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SIG Session [clear filter]
Tuesday, August 4

13:30 CEST

Three Constructs of Systems Thinking for Better Governing a Globalized World in the Anthropocene

Living in a globalized society implies that political thinking necessarily extends beyond the national level to reach us in our roles as citizens of the world. Living in today’s globalized society also requires a new level of political thinking commensurate with the complexity of its challenges. To overcome the many difficulties we, and the planet we live on, face in the Anthropocene era, it has become incumbent on human beings to practice systems thinking. This paper will examine how general systemic thinking, critical systems thinking, and whole healing systems thinking can help us both comprehend and overcome these challenges.

Keywords: Global citizen, cosmopolitanism, globalization, Anthropocene, Earth System, systems theory

avatar for Jennifer Wilby

Jennifer Wilby

Vice President Admin, ISSS
From 1978 Jennifer started working in urban planning, followed by database programming and textbook publishing until 1993. In 1989, moving to San Jose, Jennifer graduated in 1992 from the MSc in Cybernetic Systems at San Jose State University. Moving back to the UK in 1993, she worked... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:00 CEST

Sense-Making between and across Stakeholder Perspectives

The CX Tool© provides a visual tool for creating congruence between what is known and what is done within a socio-technical system. It guides the analyst by identifying six elements contained within organizational intelligence and performance management dimensions. Three elements define within Organizational Intelligence: Essential Ideas; Essential Processes, Protocols, Structures; and Essential Assessments/Audits. Three elements define Performance Management: Essential Actions; Essential Standards; and Essential Deliverables. The CX Tool© allows analysts to assign congruency scores between elements horizontally and vertically while allowing comparisons between current and desired state of the system. Yet, the CX Tool© does not distinguish between stakeholders’ perspectives, a feature that, when faced with complex and/or complicated systems, may prove critical. In this research the authors propose a conceptual framework to incorporate different stakeholders’ perspectives into the CX Tool©. A short case study is presented to illustrate how different stakeholders’ perspectives can be incorporated and quantified.

Keywords: CX tool, pluralism, sense-making, system congruence

avatar for Jennifer Wilby

Jennifer Wilby

Vice President Admin, ISSS
From 1978 Jennifer started working in urban planning, followed by database programming and textbook publishing until 1993. In 1989, moving to San Jose, Jennifer graduated in 1992 from the MSc in Cybernetic Systems at San Jose State University. Moving back to the UK in 1993, she worked... Read More →


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

14:30 CEST

Choosing Boundaries for Interventions in Open Dynamic Systems

It is no easy task for a planner to choose a boundary for intervening in an open and dynamic system. As the system is continuously reshaped through complex interactions with its surroundings, the planner cannot be certain that any chosen boundary will continue to be relevant or appropriate into the future. Since Churchman first emphasized the importance of boundary judgments, many systems theorists and practitioners have urged planners to recognise the subjectivity and plurality of boundary definitions. Accordingly, the planner’s boundary must accommodate diverse views and values that are also changing. The planner thus faces the question: what kind of intervention would enable improvement for all, while also remaining relevant and flexible under changing conditions?

This presentation summarizes findings from my PhD study, which explores the planner’s challenge through a case study—the improvement of river health in the Murray-Darling Basin in South East Australia. Water management within the Murray-Darling Basin is embroiled in the tension between a highly variable climate, the historical development of a productive agricultural economy, and the progressive degradation of riverine ecosystems. Within this context, the planner seeks to improve ‘river health’, which is conceived as a balance between competing uses of water. Applying Ulrich’s critical system heuristics to unfold boundary judgements in policy documents, scientific studies, and those of planners and stakeholders with diverse interests, I found that: there is no single definition of ‘river health’ that is likely to be achievable or acceptable to all; and there is no single boundary that is the most appropriate choice for improving river health. Interventions that seek to increase control by defining tight boundaries around river health, ironically increase their own vulnerability to failure.

Inspired by the work of Francine Hughes and colleagues in river restoration, and Emery Roe’s analysis of the debate on sustainable development, I propose that interventions in open dynamic systems are more likely to be effective if they are based on open boundaries. In other words, interventions must embrace open-ended goals; and be designed and managed on a case-by-case basis, according to local circumstances. But then, is there an appetite for open-ended approaches that consider improvement as a journey with NO destination, and planning as ‘inside-out’, rather than top-down or bottom-up?

avatar for Jennifer Wilby

Jennifer Wilby

Vice President Admin, ISSS
From 1978 Jennifer started working in urban planning, followed by database programming and textbook publishing until 1993. In 1989, moving to San Jose, Jennifer graduated in 1992 from the MSc in Cybernetic Systems at San Jose State University. Moving back to the UK in 1993, she worked... Read More →


Saideepa Kumar

PhD Student
ISSS Student

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

15:00 CEST

The General Theory of X-Dynamics Systemicity

"The Bioethism paradigm" (acronym for Biology-Ethology, ecology - Humanism) fosters universal specificities relative to the complexity of Life's processing, which in form of open systems, appeared on Earth from biochemical components and survival proprieties within propitious physicochemical environmental forces (J.-J. Blanc 1996).

