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SIG Session [clear filter]
Monday, August 3
 

13:30 CEST

Discharging Complex Patients from an Acute Hospital for Interim Assessment Placements in South Gloucestershire, UK

If this is the Anthropocene era life can be understood as being primarily shaped by human intelligent design.  And if the early part of this era is characterised by destructive exploitation of the earth and its peoples by those with the power so to do, the ‘Upper Anthropocene’ perhaps offers the prospect of using power with rather than over, as a force for purposeful shaping of human society for the benefit of communities and the environment in a global perspective.

Guided by this philosophy and in the belief that collaborative action research can be applied to construct lasting improvements to human systems even at a small scale, our paper will describe our engagement as facilitators and co-researchers in a collaborative venture to improve one aspect of the health care of older people with complex health needs in South Gloucestershire in the UK.

The context of our work can be summed up as follows: a growing, ageing population; a monolithic National Health Service (NHS) with services free at the point of delivery; severe fiscal constraints; a sense of perpetual crisis as the dominant focus of management attention; little or no headroom at executive top level to re-imagine and re-engineer health services in communities; the NHS portrayed as a political battleground under constant media scrutiny; a dilemma at local level whether to manage within existing rules and systems designed nationally or to try to innovate, at least at the margins, to configure better services for patients and better system cost effectiveness.

Working as consultants and interim managers this paper will explore in case study format the insider/outsider perspectives of enabling complex patients often with multiple co-morbidities, to be assessed out of hospital for onward post-acute health care. These patients are often delayed from being discharged even after being declared medically able to leave owing to a number of factors. The result is that beds are ‘blocked’ further upstream at admissions, with serious consequences for admitting patients in need of an acute bed. This is an

Our story in particular concerns the process of reducing this problem through designing and enabling a system for discharging patients to an interim placement, thus enabling a faster turnover and availability of beds in the hospital and providing a better environment within which patients can recuperate and be assessed for eligibility for onward support.

We describe the emergent nature of getting to the starting line, taking the first steps to introduce a local change process that the various partners can agree on and support, in a context of risk aversion, financial restraint and a monolithic, highly politicised National Health Service (NHS). This stage is about building a shared understanding of the territory and building confidence to co-innovate

We then describe how alternative models were built and assessed, calibrated by an in-depth analysis of patient records which described typical patient journeys. 

Finally we show how working participatively we developed feasible models that not only offered patient benefits (although these remain unvalued in fiscal terms), but also resource savings by shifting the locus for patient assessment out of hospital and into interim placements, largely in care homes, and by generating savings through bringing in self-funder resources into the system earlier.

The health system are now in delivery phase having adopted one of the models we constructed and being monitored to facilitate further systemic learning.

 


Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Presenter / Artist
PJ

Paul James Pettigrew

Director, Waite Atkins Ltd.
ISSS Two Day
YC

Yvonne Christine Le Brun

Director, Waite Atkins Ltd.
ISSS Two Day


Monday August 3, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:00 CEST

Consciousness and the PAR Practitioner: Lessons from Peri-Urban Mexico
Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Presenter / Artist
PW

Patricia Wilson

Professor, patriciawilson@utexas.edu
Participatory action research Contemplative pedagogy for emergence Community development Latin America, Mexico Leadership for resilient systems


Monday August 3, 2015 14:00 - 14:30 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:30 CEST

Grounded Action Research: Systems Thinking Approach to Promoting CSR in Kazakhstan
Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Presenter / Artist
AB

Azhar Baisakalova

KIMEP University
ISSS One Day


Monday August 3, 2015 14:30 - 15:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
 
Tuesday, August 4
 

16:00 CEST

Action Research as a Research Method in Architecture and Design

This paper discusses the use of action research as a research method in architecture and design. It addresses the question of how academic work in the fields of architecture and design can pursue research through methods that are appropriate to the nature of design processes. This question is relevant to much research work done in architecture and design, which tends to revert to conventional research methods oriented either towards the sciences or to the humanities in order to be academically acceptable. Action research is introduced as a research method that has much in common with applied design processes, and which allows designers to develop research in the spirit of designing. This paper aims to inform those seeking to preserve the applied nature of designing and the involved nature of the observer/designer while pursuing a higher level of academic rigour.

 


Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:00 - 16:30 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:30 CEST

Systems Research: How Do We Discover What We Need to Know, According to Whom, and for What Purpose?

