Presentation on theme: "Applied Sustainability"— Presentation transcript:
1 Applied Sustainability Class 8: Systems & Org LearningP. Brian FisherSpring 2013
2 RE-AMP’s Collective Network – Key Principles to Systems Problem Solving Understand the System you are trying to changeInvolve Diversity of stakeholdersDesign Network (not an organization) and invest in collective infrastructureCultivate Leadership at many levelsCreate multiple ops to connect and communicateRemain Adaptive and Emergent committed to long-term vision
3 Chapter 3: why systems work so well Thinking in systems
4 Functionality of Systems Highly functional systems: resilience, self-organization, or hierarchyResilience: measure of a system’s ability to survive and persist within a variable environment Ability to bounce back or elasticity arises from a rich structure of many feedback loops that can work in different ways to restore a system even after a large perturbation.Self-Organization: capacity for a system to create its own structure feedback loops that can learn, create, design, and evolve ever more complex restorative structures.Hierarchy: In the process of creating new structures and increasing complexity, one thing that a self-organizing system often generates is hierarchy a set of subsystems that aggregate into larger systemsSystems need to be managed not only for productivity or stability, they also need to be managed for resilience.Like resilience, self-organization is often sacrificed for purposes of short-term productivity and stability.
5 Leverage Points to Change System So, how do we change the structure of systems to produce more of what we want and less of that which is undesirable? where in the system can we create a small change that can lead to a large shift in the system?Leverage Points = Points of Power
6 12. Numbers—Constants and parameters such as subsidies, taxes, standards Meadows. 11. Buffers—The sizes of stabilizing stocks relative to their flows10. Stock-and-Flow Structures—Physical systems and their nodes of intersection9. Delays—The lengths of time relative to the rates of system changes8. Balancing Feedback Loops—The strength of the feedbacks relative to the impacts they are trying to correct.7. Reinforcing Feedback Loops—The strength of the gain of driving loops6. Information Flows—The structure of who does and does not have access to information
7 5. Rules—Incentives, punishments, constraints 4. Self-Organization—The power to add, change, or evolve system structure3. Goals—The purpose or function of the system2. Paradigms—The mind-set out of which the system—its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters—arisesTranscending Paradigms – No paradigm is “true” keep unattached “let go into not-knowing, into what Buddhists call enlightenment**The higher the leverage point, the more the system will resist changing it—that’s why societies often rub out truly enlightened beings.
8 Living in a world of Systems “Self-organizing, nonlinear, feedback systems are inherently unpredictable. They are not controllable. They are understandable only in the most general way. The goal of foreseeing the future exactly and preparing for it perfectly is unrealizable. The idea of making a complex system do just what you want it to do can be achieved only temporarily, at best. We can never fully understand our world, not in the way our reductionist science has led us to expect. Our science itself, from quantum theory to the mathematics of chaos, leads us into irreducible uncertainty. For any objective other than the most trivial, we can’t optimize; we don’t even know what to optimize. We can’t keep track of everything. We can’t find a proper, sustainable relationship to nature, each other, or the institutions we create, if we try to do it from the role of the omniscient conqueror.”
9 Insights from Systems thinking 1. Systems thinking often leads to more questions than answers2. We need a different sort of “doing.” The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. Systems can’t be controlled, but they can be designed and redesigned.3. Before you disturb a system, watch how it behaves – Get the Beat of the System4. Expose your Mental Models and Assumptions (for others to examine) make rigorous systems models5. Honor, Respect, and Distribute Information Info is power Need more complete, timely and accurate information6. Use Language with Care and Enrich It with Systems Concepts Avoid language pollution, while expanding our language to handle complexity7. Pay Attention to What Is Important, Not Just What Is Quantifiable Set goals around what’s important, not measureable8. Make Feedback Policies for Feedback Systems best policies not only contain feedback loops, but meta-feedback loops—loops that alter, correct, and expand loops9. Go for the Good of the Whole Don’t maximize parts or subsystems aim: to enhance total systems properties, such as growth, stability, diversity, resilience, and sustainability
10 Insights (con’t)10. Listen to the Wisdom of the System encourage the forces and structures that help the system run itself.11. Locate Responsibility in the System looking for the ways the system creates its own behavior12. Stay Humble— Stay a Learner Don’t charge forward with unbending directives need to learn primarily through trial and error “error-embracing” enhances learning13. Celebrate Complexity universe is messy. It is nonlinear, turbulent, and dynamic Celebrate and embrace this14. Expand Time Horizons Phenomena at different time-scales are nested within each other. Actions taken now have some immediate effects and some that radiate out for decades to come15. Defy the Disciplines Follow systems, and it will definitely cross traditional disciplines more than interdisciplinary16. Expand the Boundary of Caring The real system is interconnected. No part of the human race is separate either from other human beings or from the global ecosystem17. Don’t Erode the Goal of Goodness “drift to low performance” is the process by which modern industrial culture has eroded the goal of morality
12 Core of Book: Fifth Discipline Systems thinking to transform orgs into “learning organizations” Good orgs are ALWAYS learningGood managers are always thinking of the “big picture” (and the relationships)The five disciplines represent approaches (theories and methods) for developing three core learning capabilities: fostering aspiration, developing reflective conversation, and understanding complexity
13 5 Core CapabilitiesPersonal Mastery: continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively (p7)Mental Modes: deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures of images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action (p8)Shared Vision: practice of unearthing shared pictures of the future that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance (P9)Team Learning: dialogue, the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine thinking together (p10)Systems Thinking: The Fifth Discipline that integrates the other 4
14 Bringing it together"Systems thinking also needs the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning, and personal mastery to realize its potential. Building shared vision fosters a commitment to the long term. Mental models focus on the openness needed to unearth shortcomings in our present ways of seeing the world. Team learning develops the skills of groups of people to look for the larger picture beyond individual perspectives. And personal mastery fosters the personal motivation to continually learn how our actions affect our world." (p. 12)The “Lever” A learning org is a place where people are continually discovering how they create their reality; and how they change it.
