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 …

Discovery Sampling for Requisite Social Variety

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Governance, Social Systems Design

Stakeholder selection may be the most critical step in the design of fair and inclusive dialogues that reflect a community’s contributions and perspectives. This is a classic social systems problem that we resolve through a stakeholder identification and recruiting process that, in Dialogic Design, is called Evolutionary Stakeholder Discovery. Over the last decade we have been instrumenting, through careful definition of criteria and observation, how stakeholder discovery can be conducted to identify and recruit optimal participants from a theoretical population sample. As a documented case, in 2012 the Strategic Innovation Lab convened a Dialogic Design Co-Laboratory as a multi-stakeholder panel for the SSHRC Imagining Canada’s Future initiative, as one of the six regional cross-Canadian panels. With only 20 stakeholders, we aimed to represent Southern Ontario for the question of future impacts of urbanism in the region for a 20 year horizon. For this project we selected participants by an evolutionary sampling from a matrix mapping the following characteristics: STEEP/CI (Foresight categories): Social, Technological, Ecological, Economic, Political, Cultural/Intellectual Christakis Five I’s: Intelligence, Impact, Implementation, Interest, and Involvement Sector: Public, Academic, Private/commercial, …

Rethinking “Design” in the Public Sector

Peter Jones Governance, Social Systems Design

(Edited version first published in Jan 2016 Canadian Government Executive ) Government is widely perceived as lagging and fragmented in providing integrated online services to citizens. In the meantime, people take to the Web for managing nearly every service and information requirement. We have learned to expect a high quality of customer service online, well-designed sites and experiences, and thoughtful consideration to the management of personal transactions. There is a reason why the quality of online engagement has been steadily perfected by the private sector: it is because it has put a premium on “design.” The intentional rethinking of the so-called user experience, combined with continual research into customer preferences, and evaluation of new features and design changes, has made all the difference. Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have built their holds on the public by a constant dedication to user-centered design and service engineering. They have set a high bar for access and usability that public services must address, or risk becoming less relevant in citizen’s lives. We could say this is an emerging digital divide between customers and citizens. …