The idea of the Anthropocene, an era in which human presence and behavior have become the most important factors of change on the Earth, increases long-standing questions about research.  How do we discover what we need to know according to whom and for what purpose? 

At a time in which the most troubling problems are often labeled as systemic (e.g. global financial relationships, environmental concerns, weather-related catastrophes, etc.) there is a need to reevaluate the ways in which we learn about and model the worlds in which we live. Increasingly, thought leaders recognize that critical thinking and positivistic approaches, while valuable, are insufficient to comprehensively and constructively address the most pressing issues of our time. It is not enough to diagnose problems through reductionist approaches. As the urgency of issues related to governing the Anthropocene becomes more prevalent, Systems Research is gaining increased attention across and beyond the Systems Sciences.

Most research is still judged by the tenants of traditional science, which include the isolation of variables in controlled settings, measurement and quantitative analyses of data, and extrapolation of findings to a wider universe (i.e. beyond the studied samples).  Qualitative research methods (including phenomenology, grounded theory, action research, and others) offer alternative approaches for studying humans, but are considered to be less rigorous than quantitative methods in many academic realms.  Methods such as System Dynamics attempt to capture relationships between variables, but are often limited (in this case, primarily to feedback between variables in the form of stocks and flows).

An equally challenging problem is the degree to which knowledge remains defined within long-standing disciplines, with little capacity for transcending those barriers.  At best, each discipline tends to project its own views and knowledge as somewhat universal principles. Most research is still judged by the tenants of traditional science, which include the isolation of variables in controlled settings, measurement and quantitative analyses of data, and extrapolation of findings to a wider universe (i.e. beyond the studied samples).  Qualitative research methods (including phenomenology, grounded theory, action research, and others) offer alternative approaches for studying humans, but are considered to be less rigorous than quantitative methods in many academic realms. 

Governing the Anthropocene requires not only systemic understanding but systemic leadership. Systems Research is part of a portfolio of systemic approaches to help leaders and stakeholders assess, design, develop, implement, and evaluate programs for effective governance of the Anthropocene.

At the IFSR Conversation (2014), an inquiry by a team of systemicists delved into questions related to the need, value, definition, and distinctions of Systems Research. The Systems Research Team’s (SRT) work focused on a compelling question, “What distinguishes Systems Research from other forms of research?” This question propelled the Conversation in multiple directions; however, two threads predominated – those that were divergent (e.g. the broad scope of the Systems Sciences) and those that were convergent (e.g. definition of rigorous research and modeling). As a result, the SRT’s Conversation began to scope out the breadth and depth of this subject. The SRT proposed a framework for examining several questions related to designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating Systems Research. Ultimately, the SRT proposed another compelling question for the future work of the SRT and the Systems community, “What can WE provide to enhance the quality and impact of Systems Research?”

To address this latter question, two additional provocative questions concerning Systems Research have emerged:

What is missing in current research approaches that systems approaches can bridge?

Why does it matter?

This presentation will address these questions by exploring the literature that has addressed the distinguishing dynamics of systemic approaches to research and problem solving. This retrospective will be the foundation for interactive dialogue with ISSS participants attending this session. The intention is to develop a leadership path for Systems Research and its role in more effective governance of the Anthropocene.


Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Mary Edson

Mary Edson

President, maredson.s3@gmail.com
Mary Edson is President of the International Federation for Systems Research.  As a Scholar/Practitioner whose major interests are in Complex Adaptive Social Systems, she teaches courses in Executive Leadership, Strategic Project Management, and Talent Management including Diversity... Read More →
avatar for Gary Metcalf

Gary Metcalf

OS faculty, Saybrook University
President, International Federation for Systems ResearchGary S. Metcalf received a PhD in Human Science in 2000 at the Saybrook Graduate School. His doctoral research was conducted under the mentorship of Béla H. Bánáthy, focused on Social Systems Design and Organizational Development.Metcalf... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:00 CEST

Can We Use Maturana's Theory of Autopoiesis to Enhance Checkland's Soft Systems Methodology?

Amongst the systemic methodologies available to systems practitioners, Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is one of the most used problem structuring methods. However, some critics have argued that it has serious shortcomings particularly in the initial phases when SSM attempts to structure the situation and when deciding which areas of a problematic situation are deemed to be selected as relevant. Also, issues of power and dominance are left to the SSM practitioner’s own devises; the tools offered, e.g.: rich pictures and the three analyses are only sketched guidelines/models and in some cases not useful and arguable difficult to operationalise. Furthermore, during and after an SSM intervention, during  the process debating changes, when SSM advises to implement ‘culturally desirable’ and ‘systemically feasible’ changes offers the concept of “accommodation” a key and subtle feature of SSM , the researcher is left with a vague idea about as to how to use it, leaving a frustrating gap in the methodology.  

