Social innovation is doing something different with what we know for the benefit of our society. Strategic Foresight and Design are the process of seeing and creating those different things. Systems thinking is a means of contemplating the interconnections between things that constrain, facilitate and enable broad-based change. Evaluation is a systematic and often participatory process of gathering and distributing feedback to support all three of these. Sense-making is when we mindfully devote ourselves to understanding what the meaning of all of this is for each context in which we learn, live and grow.

These are the domains in which I work and this page is dedicated to sharing some of the tools, references and sources for inspiration that I use to inform and guide that work.

Most of the resources listed are intended to be accessible to educated readers at different levels. I see much value in those made available to wide audiences rather than just academics: it forces writers to be clear and often encourages a level of integration across fields that purely academic works do not. I try to update these regularly, however note that not all ‘new’ references are good and many older ones are here because they simply are better.

Resources for “Censemaking”

Web links:

Complexity science history in graphical form:

Chaos Theory documentary from the BBC (part 1 of 6):
Simple explanation / illustration of complexity science in practice by Dave Snowden: “How to organize a children’s party“:

Blog post on network theory and natural systems:

Complexity & Systems Thinking

Ball, P. (2004). Critical mass: How one thing leads to another. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks. Available in print or electronically here:

Booth Sweeney, L. & Meadows, D. (2009). The systems thinking playbook. White River Junction, VT:  Chelsea Green Publishers ** A practical guide to using systems thinking in action. Games and activities for group problem solving.

Buchanan, M. (2002). Nexus: Small worlds and the groundbreaking science of networks. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Capra, F. (2002). The hidden connections: integrating the biological, cognitive, and social dimensions of life into a science of sustainability. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Christakis, N.A. & Fowler, J.H. (2009). Connected: The surprising power of social networks and how they shape our lives. New York, NY: Little Brown.

Gunderson, L.H. & Holling, C.S. (eds) (2002). Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Washington, DC: Island Press

Kernick, D. (2004) (Ed). Complexity and healthcare organization: a view from the street. Oxford, UK: Radcliffe Medical Press

Kriz, J. (2008). Self-actualization: person-centred approach and systems theory. Ross-on-Wye, UK: PCCS Books.

McMillan, E. (2004). Complexity, organizations and change. London, UK: Routledge.

McMillan, E. (2008). Complexity, management and the dynamics of change. New York, NY: Routledge.

Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: A guided tour. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Monge, P. R., & Contractor, N. S. (2003). Theories of communication networks. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

National Cancer Institute (2007). Greater than the sum: systems thinking in tobacco control. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. Available in print or here.

Orrell, D. (2007). Apollo’s Arrow: The science of prediction and the future of everything. Toronto, ON: Harper Collins.

Page, S. E. (2007). The difference: how the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools and societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rowitz, L. (2006). Public health for the 21st century: The prepared leader. Sudbury, MA: Bartlett & Jones.

Sanders, T. (1998). Strategic thinking and the New Science. New York, NY: Free Press.

Sawyer, R.K. (2008). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Stacey, R. D. (2001). Complex responsive processed in organizations: learning and knowledge creation. London, UK: Routledge.

Sterman, J. D. (2000). Business dynamics: Systems thinking and modeling for a complex world. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Surowiecki, J. (2004). The wisdom of crowds. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Walter, B., & Salt, D. (2006). Resilience thinking: Sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Watts, D. J. (1999). Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks Between Order and Randomness. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Watts, D. J. (2003). Six degrees: The science of a connected age. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Westley, F., Zimmerman, B., & Patton, M. (2006). Getting to maybe: How the world is changed. Toronto, ON: Random House Canada.

Williams, B. & Hummelbrunner, R. (2010). Systems concepts in action: a practitioners’ toolkit. Stanford University Press

Williams, B., & Imam, I. (Eds.). (2007). Systems concepts in evaluation: An expert anthology. Point Reyes, CA: EdgePress of Inverness.

Design, Design Thinking & Strategic Foresight

A great annotated bibliography on design and the social sector is located at Design Observer:

One of the best, most solid sources on the history of design thinking and the various popular models are over at the home of the Interaction Design Foundation.

