Thinking Developmentally About Social Issues

Thinking developmentally means attenuating oneself to nuance, punctuated learning, ongoing feedback, and inconsistent behaviour. I don’t blame people for wanting to impose a simple cause-and-effect narrative on the world, but doing so doesn’t mean its useful. As I’ve argued elsewhere, unless we consider changing our thinking we may continue to spend time devising ways to do what systems thinker and management leader Russell Ackoff called “the wrong things, righter”.

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The Momentum Problem in Developmental Design and Evaluation

The very complexity of many programs require more not less attention when doing evaluation lest we become simple storytellers. We offer more than that. But to do that well requires a sustained level of attention to the dynamics and what we might call paying attention to the silences to glean lessons from non-action that might have significant impact on our programs. This also requires not “filling the time” when things are quiet, but remaining active. Anyone who practices mindfulness meditation knows that non-doing requires a lot of work!

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Trying to Innovate? Try Empathy

Find and build a tribe of people who you trust and like and spend time with them, get to know them, and invite new people in whenever possible to mix things up. If that is the case, then the way we work in the health and wellness sector is surely in trouble where we don’t curate information and customize our knowledge for others, and we don’t support the kind of relationship building that equates to robust knowledge translation.

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