It is often said that organisations are full of paradoxes. But this refers to contradictions and tensions. It is understood as something that needs to be taken care of. When organisations are looked at as social systems, however, it becomes clear that they are only possible because of paradoxes, and particularly paradoxes of self-reference. Understanding how these paradoxes create and maintain organisations is an important skill for practitioners... Read more
Organisational agility is now a relatively hot topic, which it wasn’t when I first talked about this subject at SCiO 6 years ago. Since then, we’ve significantly developed and extended the model for measuring agility, so will be talking about the latest developments. We’ll start with the need for business agility, going beyond the hype to look at the business reality and strategic importance of agility. We’ll then go on to look at the different ... Read more
The Model T wasn’t Fords product, it was River Rouge, anybody could make the Model T but not everybody could make River Rouge. River Rouge was a special type of transactional organisation that gave it competitive advantage. This advantage comprised of Taylorising the activities by separating the Knowledge from the activity, and coordinating these activities by moving the car between stations, there was no communication/learning between station... Read more
One of the most important intersections between design and systems is their shared concern for ethics. When we think of ethical considerations in either context, we often do so in terms of applied ethics—as the application of ethical insight to guide practice, addressing issues such professional standards of conduct, and our relationships to the environment and to each other. There are, however, difficulties with thinking of the relationship bet... Read more
Mind the Gap! The missing body of knowledge and methodology for assessing peoples’ systems thinking capability
Both the academic and corporate literature recognise the value of systems thinking in helping today’s decision makers address the socially complex and dynamic challenges they face. However, as systems thinking is an emerging professional practice there are a number of requirements for a body of knowledge to enable organisations and decision makers to develop staff, or access external resources, that have the requisite knowledge and skills. Speci... Read more
This session looks at organizational crisis – one that poses an existential threat to an organization, and at the VSM conditions, which can be used to understand and predict such organisational crises. The findings of a quantitative phd-study with 135 organizations shows that the (absence of) system viability is significantly and strongly connected with the occurrence of Organisational crisis. We discuss the limitations, implications and conseque... Read more
This will be an interactive workshop session. I give first-person inquiry (critical self-reflection/reflexion) prominence alongside second and third person inquiry, and I express the emotional experience of being in a research process. I thus avoid the ‘severed head’ syndrome (abstracted rational thinking) advocated in the Academy, which demands the partial or total separation of the Self from the research process, and rational inquiry from the... Read more
Sooner or later, most Agile teams find that it’s hard to sustain change, and harder to still to encourage the wider organisation to change with it. How about we turned it upside down, inverting the organisational pyramid so that supporting change becomes the organisation’s responsibility? How might we make that work?
Jonathan will talk about his experiences in designing and managing IT led transformations that use a combination of both waterfall and agile approaches and the issues of dealing with these two very different project methodologies in parallel.
The pain, the potential and the need for paracetamol: bringing systems thinking to complex soft systems for vulnerable people
Wiltshire Council has been using systems thinking as its improvement approach for eleven years; over that time the council has applied the approach with its principal delivery partners in increasingly large systems. One reason for this evolution is that the approach has proved better at tackling complex ‘hard to solve’ problems than other methods (which often did the opposite). Over the last 18 months, we have focused our keenest attention on wh... Read more