Image of a whirling Dervish (source)

Dancing with systems & designing for positive emergence

This webinar was hosted by Deeanna Burleson, Ph.D. in the ‘Topics in the field of systems science’ series intended as a contribution to the International Society for Systems Science (here is a link to the original announcement of the webinar).

The webinar (video link below) starts with a 45 minute presentation offering reflections on nearly 20 years of experience in trying to apply whole systems thinking to the field of design for sustainability and more recently regenerative development practice.

I explore the limitations of a quantity focussed science and the need for a new ‘science of qualities’. I explore how the work and thinking of Donella Meadows evolved from ‘leverage points 1.0’ to ‘leverage points 2.0’ and on to ‘Dancing with systems. Nora Bateson’s ‘warm data’ approach is mentioned as a related example of this relationships and qualities focussed work with systems from the inside. Katia Laszlo’s framing from ‘systems thinking to systems being’ is also briefly addressed.

I go on to explore some of the most common mistakes made in intervening in complex adaptive systems and highlight the need for embracing the fundamental unpredictability of such systems as we move from being detached observers to being engaged participants of such systems. In this context I also speak to the power that lies in asking the right questions and asking questions rather than offering a list of principles to follow.

To ground these theoretical considerations and paradigmatic shifts in a practical example, I offer a brief summary of my work for Gaia Education on the ‘SDG Flashcards’, the ‘SDG Project Canvas’, the ‘SDG Training of Multipliers’ and the ‘Multipliers Handbook’ as an example of ‘designing for positive emergence’ and taking Bucky Fuller’s advice that “to change the way people think, don’t tell them what to think, give them a tool the use of which will change the way they think”. The flashcards by Gaia Education and UNESCO have been used successfully on 5 continents and translated into 6 languages.

… after the presentation there is another 45 minuter conversation or Q&A session that addresses a wide range of topics related to ‘Designing Regenerative Culture’ … enjoy and share!