Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Cultiver des hommes… #Lean #Permaculture #Agroécologie

M’intéressant actuellement à la permaculture (cf. ce post de janvier), je viens de réaliser un certain nombre de parallèles :

  • Le Lean dit (en japonais): “mono zukuri wa hito zukuri” soit “fabriquer des choses, c’est fabriquer des hommes”. Donc il faut fabriquer des hommes avant de pouvoir fabriquer des choses, et le Lean est un business model qui vise à développer les hommes par la résolution de problèmes
  • L’agroécologie (l’un des aspects de la permaculture), c’est faire de l’agriculture qui régénère les sols plutôt que les épuiser
  • le 8e gaspillage du Lean est souvent cité comme étant la créativité inexploitée des collaborateurs.

Je trouve le parallèle saisissant si l’on considère que les pratiques managériales actuelles tendent à désengager et déresponsabiliser les collaborateurs, ce qui les amènent à ne plus contributer d’idées et d’innovation à l’amélioration de leurs entreprises. Comme si les pratiques managériales (agricoles) avaient épuisé les sols (collaborateurs), et qu’il faille pallier avec force consultants, méthodes, et autre command & control.

Re-apprenons à travailler avec la diversité (des idées), réinvestissons une partie des gains de l’entreprise vers les collaborateurs (compostage sur place !), travaillons avec les bordures (valoriser le différent, les frontières de l’entreprise), recherchons les interactions entre plantes (collaborateurs d’expertises différentes) et nous aurons un terreau (une culture organisationnelle) à nouveau propice au développement d’idées !

Arrêtons de planter des graines qui donnent des plantes stériles [hybrides F1] (idées extérieure, gestion du changement command & control), mais valorisons les graines anciennes (idées des collaborateurs, adaptées au terrain/terreau de l’entreprise) qui poussent sans intrants chimiques (méthodes importées de l’extérieur et tuant toute créativité en interne) !

Faisons de l’agroécologie ou de la permaculture d’entreprise !


Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | @Guardian #systemsthinking

Simple article, effective in sending the message (like others did dozens of year ago). Now, people listen, but they don’t hear.

I love the graphs with superposition of calculated trajectories and real values.

We’re doomed.

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Reblog: Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner @systemsthinking

September 2nd, 2014 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: , , , ,

#systemsthinking Might humans higher intellect be the cause for the announced doom?

The Club of Rome and “Limits to Growth” book have warned us since when I was born that without a drastic change, humanity is doomed. Indeed, a point of non-return was passed over in the 80s, so we I guess we all have to cross fingers and hope for an innovation to save us all.

Meanwhile, I was thinking out loud on LinkedIn/Systems Thinking World and happened to have posted the following, which I think might be of interest to readers of this blog.

I think there’s a system at play in humans on a second level that is absent in animals (and insects) [the discussion was about Insect Economies]

Animals interact on a ground level with their environment and are structurally coupled with it (Maturana). When there’s food available, they use it. When the resource is exhausted or below a *practical* level corresponding to their natural ability to gather/use it, they just stop, either through migrating to better places, which indeed let time for nature to rebuild itself or they breed less, or even they disappear altogether.

Humans on the contrary are able to adapt themselves to a higher level to their environment. When their usual way of using resources isn’t sufficient enough, they invent/innovate a new/different/better way of doing it, and exploit the resources further (usually through tools). The result is that nature goes beyond a point of being able to regenerate itself (overshoot and collapse? Mentioned here). When we achieve this point, we usually either move elsewhere (find a new oil natural tank) or innovate to use another kind of resource.

Indeed, it’s always a search for more, with (as far as I noted for now) more and more negative longer term consequences.

So, from a systemic perspective, I’d say that what allowed humanity to prosper up to now is its capacity to think at “upper” levels and have a new kind of adaptation to change, where animals are more limited. It might well be what will put humanity at risk in the longer term, unless we evolve one layer further up.

I thus see 3 tendencies for now:

  • continue humankind as usual (the 90%)
  • embrace decrease/frugal economy (ie, consume less and less, the 9%) – in which I place initiatives such as The Commons
  • embrace thinking to a higher level (the 1%?): systems thinking, the human project ( and similar.

Despite being attracted with the third option, I’m wondering whether this direction is the good one given that it showed such poor results to date (incredible progress but with an exhausted planet in the end).


Stop investigate solutions, start to gather the world! #stwg #systemsthinking

Stop looking for solutions, start to gather the worldThe problem situation

I love solving problems. Moreover, I also love finding solutions and making scaffolding theories. Yet, I feel there’s a big problem behind such tendencies: the more you work at a solution on your own, the more prefect it seems to be, then the more resistance you’re probably going to generate when you go out to the world for implementing your solution. Here’s why.

On the diagram on the right, start at the “Pressing problem” part and follow the arrows.

  • First the R1 loop (for Reinforcing). This really looks like what you’re all trying to do: you have (good!) solutions, and try to make people adhere to them. I think it’s mostly doomed to fail. The problem entices you to think about a solution which you will mostly want to advocate, thereby triggering a conflict with people’s different world views (because they haven’t got a change to think to your problem themselves), which more probably will result in others rejecting the solution you pushed onto them, thereby lowering the chances that actions are taken to solve the initial problem, in the end, making the problem all the more pressing.
  • The R2 loop is similar, only that is goes through your working out the solution increasing your own conviction that it’s a good one (because you’re adapting your mind to it).
  • The R3 loop is what prevents the whole system to come to a solution that would suit each and every one of us. continuing from the conviction that your solution is a good one, you (maybe unconsciously) decrease your willingness to give time to others to contribute to your building a solution, meaning that they indeed won’t work in a commonly built solution, indeed decreasing the chances (or number) of commonly built solutions, which adds up to the lack of actions taken to solve the problem, thereby making the problem a pressing one.