As it has widely reported in the management science and system literature, Soft Systems Methodology operates under what is called the interpretivism paradigm. The main tenets of this paradigm are that reality is complex; it is socially constructed; and a product of continues people’ interactions (interpretivist Ontology); also it assumes that the observer is not independent that is: a point of view (perspective) influences whatever is studied. Under this paradigm, the aim of any intervention is therefore to understand reality through interpretative process in which meaning is attributed (anti-positivist epistemology). No perspective exhausts the richness of reality or distorts the nature of things; each view is unitary not global.

While Checkland approach lies certainly in the interpretivist camp, the philosophical implications of Maturana work are more difficult to frame. Maturana theories of cognition imply certainly an antirealist ontological position. Epistemologically, he claims that the world as we experience (or constitute) is a subject depend and that that objective knowledge (or transcendental knowledge as he labels it) is impossible. For some commentators, his position is inconsistent and rather than confining him into the constructivism, he can be better understood as critical realist. For others his radical claims denying the existence of any independent reality (make him a candidate of radical constructivism. In this paper, and for the purposes of contrasting the two approaches and seeking synergies between them, we will adopt the most widely argument of placing him in the constructivism camp.

The work of Maturana and Varela  on the nature of living, the biological nature of cognition and knowledge have been having a far reaching influence on the systems and various others fields. It has been argued that Maturana’s ideas lean more to a constructivist paradigm.  We argue that SSM popularity and some reportedly shortcoming in its application seems to be a consequence of the interpretivism position, and we proposed to address this by bringing concepts developed around  Maturana’s theory of autopoiesis (ToA) and Biology of Cognition (BoC).

This paper attempts to address SSM limitations and attempts to enhance the above SSM applications, by exploring how two key concepts from Maturana’s ToA and BoC namely: (i) Structured-Determined Systems; and (ii) Organizational Closure might help to overcome the limitations and complement Checkland's SSM process. In this paper, we propose a SSM autopoietic framework in which the above concepts are grafted in the well-known SSM 7-steps. This is a work in progress work and in this paper, we present the framework together with a number of questions to reflect as a way to refine the model before using it in practice. We hope to use the model in a real world situation later on.

Keywords: Autopoiesis; SSM; Biology of Cognition; Accommodation; decision process


Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Speakers
AP

Alberto Paucar-Caceres

Manchester Metropolitan University
ISSS Regular


Tuesday August 4, 2015 17:00 - 17:30 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:30 CEST

Method for Promoting ICT Engineering Safety

In this paper, a method is proposed for promoting ICT engineering safety learning from crisis management. The current majority of methodologies for ICT use reductionist approach (i.e. lack of holistic view). Therefore, we need more holistic methodologies to realize system safety, and system safety should include human factors. In particular, ICT engineering arena human factors play a crucial role in promoting ICT system safety. The Tokyo stock exchange was crushed on 1st of November 2005 by an operation error, which had a severe impact on the global. The human factors (operator error, maintenance engineers’ error, etc.) cause severe impact to not only ICT systems but also social systems (nuclear plant systems, transportation systems, etc.). A JR West train derailed and overturned on  25th April 2005 due to driver misconduct caused the loss of 106 passengers’ lives at Kyoto in Japan. The progress of ICT technologies (i.e., cloud, virtual and network technology) inevitably shifts ICT systems into complexity with tightly interacting domains. This trend places the human factors above other elements to promote safety more than ever. The emergent property interacting between ICT and human conduct should be dealt with in order to promote system safety. Crisis management treats holistic property over partial component. We introduce a human error framework to promote a holistic view to manage system failures. An application example of ICT human error exhibits the effectiveness of this methodology. 

Key words: Risk management; Crisis management; Normal accident theory (NAT); High Reliability Organization (HRO); Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

 



Tuesday August 4, 2015 17:30 - 18:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
 
Wednesday, August 5
 

13:30 CEST

Action Research or Design Science Research As Methodology for the Development of a Historical Digital Graphical Novel? A Critical Systems Perspective.

