Andrea's thought provoking post

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Andrea's thought provoking post

Postby NeillHog on Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:11 pm

Copied from the OU forum with Andrea's permission.

Neill Hogarth said:

I have one more request of you Andrea. Can you supply me with a short and succinct description of what systems thinking "is". That way I can place it at the opening page and people will realise this is not (just) about IT.

Do you remember right at the beginning of block 1 the parable about the blind men and the elephant? Well, if you want to rely on just my perspective, then what you will probably get is a description of the trunk smile. The definition for a systems approach "emerges" from a description of a number of key concepts e.g. emergence (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts); feedback; control; hierarchy; boundary; etc. Each definition will emphasise one or two of these concepts -- and depends very much on the cognitive style/experiences/values of the individual doing the definition. So to kick off discussions s-- and taking into account that this is coming straight off the top of my head/is my particular take on things -- I would say that systems thinking/a systems approach is about:
1 looking first at the "big picture"/environment when engaging with a complex/messy situation before narrowing down on the "causes" and "solutions" of the problem (i.e. setting boundaries);
2. Valuing multiple perspectives (different cognitive styles, intelligences, etc) while at the same time being aware of those in positions of power who will always work to maintain their position (identifying the positive and negative feedback loops in operation that will prevent/enable your system to work);
3. Establishing an optimising, often subversive, "learning cycle" for working through complex/messy situations.

People reading this will probably start retching coming so soon after the ECA smile but what I would recommend is to use a systems framework to guide the establishment of this group and the various technologies that will support its deliberations.

For example:
1. What is to be its primary purpose on which to optimise the learning cycle around? Consider the "big picture"/environment of the situation before establishing boundaries;
2. How will you mediate between the various perspectives -- who does the observations/plans/evaluations/actions? How will these be recorded? How can you create something self organising that works from the bottom up?

Practising systems thinking in setting this up will give you a massive headstart for T306 and will also create an extremely powerful platform for supporting your studies (i.e. the systems framework for managing your group will undoubtedly evolve as you engage with the various concepts/tools/methodologies/etc of the new course).

But I also understand if you would like to take a little bit of a break from all of this! Good luck with it and remembered that I will always be available if you need any help.

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Re: Andrea's thought provoking post

Postby Caroline on Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:57 pm

Its funny but just as I was reading the bit about "you are all probably retching..." Youll NEVER guess what I was doing!!!....

Andrea was usually very thought-provoking.
I loved reading his posts.
I thought that the ideas expressed in this post were very nicely diagramised (and very generously shared with us by attendees) during the OUDES weekend.
I must say that more than anything in Block 4 , the stuff i read on the forums about the OUDES weekend really helped me to get a grip on what was and wasn't important on T214, and to pull my ideas together for the ECA.
Particular thanks to Tom Short who posted a very nice influence diagram of 'nested concepts'.
(hmmm now where did I put it....)
Thanks to all who attended and 'shared the experience' (man)
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Re: Andrea's thought provoking post

Postby Andrea on Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:40 am

Neill has kindly allowed me to participate in the initial discussions on this platform :-). In a reply I sent him a couple of days ago I wrote:
"This is exactly the kind of thing I dream of when working on my courses i.e. that some students will be empowered enough to take forward not only the teachings, but also the actual dialogue centred approach I have tried to encourage in the learning process. But I also acknowledge the fact that my opinionated and blunt responses may have irritated some students. I would therefore love to be involved in this group (I was a tutor on t306 so I may be able to provide some insight) but I am also aware that my involvement may drive some students away. So I am more than happy for you to discuss amongst yourselves how you would like me to help out. What I like about this is that now you guys are in charge!!"

I just want to emphasise the last sentence -- please feel free to tell me to shut up and/or where to go :-).

Who, and to what level, different "stakeholders" participate on this platform could be something that is part of the systemic framework for managing discussions.
esse sequitur operari
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Re: Andrea's thought provoking post

Postby Teiana on Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:08 pm

oh for goodness sakes sit down.
but in here, you're just one of us, you're not a moderator, you're a nobody, just like the rest of us. :-P
stop thinking about your existence in here as 'what you can do for us' and think about what we can do for you. Chill and watch the world go by.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Location: planet earth

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