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Acting on Failure or Failure to Act?

Who would have thought that failure would be held up as something to be desired just a few years ago? Yet, it is one thing to extol the virtues of failure in words, it is quite another to create systems that support failure in action and if the latter doesn’t follow the former, failure will […]

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The New Zombie

Information is everywhere (and if you live in cities, people might be everywhere, too) and yet the volume of information we see is overwhelmed by what we do not see. Zombies are among us like information and because of that information might be less attuned to what is going on around them. This has enormous consequences and most of it is not good.

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The Literacy of Change

It has been said that change is the only constant, yet for something so pervasive change is a remarkably thorny and poorly understood concept. One reason is that change is often approached as a set of facts about a static state of affairs instead of as a literacy, which at change in a far more dynamic context that reflects human systems more accurately.

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Fashionably Thinking About Systems and Consumption

In April 2013 the world was horrified to learn that more than one thousand people were killed in a Bangladeshi factory used to make largely low-priced clothes for Western fashion houses. As the stories of sadness, loss and survival emerged from that rubble so too did cries of indignation and disgust from human rights groups, […]

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How Serious Are We About Learning?

When journalist and book author Daniel Pink tweeted the above image the other day it provoked thinking about what real learning means and what it takes to achieve it. We produce enormous amounts of knowledge, yet struggle to put it into use, but we also teach much and learn little because the systems we’ve designed […]

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Social Media and Health: Leaders(hip) and Followers(hip)

Systems thinking, design thinking, developmental evaluation, creativity, networks and innovation: these are the keywords for health in the coming years. They are as author Eric Topol calls the dawning of the creative destruction of medicine. The public is already using social media for health and now the time has come for health (care, promotion and protection) systems to get on board and make the changes necessary to join them.

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Systems Thinking and the Design of Empathy

A developmental design approach means shifting and changing over time and designing things in a manner that adjust to the complexities associated with dynamic systems. It brings together complexity, systems, design and the detailed feedback mechanism that comes through developmental evaluation. Leadbeater’s grid helps add to this concept by giving a focus to the development, from one level of empathy to another and one systemic scale to another.

Through thinking in systems and acting through design, perhaps then we can create the kinds of services and organizations that respond to the challenges we face.

And designing for empathy will help us know when we’ve achieved it.

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Innovation and Academic Science

Universities haven’t survived hundreds of years by being risky, they have because they were safe (in spite of the occasional radical shift here and there). With complex social problems and the challenges posed by things like cancer, something risky is needed. Academics just aren’t positioned to embrace this risk unless the system changes — with them helping drive that change — to support innovation and not just talk about it.

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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.

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Creating the Future Through Systems-Design Thinking

A recent World Bank post on the future of governments in design thinking spurred some of my own thoughts on how it links with systems thinking.

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