SOARS. We are planning to make a very basic model, which we called “family model”. In this model, some daily activities of members of a family are represented and it enables to simulate their daily life. You will be able to know the main stream of making a social simulation model by SOARS. We all hope you to find, know and have more interests in SOARS by taking this tutorial.

Please bring a laptop with you for taking this tutorial. SOARS supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, MacOS 10.5 or 10.6 and Linux and needs Java1.6.

Access SOARS Project Official Website(http://www.soars.jp).