How to change that situation?

My intuition is that we should redirect energy flowing from the “pressing problem” to “thinking about a solution” (dotted blue arrow) directly to “others participate in a commonly built solution” (the green dotted arrow, mostly non existent at the time, or so it seems to me?). Doing such an action would suppress R1 and R2 loops and R3 would be shortened and more importantly replaced by a Balancing loop, meaning the more you work on a commonly built solution, the less there will be pressing problems.

A global organization to support commonly built solutions

The reflection above came out of a context related to finding global solutions to world pressing problem (mostly in the SEE fields: Social, Economical and Ecological). The Commons is all but one of the concepts meant at addressing these global issues. I’m not saying Management of the Commons is a bad solution. Indeed I even think of the opposite. But I think people working on such a solution should also start worrying about how they would have their solution adopted by lay people at a global level.

Here’s one of many web pages discussing the concept of the commons: Growing the Commons as Meta-narrative?

So, how to create that green dotted arrow, for me, is through a worldwide helping/supporting organization (be it the United Nations or else) that would facilitate concrete resolution of problems locally, regionally and globally. That would necessitate some efficient and practical means of communication between all levels top down and also on horizontal levels, between different fields: for instance, you need the ecologists trying to preserve some local pond to exchange with the nearest city officials, with business shareholders that want to build their industries near the pond, some people representatives that want both a green environment and some work to live decently, etc.

Fortunately, principles on how to organize such an organization do exist in the form of the Viable System Model for organizations as presented by Stafford Beer. What’s still lacking is an efficient model of communication, though in bootstrapping such an organization, currently existing forums, Facebook pages, Wikis and syndicated blogs would probably be do the trick.

To put it shortly and bluntly: the more people will think of a solution, the less chances are that it will become a reality.
(unless you can fund and implement it without the help of others, of course, but since we’re talking of a world-wide problem, it’s just impossible).

Rio+20, #sustainability & the commons: tragedy of the commons at 3 levels (#systemsthinking #stwg)

As my readers may know, I’m a member of the Systems Thinking World LinkedIn discussion group and there’s a running thread regarding that United Nations call from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon about some revolutionary thinking to get the global economy out of the marsh it is now.

Thanks to that (long) thread, I’ve been acquainted with various initiatives, one of them being that of The School of Commoning. One of their home page blog article is about a Tragedy of the Commons identified following the Rio+20 UN world conference recently.

Indeed, I identified not one, not two, but three Tragedy of the Commons happening regarding these sustainability issues, though not all at the same level, but probably reinforcing the whole problem at a bigger level (haven’t modelled that from a higher level, though, someone ought to do it. Volunteers, somewhere?). They are:

  1. Fight for usage of non renewable resources (or commons)
  2. Fight for monetization of non renewable resources (or commons)
  3. Fight for control over the non renewable resources (or commons)

Let’s review them each in turn…

Read more »

Thinking about Rio+20: who owns the Green Economy? | Opinion | Whitsunday Times

I read the paper here: Rio+20: who owns the Green Economy? | Opinion | Whitsunday Times and I’m worried (also see the other document from the parallel People Summit at Rio “Another Future is Possible” which is referenced from that “Tragedy of the Commons” blog post of the School of Commoning).

I’m worried because, like so many expert advices in organizations and governments, it’s unheard by those in a position to lead the change. To the best case, it will end on presidential desks and maybe will be read by them. To the worst, it will be forgot or even fuel that “tragedy of the commons” we’re experiencing regarding ecology on a global level where the more pressing the situation is, the more pushy ecologically aware people will become, thereby making leaders resist.

To me, the problem is two-fold: 1) experts having a non systemic perspective and 2) experts  pushing leaders to change using fear.

Let’s look at these. Read more »

Could it be that the SEE system is self-sustaining the current global mess? (#systemsthinking)

Reading about a draft report created out of contributions by Systems Thinkers on the LinkedIn group “Systems Thinking World“, in a discussion aimed at replying to UN’s General Secretary Ban Ki Moon call for revolutionary thinking regarding the current economic crisis, the following considerations occurred to me:

“Could it be that the current Social, Economical and Ecological interplay (system) is indeed sustaining the current situation (a downward slope to future ecological, economic and hence social havoc?”

I tried to quickly summarized my view in the attached diagram (for those that don’t know how to read such a diagram: boxes are “stock” that accumulate (or decrease) over time. Arrows are “flows” between stocks. A + arrow means that both sides of it move in the same direction (if origin increases, so does the destination of it, and conversely when decreasing). A – arrow means the two ends of the arrow move in opposite directions (if origin increases, destination decreases and vice-versa)).

Systems Dynamics causal loop diagram of SEE sustaining an unsustainable future...

The corresponding explanation would go something as:

  • The Economy being in a downturn, it negatively impacts the Social capital of people (trust, willing to give to others [not in terms of money but more on the line of compassion and relationships]), which makes them less likely to contribute to improvements of the Economy (R1). 
  • A decreasing Economy is negatively impacting Ecology as well (R2 through Ecological capital and Survival Instinct back to Social Capital) which, along with all the fuss about Ecology in the medias (UN call including), stresses out our Survival instinct, thereby negatively impacting our Social capital as well. 
  • The less we have a Social capital, the less likely we are to contribute to Ecology (R4). 
  • The last loop is about our stressed out Survival instinct that negatively impacts our Social capital, reinforcing the downturn in Survival instinct (R3).

Please show me where I’m wrong?!

Of course, should that situation has an ounce of veracity, the question would be: out to get out of it. This is the whole purpose of the aforementioned thread to propose some systemic (revolutionary in itself, probably) answer.

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