For reference, the author’s past proceedings were developed - part after part since 2004 - as the structure and chapters of a “General Theory of Metadynamics Systemicity”. Its building blocks are being centered on the Universe diversity of x-dynamics: petadynamics teradynamics, gigadynamics’, metadynamics’, dynamics’, microdynamics’ and nanodynamics’ systemicity.  The set of X-dynamics are, in physics, multipliers defined in powers of 1015 to 10-6, proceeding in increments of three orders of magnitude (10' or 1`000), such as: peta, giga, meta, kilo, micro, nano...

The publication of these works is meant to support the acquisition of a large transdisciplinary understanding of the “x-dynamics’ systemicity world” that sustains the whole evolution of the Universe system’s components as well as those of live entities (things, objects, individuals), while perceiving and experiencing sets of forces and fluxes. This is why the theory of Systemicity emerged from synergies as applying the principles of “The Bioethism Transdisciplinary Paradigm of Universal Systems” down to ”Living systems” both having their specific temporal survival” that the author J.-J. Blanc developed since 1996.

 “Systemicity” is a notion that surges from interrelation, interaction, intrication…within interdependent synergies. The systemicity of atomic and molecular cycles has made and sustains both cosmic systems and Life’s cycles on planet Earth along differential time periods (trillion of light-years to less than hours) and their specific retroactivity.

Intrication is the quantum entanglement of a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently — instead, a quantum state may be given for the system as a whole, in other ways its metabolism status. Measurements of physical properties such as position, momentum, spin, polarization, etc. performed on entangled particles are found to be appropriately correlated.

The different parts of “X-dynamics Systemicity” are developed through a new “reading grid” of natural structures and behaviors of entities, objects and things as adapting from “neighboring’” within “neighborhoods” (ecosystems) where they specifically cope with endogenous and exogenous events and forces inducing to the retroactive temporal restructuring of  their structure and behavioral aptitudes (as in part 6).

Neighboring is “to associate in a neighborly way, to communicate with, to live side by side with, and to overlook. Biological molecule sequences, as neighboring, are participating in the structuring and the evolution of “cosmobjects”(JJB), organism, species and entities along their reproduction abilities. It infers nature and extent of selective forces as driving the evolving shaping of atom sets and genes (mutations). In other words, as in this part 7, “survival means” possess diverse perception, memory and experience tools that empower their adaptability to the permanency of all things to happen and change, i.e.:  they possess means as how to “give sense to things around from their interpretation of what’s perceived. The choice of the sense given can be lethal or propitious to them as surviving.

 In order to exist, both objects and living creatures replicate and evolve thanks to their perception and feeling tools within global, glocal and local areas (ecosystems) and by their natural components which form their structures and behaviors. Resulting actions and gene mutations are permanently changing both the endogen milieu and external environmental ecosystems metabolism and components quality (e.g.: means used from vision giving out the formation of a move or a feeling driving to its systemicity result like fear; the gravity effect of two masses as sustaining a balanced equilibrium…).

Then on, through ecosystems’ 3D multi-layers, from proto-organisms to humans, their individualities have specific social traits and behavioral statuses that account for the diversity of species to get developed and/or to get extinct. For example, when the Earth became a "snowball" from a nearly total glaciation (-600 Mo/y), the survival of some neighboring bacteria and micro-organisms escaping the drastic extinction of most species, conversely perceiving ways of adaptation, boosted up an extraordinary explosion of marine species bearing quite new functions (- 545Mo/y), that then after volcanic holes progressively reheated the planet from the systemicity of sets of interrelated metadynamics.

The Universe’s global environment generates x-dynamics such as cosmic petadynamics (black holes? Black energy?), teradynamics, gigadynamics and metadynamics cycles... in form of systemic forces, fluxes and moves occur within immense gas and particles neighborhoods. Interrelated, they are some of the main physicochemical cosmic, galactic, stellar, planetary and terrestrial feedback synergies from which x-dynamics systemicity retroactions emerge (i.e. rock cycles). Sets of systemicity results make atoms and molecules to participate in the structuring of matter and cosmic objects (nebulae, baby stars, stars and planets, waters and rocks), within a molecular world that originated from and after the “Big Bang”.