The legacy of Nelson Mandela is part of the lives of most South Africans. His story inspires South Africans and people around the globe to forgive and work hard to achieve freedom from oppression and poverty. For this reason, we need to keep his story alive and teach young people about the sacrifices he made to achieve his goals. Funded by an international consortium, a project called Mandela27 was launched to educate people around the world on the life of Nelson Mandela. Part of the project involved the development of a digital graphical novel depicting life in the prison where he served a 27 year sentence.

This paper investigates action research and design science as design methodologies for the development of the digital graphical novel.  The development of the graphical digital novel was commissioned to the Serious Games Institute of South Africa (SGI-SA) based at the North-West University.  A serious game is a computer game that aims not only to provide entertainment but also to provide an educational experience to the user.  

The SGI-SA often uses design science research as research methodology when developing games. Design science research (DSR) is a methodology used mostly by engineers to develop artefacts.  It is currently receiving high scholarly attention in the field of information Systems (IS). An important journal in the IS field, Management Information Systems Quarterly, recently published guidelines for the use of DSR in IS.  DSR aims to provide scientific rigour in the process of designing, developing, and evaluating artefacts. Its epistemological stance is that knowledge is created through the making of an artefact and evaluating the success thereof.  Many different approaches are documented but most often the following cyclic phases are proposed:  Awareness of the problem, suggestion of possible solutions, development, evaluation of artefact, and conclusion.

Since these phases are comparable with typical AR phases (diagnosis, action planning, action taking, and specifying learning) the developers of the graphical digital novel had to reflect carefully on AR and DSR to select an appropriate methodology for the project. Both these methodologies use existing theory to guide the development process. Critical systems thinking promotes holistic thinking, pluralistic problem solving, emancipation, and reflection. This paper provides a reflection on the design of the digital graphical novel from an AR and DSR methodological perspective within the framework of critical systems thinking.

The paper starts with a discussion of the problem environment followed by a short literature review of theoretical concepts involved in the project.  It then proposes a DSR research plan as well as an AR research plan for the development of the artefact. These research plans are then reflected upon from the perspectives of critical systems thinking. The selection of an appropriate research methodology is then substantiated.


Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →

Speakers

Wednesday August 5, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:00 CEST

A Critical Systems Approach to Business Intelligence System Development

The quality, timeliness and availability of appropriate information to appropriate decision makers determine the quality of decisions; it therefore also determines the subsequent effect of these decisions on organisations.  Organisations that make better decisions quicker than their rivals are more agile and competitive.  Well-informed decisions improve organisations’ economic results and value; it improves planning processes and enables organisations to swiftly react to ever-changing business climates.  Business intelligence (BI) systems enable organisational leaders to make decisions more effectively and efficiently.  BI is a business differentiator in a world where organisations are becoming increasingly reliant on relevant, timeous, and intelligible information to improve their operational efficiency.

Business intelligence is built on the technological infrastructure of a data warehouse (DW).  There are various approaches available to develop a DW, i.e. the Kimball lifecycle approach, Inmon’s corporate information factory (CIF), and Linsted’s data vault method.  These traditional approaches are heavily influenced by the paradigm within which traditional software development approaches emerged, i.e. the hard systems thinking paradigm.  This paradigm is dominated by deterministic problem solving methodologies such as operational research and systems engineering; they focus on optimisation and design and are suitable for well-defined problem contexts. 

Traditional approaches enable the development of a technically good and robust DW.  However, a BI system is a social artefact as well as a technical artefact; it should aim to improve the organisational context of its users, rather than merely automate existing business processes.  Successful BI requires more than appropriate architecture and infrastructure; it requires more than a data infrastructure and platform built to access existing/known information better and faster.  Successful BI system development requires a critical reflective process that improves organisational decision making capabilities beyond what is imaginable, rather than merely automate what is easily observable.     

The critical systems thinking (CST) paradigm aims to explore relevant social dimensions of a problem context and provide richer, more meaningful solutions.  CST aims to facilitate social improvement.  CST is founded in critical and social awareness; methodological complementarism; and a dedication to human emancipation.  Critical systems thinkers aim to emancipate the oppressed by exploring and removing supressing societal structures.  This study views business users with unrealised business benefits as the oppressed; non-people oriented (traditional) BI system development approaches are viewed as the suppressing structures. 

