Shifting Mindsets for Managing Complexity

Peter JonesGovernance, Social Systems Design, Systemic Design

A “Macro” Argument – The Paradigm Shift happening The era of so-called New Public Management is slowly shifting. NPM has seen a significant, worldwide trend in public sector governance, has held the current paradigm since at least 1991, and arguably has survived, or absorbed several emerging movements in public management. Yet I see no academic agreement on what comes next. Recent developments in public management have included sectoral innovation (e.g. De Vries, et al., 2018) and relational public services (Complexity Outcomes, 2023), and these might evolve toward the practices we are calling, for now, complexity management. Yet digital governance, collaborative leadership, and e-governance are more frequently represented in the literature.  Yet these are more techniques with new management, not management innovation. We are looking for the adoption of new structural forms of management, or innovations that address the purposes of strategic leadership.  Digital governance changes the interface between stakeholders and …

Critical Crisis Convergences

Peter JonesCultural 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 …

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

Peter JonesGovernance, 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 …

Discovery Sampling for Requisite Social Variety

Peter JonesDialogic 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 …