Furthermore, the physicochemical neighboring conditions for planet Earth to stabilize within the “Sun’s green belt” was a balanced thermodynamics environment state issued from the presence of the Moon at the right distance so as to  become propitious for Life to “hatch”. Such favorable position, sustaining the Earth and Life evolution by development of x- dynamic adaptive pathways, is going on with objects survival cycles, forces, fluxes, moves and matter that are “perceiving, giving sense and experiencing” things in several synergetic manners, (e.g. plants  natural emotional intelligence. . .). Perception tools are organic features treating signals- like neurons- or other microtubule as protein links. Microtubules are a component of the cytoskeleton, found throughout the cytoplasm. The microtubule can dynamically switch between growing and shrinking phases in this region (“search and capture model”), a matter of neighboring milieu.

Life as a whole and living entities, while neighboring around, are confronted with gravitation, electromagnetism, chemical and physical phenomena, and particularly with temperature and the “thermodynamics of entropy”. Filtering their milieu symptoms and their environmental events signals, living creatures develop means of perception in ways their inner systems and organs such as the immune one, emotional brain with amygdala and reptilian area or vision with eyes are well fit drivers for supporting their survival behaviors.

The neighboring areas (mille-feuille as 4D-networks) are diverse but concomitant producing forces and fluxes that are dynamical drivers within the diverse ecosystems. Their systemicity results from actions of coalescence, conjunction, co-evolution, convergence, symbiosis, percolation, phase transition or threshold output, neighborhood adaptation, etc. Universally, these actions and mechanisms concern atomic, molecular and physicochemical world’s permanently provoking feedback that drives the evolution of systemicity cycles and perception means. Because of the development of similarities in unrelated matters or organisms present in similar environments, a balanced equilibrium is necessary to sustain the whole of things to survive temporally. The disappearance of a link along a food chain completely disorganizes the ecosystem’s metabolism endangering its sustainability.

Specific bonds and traits of structure and behaviors, as well as evolution trends of “surviving objects and living creatures” require certain knowledge and a memory about actions-reactions (drivers) from ago-antagonistic signals and stimuli in order to give the propitious answer to things. Issued from ecosystemic and socio-systemic metabolism and environmental statuses (climate, predator preys networks of food chains…), these signals sustain things on thanks to the x-dynamics systemic retroactivity reigning about.

One may easily understand here that human sociology shows such neighboring comportments and effects, observing then they are universally giving sense to what happens, adapting survival tools with evolution necessities and this thanks to their perception capacities (instinct…) and kind of memory qualities so as to give sense to things.

Keywords: systemicity, survival, metadynamics, symbiosis, feedback, entropy, metabolism, synergy, convergence, coalescence, neighboring, perception, sense, organs.


avatar for Jennifer Wilby

Jennifer Wilby

Vice President Admin, ISSS
From 1978 Jennifer started working in urban planning, followed by database programming and textbook publishing until 1993. In 1989, moving to San Jose, Jennifer graduated in 1992 from the MSc in Cybernetic Systems at San Jose State University. Moving back to the UK in 1993, she worked... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 15:00 - 15:30 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Thursday, August 6

16:00 CEST

A Systems Science Framework for Understanding the Nature of Governance

The natural world of life is replete with examples of systemic governance subsystems that operate to sustain the continuance of those systems. Every cell, organism, population, and ecosystem demonstrates various self-regulation and environmental coordination mechanisms that have evolved to ensure the long-term viability of that system. A formal approach from systems science that is built on these natural governance subsystems may provide some guidance to our understanding of human social systems and their governance. The emergence of higher levels of organization in the origins and evolution of life can be seen to be the story of increasing sophistication in governance subsystems as disparate complex adaptive systems coalesce into “societies” of interacting entities (super-molecules to primitive protocells, prokaryotic cells to eukaryotic cells, those to multicellular organisms, those to communities, etc.). At each stage in this on-going emergence of higher levels of organization the one consistent aspect is how hierarchical cybernetic structures have contributed to the stabilization of functional relations among the component entities leading to sustainable super-entity structures. The progression is from simple cooperation of multiple entities to intentional coordination emerging to manage complexity. Information processing and decision subsystems (agents) that took responsibility for logistical coordination among components and others that managed tactical coordination of the whole system with external (environmental) entities, resources, and threats evolved to keep increasingly complex biological entities able to maintain their existence and reproduction. Now the governance of human social systems that seek to exist in some kind of harmony with the Earth’s ecology (what I call the Ecos) has emerged in the last 100k years or so and evolved over that time frame to produce the modern socio-economic systems in existence today. But it (characterized here as the neoliberal capitalistic democracy) is not as evolved as, say, the mechanisms of metabolic regulation. There are numerous reasons to believe that the modern governance subsystem is, in fact, moving human societies toward the opposite of sustainable existence. A systems examination of the theory of governance subsystems (hierarchical cybernetics) suggests pathways toward a more functional governance subsystem for human societies. The theory covers the regulation of economic flows as well as the legal superstructure and moral/ethical aspects of culture that collectively constitutes the governance subsystem of a human society embedded in a meta-system, the Ecos.