The CST paradigm does not render other paradigms, such as the hard systems thinking paradigm where BI development approaches emerged, invalid.  Rather, within the CST paradigm the epistemological debate moved from the question of selection a single problem solving method, to recognising the value of combining different methods from different paradigms.  Therefore, CSH is consequently applied to complement a traditional BI system development approach to critically determine: what is relevant; who should assist to determine it; and how to handle conflicting views amongst relevant stakeholders pertaining to the BI system being developed. 

This paper describes an action research (AR) study whereby CST principles (operationalised by critical systems heuristics (CSH)) were developed and applied as part of a BI system development project.  CSH was applied during the business requirements analysis phase.  The application of CSH resulted in a BI system that are both technically feasible and realise business benefits in meeting users’ requirements. 

The paper starts with a discussion of the problem context followed by the theoretical underpinnings of the intervention. It then discusses the action research intervention in terms of: the diagnosis; action planning; intervention; specification of learning; and reflection on the learning.

 


Presenter / Artist
CV

Carin Venter

Senior Lecturer, North-West University
ISSS Student
avatar for Roelien Goede

Roelien Goede

SIG Chair Action Research, North West University South Africa, Potchefstroom
I stay in Potchefstroom, South Africa, it is about 90 min drive South-West of Johannesburg. I'm an associate professor in Computer Science and Information Systems. I have a passion for teaching and my formal training is in Computer Science. I teach advanced programming techniques... Read More →


Wednesday August 5, 2015 14:00 - 14:30 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:30 CEST

Building Interactive Learning Ground as Basis for Knowledge Co-Production: Reflection on a Collaborative Industrial Action Research Project

An important dimension of collaborative university-industry projects is the various learning which involved participants can co-generate, from personal insights to contribution to the answer of scientific research questions and instrumental knowledge of ways to improve industrial practices. Co-creation between academia and industry requires structures and processes of exchange so that learning is enhanced in the interface and interaction between the parties. It has less to do with ordinary project structure and more with the way learning can be enabled between involved parties through building interactive learning grounds linking the parties in an organization for learning. The paper is based on experience and reflection on a case involving collaboration between participants from ABB, Ericsson and Mälardalen University in studying and improving industrial service innovation management pursued through a collaborative action research oriented approach. (Reason &Bradbury, 2008, Lindhult, 2005).

The purpose of the paper is to clarify the character of such learning ground with groups of participants from different organization co-generating learning, and identify challenges in building a sustainable platform for learning. Challenges involve e.g. developing a common ground of visions, goals and commitments as well as norms for interaction, integrate and combine different learning interests and motivations to participate, finding and creating time and resources for interaction, space for reflection and developing mutual understanding and language, achieving fruitful exchange between diversity of professional experience and positions academic as well as industrial, adapting the processes to emerging changes in organizational contexts and conditions for participation, and create continuation of interaction beyond formal termination of projects. The theoretical background used is experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1984) as well as of organizational learning and learning organization, and particularly pragmatic theory of inquiry (Dewey, 1938), collaborative inquiry (Heron, 1996), and participatory action research and interactive research (Reason&Bradbury, 2008, Aagaard Nielsen&Svensson, 2006, Svensson, Ellström&Brulin, 2007, Johannisson, Gunnarsson&Stjernberg, 2008). Methodologically the experiential and empirical basis is ongoing dialogue and reflection on organization of the collaboration and outcomes in terms of learning. Empirical material is both formative and summative, particularly follow up discussions at project meetings, and summing up learning experience in final project phases. A focus is on clarifying the various kinds of learning of participants, in what situations they occur, and how existing conditions are enabling or restricting learning. Additional cases of collaborative research and development projects of participants is used as enriching and comparative material. The result is a case description and reflection on various learning effects and in what way it has occurred, as well as a model of interactive learning platform including sources of challenges in enabling of such a platform. It is particularly contributing to a more systemic and emergent view of learning and knowledge generation in co-creation processes and the challenge of combining a plurality of experiences, participants and perspectives in achieving high quality, co-generative learning.


