June 2011

The Complexity Challenge

Addressing the challenge of complexity is, ironically or perhaps appropriately, complex. But the challenge of dealing with the negative outcomes resulting from overly simple approaches to dealing with complexity will ultimately be far more so.

The Design of Health

The social challenges from chronic disease, environmental threats, social migration, aging populations, economic disparities, and a more globalized, multicultural world require strategies that bring the best ideas to the table, strategies to realize them, and values that make these actions more equitable for everyone. Health promotion + design is one way to achieve this.

Creating Campires For Innovation and Knowledge Translation

Metaphors and analogies are commonly used in systems thinking and complexity science to illustrate concepts that are, on their own, relatively complex and awkward to describe literally. A campfire provides both a metaphor for bringing people together, but also a literal tool that could be used more effectively in work with groups struggling to innovate, collaborate and contemplate together. From a design perspective, campfires and the social system that they create around them provide an opportunity to enhance intimacy quickly, allowing for the potential to explore issues in ways that are more difficult to do in other settings.

Developmental Thinking and Evaluation

The “core competencies” for DE already include qualities like people skills, knowledge of complexity, and communication skills (in addition to fundamental skills in evaluation methods and process implementation), but now we are adding additional ones. Motivation, behaviour change, program planning and design are all reasonable skills that would assist an evaluator in doing this work. Nice in theory, but how about in practice? Can we reasonably expect that there are enough people out there with these skills to do it well? Or is this a call for more of a team-science (or rather, team evaluation) approach to evaluation?

Gaming the Health System for Innovation and Change

Yesterday I attended the Cure4Kids Global Health Summit at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The three day event (continuing for the next two days) aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and clinicians working on issues of importance to child and youth health — including an emphasis on the role of engaging young people. …

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Boundaries: The Food Example

Identifying boundaries and setting them in moving forward with modeling and planning is a critical step in systems thinking practice so much so that it may be time to consider seeing boundaries as a core skill or competency for work in complex systems.

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