Dave pollard presentation june 6 systems thinking
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Dave pollard presentation june 6 systems thinking Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Systems Thinking: Embracing Complexity Building the Future Conference Vancouver BC, June 6, 2014 S
  • 2. Growing Wings On the Way “This book is about dealing with messy situations. Sometimes known as 'wicked problems’ or complex predicaments they are fairly easy to spot: •  it's hard to know where to start •  we can't define them •  everything seems to connect to everything else and depends on something else having been done first •  we get in a muddle thinking about them •  we often try to ignore some aspect/s of them •  when we finally do something about them, they usually get worse •  they're so entangled that our first mistake is usually to try and fix them as we would fix a ‘simple’ problem. Examples of messy situations might include: •  the healthcare system in your country •  dealing with a family break-up •  exploring change, and making it happen, in your organisation •  worrying about how to look after your elderly parents” S
  • 3. Dealing With Complicated vs Complex Systems: A Model understand appreciate imagine question converse collaborate offer SOLVING MECHANICAL (COMPLICATED) PROBLEMS WEATHERING ORGANIC (COMPLEX) PREDICAMENTS explore intuit “make sense” adapt & workaround analyze deduce intervene H
  • 4. Exercise 1: 5 Information Professional Challenges: What’s Complicated; What’s Complex? 1.  Library renting tools & medical supplies & local artworks, and giving away seeds 2.  Acquisition of self-published books & music 3.  Patron-driven acquisition (buy-on-demand) 4.  Artificially constraining e-book “supply” 5.  Privacy issues (right-to-read without governments, publishers and suppliers knowing) S
  • 5. high st (UK) = main st or downtown System Diagram: Example image from growing wings on the way fig 11.5) (big chain superstore) S
  • 6. Exercise 2: Diagramming the Metastory “There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon” !  Watch the story video (or just read the synopsis – next slide) !  Identify the 3 elements of the “vicious cycle” in the story and diagram them as a reinforcing loop !  Identify the balancing action that pulls the system out of the loop, and the “virtuous cycle” that this action could lead to !  Identify a balancing action that could pull the system back into the “vicious cycle” !  What is the “dragon” a metaphor for? What other complex predicaments could this diagram represent by simply changing the word “dragon” to something else? S
  • 7. This is the story of Billy Bixbie, who finds a tiny dragon sitting on the foot of his bed. His mother is firm in her assertion, “There’s no such thing as a dragon.” Yet, the more she denies the dragon and, in turn, convinces young Billy to ignore the dragon, the bigger he grows. By the story’s end, the dragon is filling the Bixbie’s home, with his head and tail spilling out of the top and bottom windows. Finally, Billy can no longer deny the dragon and points this out to his mother. As soon as they acknowledge that there indeed is such a thing as a dragon, the fire breathing fellow returns to his original size–small, like a lap dog. Mrs. Bixbie asks how it was that he grew so big. To which Billy ends the book by saying, “I guess he just wanted to be noticed.” S
  • 8. The dragon is ignored The dragon gets bigger and hungrier and scarier and harder to live with A bigger dragon is harder to face and deal with, so we’re tempted to try to ignore it A reinforcing (resilient) loop (“vicious cycle”) a system out of balance: left to continue it will inevitably lead to crisis and system collapse S
  • 9. The dragon is ignored The dragon gets bigger and hungrier and scarier and harder to live with A bigger dragon is harder to face and deal with, so we’re tempted to try to ignore it Someone insists that the dragon be recognized (“intervention” in the system) The dragon is recognized The dragon gets smaller A smaller dragon is easier to face and deal with, so we’re less likely to ignore it A reinforcing loop (“virtuous cycle”) - green The dragon gets so small it’s easy to ignore again Balancing elements - black a system in balance S
  • 10. Exercise 3: Diagramming & Making Sense of a Predicament: Endless Budget Cuts !  Organizations are pushing to achieve reduction in the costs of “non-core” departments (IT, IS, HR, PD) every year. !  Likewise, governments are pushing to achieve reductions in the costs of services and programs every year !  Create a system diagram that shows the reasons and key factors that produce either of these ‘vicious cycles’ S
  • 11. Endless Budget Cuts: System Diagram Shareholders want a 10% increase in profits next year OR Taxpayers want no increase in taxes next year despite inflation ? ? ? ? S
  • 12. Exercise 4: A More Complex Example: Making Sense of Climate Change !  Following are two system diagrams of three global and interrelated systems: Economic, Energy/Resources, and Ecology/Climate !  Identify the reinforcing feedback loops. Why are they so resistant to change? !  Consider one possible intervention: A carbon tax. Why won’t it work? !  Most people have stopped denying climate change is happening, but they still believe it’s possible to prevent it destroying our civilization. How would you explain, using complexity theory, why ‘solutions’ that begin with “we all need to…” won’t succeed. !  How might we instead adapt to or ‘work around’ the predicament of climate change? S
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  • 15. Example of a Flow Diagram: 40 pages of information in a single visualization S