Berger, W. (2010). Glimmer: How design can transform your life and maybe save the world. New York, NY: Penguin.

Carlopio, J. (2010). Strategy by design: A process of strategy innovation. New York, NY: Palgrave McMillan.

Ehn, P. , Nilsson, E.M., & Topgaard, R (Eds) (2014). Making futures: Marginal notes on innovation, design and democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Farson, R. (2008). The power of design: a force for transforming everything. Norcross, GA: Greenway Communications.

Laurel, B. (Ed.) (2003). Design research: methods and perspectives. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lockwood, T. (Ed.) (2010). Design thinking: Integrating innovation, customer experience, and brand value. New York, NY: Allworth Press.

Lockwood, T. & Walton, T. (Eds.) (2008). Building design strategy: Using design to achieve key business objectives. New York, NY: Alworth Press.

Maeda, J. (2006). The Laws of Simplicity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Martin, R. (2008). The opposable mind. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Martin, R. (2009). The design of business. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Neumeier, M. (2013). Metaskills: Five talents for the robotic age. San Francisco, CA: New Riders Press.

NBBJ (2009). Change design: conversations about architecture as the ultimate business tool. Atlanta, GA: Greenway Communications.

Simmons, C. (2011). Just design: socially conscious design for critical causes. Cincinnati, OH: HOW Books.

Stickdorn, M. & Schneider, J. (2010). This is service design thinking: basics-cases-tools. Amsterdam, NL: BIS publishers.

van Abel, B., Evers, L., Klaassen, R., & Troxler, P.  (2011). Open design now: why design cannot remain exclusive. Amsterdam, NL: BIS Publishers.

Yee, J., Jefferies, E., & Tan, L. (2013). Design transitions: Inspiring stories. global viewpoints. How design is changing. Amsterdam, NL: BIS Publishers.

Knowledge Translation, Information Theories & Learning Communities

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Gilchrist, A. (2004). The Well-Connected Community: A Networking Approach To Community Development. Bristol, UK: Polity Press.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Social Media & Marketing

Brogan, C., & Smith, J. (2009). Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. New York, NY: Wiley.

Joel, M. (2009). Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. Boston, MA: Grand Central Publishing.

Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations. New York, NY: Penguin.

Solis, B. (2009). Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.

Solis, B. (2010). Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web. New York, NY: Wiley.

Zuckerman, E. (2013). Rewire: Digital cosmopolitans in the age of connection. New York, NY: Norton.

Developmental Evaluation

Dozois, E., Langlois, M. and Blancher-Cohen, N (2010). DE 201: A practitioner’s Guide to Developmental Evaluation. Montreal: The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Gamble, J.A.A (2008). A Developmental Evaluation Primer. Montreal: The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Patton, M.Q. (2008). Utilization focused evaluation, 4th Edition. Sage.

Patton, M.Q. (2009). Developmental Evaluation. Canadian Evaluation Society presentation.

Patton, M.Q. (2010). Developmental Evaluation: Applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Patton, M.Q., McKegg, K., & Wehipeihana, N. (Eds) (2015). Developmental evaluation exemplars: Principles in Practice. New York, NY: Guilford.

Innovation and Discovery

Ashton, K. (2015). How to fly a horse: The secret history of creation, invention and discovery. New York: Doubleday.

Etmanski, A. (2015). Impact: Six patterns to spread your social innovation. Orwell Cove, BC: Al Etmanski.

Gladwell, M. (2009). Outliers. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company

See Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on culture and innovation from TED

Johnson, S.B. (2010). Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation. New York, NY: Riverhead Press.

See Steven Johnson’s talk on innovation from TED.

Keeley, L. (2013). Ten types of innovation: The discipline of building breakthroughs. New York, NY: Wiley.

Martin, R.L. & Osberg, S.R. (2015). Getting beyond better: How social entrepreneurship works. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Explaining creativity: The science of human innovation. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press.

Sawyer, R. K. (2008). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. New York, NY, Basic Books.

3 Comments on “Library

  1. Pingback: Developmental Evaluation and Design | Censemaking

  2. Pingback: Systems thinking and the simple plan | Censemaking

  3. Pingback: Innovation Framing | Censemaking

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