15 Metanoia – A Shift of Mind “a fundamental shift”“Real learning get to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we recreate ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life” (p13-4)“learning organization” is therefore “an org that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”Learning org = adaptive learning + generative learningPutting ideas into PRACTICE
16 Learning Disabilities I am my position: People fail to recognize their purpose as a part of the enterprise. Instead, they see themselves as an inconsequential part of a system over which they have little influence, leading them to limit themselves to the jobs they must perform at their own positions. This makes it hard to pinpoint the reason an enterprise is failing, with so many hidden 'loose screws' around.The enemy out there: propensity to blame someone or something outside ourselves. This disability makes it almost impossible to detect the leverage we have on problems that straddle the boundary between us and "out there.”The Illusion of Taking Charge: All too often, proactiveness is reactiveness in disguise. Whether in business or politics, if we simply become more aggressive fighting the "enemy out there," we are reacting -- regardless of what we call it. True proactiveness comes from seeing how we contribute to our own problems. It is a product of our way of thinking, not our emotional state.The Fixation of Events: Focusing on events distract us from seeing the longer-term patterns of change that lie behind the event and from understanding the cause of those patterns. The tendency to see things as results of short-term events undermines our ability to see things on a grander scale…the biggest threats we face are rarely sudden events, but slow, gradual processes, such as environmental changes.Boiling Frog: We are adept at responding to sudden changes in our environment. We are terrible at assessing slow, gradual changes, even when they threaten our survival.The Delusion of Learning from Experience: Practice makes permanent, rather than perfectThe Myth of the Management Team: silos and self interest dominate and team breaks down under pressure
17 Beer GameSimulation of beer distrib from a factory to customers through distrib, wholesaler and retailerEx of non-systemic form of thinking that many orgs useHighlights the importance of understanding interrelationships in companies to understand big pictureCause and effect are not always closely related in time and space
18 Prisoners of the Systems 1. Structure (key interrelationships) influences behaviorWhen placed in the same system, people, however different, tend to produce similar results2. Structure in Human Systems is SubtleNot external constraints on the indiv—BUT rather in complex living systems, it means the basic interrelationships that control behavior HOW people make decisions (or op procedures) where we translate perceptions, goals, rules and norms into action.3. Leverage often comes from New Ways of ThinkingPeople often miss leverage because they focus on themselves not on how their decision affects others.
19 11 Laws of the Fifth Discipline Today's problems come from yesterday's "solutions."The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.Behavior grows better before it grows worse.The easy way out usually leads back in.The cure can be worse than the disease.Faster is slower.Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space.Small changes can produce big results...but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.You can have your cake and eat it too—but not at onceDividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants.There is no blame** The cure lies in your relationship to your enemy
20 A Shift in Mind (ch 5) Systems thinking is the fifth discipline Way to see things holistically and gives living systems their unique characterCornerstone of how learning orgs thinkMeans any reciprocal flow of thinkingEvery influence is BOTH cause and effectStarts with feedback and builds to learning to recognize types of “structures”We see things as linear, as opposed to systems—which is cyclical
21 Personal Mastery (ch 8) Orgs learn through people who learn Involves living life through “creative” viewpt rather than a reactive oneRequires continual clarification of our own “personal vision” (what we want) and learning to see our current reality more clearlyTotal development of people leads to employee personal successHappy, fulfilled, innovative employees lead to corp successPeople with high levels of personal mastery are more committed, take more initiative and have a deeper sense of responsibility
22 Shared Vision (ch 10)Shared visions are not an idea, but a Q asking “what do we want to create?”Vital for learning orgs to provide focus and energyCan’t learn without themBoth intrinsic and extrinsic.Extrinsic: focus on achieving something relating to outsideIntrinsic: focus on uplifting a person’s aspirations
23 Team LearningProcess of aligning and developing capacity of a team to create the results its members desireAlignment is necessary condition before empowerment3 critical elements of Team LearningThink insightfully about complex issuesNeed for innovative coordinated actionRole of team members on other teams
24 Leaders and Citizens (ch 15/16) Producing change necessary to creating a learning org requires true leadershipNeed creative tension mutual appreciation that one is capable of obtaining a vision regardless of differenceLeaders as designersLeaders as teachersLeaders as stewardsCitizens: Every org lies within a larger systemNetwork of mutualityLearning to ID systems we have formed, which in turn impact usSocial and environmental awareness
25 conclusion“nature is not made of parts within wholes. It is made of wholes within wholes”Continuous improvement and learningTo do this, shed our traditional way of thinkingThe 5 disciplines will maximize the potential of any org