Creating shared meaning for systemic change

Steve Whitla
14 september 2020

Language is often a problem in complex organisational change, with different departments and stakeholder groups using the same words to mean different things, and using different words to mean the same thing.

As systems practitioners, we are constantly building models of organisations and their environments, but we too bring our own language and assumptions, and it’s often apparent that the models we create to tame complexity make little sense to those affected by it.

  • What would happen if we set out to represent systems in ways that maximised shared meaning for diverse audiences?
  • What might the consequences be, if a general audience affected by a systemic pattern had a simple, intuitive way of seeing, understanding, and sharing it with others?

This talk by Steve Whitla will provide a simple model for how we think about shared meaning, the pre-conditions necessary to create it, and some practical suggestions on how to bring systems models to life.


About Steve Whitla

Steve Whitla is the founder and director of Visual Meaning, a consultancy that draws together systems thinking and visual thinking for organisational change, and the co-author of the recently published Visualising Business Transformation (Routledge, 2020).