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 …

Flourishing Cities: Toward an Ecological Governance

Peter Jones Civil media, Sustainable Systems, Transformation Design

We held a participatory design workshop at Urban Ecologies 2015 (June 19) to test-run a process with the Flourishing Cities canvas, a system map for citizen co-design for planning future governance commitments and preferred future outcomes The Flourishing Cities framework adapts a design tool from the Flourishing Business Model, a planning system for constructing strongly sustainable business models. The design tool in both cases is a visual organizer for engaging stakeholders in co-creating values-centred operational guidance, in the Cities case, adapted for civil society engagement with urban planners and local governments.  This is based on research work developed from OCADU sLab Strongly Sustainable Business Model group as applied to the flourishing of cities and settlements. As suggested by the “strongly sustainable” terminology, the normative commitment of the planning system is toward a fullY-integrated social system of an organization with its inclusive societal contexts, human participants, and the natural ecosystem. A significant design challenge of our time is anticipating the relationships of multiple environmental and social problems as a complex system of nonlinear effects.  Consider how climate change debates stay mired in the unproductive positions of …

Learning from the Global Community of Dialogic Design

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Systemic Design, Transformation Design

Co-Evolving SDD Practice In several short years, many leaders and institutions now openly acknowledge the necessity for inclusive social transformation. We also now find stakeholders raising the concern that social change must be driven by participatory and democratic processes. We recognize the fact that our third millennium world needs new methodologies and new tools capable of harnessing the collective wisdom of people from all walks of life in order to protect its sustainability and foster up harmony into its evolution. The practice of Structured Dialogic Design is positioned as a powerful tool in this context. A group of nearly 30 practitioners and scholars met in Limassol Cyprus for May’s international meeting not to revisit the history of the past 40+ years but to “create the history of the future.” The community of scientists and practitioners of the science of dialogic design has now expanded to include people from all parts of the world and a variety of languages and cultures. A dedicated community of scientists, students and practice leaders gathered for a week to deliberate on how to evolve SDD and retain its scientific credibility together with its cultural sensitivity. As …

Reproduction of Disruption

Peter Jones Media Ecology, Strategic Innovation, Transformation Design

How Innovation Regimes Reproduce Culture Media Ecology Association, Toronto, June 20, 2014 “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”  John Culkin, SJ (Usually attributed to his friend, Marshall McLuhan) We live in a technogenic culture – a society that generates ever more technology, whether necessary or not. Mainstream culture celebrates the economic value of technological ingenuity, and worships innovation. Our desires become captured and entranced by the tools of tech. In this post-age of ubiquitous smart-things, everyone now “owns technology,” or gadgets – whether a smartphone, stack of computers, soon personal robots.  For the first time in history perhaps, there is little differentiation between generational ownership – children, the elderly, very poor people – all have similar gadgets. There may finally be little or no cachet to having the latest hardware or gadget. The desirable commodity has become the capacity to produce technology. The capacity for mass self-production with 3D printing and “desktop app publishing” represents an entry point toward the ownership of technology as the medium itself.  Owning an app or a capacity says more about …