Critical Crisis Convergences

Peter Jones Cultural innovation, Governance, Systemic Design

The Global Problematique – A Lindy Megacrisis We are blessed & cursed to live in unusual times. Nassim Taleb speaks of the Lindy effect, the observation that the life expectancy of a practice (or idea) is proportional to its current age. Long-established practices tend to endure, statistically and culturally. (The Lindy Effect was named after the Lindy Deli in NYC, the last one of which closed soon after Antifragile was published). Don’t bet the Eastern Orthodox Church will disappear during modernism, as it will outlive your lifespan. So will the Global Problematique. The Year 2020 now represents 50 years since the presentation of The Predicament of Mankind, Hasan Özbekhan’s prospectus to the inaugural Club of Rome. The Predicament assembled the first structured assessment of the highest-concern challenges acknowledged universally across the world, the first model of what today we would call a global challenges report. I recently held a talk in The Stoa on Living with the Global Problematique, which was about an hour, but still left much unspoken which I’m intending to address in these posts. If you’d like …

Our Theories of Theories of Change: The Social Construction of Transformation

Peter Jones Governance, Social Systems Design, Systemic Design, Transformation Design

Theories of Change (ToC) are well-known in changemaking initiatives and program evaluation as structural models that represent the expected enactment of proposed change programs. They are logic models that portray proof of process that present the sequences of action and the desired outcomes to justify systems change programs. With a research collaborator Ryan Murphy (PhD student, OCAD SFI alum) we have been tracing an emerging research agenda this year to explore the systems theory basis for theories of change. We are starting with critiques of the formalist logic models used in change programs to define claims of social causality from proposed action plans and aim to design systemic approaches to improve visual narration, systems logics, and reliability. See: Murphy, R. & Jones, P. (2020). Systemic Strategy: Systemic Design Methods for Complex Systems Change. RSD9 Symposium, NID Ahmedabad, India. Murphy, R. and Jones, P. (2020). Design management for wicked problems: Towards systemic theories of change through systemic design. Academic Design Management Conference, Toronto, 5-6 August, 2020. Also of course see the work proceeding from the “other Toronto school,” the research agenda …

Dialogues at the Intersections of Power

Peter Jones Dialogue, Sensemaking

Design with Dialogue held an inquiry into the systems of power we face in modern civilization, and the structures and forms it takes. Pre-reads included Off-Guardian’s “Left and Lockdown“, Charles Eisenstein’s The Coronation, or something (anything) from Matt Taibbi’s recent substacks. We proposed a few discovery questions to shape the inquiry: In a complex society with heterogeneous forms of power, are we each subject to different structures and forms of power we experience?Or is there a sense in which we are all subject to the same powers, whether we accept them or not? How do you hold agency? Do our unique histories and commitments determine the boundaries of our personal power to alter policies, events, outcomes, and eventually our society? What structures are now available, or foreclosed, for acting on a commitment to collective power, e.g. democratic power of a people? How might we better shape our societies while sustaining collective wellbeing, privileging individual freedom, and guaranteeing self-expression? What have we learned from organized activism – have any of us achieved the desired outcome of our appeals? Where is it …

Rethinking Design / Systems / Thinking

Peter Jones Design Management, Sensemaking, Systemic Design

The design community is once again rethinking all the thinkings. It’s about time, as we’ve been through more than a decade after the last global crash and we are now at the start of the next, much longer crash, or the Long Crisis of the Anthropocene. This crash will be political, cultural and financial (unlike the 2008 Minsky Moment (credit implosion) based on the corrupt underpinnings of mortgage-backed securities). Will the design community and design education be prepared this time? Or will we be arguing about ideology and single-cause design activism? Perhaps the compelling ideas of the prior decade are fuzzy by now, but we were busy bringing new design-led interdisciplines into schools and defying the complaints of those that insisted “design education must change.” It was changing – and now we’ve seen several hundred graduates from the OCAD University Strategic Foresight & Innovation MDes. We saw the rise and fall of Transformation Design that attended the hopeful resurgence of new design thinking. At the time, by 2010 at the latest, we were already arguing Design Thinking (the corporate training …