Presenter / Artist
avatar for Erik Lindhult

Erik Lindhult

Mälardalen University
ISSS Two Day


Wednesday August 5, 2015 14:30 - 15:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
 
Thursday, August 6
 

13:30 CEST

Exploring Systems Thinking Approaches to Developing Action Research Guidelines in a Doctorate of Public Health Program

Based at the University of Illinois at Chicago,  the Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) online program is focused on leadership for mid-career working professionals.  This is distance education, but with synchronous classes and individual attention intensive.  Many of our students are already in leadership positions, such as heading local public health departments, or working in key positions in federal and international agencies; we attempt to give them a broader, more systemic and flexible view of  research and actions they can both instigate and participate in, under an 'adaptive leadership' and action learning rather than a positional leadership approach, or an approach where research is separate from action. 'Systems thinking' is one of our core principles and competencies: We have been working on introducing and integrating systems approaches public health leaders are less familiar with, such as soft systems, into our curriculum. (They are more familiar with systems dynamics derived approaches, e.g. Donella Meadows and Peter Senge.)  The core faculty group has been re-working the curriculum to build student competency in methods of action research as an approach to the DrPH dissertation.  This has emerged from a strong student desire to frame their work as action research, and to emphasize research relevance as much as rigor. This has presented several challenges for us: 1) clarifying what action research 'is' (beyond action learning, which we introduce in our first year) as an approach to empirical inquiry in a leadership program, and how we might draw on diverse traditions of action research from other fields (e.g. education and anthropology);  2) how we frame action research for audiences more used to positivistic approaches to research, which includes not only many public health colleagues but our university's Institutional Review Board;  3) how to  draw boundaries around cycles of reflection and action in ongoing work, and delimit the dissertation project, to make the research achievable in a feasible time period; and 4) how to guide the students in building collaborative and participatory research relationships in an action research context.  Systems thinking based principles and approaches are useful in responding  to all these challenges, from serving as a core theory for building conceptual frameworks to structuring participation and communicating a feasible dissertation proposal.


Presenter / Artist
EP

Eve Pinsker

epinsker@uic.edu, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
ISSS Regular


Thursday August 6, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:00 CEST

Using Critical Systems Thinking in Emancipatory Postgraduate Supervision

Post graduate study is a partnership between supervisor and student.  The nature of this relationship is mainly guided by the supervision approach followed by the supervisor. Identified approaches include: Functional supervision - where the issue is one of project management; Enculturation – where the student is encouraged to become a member of the disciplinary community; Critical thinking – where the student is encouraged to question and analyse their work; Emancipation – where the student is encouraged to question and develop themselves; and developing a quality relationship – where the student is enthused, inspired and cared for. It is argued in this paper that this list is not mutually exclusive but rather distinctive goals of supervision of post graduate students.

The aim of this paper is to present the structure of an action research project aimed at creating guidelines for emancipatory supervision using e-learning strategies.  The participatory action research (AR) method used in this study has five phases: diagnosis; action planning; action taking; evaluation of success; and specifying learning. This paper focusses on the diagnosis and action planning phases of the action research project.

According to the FMA model of action research developed by Peter Checkland, action research aims to develop a methodology (M) that is continuously refined through its application in an area of concern (A). The development of the methodology is guided by a framework of understanding (F).  The area of application for the AR project reported here is the supervision of dissertation based Master’s and PhD students in Information Systems at a South African university. The individual student’s studies are viewed as case studies. The methodology developed is a flexible process described by guidelines for guiding students to successful studies and development of scholars. The framework of understanding is critical systems thinking and constructivist education theory.

Critical systems heuristics developed by Werner Ulrich is used to guide the diagnosis process. Critical systems heuristics is used as a tool for participants to articulate their views on how supervision should be done and what the goals thereof should be. The paper presents findings from the diagnosis process representative of the student and supervisor views on their experiences of supervision. A total of ten students and supervisors took part in interpretive interviews. Interview questions were guided by critical systems heuristics and literature on constructivism. The qualitative data collected was analysed using interpretive content analysis.

From the findings of the interviews and results of a literature review a plan for taking action is developed to develop a flexible process described by guidelines for supervision of post graduate students. Since many post graduate students are part-time students the focus of the process of supervision should be done through electronic media.  It was therefore decided to investigate the applicability of  e-learning principles in this problem environment.

Although the implementation and evaluation of the guidelines and resulting process are outside the scope of the paper, reflection is done in terms of the FMA framework to focus on the applicability of the chosen framework of understanding for the development of a methodology to achieve the desired goals of post graduate supervision.