Presenter / Artist

George Mobus

Associate Professor, Emeritus, University of Washington Tacoma
ISSS Regular

Thursday August 6, 2015 16:00 - 16:30 CEST
Reindeer Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:30 CEST

Systemic Praxis for doing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS)

Implementing the (2015-2030) sustainable development goals (SDGs) provides opportunities and challenges for profiling the resonance and relevance of systems thinking amongst policy practitioners (policy advisors,  policy makers and policy managers and administrators).  It may also provide an opportunity for  reconciling the sometimes disparate contemporary traditions of complexity thinking and systems thinking amongst systemic practitioners.  The two traditions draw different emphases on three uses of the systems idea – ‘natural’  systems (e.g., complex adaptive systems), mechanical – ‘purposive’ - systems (e.g., computerised agent-based modelling of complex systems), and  social – ‘purposeful’ – systems (e.g, design and implementation of interventions).

Some ideas are floated to help capture opportunities in the ensuing flux of events, people and ideas associated with the implementation of SDGs.  Drawing on the lineage of traditions in complexity and systems thinking, the author plays with ideas of boundary critique and complex adaptive systems as ways of exploring purposeful systemic praxis.

Praxis is understood as theory-in-action in order to transform a situation (cf. Paulo Freire: 1921-1997).  Systemic praxis is understood as transformation from emergent change in three interdependent factors: (i)  an operational change in patterns of inter-relationships regarding issues at stake; (ii)  an ethical change in viewpoints and perspectives amongst stakeholders; and (iii) political change in boundaries and relations of power amongst stakeholders and their stakeholdings. The ideas of systemic praxis framework outlined is an adapted version of boundary critique derived from traditions of critical systems thinking of Werner Ulrich and American philosophical pragmatism associated with Charles Peirce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952).

Drawing on Nichomachean ethics and practical wisdom (cf. Aristotle: 384-322 BC), systemic praxis can be manifest through systemic failure (bad praxis or ‘dyspraxia’) as much as systemic improvement (good praxis or ‘eupraxia’). Examples of systemic failure in ‘doing’ sustainability are illustrated with ideas of The Iron Triangle used for understanding complex realities from a political economy viewpoint (e.g., J.K. Galbraith and Amartya Sen) and political activism (e.g., Arundhati Roy and Angela Davis).  Other examples of ‘dyspraxia’  are illustrated in terms of (either/or) dualisms as distinct from (both/and) dualities;  for example, reinforcing a division between ‘planning’ of SDGs through the UN Working Group on Sustainability, and the enacting or doing of SDGs.  Dualism notions of ‘deliverology’ remain prevalent in contemporary management systems relating to sustainable development.

Systemic good praxis (eupraxia) is regarded in contrast as a duality between systematic and systemic; between purposive and purposeful systems thinking in practice. A three-fold strategy for doing SDGs is suggested.  Firstly, ideas of adaptive action,  suggested by Glenda Eoyang influenced by complex adaptive systems,  provide a means for understanding inter-relationships – getting unstuck. The process engages practitioners with summative evaluation.  This prompts questions of systemic design, the second phase of good systemic praxis.  Here, the Vanguard method influenced by process systems thinking from John Seddon, provides a helpful Check-Plan-Do (CPD) model prompting awareness of formative evaluation.  The third phase requires an interplay of summative and formative evaluation through developmental evaluation, initiated through the works of Michael Q. Patton.  Good systemic praxis involves generating value.  Rather than considered as ‘phases’ the three attributes of praxis are more properly understood as continually iterative.  A further important attribute of good systemic praxis is to draw on stakeholders’ own experiences and skill-sets to provide the grounding for doing SDGs purposefully and with beneficial impact.  