Presenter / Artist
avatar for Roelien Goede

Roelien Goede

SIG Chair Action Research, North West University South Africa, Potchefstroom
I stay in Potchefstroom, South Africa, it is about 90 min drive South-West of Johannesburg. I'm an associate professor in Computer Science and Information Systems. I have a passion for teaching and my formal training is in Computer Science. I teach advanced programming techniques... Read More →


Thursday August 6, 2015 14:00 - 14:30 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:30 CEST

Practical Value of the Systems-Based Evolutionary Learning Laboratory in Solving Complex Community Problems in Vietnam

This paper provides initial reflections on the practical value of the systems-based Evolutionary Learning Laboratory (ELLab) through a case study on improving the quality of life for women smallholder farmers in rural Haiphong, northern Vietnam. The ELLab framework comprises seven steps (issue identification, capacity building, systems modeling, identifying leverages for systemic interventions, management plans, implementation, and reflection).

The first five steps were implemented during 2013-2014 providing valuable results that have made both practical and theoretical contributions with substantial implications to community development.

By using systems approaches through the ELLab process, the project has identified the real challenges and needs of the target group. The “perceived” prominent issue (labour hardship) as assumed by the funding body was not identified as the most difficult hurdle for the women to overcome and was ranked second after poor income. The third factor determining their quality of life was health. The factors affecting these three determinants were found to be intrinsically interlinked with each other. The outcomes of this study served as feedback and a rationale for reframing the project goal and objectives to address the ‘real issues’, ‘real needs’ and thus appropriate systemic intervention strategies to address the identified challenges of the local women farmers. The findings have not only brought about practical solutions for the women (social impacts on gender equality and rural lives), but also formulated context-based recommendations for funding agencies and local governments.

This study has proven the ELLab to be a powerful framework in managing such complex problems in rural communities due to its multiple practical applications and values. The systems approach employed does not merely seek solutions to the perceived (visible) problems of the target group, but it provides an opportunity to explore the “bigger picture” of the context. Places of interventions can be defined to improve performance of the whole system (i.e. rural households and communities) rather than the traditional palliative approach.

As a generic framework, the ELLab enables a large degree of flexibility to employ other management tools to support analyses of emerging stakeholders during the implementation phase. This helps to engage the right stakeholders for understanding the context in more depth, serving as a basis for defining systemic interventions. The built-in user-friendly systems tools in the ELLab enable all stakeholders to understand different issues in relationships and to define systemic interventions, while impacts and possible unintended consequences could be envisaged through scenario testing. These are clearly more time and cost efficient than traditional problem solving approaches.

Moreover, the framework embraces a “bottom-up approach” and “true participation” since opinions of disadvantaged groups, local people and all other stakeholders are embedded in the systems models that reflect their actual issues, concerns and expectations. Drivers and barriers to their defined goals are fully explored in relationships. The framework ensures the “inclusiveness” of all stakeholders, a holistic view on hierarchical systems relationships and the different dimensions of sustainable development (i.e. economic, environmental, social and cultural). The “capacity building” component throughout the process warrants the ownership of the process and outcomes and thereby long-lasting impacts.

The ELLab creates a “co-learning environment” for all stakeholders. This was evident in this case study through triggering “transformative learning” amongst participants and thus appropriate actions of all the stakeholder groups (policy makers, government staff, agribusinesses and local farmers) towards strong collaboration and joint actions. Regular reflections and sharing of lessons and experience at both local and global levels through the online knowledge hub Think2ImpactTM (http://think2impact.org/) would continuously improve learning and performance around the world.

Contributions to organizational learning theory, and project knowledge and stakeholder management are also discussed as other evident values of the ELLab.

Keywords: Co-learning; Inclusiveness; Stakeholder; Systems thinking; Transformative learning; True participation. 


Presenter / Artist
avatar for Nam Nguyen

Nam Nguyen

Director (Australia and Southeast Asia, Malik) and Honorary Fellow (Systems Design and Complexity Management, UoA), Malik Management Institute, Switzerland and The University of Adelaide (UoA), Australia
Dr Nam Nguyen is a Director (Australia and Southeast Asia) of Malik Management Institute, Switzerland (one of the world’s leading organizations for holistic, system-cybernetic management, governance, and responsible leadership). He is also a Director of SysPrac Pty Ltd and a co-founder... Read More →
avatar for Professor Ockie Bosch

Professor Ockie Bosch

President, International Society for the Systems Sciences
Professor Ockie Bosch was born in Pretoria, South Africa. He first came to Australia in 1979 where he was an invited senior visiting scientist with the CSIRO in Alice Springs. After one year in Longreach (1989) he emigrated to New Zealand where he was offered a position with Landcare... Read More →
TM

Tuan Minh Ha

PhD Student, The University of Adelaide Business School
ISSS Student


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