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Martin Reynolds

Martin Reynolds

Senior Lecturer, The Open University
Systems Thinking in Practice Postgraduate Qualifications Director Distance learning Developmental Evaluation ISSS Regular Environmental responsibility

Thursday August 6, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Reindeer Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:00 CEST

Using Critical Systems Thinking to Promote Reflexivity on an Engineering Sacrosanct Concept

This paper presents a systemic intervention in which a group of researchers and engineering students used critical systems thinking ideas to promote reflexivity on a basic concept that underlies engineering practice: efficiency. In particular we explored a situation in which students had to deal simultaneously with issues of efficiency and justice. Engineering students are frequently trained to design efficient systems or to improve the efficiency of already existing systems. Although engineering and economic efficiency are not the same, young engineering students tend to equate and value both of them. However, within many contexts efficiency is not the only relevant criteria for judging among different alternative solutions to engineering problems. Justice and other ethical considerations are also frequently relevant. Not all efficient technical solutions are also the most fair, and vice versa. In this paper we describe a research inquiry in which a group of engineering students were invited to choose among diverse solutions, involving issues of justice and efficiency. Based on the work of a group of scholars such as John Rawls, John Nash, Robert Aumann, and Howard Raiffa, the students explored different conceptions of justice as well as their relationships with efficiency. During this process that involved both individual and collective work, we found evidence that the students become engaged in uncovering and questioning their ways of thinking and behaving, as well as their moral frameworks. Initially we found a tendency among engineering students to be unwilling to deviate from the solutions that involve Pareto efficiency, to give priority to efficiency over justice, to understand justice only within the context of efficiency, as well as to experience difficulties in developing rational arguments to reach rationally justifiable conclusions on issues of justice and efficiency. The research revealed that senior undergraduate and master engineering students frequently experience a substantial difficulty in arguing coherently in debates about practical rationality, something that is in stark contrast with their good ability to deal with technical issues and mathematical calculations. At the beginning of the experiment disputed questions related to justice and efficiency were frequently treated not as a matter of rational enquiry and justification, but as a problem of personal opinions and unarticulated presuppositions that were relegated to the realm of irrational acts of belief. The use of boundary critique and several critical systems thinking tools contributed to change the way engineering students made and justify their choices among competing conceptions of justice, and to develop a new notion on how to reach a balance between efficiency and justice. The discussion helped students to reflect on wider issues that involved their role in issues of social justice in their society. The changes that students experienced were not the result of the researchers’ intentions to convince the students of making some particular choices, but of a dialogical rather than a monological approach to ethical issues and practical rationality. This dialogical approach involved the exploration of different alternative boundary judgements that promote reflexivity on what and whose views are included in or excluded from analysis. Students were able to understand that different ethical choices result from choosing diverse boundary judgements.


Presenter / Artist

Luis Pinzon-Salcedo

Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes

Thursday August 6, 2015 17:00 - 17:30 CEST
Reindeer Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:30 CEST

A Systemic and Hyperdimensional Model of a Conscious Cosmos and the Ontology of Consciousness in the Universe

The existence of consciousness in the universe as a consequent dimension of reality and a force able to shape material reality has to be integrated in cosmological physics theories whose stated aim is to describe the whole universe. General Systems Theory is a substantial global systemic framework that, blended with hyperdimensional physics, can ground such modeling.

It is a fact that only by positing hyperdimensions can actual physics succeeds in reaching a near-unification of the four forces by blending the frameworks of Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics (such as in Witten’s 11-dimensional M-Theory). This paper argues that the only way to integrate the dimension of consciousness in a theory of the universe is by modeling a complex hyperdimension of consciousness (or ‘syg hyperdimension’) consisting in complex semantic fields (operating at all levels, from the cosmic to the biosystems levels), and entwined with a hyperspace and hypertime. The well substantiated ‘nonlocal’ dynamics of consciousness, experimentally evidenced, show mind processes constantly violating Newtonian-Einsteinian space and time constraints, and following instead complex systems dynamics based on connectivity and meaning.

The Infinite Spiral Staircase theory (ISST) postulates that this triune hyperdimension operates at a sub-quantum scale, at the origin of the universe before the very Planck scale that allows the existence of particles (matter), as well as space and time. It is a Kaluza-Klein compact 5th dimension with a bulk pervading and encompassing our universe; the virtual particles of tachyonic speed populating it, the sygons, instantiate the very meaning-driven dynamics of our minds and allow for instant connectivity at a distance and two-way influences between semantic fields or minds and bio- and matter- systems.

Keywords: Systemic cosmology; General Systems Theory; Hyperdimension of consciousness; Hyperspace; ontology of consciousness;


Presenter / Artist

Chris H. Hardy

ISSS Two Day

Thursday August 6, 2015 17:30 - 18:00 CEST
Reindeer Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany