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PatternDynamics™ Create Systems that Thrive Podcast

Updated 7 days ago

Education
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Cutting edge insights into systems thinking, wiser decision making, and how the principles of nature can help us solve the more complex challenges required to create 21st Century communities and organisations.

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Cutting edge insights into systems thinking, wiser decision making, and how the principles of nature can help us solve the more complex challenges required to create 21st Century communities and organisations.

Cover image of PatternDynamics™ Create Systems that Thrive Podcast

PatternDynamics™ Create Systems that Thrive Podcast

Latest release on Jul 26, 2016

All 10 episodes from oldest to newest

‘We’ are the New Shaman

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In this Podcast, Tim Winton talks with Lauren Tenney from Ten Directions, creators of the Integral Facilitator Program. Tim and Lauren explore new developments, in their respective fields of practice, related to working with natural energies, patterns, and principles. This emergence is framed as a ‘New Shamanism’–a practice of getting back in touch with natural forces and how we might use them to organise ourselves to better resolve the challenges of an increasingly complex world. Lauren is a Senior Consultant, Editor, and Director of New Program Development at Ten Directions. She is a member of the Integral Facilitator training staff and a certified graduate of the Integral Facilitator Certificate Program. For the past ten years she has been immersed in the fields of human development, transformative learning, integrative systems, strategic communications and small business development. Lauren is experienced with many of today’s most innovative tools for transformation and collaboration, including: Immunity to Change, Sociocracy, Holacracy, The Natural Change Process, Evolving Worldviews, Way of Council, Cynefin Framework, Permaculture Design, and Integral Theory. As a facilitator, she loves helping people relate with more freedom and joy. Click here to find out more about her work with Ten Directions.

photo above by Nesstor CC BY 2.0 Sleep: the trees will hold your dreams

Podcast: Download (Duration: 57:32 — 66.7MB)

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1:15 Emergence of the Shamanistic Sensibility
2:10 Shamanism is a Very Loaded Term
2:40 Breakdown of the Rationalist Materialist Paradigm
3:30 Lifeforce Patterns and Principles of the Natural World
4:10 Understanding the Archetypal Forces of Nature
4:45 Diane Hamilton Mentions Shamanism in Her Work
6:20 Improving the Natural Self-Organising Force
7:30 The Issue of Cultural Appropriation
9:00 Are there Culturally Independent Traits of Shamanism
10:40 We're Westerners, We're White and We're Attracted
11:30 Extasy, the Lower World, Middle World, and the Higher World
12:20 Working with Energy, Patterns, and Principles
13:04 White Western Indigeneity
13:25 Organising around Principles and Archetypes
13:30 How Do We Bring Our Indigeneity Back into the Post Moder World
14:05 Crying Out for the New Shaman
15:30 Listing to the Natural World
16:10 Becoming Participants in a Living World
17:00 Being Free of Shoulds and Wants
17:30 Participatory Aliveness
18:00 Facing Limits: Why We Need a Central Commitment to Generative Health
19:15 Health Includes Dying
20:20 Scary Dimensions of Techno View
21:14 The Machine View Cannot Solve Our Challenges
21:45 Shifting from a Mechanistic Worldview to a Living Systems Culture
22:50 Polarity Emerging
23:50 What Does a Shaman Do When They're Dying?
24:00 Lauren Just Did that New Shamanist Thing
26:10 What Would Recognising Death Do to Our Ability to Be Creative in this Crisis
27:20 Stories are Inevitably About Development and Human Maturity
28:50 Death: A Giant Shot in the Arm of Maturity
32:20 Is Frank Underwood a Shaman? Is Trump?
33:50 Opportunism and Unconsciousness vs Conscious and for a Higher Purpose
36:30 What Is It that We are Bringing Alive?
37:30 Fixed vs Fluid: What's Welcome
30:30 Power and Politics
40:30 Participating in Systems that are Not Truth Inclusive
41:30 Tapping the Glass
43:00 The Activist Stance
43:30 The Yoghurt Metaphor
44:00 From Old School Mechanisms to Living Presence
44:40 We Can't Exclude Loss or Exclude Suffering
45:15 Agility in Polarity: a Systemic Dynamic Way
46:20 Do We Need A Different Way of Being?
47:00 The Invisible Subversive Move
47:45 Self-Organisation: The Bottom-Up Approach
49:05 Always Having the Choice About How to Engage
50:00 Mass Self-Organisation Changes Everything
50:50 A Worthy Place for Grief
52:00 Playing Hide and Seek with That
52:50 Utopian Optimism: Setting the Field
53:30 Letting the Life-Force Do Its Thing
54:00 Soil Preparation: Doing Your Work
54:20 Self as Instrument
54:40 Like a School of Fish: Moving as One
55:30 Where the Fecundity Lands
55:50 Life-Force Rising: Simple Principles + Deep Purpose
56:40 How Can We Be Free to Make the Decisions We Need to Make
57:30 Staying Touch with a Living World-Space
58:30 Don't Lose the Life-Force
59:00 The Field Effect: How Do We Create This Consciously
59:35 Taking Radical Responsibility for our Behaviour
1:00:30 Co-Creating the Story
1:00:50 Holding the View
1:02:05 The Indigeneity in All of Us
1:02:40 Key Themes
1:03:20 Death is the Underworld; Life is the Overworld
1:03:40 The Tree Archetype
1:04:08 Perhaps the New Shamanism is a Commitment to Live in Intimate Relationship with Both Death and Life
1:05:00 If We Were a Ball of Fish and That Was Our Commitment...

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Jul 26 2016

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The Beautiful Mind of Dr Zachary Stein

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An interview with Dr Zachary Stein by PatternDynamics founder, Tim Winton. Zak and Tim discuss complexity, how to see it, how to manage it, and the power of values aligned with a ‘systems view’ in creating a more generative humanity. Zak is Chair of the Education Program at Meridian University. He received his Bachelor’s from Hampshire College, and his Master’s and Doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Zak co-founded Lectica, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting social justice through the reform of large-scale standardized testing, where he worked for over a a decade. Zak’s publications have bridged topics in the philosophy of education, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and psychometrics. He has recently completed a forthcoming book: Social Justice and Educational Measurement: John Rawls, the History of Testing, and the Future of Education (Routledge 2016). Zac co-facilitatings Thrive on Complexity, an online course at Meridian University. Click here for details.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 57:32 — 66.7MB)

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0:15 Indigenous Models: Mind as Organism
2:15 Piaget’s Natural View of the Mind
3:00 Baldwin: Mind as Metabolic System
3:45 Fischer: Piaget through the neuroscience revolution
4:45 Fischer’s Skill Domains: ‘clusters of inter-related lines’
5:35 Complex Adaptive System: mind as ecosystem
7:00 Transition from Machine Model to Living Systems Model
7:30 Using a living systems view to thrive in complex circumstances
8:15 Competing Paradigms: Newton and Descarte’s clockwork universe
9:00 Not Embracing Complexity but Simplifying It
10:00 Machines are Fragile; Living Systems are Anti-Fragile
11:30 Disruptions strengthen living systems, but destroy mechanical systems
13:10 Frameworks for Understanding Complexity
13:30 Practices for Managing Complexity Better
14:15 Transforming Consciousness to Thrive on Complexity
14:30 Embodied, Engaged, and Interpersonal Practices
14:45 Ten Directions Practices
15:00 PatternDynamics Practices
15:50 Cross Quadrant Patterns
16:15 First Simplicity vs Second Simplicity
17:00 GDP: Oversimplification (First Simplicity): ‘profoundly limits decision making’
18:00 Second Simplicity Involves the Patterns and Principles that Matter in a System
18:45 Human Systems are Normatively Constituted
19:45 Identities Have to Do with Values
20:30 Species Wide Identity Crisis
21:00 From the Grand Narratives of Modernity to the Fractured Pluralism of Post Modernity
21:50 The Big Bifurcation Point
22:45 The Values that Bind Us Together
23:00 The Most Powerful Force in Human Affairs
23:40 The Polarity of Love and Power
24:45 New Stories for Us to Emerge
25:00 The Story of Second Simplicity that Will Allow Humanity to Emerge
25:30 Kurt Fischer: Pre-eminent psychological Meta-theorist vs Ken Wilber: Pre-eminent Speculative/Philosophical Meta-theorist
27:20 Vision and Mission of Lectica: A Fischerian Liberating Structure
28:15 Separating the Facts from the Norms Only So You Can Reintegrate Them
28:35 Normative Loading of Systems/Ecological Insights
28:45 The ‘Is’ vs ‘Ought’ Thing
29:20 The Facts/Values Feedback Loop
30:00 The Third Story
31:35 Leveraging Emergence in Evolving Complexity
31:50 Post Conventional Identity Development
32:30 Self as Process
33:00 Re-Storying Humanity as a Complex Adaptive System
33:30 The Fluid–Flux-Based–Processural System
34:45 The Story of Who You Are
35:30 New Language, New Language Games
35:45 Signs of Catastrophic Bifurcation
36:30 Emmanuel Wallerstein: World Systems Analysis
38:30 The Danger of Eugenics
39:00 Little Things Can Make a Big Difference at Moments of Systems Bifurcation
40:45 A Time of Potentiated Change
42:30 Scaffolding Complex Problem Solving
46:30 The Role of Uniqueness (Diversity)
47:30 Cookie Cutter Roles Just Don’t Exist Any More
48:30 Love: The Normative Heavy Hitter
50:30 The Shadow Side of Totalitarianism
52:15 Central Normative Commitments:The Binding Social Force
53:00 The Zero Sum Game
53:30 John Rawls: The View from Everywhere
54:10 Moral Musical Chairs
55:30 Getting the Right Feedback Loops
56:15 Generativity Works for Everybody
56:40 Take the Rawlsian Test

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Complexity and the Natural View of Mind
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Mar 19 2016

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CoWorking and the Future of Work: Interview with Julian Waters-Lynch

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Part 1 of a three part interview series with Julian Waters-Lynch, who researches and explores the rise of the newest way of sharing office space and the future of work in the new economy. In this segment creator of PatternDynamics, Tim Winton, discusses a range of topics with Julian, ranging from what Coworking actually is, to is distinct aesthetic approach, core principles, origin stories, and the tension that started it all in the first place.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 19:55 — 18.3MB)

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Topics Discussed:

1:30 CoWorking: What is it?
2:20 The Long History of Shared Office Arrangements
3:45 2005 and the Emergence of the CoWorking Difference
5:07 Aesthetic Differences in CoWorking Spaces
6:15 Celebration of the Non-Standard Work Environment
7:50 Principles of CoWorking
9:00 The Boundary Pattern in CoWorking
12:00 The CoWorking Business Model
12:30 Concentration/Diffusion Pattern
13:00 Hybridisation of Digital and Physical Workspaces
13:30 CoWorking Origin Stories
15:20 Open Software Frameworks
16:21 Accelerator Serendipity
17:00 The Generative Tension that Started It All
18:45 A Response to Corporate Globalisation

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Transcript:

Tim : Welcome to PatternDynamics Create Systems that Thrive blog podcast series. In today’s episode we’re going to talk to Julian Waters Lynch and we are going to talk about co-working and the future of work. I would like to introduce you to Jules. Jules is a PHD candidate in the School of management at RMIT University in Northern Australia. He researches co-working, the practice of non-standard work sharing space, interacting and sometimes collaborating on shared projects. His research examines the social construction of the role co-worker and where it comes, collaborative practices that co-working entails to ethnographic case study. Co-working has often being held up as an example of one of the growing trend in work practices and certainly it’s something that contributes to creating systems that thrive in the workplace environment and new and all the ways of doing that.

Tim : Welcome Jules, I’m really looking forward to what you have to tell us today from your research and from your experience with co-working in the future work.

Julian : Wonderful, great to be here.

Tim : Jules, can you tell us how you view co-working? What is it for you?

Julian : It’s an interesting one. The more I’ve looked at it and more I’ve looked at the history of these practices, the more subtle it becomes. It’s like on the surface you could say that coworking is a practice of largely freelances or solely self-employed co-workers or sharing office space, working on their individual projects and sometimes interacting. And that’s new to some people. They may come in and say it’s is a sort of new phenomenon — independent workers credit knowledge workers, plunge in their laptops, working on their own things but sharing a coffee machine, sharing a conversation, and sharing knowledge. It’s actually the history of shared office arrangements goes back decades; it goes back to the 60s. We’ve had business centers, executive suites, serviced office arrangements, literally for decades particularly during the 80s and the 90s. What’s interesting to me is from about 2005, this term co-working really came out at San Francisco (around that particular frame) but we had similar emergences from major global cities like Berlin, London, New York, etc. where groups of predominantly young people started saying we’re going to do something together that different from our past experiences of organization.

Tim : Right. So on the surface the structures were the same; shared office environment but something different happened. Is that what you’re research is showing?

Julian : Yes, very much indeed; shared office environment. If we look at something as simple as the distinction between serviced offices; these has been around and delivered most notably by companies like Regus and Surf Bot. I think Regus have thousand of spaces around the world. And if we look at what’s different about a co-working space in general, you get at least three answers. One is the kinds of people that inhabit these spaces. These are often in an
urban creative knowledge space. They don’t do things like dress formally. They normally work on technology or credive design industries. The second point is that the people themselves are different; whereas service office is really catered to conventional twentieth century business. The second level down is related in a way; it’s a level of social participation. So almost every coworking space says something about community; something about the way this word ‘community’ used. It’s almost not a co-working space if it doesn’t use the word community.

Tim : Right. Now we’re getting in to some of what might be the central features that make coworking, co-working as opposed to things that look similar on the surface. But, don’t feel the same at all.

Julian :  Similar sharing space. Yes, absolutely. We’ll probably talk more about the nature of social participation and collaborative activities and co-working spaces. That’s really the key focus of my own research. But I think the third one worth noting is the ascetic differences. Most service offices (at least the ones that I’ve seen) somehow look like you’re plastic twentieth century fortes offices, standardized amenities, a professional veneer, it’s hard to find precise language for this but I think we know impressionistically what we mean right?

Tim : We know it when we see it. I understand this one.

Julian :  And if you look at most co-working spaces and particularly the early years, from sort of 2005 to 2008 or 2009, they looked like almost the complete opposite; neo-syncretic, spoke non standard IELTS, they looked like in an urban café or bars or mini contexts. Many of them grew out of a post-industrial infrastructure so these were factories, warehouses, re-purposed for young digital work. And there was a celebration of that post formal ascetic right? There was a celebration of the non-standard often at times the fact that they used themselves at a hand creating the designed or even fabricating the materials at times. So there’s a prog-user of dynamic that you get in the web, the literature on digital networks and web use.

Tim : A producer-user is some sort of a combined role.

Julian : Yes. It’s a combination. The users are the producers. You really got that dynamic twirl upon and that I think is part of the current cultural cohesion of the movement in the early days.

Tim : Yes. You and I have been to a numbers of hubs. You’ve been to a lot of them in your research and in your career. Impact Hub Oakland is what comes to mind for me as the classic of the form. It’s the re-purposed commercial site in an urban renewal setting that has all the characteristics that you’ve talked about. If I went in a service office facility and then I went into Impact Hub Oakland; it’s like chalk and cheese. It’s like night and day. They’re so different. And that’s not magic. What is the difference? Aside from the ascetics and the natural structure of the office layout, they’re ostensibly offering the same thing — shared work space environments.  Now that we’ve somehow identified what co-working is, as distinct from what shared office spaces are, I’m really interested on what you think the principles are. What are the main distinctions that allow these things called co-working space to emerge as opposed to them just being serviced office environments. Also, sometimes, do co-working spaces fall back? Or transition to becoming more like service office environments if these principles are not in place? What’s your feeling on that? What are these principles that you’ve identified.

Julian :  It’s a fascinating question, and one that I am prone to go on at length about. Because I think there’s are really compelling factorss here. So, one level you write and you zoom out and you take away who’s inhabiting these or the ascetic dimensions or the kind of activities, you look purely at the business model itself. A lot of the time it looks almost identical to the service office arrangements; participants would usually pay a monthly fee, so it’s essentially a club in economics that means it’s a shared good with a boundary around it.

Tim : We’ll come back to that. I think this boundary principle is something that we’ve discussed before and it’s really interesting. So maybe we’ll park that one and come back to it but I just wanted to flag it. I think we both agreed it’s important.

http://patterndynamics.net/patterns/structure/boundary/

Julian : And with that being raised, the reason I think its important is because when you get into the actual good being shared. It’s the first of principle distinction. If the good being shared is office facilities and physical space maybe enabling access to a strategic location, fostering credibility for an individual business because they can use a CBD address or its access to physical infrastructure; the printers, the wifi, that’s actually quite an easy thing to put an economic boundary around. You can exclude non payers by not letting them in the building, not giving them access to the wifi and etc. If the good being shared is the community itself, that field of social relations through which knowledge and networks or access to resources is contained. Well, that’s quite a difficult thing for our entrepreneurs to build exclusion rights around. It is communities by their very nature, they’re not owned by anyone. Most by definition, they are owned an amorphous collective field. And so when you look at the digital space like Facebook and they have a particular answer to owning the field in which social relations play at. Like Facebook owns a sort of platform and people interact in a fairly free manner and Facebook harvests some of that value and sells it to advertisers and etc. and the cost of leaving is difficult. So you can see where that sort of works. That netarchical capitalist model, according to balance, is where you build a platform; actors come and interact on that platform and the owner of that platform derives value from that. But, in a co-working context where a lot of that interaction is actually happening face to face in the context of an urban environment where the costs of leaving and taking those relations outside the boundary of the space is not very high. You make friends or you make connections in a co-working space and stay friends with them outside of it. It’s a little bit less clear to me how you monetize that in a sense; how an entrepreneur can control the who’s in and who’s outside that, right? And where is that very much in the service office environment. So, I might be a bit angry now but at one it’s a crucial one in terms of thinking about the value creation mechanism of these spaces and then also where they should properly sit in terms of the private-public sector and the non-profit sector. What they’re really trying to achieve? What’s the best business model to achieve that? I think I answered one aspect of your question, but there’s a lot more.

Tim : Okay. There are a couple of things that came up for me; a couple of points that I want to switch back on. One is the idea that there are concentrations. You mentioned in London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco where co-working or things like it emerge pretty much independently at the same time. And they were concentrated in inter-city course or within 10 kilometers I think you said in our previous conversation. So where these things arose is very concentrated.

http://patterndynamics.net/patterns/polarity/concentrationdiffusion/

Also there’s this idea of physical space and digital space and the somehow the hybridization of this two things that played a role in the emergence of co-working. Can you talk a little bit on the concentration factor and also the hybrid digital, physical space? I think that somehow leads on to this idea that there is a boundary that this places rely on. And I think we need to flesh out what boundary it is that leads to that concentrated focus and what the hybernization of the digital and physical workspace has to do with it.

Julian : Sure. There are quite a few things in there. I’ll start with the origin stories perhaps. I know three in detail, and make fourth in Berlin but I suspect that there is actually lots of these independent origin stories that will increasingly come out over the years. They all happened (well the ones I’m familiar with) in around 2005. One of them is where the term co-working came from which is Dekelbrag Nelburg in San Francisco and he put out a call which has really captured the imagination of a group of people at that time; but has been drawn on subsequently as a sort of co-working early manifesto. He basically said that if you work in a large organization, it sucks because there’s politics, and power, and you’re not in control of your work. And if you work by yourself at home, it sucks because you’re isolated and you fall into bad social patterns and you don’t have a supportive community of people around you — a particular kind of community; a work community. Third is co-working. He said: “come and hang out at this place in San Francisco.” and the first one I think it was called Spiral Muse. It was sort of in the mission district. In the first experiment, he would probably say it didn’t really work; it was an old feminist collective house that looks totally hippie. I think he had five or six people that turned out didn’t have a lot of space and he said it took him a lot of time – much more than he has anticipated. But it captured enough information that him and a few other people like Chris, Mesina and Tara Hunt opened another space and another space and it sort of became infectious at that point. Now, these people were big fans of the open software movement. They had a framework in open culture, around re-mixing, packing taken up. First of all they were highly digitally literate people. They understood the nature of web 2.0

Tim : So they had digital space in their life. They were capable of doing that but the downside was they didn’t have any of the physical space that allows people to interact face to face. Is that you think is kind of the drivers behind this?

Julian : Yes, I think there was craving for or a yearning for a face to face re-localization. These are people that could easily get online and make people highly socially mobile in many ways. There’s a particular term that emerge down of that; those experiments called accelerator serendipity and now it’s a bit of a catchy phrase that I think was Tara Hunt that came up with it. But there were points to this sort of the unplanned; serendipity is like a happy accident; the unplanned nature of local buzz and bouncing to each other that. Creative collisions between people that share enough in terms of creativity or values and they’re happy to interact with each other but are different enough that they could have some sort of useful novelty to each connections.

Tim : Yea I think I’m interested in this because I’m trying to identify the tension that signaled the need for this new emergent form. The tension being that in a physical space you do get these serendipitous connections and that that was missing. There was some sort of an absence; that there’s some new form that was trying to address. And the reason why I mentioned that is because the theme of this podcast is “Creating systems that thrive.” First, we’ve got to sense that there is an opportunity or a pain point that needs to be addressed. And that’s the first step in actually creating a more flourishing environment. I’m imagining that was the driver here and we can identify that as a generative tension.

Julian : Yes I think it was. The reason I told you the three stories is that’s one. Each of them was a little bit different so there was another movement about the same time in New York, it’s where Jellies came out of. And that was just a lot more than being on your own. These two guys that are inviting people to heir New York apartment and said: “Hey just come hang out. We’re all working individually together.” It was a nonmonetarize form. It never really was attempted to be turned into an enterprise itself. The Jelly movement still happens around the world. There are lots of cities around the world where you can jump on a computer and find a Jelly where creative independent workers do their own thing on their laptops but in the presence of others. So there’s a light hearted social element there but the reason why I think the third case is interesting is really the genealogy of the hubs. The impact hubs which is in London and that was very much a response to corporate globalization. These were people that were engaged in the alter globalization movement, the social forums; these movements that were critical of what capitalism is doing in a large scale and looking for more than just alternatives but not simply as a protest movement as a way of structuring their own work lives into things like social enterprise. So that was really community of people trying to work out how to do this thing. Again, predominantly in the 20s so I guess I didn’t feel they had mentors, established pathway that they could follow. They were trying to forge their own create their own.

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Oct 05 2015

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Introduction to PatternDynamics in Organisational Development Interview with Usha Gubbala

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Listen as recent graduate in Organisational Development studies Usha Gubbala discusses the importance of systems thinking with PatternDynamics founder, Tim Winton. Usha and Tim discuss the challenges of changing complex systems, the world of organisational development from fresh perspective, and how a widespread systems literacy is necessary to improve outcomes in our communities, workplaces, and our world in general.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:02 — 44.8MB)

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Transcript:

Usha: My undergrad was about how a lot of the solutions to the complex social problems that we face are really intreresting systems. It’s not just people and behaviors but really, if we shift the system whether it is the process or the structure of the system, then a lot of that change happens automatically. And I wanted to learn more about that and I know that Sonoma State have an emphasis of systems thinking in their program so I joined that program. I’m just really passionate about building communities and organizations that thrive. We are people building a good life for ourselves in the way that we interact with each other and I am really passionate about bringing that forth; particularly in the context of addressing the complex social problems that we face. I am really passionate about social innovations, systems thinking, and organization developments. They have been a growing passion in having been and going to this work. Where I am at right now, is building my own muscle around change, change were and facilitating change particularly in emergent situations by working with organizations. And my hope in the next five or ten years is to start building and working with communities to bring about that same kind of transformation.

New Ways of Organisational Development.

Tim: That is really amazing, are you still at the university?

Usha: I graduated last year with a master at Sonoma State in Organizational Development.

Tim: That’s a great take on organizational development.

Usha: Thank you.

Tim: I like it a lot. I do a bit of work in organizational development these days and that’s not a usual perspective, I think it’s a great one. Because you could do so much more in organizational development rather than just helping people fight fires. (laughs)

Usha:Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Exactly.

Tim: It’s sort of dysfunction organisational life.

Tim: I like it a lot. I do a bit of work in organizational development these days and that’s not a usual perspective, I think it’s a great one. Because you could do so much more in organizational development rather than just helping people fight fires. (laughs)

Usha:Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Exactly.

Tim: It’s sort of dysfunction organisational life.

Holacracy and Teal Organisations

Usha: Especially, I feel like now with the emergence of holacacy and teal organizations and just these new ways of thinking about how we come together to do whatever the work it is that we’re doing together, could really unlock people’s potential to do good in the world. I think it’s such a great time to be in this work. I’m a relatively new practitioner. Erkki introduced me to you. Let me share you the story with him. He said: “You should meet Tim; I think you can learn a lot from him.” So, I’m really excited to be speaking with you and I’d love to just get your insights on not only PatternDynamics but also hear your insights to another fellow young practitioner who’s navigating this world and really is trying to find my way. I’m looking for where I can really come alive, share, contribute and learn, and I’m still looking for that.

Tim: That’s great because there are a lot of people that has similar questions and have similar desires and passions. We’re change-makers. We’re really interested in how we can make the world a better place but from a pragmatic point of view, it’s not hoping or talking about it. It’s actually about finding real skills and build skills and being able to pass them on and create larger systems of change. If that’s what you’re interested in, that is definitely what we are interested in.

Usha: Absolutely! Yeah.

Complex Challenges and Systems Thinking

Tim: That’s what PatternDynamics is really about; enabling a community to do those better, I think that there is this real relationship between complex challenges and systems thinking.

Usha:Yeah, Absolutely.

Tim: It took me awhile to figure out what that link was in terms of the literature, the research, what we actually know versus my own intuition about it. So that’s been quite an interesting journey for me. Perhaps we can talk a bit about that in some of your questions. You probably have a list of really great questions. I think good questions are often better than good answers, if the cliché was true. Then we have to come up with some really great ones. Why don’t we just launch in because actually the description you just gave there will be good for the listeners as well, so we’ll just keep that and let’s just dive in. Are you cool with that?

Usha:Great! That’s great.

Tim: Let me see. The first question: “How can a living system’s world do you transform the way business is done across the world? That’s your first one. (laughs)

PatternDynamics: The Basics

Usha: Maybe we should start with a basic description of PatternDynamics and use that as orienting points.

Tim: Well I guess the most pithy description of it is the social technology for creating systems that thrive. There’s lots of ways to describe it actually and this is one of the most challenges I’ve had in trying to unpack it and trying to communicate it to the world. It wasn’t just really something that I cooped up because I was that way. Most of it is the sustainability of the educator and someone who worked with natural systems through perm culture or organic farming. So, it’s strange but I’m kind of a perm culture farmer who became an organizational consultant. The pathway between those two things is not obvious, right?

It’s become a social technology but it’s also a pattern language. It’s about communicating more than anything. It’s about how we form relationships and mostly what a grievance we have about what’s good in the world. The normative force of what we agree on around our values that shape our behavior is the ‘day believer’. There are a lot of people, we’re both familiar with the integral theory in practice of space, there’s some orientation to first person change or what they call the upper left quadrant as being the real driver of personal vertical development. In the more conventional world, it’s how you change the systems and the cities where economies work or the workplace systems work. But then there is this space in the middle; I put it in the middle it’s not down in the lower left for all you people who understand integral speak. The lower left quadrant is about inter-subjective relationships. I don’t want to get too technical but that’s basically our agreements, our values and what we collectively share as intangible understandings. That’s where I think the action is. I think that’s the big driver. It’s somewhat the orientation I’ve carried in the PattenDynamics, and because it’s language based, it’s about how we have conversations that shape what we think is important in the world around us and how we change those things so it’s exactly in line in what you’re interested in. The idea that you can create a social technology out of a pattern language is interesting to me. I’ve been interested in it ever since I was on my second undergrad studying Architecture. Christopher Alexander is an Architect and Mathematician who created the first contemporary pattern language and all that means is he drew some squiggly little lines that he thought represented design solutions in architecture and urban design. Those little squiggly lines were a symbol for a particular way set of principles about how you get a successful design in a particular context but they’re holistic. They’re about the system, and they’re also which Christopher Alexander’s passion, was helping communities and people design their own environments rather than relying on an expert. That was really visionary for me because intuitively it made sense but now I know why that’s powerful. It’s because if you rely on a few experts you get this top down and you get unlimited views; this hierarchical commanding control of your light and a view from above impose on a whole bunch of people down below and then in the complex world space that just doesn’t work anymore. That is why the primary frame I bring in with PatternDynamics is that one. It’s a common language; hopefully it’s something anyone can learn. This has been part of the journey is simplifying it so we can have better conversation and so that we can agree on how the world ought to be. Once we’ve done that the change happens very readily. But if you’re in organizational development like me, you might have noticed that a lot of people come in and say like one of the big four consulting firms would come in do a strategy feast, so you need to do this and then they impose on everyone down in the hierarchy and people just reject it because they haven’t agreed that this is a good idea. Getting the agreement for me is first. And to do that you have to let people participate, we have to build and communicate, and for all to do that we have to have a language about what it is we are talking about that allows us to talk about it well. So in a nutshell, that is a good way to start with describing PatternDynamics.

The Process of Meaning Making

Tim: That’s so powerful because in my experience in my organizational development, the emphasis has been around process facilitations and process consulting, which is really about empowering people to build their own solutions. So I’m less an expert coming in and solving your problem and I’m more a process expert coming in and designing a process by which you can get to know your own system a little bit better and once you know your system more completely the solutions for your system kind of come automatically and arise through that. I am very interested to learn. It makes sense to me in PatternDynamics really gets in meaning making of a group and how in making that explicit we can begin to transform in what we’re creating.

Tim: Yes, you’ve hit it right in the head. It’s about meaning making. All of the theory I’ve written in the integral community about PatternDynamics really goes right back to the philosophical and theoretical basis for meaning making as probably the most powerful human act. How we collectively interpret; not just individual meaning but how we collectively interpret what’s meaningful — the difference that makes a difference. There’s a very rich philosophical and theoretical traditions, an overlapping set of them, that lead back to why that’s efficaciousfor creating a better world; a flourishing human condition on this planet and that’s what interest me. It’s meaning if we can establish meaning together, we have good ways of doing that and we hold the right normative commitments then we can do better rather than worse. I don’t think it’s a magic solution but to me it’s the way to hit. In many ways it’s a very post modern idea. I am kind of an honoree patent; what I would call a re-constructive post modernist, even more than I am an intrugalist. I’m not sure I’m a believer of a horizontal leap to some new way of being is going to do it for us. I’m a believer in horizontal health. It’s a very eco-systemic view rather than leaping to the next level of evolution and that can be a problematic if there’s not a good foundation in place, and a good foundation comes through really meaning making — building those networks, whether social networks or neural networks, in our own lines. That’s what lays the foundation for a natural move. In my own view, there’s a lot of work should be done in organizational life and community life around building out the richness and the health in the networks that will naturally shift. That’s another primary orientation in PatternDynamics that I think is really important to get across.

Tim: The essential skills and capacities that are necessary to deal with rapid increase in complexity in the world, do you want to start on that one?

Usha: Yeah. Seems like a natural place. Yeah.

Collaborative Inquiring

Tim: There’s a big part of how PatternDynamics works is inquiry – collaborative inquiries is one of PatternDynamics foundation. Let me ask you what you think, complexity and why is it a challenge that is worth focusing on at this point?

Usha: I don’t know if I can define complexity at this hour. I think it’s just the interconnections that we’re chasing is so much more global now (it used to be very local) and the challenges that we are facing are so much more indited and urgent in many ways. Personally, I always love change; it’s like something in the back of my head because of the urgency about that. It is a challenge where in fact it is an opportunity because they called on us to build our own capacity to handle that complexity and to really meet it where it’s at. It is such a transformative point. I love the analogy of the caterpillar go into a butterfly. In my own research I kind of come across many homeless work merchants and how evolution really happens in this metamorphic way. It’s not always a slow thing, it’s something that you feel the pressure and you just crack open while the other side of it is far more complex than what preceded it. So, that’s how I would say the complexity we are facing is our world is rapidly changing and we are rapidly just navigating problems that we didn’t have 20, 30 or 50 years ago. Especially now in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis; that is such a complex problem if there ever was one. And there are so manylayersto how that is needed to be considered and how that is needed to be handled. So I particularly called the planets to come together and collaboratively find ways to deal with this together because there are so many different parties involved, and we need to find solutions that are inclusive of every single party. That is the complexity piece that I see and what skills and what capacities that calls on us to really cultivate and leverage as we deal with that.

The Hard Realities of ‘Being in Over Our Heads’

Tim: That was really salient the way you brought it back to a very concrete, very meaningful, very pressing example. This is a tragedy. When we look at it we see a really complex challenge that is not being met well and is leading to real suffering, real concrete, powerful, heart wrenching suffering. These are real problems these are not abstractions. When we talk about complexity; it’s really nice for me sometimes to bring it right back to where it matters because it seems very abstract sometimes, to me even. I’m not really working with this stuff but perhaps to you, I think how you framed it there is really useful and really interesting. This idea that things are happening faster, there are more interconnections, there are more different kinds of people in organizations than there’s ever been and that is one kind of theoretical definition of complexity. Complexity isn’t everything being the same and random. It’s not everything being uniformed but it’s something in between where there’s a bunch of unique systems and sub-systems and they’re connected, and there’s dynamics and it has some kind of teal so that it can go somewhere. It’s something that can adapt and change. If that’s true and I think you’re right. Our world is becoming probably exponentially more complex and we’re probably not meeting those challenges as well as we could at all. I think there’s a huge gap – it’s sometimes called the complexity gap. If you could draw that graph, complexity is on this axis and our ability to deal with that is on that axis; complexity goes up like this and our ability is just under it. The more complex it goes the bigger the gap. This is also faced by senior leaders, executives and senior community leaders and politicians and everyone, “we’re all in over our heads” as Robert Keagan says. The big challenge is: “How do we deal with that better rather than worse?” That’s the question for me. What I’ve discovered is my intuition was that systems’ thinking has something to do with it, much like you. You’ve gone and studied it. I studied it my own way and it’s true. I actually know now why there’s that relationship if we’re talking about complexity. One frame that we could put around complexity is the complex adaptive system. It has lots of power, lots of interconnections, lots of activity, and fast phase of change. It’s completely different than a more hierarchical linear world that’s slower. Forty years ago, you got a job for life; you could do strategic planning and you can say: “Look, this is year zero and in year five we’re going to have a five year plan and we’re going to achieve this goal” and the world would stay — the economy, society, politics would stay consistent and the same enough that at year five you might actually reach your goal. The plan that you had back here might actually work when you get to there. Now, you can’t even plan five months out, you have to be really agile in the changing world with lots of moving parts. If we look at the Syrian refugee crisis, it looks like there’s a bunch of linear solutions that are not connected, which are too far out ahead. That kind of decision making is not wise enough to stop people from drowning; it’s simple as that, that’s how I see it.

Grass Roots Self-Organising Problem Solving

Usha: The challenge though is one thing that hasn’t been really heartening for me around the same refugee crisis is to see how people organizing and how that served brass roots movement. The whole seems the most impactful solutions. I’m hearing all of these stories about coming out in hoards with supplies. I think it was police in unit have to turn people away because we have a lot of supplies and we don’t have enough people, like ‘can you come back later?’ and that’s the power also of systems. To go back to your point around meaning making but clearly there was this sense of collective values coming into play. People coming together in such a way that they’re moved to help and some of that place, that change and that action is so automatic. You don’t have anybody dictating this; you didn’t have anybody conceptualizing this, its people automatically changed based on meaning making. That is how we are going to deal with this complexity and I really appreciate that same manner in meaning making because its critical starting tip. I mean, I think we need to head at some of this challenges that we’re facing in every level – the systems level, the individual transformation level, the behavior level. There’s also something about like collectively meaning making that somehow has really been into theory world for a really long time. I’m really excited to sort of see or bring that back down to the ground and see the implications of that.

Tim: The conception I hold is that meaning making or interpretation, all the parts of the system interpreting what the other parts are doing not just from the top down to the hierarchal kind of sullen way in the commanding control structure, nature doesn’t do that –nature works in very complex, interconnected, holarchical levels of signaling and interpretation. I call it semi-autic approach. I’m thinking this idea of integral semi-autic realism is how the way nature works. The force of nature is actually meaning making and that’s what allows a whole bunch of district parts to communicate and self organize to achieve some goal. One of the primary frames that we use in PatternDynamics is that we have a linear thinking commanding control hierarchical world. Our whole political systems, social systems, community systems and economic systems are based on that idea and that idea is no longer suitable for a more complex base. If you want to thrive in a more complex environment, you need to mimic nature because nature has figured it all out. Natural systems do that, and so meaning making that allows for self organization is the force of nature. And there is no stopping the force of nature. We just need to harness it. That is another way I come at this. I’m an eternal optimist in regards to the power of nature and its application to human affairs; that is another deep part of how I think PatternDynamics and how the way it seems to be expressing in the world. We’ve learned to make meaning like nature and then the organization, the problem solving unwinds. We make wiser decisions and we solve more complex problems; we can actually change our world in the ways that we wanted and to create that more thriving environment.

I noticed you had a question here about that which is why is the ability to address challenges from the bottom up crucial and how can it transform the way organizations function in their internal eco-systems in a lot of eco-systems they’re a part of. If we look at organizational life, which you and I are interested and work in and most of the other members of the PatternDynamics community practice are change makers and a good portion of those were these people who work on organizational or community life as consultant source or facilitators. I think most of us have that interest. The hierarchal commanding control of linear world view is really a machine model for me. The bottom up piece is that if we shift to ecological living systems model then we get that more eco-systemic kind of ability. I think if it’s based on the meaning making then the self organization. Meaning making for me is a powerful, self organizing force. It’s clearly more powerful that even our most powerful global political institutions. Because real people on the ground self-organizing around deep meaning are solving problems that are institutions from the top down cannot and this is fascinating, this is amazing. Is that the kind of thing that excites you in the possibility in the work that you’re doing?

Top Down to Bottom Up

Usha:Absolutely, I’m just starting toget into more a sort oforganizational models like holocacy as an example that really leverage that; that really break down that certain top down management hierarchical structures to making them more agile and responsive. And my fascination was always like how do we bring that out to communities because there’s a certain way in which organizations are really perfectly set up to be like people come to work every single day and the same people, there’s almost like an incubator where you can really leverage this and its great. And communities are a little bit more complex if you’re facilitating community dialogue as an example around say youth felons. That’s something that a community is really suffering with and you’re bringing people together around that. It’s having to make sure that the young people who are actively affected by this also show up. Have you had consistency with it? So, I’m attaching it to learn more on how that kind of meaning-making can happen in a community where it’s so much more widespread. You can’t practically involve every single person within a community in these conversations, or in this dialogue or in this process. So, how does that work within a community?

Tim: I think it’s a great inquiry. Again, good questions in a complex world space are better than good answers I think because it’s like all the parts of a system need to constantly inquire about what’s going on and what other people are seeing. Because there’s a kind of collective intelligence in that and in PatternDynamics, it’s all about the way that we apply it in the first instance is wiser decision-making. Systems thinking and collaborative inquiry are the two big drivers. That’s what I’ve discovered when I’ve gone in research – why this is effective? So, the secret is see more share more and that leads to a kind of collective wisdom. As an answer to your question, it’s the low hanging through the space for me is just those two things – how do you help people see a little bit more of the system and talk about it . You can facilitate that. Even as a loan facilitator, you can be the translator about what you see in the system. You can illicit people’s perspectives and help them uncover that kind of more holistic view and then you can also encourage people to share more. So, it’s a collaborative inquiry; kind of like what we’re doing now. We’re sort of drawing each others’ perspectives out, we’re asking good questions, we’re telling each other what we see but you’re not telling me how it is, and I’m not arguing with you and telling you how it is, which is more conventional. Then we fight over which decision or perspective gets precedence. We are genuinely trying to get more information from different parts of the system; we’re trying to do that whilst looking more holistically at the system. And when that overlap happens, it’s this big lever of collective wisdom. It’s how I hold it because see more and share more are way better than us arguing over who is right and fighting over who’s decision gets precedence. If we do this see more, share more piece we can actually come up with a decision that’s creative that gives us more of what we want or everybody more of what they want.

Usha: Yeah, these two are great from all the perspectives.

Wiser Decision Making

Tim: For me that’s wiser decision making. It’s the first place that we take the theory in practice of PatternDynamics. It’s in wiser decision making and helping people learn the see more share more. We’ve hooked up with our good friends at Lectica. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Lectica and the work that they do. It’s sort of the cutting-edge of the learning sciences and how we develop skills, and one of the skills they’ve researched is decision making. Two primary things that they discovered it that if you can collaborate better, and you can see more of the system and you can coordinate those perspectives, the research says you’re going to be a much better decision maker and that you can help people learn that skill collectively and then you get an even bigger jump. From a practical point of view, that’s what we hope people to learn in PatternDynamics. And if you join the community training forum, all that information is there – how to learn those skills and how to learn PatternDynamics; which is the see more piece, and the share more piece is the collaborative inquiry. And then we see what happens, if we get a better result because in fact, I don’t think we know. I think this is a giant experiment that we’re all undertaking based on some good theories, some good philosophies, and some good research but where not going to know until we try it. We’re going to have iterated it on our own way to solutions collectively. PattternDynamics is its own first client. Right?

Usha: That’s great. So, you mentioned earlier about nature and mimicking nature’s patterns as it were. I’d love to just hear more about that, and I know that you have a few keys or aspects in PatternDynamics. So I’d love to hear if there any arguments to go about in nature’s patterns.

Natural Systems

Tim: The basis in the natural systems view or the living systems view comes from me through my work in permaculture, organic farming, forestry; I’ve had deep long career working with natural systems and not only observing them like naturalists do but actually designing and helping, tweaking the way that their design is to see what happens. This is especially true of perm culturists – it’s really interesting design field. I think one of the greatest things about perm cultures is that I think it is one of the world’s best ways to learn equal literacy because you’re in there tweaking with gardens and agricultural systems and human habitation systems and you get to see what happens as time unfolds and you get to see the dynamics and learn about them. One of the things I learned was that natural systems solve and adapt to really complex challenges in a seamless kind of way. In my own organizations, I didn’t see that and in the organizations I worked in I didn’t see that capacity. I did notice that if I try to tease out what the principles were – these patterns in the organization. When you look at the pattern of an organization, there’s a principle behind it. And I isolated some of those and created a set so that’s the PatternDynamics framework.

Patterns and Principles:

So each of those patterns is really a principle about how nature works, and some of them seem quite sure and they are, but it’s just about taking slightly different perspectives on the systems. And it’s when we start talking about principles at the systems level that we really start being able to share more about seeing more. And again the research suggests that as people’s ability to think, not just systematically, not just as linear thinkers because it’s not a linear world out there. It’s actually very complex, systemic space. If you learn to think more like that and you learn to share more like that, then we can solve more complex challenges, or at least we know that leaders make better decisions when they do that. There’s a less substantial research that says that if we do it together we get an even bigger effect in terms of our problem solving. So it’s really learning the principles of nature, make wiser decisions, solve more complex problems, or change our world in really effective ways so that we get systems that thrive and nature is at the base of it. It’s the best model; that’s where I want it to go. I think natural systems, biological and ecological are still the best model we have for how to think about complex world space because the machine model of the past is too simple. It’s complicated. There’s a distinction between complicated and complex. And everybody knows how this work in a kind of framework. You can go and check that out by the way, or anyone listening I mean. It’s a really interesting distinction. It’s like a bowing 747 or a clock is complicated. There’s lots of moving parts but basically, turn one clog and you know what’s going to happen at the end. But a complex system, if you tweak one thing, you have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s always a non-linear dynamics. It’s not straightforward cause-and –effect. So living systems are an awesome model, in fact they’re the best model. Otherwise, they have to back to machines, artifacts that we’ve created. They’re just not as complex. They don’t adapt, they don’t have the same self-organizing force as living systems. So if we go right back to your original question, the natural system is part because it’s the best model we have for understanding a complex world and how to change it well.

Usha: Can you show us some of the principles that you have mentioned?

7 Foundational Principles

Tim: Yeah, I’ll just go through these PatternDynamics cards that I have made up. You’ve probably saw them in the Integral Theory Conference. So I got in my hand the first order patterns. There are only seven of them. When you learn these seven principles and they’re encoded in this pattern and one of them is rhythm and you can see the little arrows that go around on the outside oval? That signifies any kind of cyclic rhythm, any kind of repetition. Systems always have repetitions like a kind of a meta-principle. I’ve always said to people, “If you find me a living system or a social system that doesn’t have rhythm, that I’ll pack up PatternDynamics and start again.” because the premise is they’re universal, right? So one of the useful things about being able to reflect on a pattern like rhythm and principle behind it is that it is the rhythm of a particular part of you organizational system or your social system, is it adjusted optimally? Does it lead to health? Are you having meetings too frequently or not frequently enough? And just by tweaking that, because sometimes what we do is we go: “you know what, we’re having a lot of meetings, and it’s not working, let’s cancel the meeting and let’s go with some other thing. “ Right? “Where not going to have a meeting, we’ll just appoint an authoritarian leader.” So this is reactivity. But most of the time from a living system’s perspective, what I noticed is gardens adjusted their rhythm as the temperature change, as the season change, or the moisture change. It wasn’t like rhythm is bad because it’s not working, it’s just adjusted.

Usha: It’s constantly adaptive, right? Like how it’s adapted with every season as an example. With nature, and we just have these set of rules that we may constantly from here on forth.

Tim: Yes, and when the world is changing and you’re not, there’s this gap and it’s called pain. Right? There’s this saying that ‘ifyou don’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you’ and that’s kind of what we are faced with now where we’ve created a very complex world for ourselves, socially. And were not interfacing low with the real world which is biological and physical and our biosphere has this great complex dynamics that are changing all the time and were changing them. But we’re not using the same kind of eco-literacy. We don’t have eco-literacy built in to our political, economic, social and organizational institutions. They’re out of steps. So, they’re destroying this rich complex biosphere. But my view is, and lots of people hold this view, people like Peter and people like you, that we can take the systems thinking that we see in nature and we can apply it to organizational life. And it’ll make organizational and community life richer and better but it’ll also interface with the biosphere better. So we can have a flourishing biosphere and we can have flourishing human organizations and one of the things we could do is to be able to see more and share more from that systems perspective. So the principles, let’s go back, there’s exchange. There are always exchanges in systems and to give you a bit of a run through of the principles. There’s always dynamics; there’s always like feedback loops that affect the whole system. There’s always creative novel emergence. They’re game changers. There the things that makes huge differences to systems. There are always structures. They more or less stay the same but have a little bit of flex but they’re really useful. A lot of times we reject structure but most of the time it’s about just tweaking or changing it. That’s one of the interesting things about sociocracy or holocracy which grew out it because they’re interested in keeping structure but having a better one. And polarities; there’s always these masculine and feminine expressions of that. And then there’s source which is kind of central. It’s the meaning making piece. It’s like in PatternDynamics, it’s how do we maintain a strong awareness collectively of our origin and our evolution, what we were originally and where we’re going, of our identity and purpose. There’s this idea in Psychology that no person that will do anything that’s out of line form how they see themselves – their core identity and there’s a lot of truth behind that. And it’s the same with organizations. If they have an identity that’s a certain kind of organization, they will not identify with other way of doing things so they left. They were told to adapt. So you see how powerful identity and purpose is. That meaning of where you’re heading, the meaning behind that is enormously powerful self-organizing force and that allows a lot more desperate parts to self-organize. And you can’t do that from the top down, sort of like that evolution piece, time, and identity, which you know was parts and holes, and the purpose piece which was about intangible drivers of systems. That’s right in the middle of PatternDynamics’ systems. So it’s all about meaning making in effect about how to make the system flourish. Like I said it’s just like a giant experiment.

Usha: So can you give me an example of either a client that you’re working with or some application of this work and a concrete problem? I’d just love to see how it works in real time.

Case Study Example:

Tim: Okay, let me give you an example from an organizational development program. It was over about twelve to eighteen months. I participated in it using PatternDynamics and bringing the systems thinking framework into the senior leadership group with a number of other consultants in a firm. We were tasked in merging two billion dollar business units in a large Transnational Mining Minerals Enterprises. It’s pretty much stocks standard kind of organizational development project. So we helped this leadership group learn the PatternDynamics framework or at least the first order patterns. We mostly translated the second order patterns when they needed it to help them see their system. We gave them great collaborative inquiry tools, deconstructive instrument theory, positive public regard, social contracts, and really listening to each other more than telling to each other. And see more-share more coordinate perspectives. One of the things we came up with in the end of that initiative is that these guys were great fighters, and what I mean by that is they would have big plant meltdowns. It’s just the nature of this metal smelting process that they could meltdown plant equipments worth tens of millions of dollars in an hour, then having to spend two weeks scrambling to rebuild it because every day that they would be offline will costing millions of dollars. They became awesome at this very focused effort to rebuild it. So they had these pulses, so that was one pattern. Pulses are one of the rhythm patterns and this is it. And you can see the diagram and the expresses. There’s a random pop in intensity and a fall of at the end, we identify that as a pulse pattern. What allowed them to see was that they can do this other thing really well because that was nature of the system that they had inherited, they can have this really concentrated activity – the Concentration-Diffusion pattern. They can have they can have this really focused initiative on fighting this fire, dealing with this problem and when they come down to the downside of the pulse then it will all collapse, go away and kind of collect themselves. But they forgot one thing. They have identified themselves that they can do better that would make a big difference, this is one of the major pieces of value that was reflected back to us by the CEO and said ‘ what we are doing is actually capturing the knowledge each time we solve one of these problems ‘ they have to start it again from scratch. By knowing that the pulse is going to come along because they always do, that is the pulse at play. Knowing that this is going to be the focus effort for the Concentration-Diffusion pattern and the principle behind that; knowing that that’s what they’re going to do but knowing what they weren’t doing as well as they could was capture the information making documentation, telling stories, reinforcing the knowledge about how to do this again and that was the game changer for them, that is worth millions of dollars; That seeing more, sharing more and collective wisdom because they all agreed when they saw it, you point at this and they went ‘aha right, you’re right’ that’s exactly what is happening. Then they consciously design to make a decision to allocate some resources on the downside of the pulse to collect that knowledge information skill and the learning’s and embodies them to artifacts and stories. There’s a practical example about seeing more-sharing more gets a better decision and it also helps contribute to solving problems that are very complex base.

Usha: I really like how these different patterns and principles just surface in name in a way that a system might not otherwise be able to do, being too valuabl.

Subject/Object Magic

Tim: That’s the magic. Robert Keagan refers to it as the ’subject-object move. What’s embedded in your subject like your feeling something is not right, there’s a tension around something not working about these plant melt downs and this big efforts. You can’t quite name it and then you help people see more. I think this is a systems principle, there’s this pop. There’s this meaning making that happens then the light bulb goes on; now I can see it. I can act on it and that’s a really powerful thing. When I do this strategy consulting piece, I go in and I don’t do conventional business strategy, I’m not McKinsey, I’m not the lawyer,I don’t go in and look in your balance sheet, look at your profit loss, look at your business structure, look at the market opportunities, look at your competitions and say you should have this strategy. I can work with those people and I could say ‘I think what you’re talking about when you’re looking at the competitors is diffused. You have a network of competitors. You don’t just have one and it is not focus, it’s diffused—its Concentration-Diffusion pattern. There’s a network pattern and if you look at those, we might translate to this people doing this strategy and saying to themselves so they can think more clearly from a systems perspective of what was going on.

Becoming a Systems Translator

Tim: When you learn PatternDynamics, you learn to be a translator; to take what you’ve learned like people make assertions all the time like we should deal with the competitions this way — ‘X’. And you say ‘well, tell me what you’re thinking’ unless they’re systems thinkers they’ll only be able to tell you about how it works in a linear fashion. That’s not often good enough; linear thinking is not going to close the complexity gap especially at the senior leadership and senior strategy levels. You can translate how people see the system; you become really valuable in the strategy space in that particular way. I don’t see a lot of that being done in strategy anywhere frankly because there are not a lot of consistent systems thinking frameworks out there that strategy is going to apply; there are some and there’s lot of traditions but I mean one where all of the principles and patterns are consistent, there’s the framework that people can learn readily and so then people are speaking the same language because often when someone shows up with Neglitly’s literacy in systems thinking and someone else shows up Peter’s sayings literacy and this signifiers they just past each other. That’s another useful thing about PatternDynamics .

Usha: Common language, to enable common meaning.

Tim: -you got it.

Usha: Thank you so much, this is just so valuable and it’s really wonderful accommodation.

Tim: That is really interesting getting your perspectives. I have my own ideas about what PaternDynamics is but I’m always fascinated because I realized that other people have other inquiries about it and other questions, other ways of thinking about it or thinking about this space. I’ve learned quite a lot, it’s been really interesting for me.

Usha: It’s actually really simple, I’m struck by the simplicity and the power of PaternDynamics and its simplicity. It’s enabling collaborative meaning making by creating common language and same words to think about what is happening and to look at what the presenting problem as it were in a systemic framework. It’s great; I’m excited for the institution of a work and the application of a work.

Tim: I really like how you put that, I never heard anyone say it quite like that and I think it’s right on. And the pattern for that is elegance.

Usha: I hope you take over McKinley or something and take this new strategy to consulting; no you don’t have to take over McKinley. There’s a lot of value with this kind of framework and way of doing this business and thinking about business that I think is very transformative.

Tim: That’s a great reflection and this is a community effort. I don’t think I’ve created it; I discovered it in a way and what I think is all of us. Especially I’m really impressed with how at a young age you’ve figured out that this is a high leverage point. You’ve dedicated your life to it, you’re passionate about it and if PatternDynamics is going to make any difference, I think it’s kind of like a proto-pattern language in the space. This will evolve and this is going to spread and these ideas are going to work because of people like you. That is why I’m excited about talking about it to you and how these conversations and other people like you can find this and work with it if it’s useful for them. So, thank you.

The post Introduction to PatternDynamics in Organisational Development Interview with Usha Gubbala first appeared on PatternDynamics™.

Sep 15 2015

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Social Streets Review

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Learn the principles behind the success of Social Streets as it spreads across the world. What are the secrets to its success? How does it create thriving neighbourhoods out of socially barren city environments? In this episode we look through the lens of PatternDynamics to identify some of the systems patterns and principles at work. Have your own opinions or perhaps some questions about the principles discussed here? Put your thoughts in the comments section below the blog so we can start the conversation.

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Topics Discussed:

1:30 Three Key Principles
2:30 Increasing Resources and Social Isolation
4:35 Connecting in Meaningful Ways
5:00 Three Social Streets Resources
5:45 What is it?
9:00 Boundary, Network, Trade
16:10 How Permeable Are the Boundaries?
18:07 Nodes and Connections
19:58 Exchanges form the Network
21:50 Overcoming the Overwhelm

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Transcript:

Hi Tim Winton here, creator of PatternDynamics — where we use our unique systems thinking tool to look at some of the deeper principles behind to look at how we learn to solve the challenges of the increasingly complex world and create a more thriving planetary future.

A Social Phenomenon

In this episode, we’re going to have a look at something that is really interesting. It’s bit of a social phenomenon. It’s been really successful and it’s managed to solve what is really quite an intractable challenge, and still an intractable challenge around the world. It’s called “Social Streets”. Social Streets is managed to create or develop a system for creating thriving neighborhoods that seems to just work. It’s now over 370 of these initiatives around the world, by all accounts they’re getting results, solves the problem of social isolation and it does it in a systematic way that can be replicated. I think that is why I am so interested in this one. I’ve been reading about it all week and I’ve been trying to think through and work out what are the deeper principles behind these initiatives are because I think if we could understand them we can apply them to other aspects of our life, our work and our world.

What are the three principles?

There are three key principles; at least these are the three that I discovered through working through the “Social Streets” initiative, that are key to how these to how phenomena creates thriving neighborhoods. I want to explore them in this blog podcast and we’ll go through the challenge that it needs, what it is, how it works and talk through some of the principles behind it and then relate those principles to the PatternDynamics framework. So that we can do this consistently and learn a little bit more about how these principles actually work and how we can translate them in to our own settings, in our own work and in our own lives. There are three powerful principles, let’s move on to the next slide.

Wealth and Social Isolation

Increasing amounts of people have access to increasing amounts of resources and on one hand that is a very good thing — all of us to have our essential needs met so that we can get all of other things. But what is very interesting about that is that if we can get everything we need by engaging in a market economy is that we go to work, we get money and we can exchange it for nearly all the things we need in our society. Most things are available if you can purchase them. You know, what’s interesting about being able to do that is that it’s only been in the last 300 – 400 years that most of the people on this planet have engaged in a financial economy — that is that they sold their labor into the market and they’ve receive money and then they buy their goods and services that they need.

In the past, most people lived in places where within their family or community they produced most of the things they needed together without having the medium of money being necessary for doing that. Money has been around for a long time but most people got most of the things they needed without money. It’s only relatively that recently, most people get what they need through money. But now that there are more resources available and having a financial economy that super charges the bio-physical economy that produces the goods and services, it makes it easier for them to be exchanged and we have a bigger economy because of that. There’s more things available and more people have more access to wealth now than ever before in history. The interesting side effect of that is because we don’t need our neighbors or family anymore to produce the things we need. We don’t necessarily connect with them. It’s like to this phenomenon of social isolations even if we have more, we’re wealthier. We tend to isolate ourselves more and more. People are living alone. We have the nuclear family unit that has been with us since the 2nd World War at least as a major mode of how humans live and those are isolating factors. If most of us lived in the past, in communities that were larger and families that were larger and we are more connected, that’s now changed. That’s the situation.

How To Connect

The question is how can we connect in meaningful ways that create neighborhoods that thrive socially? Materially, we’re okay but we’ve lost our social connections and that’s the big question and people have been trying to remedy this problem for quite a while now and it’s interesting how “Social Streets” went about it.

Three Resources

We got three good resources here for you regarding the “Social Streets” phenomenon. Cherry Bell has a great article on called ‘how to start a Social Street?’ You can Google that with the URL in the slide here if you happen to watch the video or the slide share. Also, D.W. has one called ‘Getting to know thy neighbors’ another really good piece. This is an audio piece done on radio and put on to a slide and it gives really good information and background, and the “Social Streets” official info page. We are going to work through each of those things, actually.

What is Social Streets

Let’s talk about what “Social Streets” is and how it functions. The introduce behind this was that a young couple, Federico and Laura; Laura is some sort of African and Federico is Italian and they moved to Italy. They are in a large city and it was isolating. They don’t have any connection to their neighbors — none in fact. They would say ‘Hello’ to people they saw regularly but they didn’t get to know anyone. Federico just thought that this is a feature of urban life and that’s okay. People want to be anonymous and just want the attractions to city life and it didn’t seem to bother them so much. But when they had a child, he realized that this is a sad thing. His family wasn’t there and he didn’t have any connections – social connections and his child was going to miss out on this feature in his life obviously and it was important to him. And so he decided that he needed to do something about this social isolation and he was going to try to solve this problem. He came up with a unique solution and I think it’s really interesting. What he did was he created a closed Facebook group. There’s nothing really new about that, anyone can set up, it’s free, and this is one of the tenants in “Social Streets” — one of the principles behind it. What’s interesting about what he did was he made that closed facebook group available only to the people that lived only on his street in his neighborhood. If you didn’t live there you cannot come in to that closed facebook group, and he put fliers and posters up around the neighborhood on the street to let people know that there is this closed facebook group that was specifically for creating connections between the residents of the street. He was surprised by the response he got. He got a lot of response and many people joined the facebook group and started to connect and communicate. But, the purpose of this facebook group was not just to go online like we do in social media and relate to people at a distance. The purpose was, if you have a need for help where you go to a service where you might normally pay for like a plumber to fix your clogged drain. Which is one of the examples they talked about in one of this pieces, I think it’s the D.W. piece. That’s with “Social Streets,” you go to any closed facebook group and you post ‘my drain’s clogged. Can someone help me?’ What happened was people were getting two or three replies and some people said ‘yea sure, I’ll come and fix your drain because I used to be a plumber and I’m happy to do it. I’m retired’. And one woman asked for someone to walk her home at night because she felt unsafe. Again someone said ‘I’m not doing anything now, I will help you with that problem’. What we got is people not only connecting once you get in social media but exchanging. And those exchanges of energy, our life energy giving something to people freely. “Social Streets” is all about free, none monetary transactions. It’s about building community and actually meeting each other face to face. I think it’s those exchanges that really drive “Social Streets”, and that’s what I like to talk about.

Boundary Pattern

There are three really interesting principles here, we just shift down. I think those principles are that “Social Streets” with the closed facebook group, set a boundary around who can come into that facebook group. Closed facebook groups are closed, so you can set a boundary and you can pick anybody who you like. But from a systems perspective, which is what we are doing here; we’re looking in to the deeper systems principles behind why something could work. And our purpose behind on doing that is so that we can use those same principles if we can identify similar situation in our life, our work and our world and try to get a similar result. Principles, being principles are universal and looking at how these systems works gives us a different kind of insight. It’s more holistic and it is also a key for solving a set of challenges that come with the increasingly complex world. When you have more things, they’re more related and things happened faster then, that is a more complex world and our world is getting increasingly complex. That, it’s actually the root cause of many of our challenges which are kind of the symptoms on the surface but if things are complex, then one of the antidotes to that or something that can help is understanding more holistically the systems principles behind it.

The Conversation for Collective Intelligence

That is what we’re doing with PatternDynamics. It’s not like we have to receive wisdom that will download to you. It’s about starting a conversation because it is wanting to see more as to stand back and look at the system, but that’s not much good unless you actually share more. And the share more part is when having the conversations to get our collective intelligence on board. That collective intelligence becomes collective wisdom when we’re looking at the system and sharing about the system in effective ways and that is how we meet the challenges of a complex world. It’s just one of the ways that we know of; it’s well researched now. We can get results from and that’s what we do in PatternDynamics and that’s what this blog posts are for and podcasts are to encourage the start of the discussion.

These three principles are ones that I have identified but you might look at this as ‘no, I think there are other things that were important in getting this initiative to work’. So, I encourage you to put comments, ask questions into the discussion section at the bottom of this blog or podcast and I’ll answer them or someone else in the PatternDynamics community will answer them and that we’ll start the dialogue because you might be right. You might be contributing a really important perspective to this that will be really helpful for us to coordinate into how we understand the situation better and we are able to replicate it in other places and in other context. These “Social Streets” people are doing a great job of getting it to work in neighborhoods that it is in big cities. Maybe these principles can translate into your workplace or into your community in a different way to get a similar result. That is the idea anyway. I think the three principles are Boundary– that who came into that closed facebook group; there is a very particular kind of boundary. That boundary was permeable only to that people on that street of neighborhood, you couldn’t get in otherwise.

One of the functions of boundaries and systems is to delineate the outside of the system from the inside of a system, and until you have a system boundary you don’t really have a system. They can be conceptual, they can be physical. In this case there are set of protocols or rules — social rules of who could come in. That boundary had a very particular kind of permeability and that established a very particular kind of system because only the elements inside the system can start to relate as a system. They’ve established that, they have very clear distinct boundary with the distinct kind of permeability, so they got the potential for distinct kinds of relationships and I think that is the first principle.

Network

The second principle is the Networking Function – the social media, the facebook site, the closed group allowed for the initial connections. The network receive a bunch of notes, the systems speak, bunch of elements and then they get connected and communication; actual chat inside the closed facebook group is starting to established connections.

Trade

The third principle probably the critical one is the exchange function, or what I’ve called “Trade Pattern”. Until there is some kind of exchange; networking is one thing but that is not necessarily what Federico and Laura were after in this case. They wanted real people to meet them in real time, and doing that mean we probably need something from each other. That’s what being in the financial economy and having all our own independent resources is done. We haven’t meant to ask anyone for anything except for our employer for money and everything else we go out and we don’t have to do that exchange except through money. But, we have to go to your neighbor because we need something or you have a way to connect to a network with them and then exchange the gluts, service, favor and that establishes a real person to person contact and becomes more intimate and people get to know each other and their socializing. All kinds of things happen in “Social Street”, people started playing music together, they form clubs together, and they had celebrations and rituals together in the streets. Once people got to know each other face to face, things started to change because of the exchange function. I think that’s the trading that they were doing of their real life energy, that’s how relationships are formed.

Networking is a kind of relationship light. It’s not until we start giving and receiving and really exchanging our life energy with each other on that basis, that we get that deeper kind of community intimacy — that I think the founders were after, and that they got and that is replicable. So I am advocating for these three principles. When you spend a bit of time going through them — how they show up in the PatternDynamics framework, because this maybe one of the initial blog podcasts out run through a little bit of the ‘why?’ behind the PatternDynamics itself. It’s a framework of systems thinking principles; they are a bunch of little diagrams called patterns. You can go to PatternDynamics.net, you can go to the patterns page; the charts are there and you can just click on any of those pattern icons and they’ll take you through to a page with the pattern’s definition which is actually its systems principle. It’s kind of like an alphabet, once you’ve learned these then you can start to combine them like we have with the three principles we’ve got: boundary, network and trade then we can start to get to know how the holistic dynamic of a system unfolds, and the principles that make it thrive and flourish or the principles that make it degenerate and become unhealthy and that’s what we are interested in the ‘for’ and how we get them to thrive.

Permeability of the Boundary

Back to boundary here, if we get to look at this slide. (Like, I said if you’re on the podcast you can go to PatternDynamics.net and you can click through this pattern). Boundary is interesting, you can see the diagram here; it’s a bunch of little dots and noble those form a boundary in. There are gaps between the little dots and that is the permeability aspect. Permeability can be very distinct. You need to balance the kind of permeability you need for a very particular context, and the context in “Social Streets” was to get people to meet who live close to each other — only people who were in that neighborhood could come inside that boundary, that is how the principle work in this instance.

Boundary is an interesting one because on the PatternDynamics framework it’s structural; if you go to the matrix chart (you can do that by going to the pattern’s page on the PatternDynamics.net site) if you’re following me on the video on the slide share here, you go down and boundary is in the structure column. It has a major aspect of structure and has a minor aspect of rhythm and that’s how the PatternDynamics system works. You can decode the different patterns and the different principles behind them just by learning an initial setting. Their very straight forward and intuitive, and after a little bit of practice you can start to see; you get your kind of systems glasses on and you learn this kind of pattern letters and see, you can look at any situation and you can start to pick out the patterns and you can start to have conversations with people, like I said that’s how we get our collective wisdom on board.

We can see boundary structural. Its one of those things; it’s kind of like the foundational structural property of any system. If “Social Streets” is a neighborhood system, that boundary; you have to be within that geographical location to actually make it inside that boundary for this particular group and initiative and structural. It has a very particular kind of structure because it’s a very particular kind of permeability inside that boundary; so that’s the principal that we’re working on with here.

Network Nodes and Connections

The next one is Network—the diagram here, the pattern diagram is five little nodes connected by lines. At least in the PatternDynamics system that’s what network is, it’s very discreet elements that are tightly bounded, they have their own very tight boundaries and they’re related through some kind of connection. It is not like everything is just mashed together, there are distinctions and they’re very clearly connected but they don’t overlap and then mash. A Network is a bunch of nodes that have really distinct connections.

The closed facebook group created a Network, it allowed people to start and communicate. Very age antic contained human being so we’re in fact isolated; really kind of uber nodes but there was no connections. And the facebook site allowed people to at least start to communicate –say ‘hi’, say ‘I’m so and so, and I live in this flat, on this floor, and this is what I do’, and introduce themselves and get conversation started. That’s the network part. Those isolated nodes start to reach out and connect. In the PatternDynamics system, network is also structural but its structure, (it’s in the structure column so it) has a major aspect of structure but has a minor aspect of exchange. So those connections need to be exchanges, any nodes, or relevance or people, any independently existing things. The connection will only remain if there is some kind of exchange. If there is no exchange in all in all, there is no reason, there is no purpose behind the connection it won’t remain and it will be fleeting. To maintain connections there need to be exchange.

Exchange is the Key

And that leads us to our next point which I called “Trade”. The PatternDynamics system trade is an exchange. We’ll have a look in a minute but underneath the exchange column, its right in the middle, its exchange and exchange. We’ll just have a look in the chart here, Go down in the exchange column, Trade is right in the middle. If you go across, the minor aspect is also exchange. It’s the double. Really essence of exchange is the trade of energy, life energy or biological energy- depending on what we are talking about like human organizations or biological systems or ecosystems but the principle is the same. That’s the part that we’re interested in. Trade, if we look over here; the Network is made up of structure and exchange. Those nodes are connected because there’s an exchange but trade is the principle that really makes these things work. It’s probably the most important principle on this is that people exchange their life energy face to face — they work together, they give each other things, they do things for each other then they reciprocate which is what Trade is about. It does not all go one way, that’s the flow. That’s another pattern, that’s another principle and Trade is different. The exchange of life energies that make the really strong connections in the network inside the boundary that start to form the neighborhood system which I think is what Federico and Laura have done. They created a thriving neighborhood system and they’ve got this great recipe for how to do it and we’re starting to locate some of the principles on how to make that work. If you’re interested with this kind of thing, as I said, go to the PatternDynamics.net website. You can download the workbook to get started because this is all really about seeing more, that’s the system — seeing more holistically and to do anything about the system because sometimes we really get overwhelmed and we start to see more like ‘whoa, what was all this stuff? How do we change it?’ It can be overwhelming and a bit frustrating but the secret is to start sharing more as well and take other people’s perspectives from the system and use that intelligence. Because on our own, working in complex systems is really challenging and difficult but if we can start to share our perspectives and coordinate them then that’s how we get a protraction. Again, download your workbook, put comments underneath the blog or the podcast and you’ll get an answer or we’ll start a discussion and we’ll learn more about “Social Streets”; the principles behind it and how they can help us to get better outcomes in our own life, our own work and our own world.

Thanks for joining me on this podcast, this blog and we’ll see you next time.

The post Social Streets Review first appeared on PatternDynamics™.

Sep 09 2015

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Interview with Dr Theo Dawson: Leading an Assessment Revolution

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In this post PatternDynamics founder, Tim Winton, interviews Dr Theo Dawson, the founder of Lectica Inc. Lectica’s approach combines the learning sciences, the art of teaching, and richly diagnostic measurement to revolutionise how we learn important skills for successfully navigating an increasingly complex world. Join us and learn about virtual cycles of learning, how both learners and educators can benefit from better assessments, and how coaching supported by the rich feedback in Lectical reports can double your rate of learning.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 37:28 — 34.2MB)

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Topics Discussed:

4:43 How are Lectical Assessments different?
6:55 The Virtuous Cycle of Learning
8:3 The Dopamine/Opiod Cycle
10:43 The Goldilocks Zone
12:23 The Learning Scale
16:43 A ruler for skill development
20:08 Scaffolding learning
23:13 Tiers of learning
24:43 The developmental spiral
26:43 From bedtime to quality family time
31:13Fine grained assessments for learning
32:19 Lectical Leadership Decision Making
34:43 The sub-skills of decision making
36:28Measuring complexity
37:43 Perspective coordination
40:43 Qualitative skills
42:00 Collaborative skills
43:13 Contextual thinking
46:13 PatternDynamics™ and the Lectical Scale
48:01 A model for systems thinking

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Transcript:

TIM: Hi Theo. Thank you very much for allowing me to interview you for the students of our PatternDynamics foundation program. For all of you who are listening, I’m with Dr. Theo Dawson and she is the executive director of Lectica. Lectica builds assessments that are designed to foster learning in really new and powerful ways. I’ve had the pleasure of doing Lectica assessments and they’ve been really powerful for me. I think they’ll support me lifelong because they’re available. I’d like to ask Dr. Dawson some questions so you can describe to us a little more Theo how Lectica works; what its approach is and very specifically, I’d like to start off with the question: How are your assessments different from the kind of assessments that were used to when we take test in high school we get a score and there’s a lot of pressure? Maybe some of us don’t feel that that’s very supportive for us and how we learn, maybe others do but how is Lectica different? What are your assessments really all about?

THEO : Well, Lectical assessments are different from other assessments primarily, in that, we start out with very, very different assumptions about the purpose of assessment and about what assessment ought to be. The first principle in the development of all of our assessments both for k-12 and for adulthood is that the first purpose of every assessment should be to serve learning for the student and also for anybody else who’s involved in the assessment process as a matter of fact. All of our assessments are built with the instructor or mentor in mind who’s going to be involved in the process and also administrators who might be involved in decision making around what happens within an organization. The idea is that everybody learns but primarily, first and foremost, it’s the student who’s prioritized and just that by itself makes our assessments completely different from other assessments because other assessments are actually primarily made in order to sort and grade people, they’re not made for educational purposes.

Now this idea of having assessments be educational is isn’t ours. It’s an idea that has been around for a while. Assessments of that kind are called Formative Assessments. But instead of trying to make a new class of assessments, what we’re trying to do is actually replace a way of thinking about assessments — the old way of thinking about assessments with a new way of thinking about assessments that really changes how assessments are used, what they’re purpose is and the function that they play in learning. Now, the second thing that’s really important in our assessments is that all of them are built with a particular learning model in mind. We call it ‘The Virtual Cycle of Learning’. It’s built off of observations that I made many, many years ago when I was practicing midwifery. Over 10 years I met about over 500 babies. Somewhere in the vicinity of 500 babies and there is one thing that I’ve noticed with every single one of them — they were all hopelessly addicted to learning.

TIM: As a natural beginning in life that’s how we’re oriented.

THEO: We’re totally oriented toward learning. The thing that struck me so much is that they we’re willing to suffer again and again. They we’re willing to go through almost anything to feed their addiction. I saw children who fell down literally hundreds of times in the process of learning to walk and I’m thinking: “What’s going on here?” If this is what learning looks like, if learning is something that’s got pain in it and we still remain addicted to it, then there’s something wrong with the way we think about learning. I began to study cognitive developmental psychology many years later and one of the things I learned about was what’s called the ‘Dopamine Opioid Cycle’. It’s a cycle that happens in the brain and it’s also called the ‘Wanting and Liking Cycle’ or the ‘Wanting and Reward Cycle’. That Dopamine piece of the cycle is; Dopamine is a hormone that makes us want to strive, makes us want to explore, and makes us want to experience things. And Opioids, I think we all can guess what those are; those are things that make you feel good and happy. At the same time that people we’re learning this about brain and its function, we were learning from behavioral psychology that even adults don’t like to learn in situations where there is no pain.

TIM: A little bit of stress and pain is required for this learning cycle?

THEO: Exactly, and it’s different for different people. I mean there are kids who learn to walk without falling very often because they are more cautious. We call it ‘The Goldilocks zone’. They’re zones that are kind of happy learning and it’s a little bit narrower than the zone of somebody who is a real risk taker for example. You have to figure out what that zone is for each individual but if you can nail that zone and you know exactly how much pain and discomfort and chaos that person is able to handle and the way to learning and how much they enjoy, then you get that Dopamine Opioid Cycle to just keep cycling, keep cycling, keep cycling.

TIM: And so learning becomes really fun at that stage.

THEO: And learning is returned to fun. It’s returned to fun. And I think everybody could think of something that they’ve enjoyed learning. Usually it wasn’t in school.

TIM: Let’s talk about that. Why is that? And what’s wrong with our education if that’s not the case?

THEO: Because the Dopamine Opioid Cycle although it is recruited very well by the media and by various sense of friction and gamers, we haven’t recruited it in education. In our educational system we think, ‘Oh! They’re five years old now we have to teach them this.’ ‘Oh! They’re 7 years old, now we have to teach them this’ but in reality your age has very little to know what is it do with what’s the most interesting thing to come next for you.

TIM: So the Goldilocks is zone for you?

THEO: That’s right. This is the second principle for us then and this assessment should help people learn in their Goldilocks zone.

TIM: Right! So once we know where your Goldilocks zone is then we can help you find ways of learning that you don’t lose your Dopamine before you get to your goal.

THEO: That’s right. We can give you the right porridge or the right bad or dangle the carrot at the right distance from your nose.

Tim: That seems to me, Fun because..

THEO: ..that’s powerful and fun, yes.

TIM: That’s the kind of learning I really love to do and by teaming up with Lectica, PatternDynamics that’s the kind of learning in our programs we hope to build in.

THEO: That you’re fostering.

TIM: That we’re fostering, yea. It’s been my experience

THEO: You’re creating those virtual cycles for people. So you’re helping them to stay in their zone.

TIM: Right, so that’s what is so powerful. One of the elements that is so powerful about doing these assessments is that we can help you find your Goldilocks zone. Lectica actually prescribes or gives you a list of learning resources with your assessments such as the ranking saying: ‘Here you are in these various ways of learning”, say about decision making and in each of these called sub domains. “Here’s your next step and here’s what resources have to support that”, “Here’s your book and here’s some training you might consider” and “Here’s the next ways.”

THEO: That’s right. And that’s the third principle. Is that assessment should be based on knowledge about how people actually learn the things their assessing. That may sound like ‘I know, duh?’ but there are no other assessments that are out there that are created with that kind of depth of knowledge that help people learning. So a typical assessment doesn’t tell you anything about what comes next. So in making Lectical assessments, I say, we study the hell out of how people learn the concepts that are targeted; the skills that are targeted in these assessments and we never stop studying it. We have created like an open book system for building and constantly improving upon the assessments that allows us to learn from every single person who takes one and continue building our understanding of how learning takes place in a very particular area. We’re really devoted to this idea — that a good assessment is going to provide these kinds of support for learning. Not just for individual learner but also for the educator.

TIM: Everybody involved is part of a learning process. Theo, can you describe a bit about how you study learning and how you identify these different components that people need to put together for a particular skill; these things that is called sub-domains that I’ve learned about at Lectica?

THEO: Well this is a really long story, I’m going to try to do my best to make it a little bit shorter but the best place to start is probably with the scoring system that we used to determine where on the learning scale a performance belongs or given the way of thinking about something belongs. We have spent many years refining a learning scale. We can call it a ‘Developmental Scale’; we call it ‘the Lectical scale’ because we’ve trademarked it. We have this learning scale and we find the scale that people started talking about it over a hundred years ago now to the point where we can place performances or ways of understanding pretty precisely along that scale.

TIM: So this is like a ruler where it measures, say, length could measure a piece of paper or a piece of wood or a rock. So this scale can measure..

THEO: This ruler measures the developmental height of thinking.

TIM: Of any skill? Was that your contention?

THEO: ..of reasoning in any scale domain — independent of a particular domain. It’s conceptually quite mathematical underneath it which makes it sound really not very sexy.

TIM: You know what they say, for every formula you put in your book you lose half of your readers.

THEO: I know, exactly so it’s really super abstract and nobody really wants to learn how to do this except a very few crazy people in the world but we have learned how to pretty precisely place performances in scale and along the scale. What we do is, when we are going to develop a new assessment, the first thing we do is usually someone who comes to us and asks. We’d love to be able to assess how well someone’s learning, how to do critical thinking for example or how to understand leadership decision making for example. The first thing that we do is we figure out what’s the current knowledge out there on about this constructs. So we read the literature that already exists and why we reinvent the wheel to find everything we can from the literature. And from that, we make some pre-selections of what we think the primary constructs are going to be or the primary themes or scales are going to be that are what we want to target with the assessments. We use our experience with building assessments to determine what form the assessments going to take. Is it going to be one where we’re really asking people to define things for us? Is it going to be one where we’re asking people to solve problems? There are a variety of different forms that things can take. We actually build our first version of the assessment and we give it to a whole bunch of people who we represent a wide range and sometimes that range is from age five all the way up to PHD. Sometimes it’s just adults in management; all in different levels of management that varies depending upon the needs of the client and once we have collected a bunch of these, then we score them with the ruler and we place them along the ruler. We go in and we do this really intense exploration of what the skill looks like in each one of the levels. Each one of the level is along that metric. What happens during that process is that we usually learn that our first way of organizing the themes or the skills is wrong. That’s not the way that people really learn it and so we end up having to rethink what mathematic structure is, and so learn what their major themes are. And we learn about the different pathways to which people seem to navigate moving up the scale on those particular competencies.

TIM: These themes or competencies; there’s a number of them usually required for a higher order scale like decision making. There will be a series of sub-components or themes as you’ve call them or sub-domains. And discovering the pathway that people take with these various sub-domains and how they might complement each other and knit together to form a higher order skill.

THEO: To form the constructs of the next phases and how people will climb that ladder; part of our research is also trying to figure out which pathways through this seem to be more optimal than others. There’s multiple ways of getting from point A to B but other ways from getting point A to B that are predictors of whether if you’re going to be able to move to C for example. Those are the kinds of things that were also paying attention to. But, when we’re building assessments we primarily and initially just looking at trying to figure out, okay so, what’s the sequence through this people learn this sub-skill typically?

TIM: There’s a real reader here. Your learning’s are very powerful things about how people learn this particular skills and how to foster.

THEO: And all of this is codified in a big religional database of course, this are very technologically intensive

TIM: A lot of data there for you to work with.

THEO: Well, people call this ‘Big Data’. What we learn from this process is we populate our assessments and we populate lesson plans and things like that. Once we know what sequences are, then when someone gets a score on that assessment in the future we can tell them what comes next.

TIM: You keep them in the Goldilocks zone where learning is fun and interesting and really engaging.

THEO: That’s right and we still have a lot to learn about what that Goldilocks zone is going to be for that particular individual. We always tell teachers ‘that’s your job’. Get to know the learner well enough to figure out how much or how wide that zone is because if the person really likes a lot of ambiguity and chaos and they have a wide zone, they’re going to be bored to tears when we can make it easy for them. Whereas the more cautious learner is going to be overwhelmed easily, so you need to try to figure out what’s ideal for that person. But we make a kind of guesstimate for people that are kind of in the middle range and tie that feedback to particular learning resources that we think have the right level of challenge for someone who’s performing in a certain level. That’s also called ‘Scaffolding’. It’s called providing people with learning materials that pull them up or support them to go to the next level in their thinking.

TIM: It’s a structured way. There’s this resource at this level and there’s these resources at this level and for this particular sub-skill. You might want to do this that’ll get you to the next level from where you are. It’s very fine grain.

THEO: It’s pretty fine grained and it can sound kind of mechanical when you first learn about it. It sounds like: ‘Oh you mean like everybody has to learn the same exact thing in order to move to the next level?” But in fact, it’s really fluid and there are multiple ways that people can go from one level to another and we provide enough resources. Usually the people that we’re working with are using these assessments in their courses, are also providing additional resources so that everybody can find their own pathway. We don’t want everybody to be a cookie cutter, cut out one another. Not that we would ever end up being that anyway because people are so diverse.

TIM: Theo, can you describe a bit about the ruler? The hierarchal complexity it’s often called and how we move from one level to the next. Or the tears, how we move from one tear to the next tear perhaps even in the Lectical system.

THEO: I do call it the Lectical system but it’s primarily built off of Kurt Fischer’s Skill Theory and his Skill Scale. Piaget before Kurt Fischer discovered what Piaget called ‘stages’ and there were anywhere from four to five of these in his theory actually, I think he started with three and then it went up to five because his maximum number that he identified and Kurt Fischer calls those ‘tears’ now. There are five of them in Fischer’s theory. They’ve also been called ‘epox’. I like tears. Tears is nice, it will do too. And each one of these tears ushers in completely new kind of skill or concept. Kurt Fischer calls them skills because skills could apply across the board from before your verbal all the way through the verbal period of your life but as you move through the levels they become more like concepts or a lot of them become more like concepts than skill their ways of thinking about things. In infancy, it’s more about sensorimotor — the actual physical actions that you do. We start first of all with just reflexive actions; just reflexes and then we start to build on those into patterns that we call ‘sensorimotor skills’ and then from there you move to something called representations where instead of having to physically do the thing you could actually talk about doing the thing.

TIM: You can represent it you have a concept or a symbol for it. Zack Stein has given a good example to help me more a lot here. He said, the sensorimotor that you experience as a kid around say bedtime; there’s a series of things — there’s brushing your teeth, putting on your pajamas, it’s getting to read a story, being tucked in bed. These are all sensorimotor experiences and are skills but at some point you chunked all of those together and kind of map them out and then you put them together into this kind of bigger chunk that’s called bedtime and bedtime is a symbol or a signifier for all these sensorimotor.

THEO: It’s a signifier for those actual actions in the environment and representations have this feature of being something that you could kind of point to or feel directly. They’re concrete as Piaget would have said and Kurt calls these representations but they kind of have a concrete feel to them because their stories about what’s going on in the physical world.

TIM: They’re kind of like stories of a sensorimotor. They are very concrete like, the sensorimotor is very concrete. It’s not abstract, it’s physical. Then you get the next tear; is the representation. This is the chunking idea where the whole bunch of the sensorimotor stuff is chunked together in to a representation and that’s the first kind of thing that happens and the bottom of the next tear. And then we map other representations and they get chunked up to the next. The first element of the next tear is that how the hierarchal complexity actually works.

THEO: That’s exactly how it works. And each level becomes increasingly more abstracted from the concrete. The Sensorimotor actions are not abstracted at all from the concrete. We’re actually operating on the world. Representations are more abstracted and then after representation we have what we actually call Abstractions. Abstractions are different from representations and that abstractions represent ideas that you could no longer point at.

TIM: So, it’s not like bedtime. That’s a fairly points to be conquered thing.

THEO: Because I can draw you pictures of all those things that you’re doing in bedtime but I can’t draw you a picture of friendship.

TIM: No, it’s a total abstraction, there’s nothing concrete that refers to.

THEO: Or truthfulness.

TIM: On the Lectical scale which goes up to thirteen, where do abstractions fit in the number system?

THEO: Now you’re going to put me to work because I actually usually think about the top few. The Representations Tear starts with level five because there are two tears below it — that sounds a little bit confusing. Actually it starts with level five because there’s this weird zero down the bottom. So we start with the zero, it’s actually level six but we call it level five. The representations here start with five, every tear is divided into three levels or four, depends on how you think about it. You’ll get the idea of why sometimes we talk about it being four in just a minute. These three levels actually repeat in every tear.

TIM: And that’s the identification of the element; a mapping of a bunch of these elements and then the systematizing of them into a chunk at the next level. Is that right?

THEO: Well, it’s not at the next level yet. That’s number four. When you systematize them into a chunk, they’re not only coordinating the systems with systems but they actually become a new unit. That’s the herald to the next stage. Let me go back and I’ll just start.

It’s the individual elements the first things that appear. You got a new kind of way of thinking. So you got bedtime but that just stands there by itself. Its bedtime and you’re not connecting it yet to other kinds of representations yet. You’re just building these individual elements first then you move on to being able to relate a couple of those to one another.

TIM: So maybe, bedtime and lunch time? Maybe? Or dinner time and bedtime?

THEO: You can say meal time which is bed time, lunch time and dinner time. That’s actually fairly complex when it’s a chain but is still linear so it’s still considered to be a mapping. Anything that maps in a line in a linear chain is a mapping or is a collection of things, like a pot where you got things collected in. And there’s the systems level when you start relating these things together in more complex ways so, you’ve got more than two elements and they’re being related to one another in complex ways that go beyond just a single linear.

TIM: Alright. So if we said something like there’s bedtime, there’s breakfast time, there’s lunch time, there’s school time, there’s story time and all those things get to put together and the thing is called a day which is a system of these.

THEO: Or maybe a better example might being able to say that; you’d be able to say something like breakfast, lunch and dinner are all the same because we always sit down at the table together as a family.

TIM: Okay, so then there’s an abstraction sitting at the table together.

THEO: That’s a system because we’ve identified something that all of these things have in common.

TIM: I see, okay.

THEO: We’re relating them all to one another rather than just putting them in a bundle together or just mapping them one to one another, one to one. Then you make a whole bunch of those. I think of these as like complicated stories at this level. They become complicated stories and you make a bunch of them and those are called systems as individual things. When you have a bunch of them that you can relate to one another; that’s called systems of representational systems.

TIM: That’s the fourth step, right?

THEO: That’s the fourth step and it’s also the first step of the next tear.

TIM: So that’s the chunk.

THEO: It creates a new element. That’s the big chunking.

TIM: Which is an Abstraction at this stage.

THEO: And now it’s an abstraction

TIM: What will be an example of that?

THEO: Let’s see if we can carry this particular example forward. I haven’t actually used this one before. So, carrying this one forward, you might have something that emerges out of all of these experiences of meal times is together like quality family time.

TIM: Okay, because you can’t draw that or point it or poke it with stick.

THEO: You can’t try to point it. You can give examples of it still. You could give concrete examples of it but that wouldn’t really capture what this whole thing is about.

TIM: That’s much more abstract. Quality family time is an abstraction.

THEO: It’s taking you to the abstraction level.

TIM: That’s a tear jump. We’ve moved through the four stages of representations. We jumped up now, we’re on the first stage of another tear.

THEO: The fourth level of the previous tear is the first level of the next tear. And you repeat that in every single one of the tear is a repetition of those three different kinds of ways of coordinating elements with one another within that tear.

TIM: Same process happens as you move through each tear.

THEO: Over and over again.

TIM: There’s actually finer grain.

THEO: Its further divisions.

TIM: That’s when you identify the assessments. Is that right? So you score you say, 10.2 and you know that you’re in the first part of a certain tear.

THEO: Yeah, and this is our important contribution to the field or our first contribution was taking this model where we could identify the whole level. The model that Kurt Fischer developed allowed us to identify those levels and performances but we took it and we knew that in order to make this system useful, because the thirteen across the whole life span; that’s not very fine grained. If I told you what level you’re in, wouldn’t tell you what you need to learn next.

TIM: No, the gap in your Goldilocks Zone would be too big.

THEO: It’s too big of a gap, its way too big. If you’re very high in a level, it could mean you’re ready to go to the next level but if you’re really low in a level it means you’ve got years of work to do still, to get ready.

TIM: There’s years involved in moving through a tear.

THEO: There’s more and more years involved as you go up the scale. There’s more and more years involved in going through levels and going through tears as you move up the scale. It’s just because things become more complex as you move up, so it’s harder to learn it. It takes longer to learn it.

TIM: Let’s talk about the particular skill in that regard — decision making. I know the Lectical decision making assessment is one of your more developed assessments as in its done the most iterations. It had the most participants therefore you’ve learned the most about how it works

THEO: In the adult arena.

TIM: In the adult arena. Theo, do you consider decision making to be a kind of foundation skill for leaders? And maybe, explain a bit about decision making and its themes or sub-domains that you’ve identified.

THEO: Yes, I think that decision making is the foundational skill. It is leadership in so many ways. Leaders make decisions and most of the other things, other components that we think about when we think about leadership are things that contribute to better decision making.

I have an organization. I have three businesses. I see my role as a leader; as a decision making role and to understand why, I think about it that way it does help to understand how we think about decision making. Because some people think about decision making is a process of steps that you go through to make a decision but that’s not the way that we conceptualize decision making. We conceptualize decision making as a set of skills that you bringing to bear when you’re confronted with an issue or a problem or a decision that’s needs to be made.

TIM: This is a powerful distinction, I think, because I’ve learned a lot about leadership decision making as an organizational consultant and mostly it is a linear set of steps that people are taught. There are various of forms of these. What you’re talking about is something very different; set of skills that you bring to bear.

THEO: Yes. You can bring them to bear and use as system that’s got steps in it. I’m not saying that we should throw away decision making systems. It has steps. But the way we think about it more is the collection of skills. When we first started out building this assessment, we built it for a federal government agency here in the United States. When we first started out building it, we didn’t know the component skills were. What we had was the skills that these organizations were mandating for; their management teams, they were saying: “Here are the things you need to be able to do to be managers”. And when we went out and studied it. We actually found something a little bit different than what we thought we we’re going to find. Importantly, one of the things that we found was that the primary most foundational skills for good decision making are perspective taking; what we call perspective seeking. There was nothing in the literature about perspective seeking.

TIM: I’m actually going in and asking someone for what they think. What their perspective is.

THEO: There’s quite a bit in the literature about perspective taking and there’s nothing in the literature about active listening and things like that but in terms of decision making, people hadn’t really pull that together in an explicit way. But we began to see absolutely critical perspective seeking was when we noticed that as people moved up the developmental scale, they did more and more and more of it. We thought: “What’s going on here? Does this mean that we can’t seek perspectives unless we’re highly developed?” And I thought: “No, I do remember my kids asking me a lot of questions when they we’re little.”

TIM: That’s right seeking your perspective.

THEO: I think it’s something that we unlearn because we kind of have a heroic leadership illusion.

TIM: We do have this model of leadership often in organizations now.

THEO: That’s right. And to look powerful and strong, we’re not supposed to look uncertain right? So why would we ask people what they think? What I think what happens is that by virtue of having to cope with the increasing complexity that comes with the demands of higher levels of management positions or anything that you’re operating on in life is highly complex, that you just come to realize in and of your own accord that I can’t do this by myself. I have to bring a lot of perspectives together because I need lots of kinds of expertise, lots of different ways about thinking about this in order to make the best possible decision. Because we have a certain kind of culture, this is a skill that kind of goes dormant for a while. Rediscovered in development as people; hopefully rediscovered in development. Not always rediscovered. A lot of managers can get very high levels without actually learning the skill but the most successful leaders are the ones that end up and are really rising to the top are people who have these and operate with these skills all the time.

TIM: We have identified two of these themes or sub-domains in decision making which is perspective taking and seeking.

THEO: Those are pre-requisites.

If you don’t have perspective seeking, you’re probably not going to be able to learn to do the other skills because perspective seeking is learning.

TIM: Right and it’s really the kind of way of getting the collective intelligence on board.

THEO: Exactly. The other skills that we target are collaborative thinking.

TIM: That’s the third, is it perspective coordination?

THEO: No, perspective coordination is the next one. Once you’ve got the seeking perspectives, the next thing that you will be able to do is actually coordinate the perspective you sought.

TIM: Can you tell me a little about what that means to you and how you’ve discovered that?

THEO: It means different things at different levels of development; which is why we kind of use that basket word — coordination. It means how you put perspectives together in some levels. It means how you prioritize those perspectives. It can mean how you give priority to different perspectives. In other levels, it can be how you could have extract common themes from different perspectives and so it’s about how you bring together the perspectives to help you formulate a decision. That’s the most general way to state it and it’s done in different ways over the course of development. And there are ways you can do it within a particular level of development as well. What are the sequences of these? It’s perspective coordination. I know I made the assessment. Its collaborative thinking, did we call it collaborative thinking?

TIM: I think you called it collaboration or at least when I did the full I think it is called Collaboration.

THEO: The fourth one is collaboration or collaborative thinking. The fifth one is contextual thinking and the sixth one is decision making process. We also tack on to the assessment skills for argumentation but those are actually not specifically related to the leadership in terms of the decision making domain.

TIM: That’s your logic, is it? Like how you think about what you’ve done.

THEO: It’s how coherent your thinking is; it’s how well you predict over your arguments and it’s kind of the quality of your thinking. We don’t really want to try. Well, we’re trying to put things on the scale in terms of how far along is someone on the scale. We don’t want to confuse that with the quality that which they do it.

TIM: What’s so interesting distinction with itself and it’s probably a long conversation there but..

THEO: It’s a really important one because if somebody is in this level of the scale but they have poor argumentation skills then its instructor is going to be helping them to develop the argumentation skills before they teach them the material, because the argumentation skills are about the mental map that you build as a terrain and until you build a good mental map you can’t make a good argument.

TIM: That’s interesting, that’s a new perspective for me on the argumentation which is really helpful actually.

THEO: That’s a very, very important piece of what we measure but that’s not specifically a decision making skill. It’s a skill that is brought to bear in lots of our assessments. The ones that are related to decision making are the perspective taking, perspective seeking, perspective coordination, collaborative thinking and contextual thinking. Those last two skills are important because it’s not enough that you can coordinate perspectives but in order to actually do good perspective taking, you need these set of skills called collaborative skills and they’re the kind of skills that you use in the process of seeking perspectives.

TIM: This is how you engage with another person or persons to get their perspective their intelligence.

THEO: And in the contextual thinking part, is about what are the context someone brings to bear when they’re thinking through a decision making problem; and by context we actually mean something that is broader than we usually mean when we use the word context because we’re actually also talking about the perspectives of individuals. An individual’s mind is like a context in which a perspective resides or an experience of something resides but there’s also the situation that that persons’ in — the specific situation they find themselves in a particular problem. And then there’s how that situation is nested within a broader context of an organizational unit or the team or something else and then that context is going to be nested in an organization as a whole or a school as a whole which is nested in a business community which is nested in the social. So the context are all about the different layers that we can bring to bear more thinking through our problems phase.

TIM: One of the ways to describe these problems phase at a certain level of development would be a kind of orientation to how the system works and often this kind of holarchical layering that you described the individual, their context maybe their team, their organization, society — that’s one way of describing systems or a systems within systems within systems.

THEO: Systems within systems but it’s really important to understand that a 7th grader can talk about society. It’s not the same thing as being able to say: ‘Oh we have to think about this society here’. It’s really about how well you actually can coordinate the interests of the society with the interests of the organization. At what level are you doing that? It’s not “am I thinking about the organization?” It’s how well I am coordinating the interests of the organization with the interests of that team.

TIM: The contextual thinking of theme or sub-domain is that how I coordinate the interest of a part with the interest of a whole.

THEO: That’s right. There’s certain relationship in how we do that with developmental level. There is some shared; we call “Shared Variants.” If we did a correlation within the two, you’d fine that they’re related to one another but there’s also a lot of independence as well. Only about a quarter of what’s going on in doing contextual thinking is about the level that you’re operating at on the Lectical Scale. Its counter to almost all of the models that exist out there because people have had a more simplistic way of thinking about it, probably that it comes out of never having actually to stud y how people learn to do this. By virtue of learning how people actually come to build these skills we learn that: ‘oh it doesn’t work the way that we used to think it worked.’ The same thing with perspective taking; the perspective taking models that existed prior to this work actually had it built into them that somehow you weren’t able to take the perspective of the organization into account unless you could already take individual perspectives into account, but what we’ve found is that even in quite low levels people have a way of taking their perspective of the organization. It’s just a less hierarchy complex way of doing so and they’re consequently less adequate.

TIM: Right, especially if you’re in a more complex world space as you say which if we bring this back around to conclude about PatternDynamics and its relationship to Lectica and the LDMA and the partnership we’re forming about creating a very specific way of helping people learn to make good decisions which is based on the Lectical Scale and the LDMA assessment and PatternDYnamics as a systems thinking or complexity thinking framework. The idea behind that integration is to equip people to make better decisions when they are in those more complex world spaces. For instance, if they’re the leader or a change maker you’re almost automatically in very complex territory these days. Maybe we can just wrap a bit Theo with why you think there’s value in the systems thinking orientation or framework like PatternDynamics in conjunction with the LDMA and those sub-domains?

THEO: The way that I think about it is that, I’ve emphasized throughout this conversation, that we build our understanding of how people learn these concepts on what people actually do. We’re not imposing a theoretical framework. We don’t have theoretical frameworks that were viewing people through; we’re just taking them for what they actually do. It’s called the ‘Phenomenological Approach’. Rediscovering and then representing and we can do powerful things with that but the one thing that we can’t do is prescribe. We can only say: “Here’s what I think might be on your zone to learn next.” But we can’t say: “What’s the best thing for you to learn next in terms of building your skill more quickly or building your skill more effectively?” We haven’t created that model. I think of PatternDynamics as an excellent model for helping people to build systems thinking skills that go beyond what it is that we do on our own like flaunting around in the world to figure it out but actually scaffold our ability to do that. So we can become not so much learn to do it faster but learn to so it more effectively.

TIM: Its actual framework there that people can learn and it’s reliable and it’s repeatable. Now we’re rapidly learning how to help people learn the competencies around the systems principles that these patterns represents. Therefore we have scaffolding and we have a kind of method you can put to work through marrying it with the sub-domain as a kind of method where we take perspectives, we seek perspectives, we coordinate those, we collaborate, we think contextually, we make a decision. We describe that through our argumentation and then we use that as our actual learning loop of process as a kind of dynamic steering in our decision making process. We’ll discover because we’re assessing everyone before they start and after they finish our program then we’ll know if that leads to more effective learning of the skill of decision making.

THEO: More than just having that cycle, they have a tool kit that you’re giving them it helps them to decide what are the patterns that are involved here in this problem space and how can I use these patterns to be able to support my thinking about these problems.

TIM: Well, I guess we’ll find out because we’re about to kick-off our program and students doing it will be watching this video and I’m just so grateful Theo that I’ve found your work, that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from you and Lectica and the other great people there and we can start to integrate this in to our program for what we hope to be very formative learning experience for folks. Thank you for your time today and I think we’ve all learned a great deal.

THEO: Thank you for having me and I just want to say to all the students in the course: “Happy virtual cycling!”

TIM: Great, Thank you Theo.

TIM: Hi Theo. Thank you very much for allowing me to interview you for the students of our PatternDynamics foundation program. For all of you who are listening, I’m with Dr. Theo Dawson and she is the executive director of Lectica. Lectica builds assessments that are designed to foster learning in really new and powerful ways. I’ve had the pleasure of doing Lectica assessments and they’ve been really powerful for me. I think they’ll support me lifelong because they’re available. I’d like to ask Dr. Dawson some questions so you can describe to us a little more Theo how Lectica works; what its approach is and very specifically, I’d like to start off with the question: How are your assessments different from the kind of assessments that were used to when we take test in high school we get a score and there’s a lot of pressure? Maybe some of us don’t feel that that’s very supportive for us and how we learn, maybe others do but how is Lectica different? What are your assessments really all about?

THEO : Well, Lectical assessments are different from other assessments primarily, in that, we start out with very, very different assumptions about the purpose of assessment and about what assessment ought to be. The first principle in the development of all of our assessments both for k-12 and for adulthood is that the first purpose of every assessment should be to serve learning for the student and also for anybody else who’s involved in the assessment process as a matter of fact. All of our assessments are built with the instructor or mentor in mind who’s going to be involved in the process and also administrators who might be involved in decision making around what happens within an organization. The idea is that everybody learns but primarily, first and foremost, it’s the student who’s prioritized and just that by itself makes our assessments completely different from other assessments because other assessments are actually primarily made in order to sort and grade people, they’re not made for educational purposes.

Now this idea of having assessments be educational is isn’t ours. It’s an idea that has been around for a while. Assessments of that kind are called Formative Assessments. But instead of trying to make a new class of assessments, what we’re trying to do is actually replace a way of thinking about assessments — the old way of thinking about assessments with a new way of thinking about assessments that really changes how assessments are used, what they’re purpose is and the function that they play in learning. Now, the second thing that’s really important in our assessments is that all of them are built with a particular learning model in mind. We call it ‘The Virtual Cycle of Learning’. It’s built off of observations that I made many, many years ago when I was practicing midwifery. Over 10 years I met about over 500 babies. Somewhere in the vicinity of 500 babies and there is one thing that I’ve noticed with every single one of them — they were all hopelessly addicted to learning.

TIM: As a natural beginning in life that’s how we’re oriented.

THEO: We’re totally oriented toward learning. The thing that struck me so much is that they we’re willing to suffer again and again. They we’re willing to go through almost anything to feed their addiction. I saw children who fell down literally hundreds of times in the process of learning to walk and I’m thinking: “What’s going on here?” If this is what learning looks like, if learning is something that’s got pain in it and we still remain addicted to it, then there’s something wrong with the way we think about learning. I began to study cognitive developmental psychology many years later and one of the things I learned about was what’s called the ‘Dopamine Opioid Cycle’. It’s a cycle that happens in the brain and it’s also called the ‘Wanting and Liking Cycle’ or the ‘Wanting and Reward Cycle’. That Dopamine piece of the cycle is; Dopamine is a hormone that makes us want to strive, makes us want to explore, and makes us want to experience things. And Opioids, I think we all can guess what those are; those are things that make you feel good and happy. At the same time that people we’re learning this about brain and its function, we were learning from behavioral psychology that even adults don’t like to learn in situations where there is no pain.

TIM: A little bit of stress and pain is required for this learning cycle?

THEO: Exactly, and it’s different for different people. I mean there are kids who learn to walk without falling very often because they are more cautious. We call it ‘The Goldilocks zone’. They’re zones that are kind of happy learning and it’s a little bit narrower than the zone of somebody who is a real risk taker for example. You have to figure out what that zone is for each individual but if you can nail that zone and you know exactly how much pain and discomfort and chaos that person is able to handle and the way to learning and how much they enjoy, then you get that Dopamine Opioid Cycle to just keep cycling, keep cycling, keep cycling.

TIM: And so learning becomes really fun at that stage.

THEO: And learning is returned to fun. It’s returned to fun. And I think everybody could think of something that they’ve enjoyed learning. Usually it wasn’t in school.

TIM: Let’s talk about that. Why is that? And what’s wrong with our education if that’s not the case?

THEO: Because the Dopamine Opioid Cycle although it is recruited very well by the media and by various sense of friction and gamers, we haven’t recruited it in education. In our educational system we think, ‘Oh! They’re five years old now we have to teach them this.’ ‘Oh! They’re 7 years old, now we have to teach them this’ but in reality your age has very little to know what is it do with what’s the most interesting thing to come next for you.

TIM: So the Goldilocks is zone for you?

THEO: That’s right. This is the second principle for us then and this assessment should help people learn in their Goldilocks zone.

TIM: Right! So once we know where your Goldilocks zone is then we can help you find ways of learning that you don’t lose your Dopamine before you get to your goal.

THEO: That’s right. We can give you the right porridge or the right bad or dangle the carrot at the right distance from your nose.

Tim: That seems to me, Fun because..

THEO: ..that’s powerful and fun, yes.

TIM: That’s the kind of learning I really love to do and by teaming up with Lectica, PatternDynamics that’s the kind of learning in our programs we hope to build in.

THEO: That you’re fostering.

TIM: That we’re fostering, yea. It’s been my experience

THEO: You’re creating those virtual cycles for people. So you’re helping them to stay in their zone.

TIM: Right, so that’s what is so powerful. One of the elements that is so powerful about doing these assessments is that we can help you find your Goldilocks zone. Lectica actually prescribes or gives you a list of learning resources with your assessments such as the ranking saying: ‘Here you are in these various ways of learning”, say about decision making and in each of these called sub domains. “Here’s your next step and here’s what resources have to support that”, “Here’s your book and here’s some training you might consider” and “Here’s the next ways.”

THEO: That’s right. And that’s the third principle. Is that assessment should be based on knowledge about how people actually learn the things their assessing. That may sound like ‘I know, duh?’ but there are no other assessments that are out there that are created with that kind of depth of knowledge that help people learning. So a typical assessment doesn’t tell you anything about what comes next. So in making Lectical assessments, I say, we study the hell out of how people learn the concepts that are targeted; the skills that are targeted in these assessments and we never stop studying it. We have created like an open book system for building and constantly improving upon the assessments that allows us to learn from every single person who takes one and continue building our understanding of how learning takes place in a very particular area. We’re really devoted to this idea — that a good assessment is going to provide these kinds of support for learning. Not just for individual learner but also for the educator.

TIM: Everybody involved is part of a learning process. Theo, can you describe a bit about how you study learning and how you identify these different components that people need to put together for a particular skill; these things that is called sub-domains that I’ve learned about at Lectica?

THEO: Well this is a really long story, I’m going to try to do my best to make it a little bit shorter but the best place to start is probably with the scoring system that we used to determine where on the learning scale a performance belongs or given the way of thinking about something belongs. We have spent many years refining a learning scale. We can call it a ‘Developmental Scale’; we call it ‘the Lectical scale’ because we’ve trademarked it. We have this learning scale and we find the scale that people started talking about it over a hundred years ago now to the point where we can place performances or ways of understanding pretty precisely along that scale.

TIM: So this is like a ruler where it measures, say, length could measure a piece of paper or a piece of wood or a rock. So this scale can measure..

THEO: This ruler measures the developmental height of thinking.

TIM: Of any skill? Was that your contention?

THEO: ..of reasoning in any scale domain — independent of a particular domain. It’s conceptually quite mathematical underneath it which makes it sound really not very sexy.

TIM: You know what they say, for every formula you put in your book you lose half of your readers.

THEO: I know, exactly so it’s really super abstract and nobody really wants to learn how to do this except a very few crazy people in the world but we have learned how to pretty precisely place performances in scale and along the scale. What we do is, when we are going to develop a new assessment, the first thing we do is usually someone who comes to us and asks. We’d love to be able to assess how well someone’s learning, how to do critical thinking for example or how to understand leadership decision making for example. The first thing that we do is we figure out what’s the current knowledge out there on about this constructs. So we read the literature that already exists and why we reinvent the wheel to find everything we can from the literature. And from that, we make some pre-selections of what we think the primary constructs are going to be or the primary themes or scales are going to be that are what we want to target with the assessments. We use our experience with building assessments to determine what form the assessments going to take. Is it going to be one where we’re really asking people to define things for us? Is it going to be one where we’re asking people to solve problems? There are a variety of different forms that things can take. We actually build our first version of the assessment and we give it to a whole bunch of people who we represent a wide range and sometimes that range is from age five all the way up to PHD. Sometimes it’s just adults in management; all in different levels of management that varies depending upon the needs of the client and once we have collected a bunch of these, then we score them with the ruler and we place them along the ruler. We go in and we do this really intense exploration of what the skill looks like in each one of the levels. Each one of the level is along that metric. What happens during that process is that we usually learn that our first way of organizing the themes or the skills is wrong. That’s not the way that people really learn it and so we end up having to rethink what mathematic structure is, and so learn what their major themes are. And we learn about the different pathways to which people seem to navigate moving up the scale on those particular competencies.

TIM: These themes or competencies; there’s a number of them usually required for a higher order scale like decision making. There will be a series of sub-components or themes as you’ve call them or sub-domains. And discovering the pathway that people take with these various sub-domains and how they might complement each other and knit together to form a higher order skill.

THEO: To form the constructs of the next phases and how people will climb that ladder; part of our research is also trying to figure out which pathways through this seem to be more optimal than others. There’s multiple ways of getting from point A to B but other ways from getting point A to B that are predictors of whether if you’re going to be able to move to C for example. Those are the kinds of things that were also paying attention to. But, when we’re building assessments we primarily and initially just looking at trying to figure out, okay so, what’s the sequence through this people learn this sub-skill typically?

TIM: There’s a real reader here. Your learning’s are very powerful things about how people learn this particular skills and how to foster.

THEO: And all of this is codified in a big religional database of course, this are very technologically intensive

TIM: A lot of data there for you to work with.

THEO: Well, people call this ‘Big Data’. What we learn from this process is we populate our assessments and we populate lesson plans and things like that. Once we know what sequences are, then when someone gets a score on that assessment in the future we can tell them what comes next.

TIM: You keep them in the Goldilocks zone where learning is fun and interesting and really engaging.

THEO: That’s right and we still have a lot to learn about what that Goldilocks zone is going to be for that particular individual. We always tell teachers ‘that’s your job’. Get to know the learner well enough to figure out how much or how wide that zone is because if the person really likes a lot of ambiguity and chaos and they have a wide zone, they’re going to be bored to tears when we can make it easy for them. Whereas the more cautious learner is going to be overwhelmed easily, so you need to try to figure out what’s ideal for that person. But we make a kind of guesstimate for people that are kind of in the middle range and tie that feedback to particular learning resources that we think have the right level of challenge for someone who’s performing in a certain level. That’s also called ‘Scaffolding’. It’s called providing people with learning materials that pull them up or support them to go to the next level in their thinking.

TIM: It’s a structured way. There’s this resource at this level and there’s these resources at this level and for this particular sub-skill. You might want to do this that’ll get you to the next level from where you are. It’s very fine grain.

THEO: It’s pretty fine grained and it can sound kind of mechanical when you first learn about it. It sounds like: ‘Oh you mean like everybody has to learn the same exact thing in order to move to the next level?” But in fact, it’s really fluid and there are multiple ways that people can go from one level to another and we provide enough resources. Usually the people that we’re working with are using these assessments in their courses, are also providing additional resources so that everybody can find their own pathway. We don’t want everybody to be a cookie cutter, cut out one another. Not that we would ever end up being that anyway because people are so diverse.

TIM: Theo, can you describe a bit about the ruler? The hierarchal complexity it’s often called and how we move from one level to the next. Or the tears, how we move from one tear to the next tear perhaps even in the Lectical system.

THEO: I do call it the Lectical system but it’s primarily built off of Kurt Fischer’s Skill Theory and his Skill Scale. Piaget before Kurt Fischer discovered what Piaget called ‘stages’ and there were anywhere from four to five of these in his theory actually, I think he started with three and then it went up to five because his maximum number that he identified and Kurt Fischer calls those ‘tears’ now. There are five of them in Fischer’s theory. They’ve also been called ‘epox’. I like tears. Tears is nice, it will do too. And each one of these tears ushers in completely new kind of skill or concept. Kurt Fischer calls them skills because skills could apply across the board from before your verbal all the way through the verbal period of your life but as you move through the levels they become more like concepts or a lot of them become more like concepts than skill their ways of thinking about things. In infancy, it’s more about sensorimotor — the actual physical actions that you do. We start first of all with just reflexive actions; just reflexes and then we start to build on those into patterns that we call ‘sensorimotor skills’ and then from there you move to something called representations where instead of having to physically do the thing you could actually talk about doing the thing.

TIM: You can represent it you have a concept or a symbol for it. Zack Stein has given a good example to help me more a lot here. He said, the sensorimotor that you experience as a kid around say bedtime; there’s a series of things — there’s brushing your teeth, putting on your pajamas, it’s getting to read a story, being tucked in bed. These are all sensorimotor experiences and are skills but at some point you chunked all of those together and kind of map them out and then you put them together into this kind of bigger chunk that’s called bedtime and bedtime is a symbol or a signifier for all these sensorimotor.

THEO: It’s a signifier for those actual actions in the environment and representations have this feature of being something that you could kind of point to or feel directly. They’re concrete as Piaget would have said and Kurt calls these representations but they kind of have a concrete feel to them because their stories about what’s going on in the physical world.

TIM: They’re kind of like stories of a sensorimotor. They are very concrete like, the sensorimotor is very concrete. It’s not abstract, it’s physical. Then you get the next tear; is the representation. This is the chunking idea where the whole bunch of the sensorimotor stuff is chunked together in to a representation and that’s the first kind of thing that happens and the bottom of the next tear. And then we map other representations and they get chunked up to the next. The first element of the next tear is that how the hierarchal complexity actually works.

THEO: That’s exactly how it works. And each level becomes increasingly more abstracted from the concrete. The Sensorimotor actions are not abstracted at all from the concrete. We’re actually operating on the world. Representations are more abstracted and then after representation we have what we actually call Abstractions. Abstractions are different from representations and that abstractions represent ideas that you could no longer point at.

TIM: So, it’s not like bedtime. That’s a fairly points to be conquered thing.

THEO: Because I can draw you pictures of all those things that you’re doing in bedtime but I can’t draw you a picture of friendship.

TIM: No, it’s a total abstraction, there’s nothing concrete that refers to.

THEO: Or truthfulness.

TIM: On the Lectical scale which goes up to thirteen, where do abstractions fit in the number system?

THEO: Now you’re going to put me to work because I actually usually think about the top few. The Representations Tear starts with level five because there are two tears below it — that sounds a little bit confusing. Actually it starts with level five because there’s this weird zero down the bottom. So we start with the zero, it’s actually level six but we call it level five. The representations here start with five, every tear is divided into three levels or four, depends on how you think about it. You’ll get the idea of why sometimes we talk about it being four in just a minute. These three levels actually repeat in every tear.

TIM: And that’s the identification of the element; a mapping of a bunch of these elements and then the systematizing of them into a chunk at the next level. Is that right?

THEO: Well, it’s not at the next level yet. That’s number four. When you systematize them into a chunk, they’re not only coordinating the systems with systems but they actually become a new unit. That’s the herald to the next stage. Let me go back and I’ll just start.

It’s the individual elements the first things that appear. You got a new kind of way of thinking. So you got bedtime but that just stands there by itself. Its bedtime and you’re not connecting it yet to other kinds of representations yet. You’re just building these individual elements first then you move on to being able to relate a couple of those to one another.

TIM: So maybe, bedtime and lunch time? Maybe? Or dinner time and bedtime?

THEO: You can say meal time which is bed time, lunch time and dinner time. That’s actually fairly complex when it’s a chain but is still linear so it’s still considered to be a mapping. Anything that maps in a line in a linear chain is a mapping or is a collection of things, like a pot where you got things collected in. And there’s the systems level when you start relating these things together in more complex ways so, you’ve got more than two elements and they’re being related to one another in complex ways that go beyond just a single linear.

TIM: Alright. So if we said something like there’s bedtime, there’s breakfast time, there’s lunch time, there’s school time, there’s story time and all those things get to put together and the thing is called a day which is a system of these.

THEO: Or maybe a better example might being able to say that; you’d be able to say something like breakfast, lunch and dinner are all the same because we always sit down at the table together as a family.

TIM: Okay, so then there’s an abstraction sitting at the table together.

THEO: That’s a system because we’ve identified something that all of these things have in common.

TIM: I see, okay.

THEO: We’re relating them all to one another rather than just putting them in a bundle together or just mapping them one to one another, one to one. Then you make a whole bunch of those. I think of these as like complicated stories at this level. They become complicated stories and you make a bunch of them and those are called systems as individual things. When you have a bunch of them that you can relate to one another; that’s called systems of representational systems.

TIM: That’s the fourth step, right?

THEO: That’s the fourth step and it’s also the first step of the next tear.

TIM: So that’s the chunk.

THEO: It creates a new element. That’s the big chunking.

TIM: Which is an Abstraction at this stage.

THEO: And now it’s an abstraction

TIM: What will be an example of that?

THEO: Let’s see if we can carry this particular example forward. I haven’t actually used this one before. So, carrying this one forward, you might have something that emerges out of all of these experiences of meal times is together like quality family time.

TIM: Okay, because you can’t draw that or point it or poke it with stick.

THEO: You can’t try to point it. You can give examples of it still. You could give concrete examples of it but that wouldn’t really capture what this whole thing is about.

TIM: That’s much more abstract. Quality family time is an abstraction.

THEO: It’s taking you to the abstraction level.

TIM: That’s a tear jump. We’ve moved through the four stages of representations. We jumped up now, we’re on the first stage of another tear.

THEO: The fourth level of the previous tear is the first level of the next tear. And you repeat that in every single one of the tear is a repetition of those three different kinds of ways of coordinating elements with one another within that tear.

TIM: Same process happens as you move through each tear.

THEO: Over and over again.

TIM: There’s actually finer grain.

THEO: Its further divisions.

TIM: That’s when you identify the assessments. Is that right? So you score you say, 10.2 and you know that you’re in the first part of a certain tear.

THEO: Yeah, and this is our important contribution to the field or our first contribution was taking this model where we could identify the whole level. The model that Kurt Fischer developed allowed us to identify those levels and performances but we took it and we knew that in order to make this system useful, because the thirteen across the whole life span; that’s not very fine grained. If I told you what level you’re in, wouldn’t tell you what you need to learn next.

TIM: No, the gap in your Goldilocks Zone would be too big.

THEO: It’s too big of a gap, its way too big. If you’re very high in a level, it could mean you’re ready to go to the next level but if you’re really low in a level it means you’ve got years of work to do still, to get ready.

TIM: There’s years involved in moving through a tear.

THEO: There’s more and more years involved as you go up the scale. There’s more and more years involved in going through levels and going through tears as you move up the scale. It’s just because things become more complex as you move up, so it’s harder to learn it. It takes longer to learn it.

TIM: Let’s talk about the particular skill in that regard — decision making. I know the Lectical decision making assessment is one of your more developed assessments as in its done the most iterations. It had the most participants therefore you’ve learned the most about how it works

THEO: In the adult arena.

TIM: In the adult arena. Theo, do you consider decision making to be a kind of foundation skill for leaders? And maybe, explain a bit about decision making and its themes or sub-domains that you’ve identified.

THEO: Yes, I think that decision making is the foundational skill. It is leadership in so many ways. Leaders make decisions and most of the other things, other components that we think about when we think about leadership are things that contribute to better decision making.

I have an organization. I have three businesses. I see my role as a leader; as a decision making role and to understand why, I think about it that way it does help to understand how we think about decision making. Because some people think about decision making is a process of steps that you go through to make a decision but that’s not the way that we conceptualize decision making. We conceptualize decision making as a set of skills that you bringing to bear when you’re confronted with an issue or a problem or a decision that’s needs to be made.

TIM: This is a powerful distinction, I think, because I’ve learned a lot about leadership decision making as an organizational consultant and mostly it is a linear set of steps that people are taught. There are various of forms of these. What you’re talking about is something very different; set of skills that you bring to bear.

THEO: Yes. You can bring them to bear and use as system that’s got steps in it. I’m not saying that we should throw away decision making systems. It has steps. But the way we think about it more is the collection of skills. When we first started out building this assessment, we built it for a federal government agency here in the United States. When we first started out building it, we didn’t know the component skills were. What we had was the skills that these organizations were mandating for; their management teams, they were saying: “Here are the things you need to be able to do to be managers”. And when we went out and studied it. We actually found something a little bit different than what we thought we we’re going to find. Importantly, one of the things that we found was that the primary most foundational skills for good decision making are perspective taking; what we call perspective seeking. There was nothing in the literature about perspective seeking.

TIM: I’m actually going in and asking someone for what they think. What their perspective is.

THEO: There’s quite a bit in the literature about perspective taking and there’s nothing in the literature about active listening and things like that but in terms of decision making, people hadn’t really pull that together in an explicit way. But we began to see absolutely critical perspective seeking was when we noticed that as people moved up the developmental scale, they did more and more and more of it. We thought: “What’s going on here? Does this mean that we can’t seek perspectives unless we’re highly developed?” And I thought: “No, I do remember my kids asking me a lot of questions when they we’re little.”

TIM: That’s right seeking your perspective.

THEO: I think it’s something that we unlearn because we kind of have a heroic leadership illusion.

TIM: We do have this model of leadership often in organizations now.

THEO: That’s right. And to look powerful and strong, we’re not supposed to look uncertain right? So why would we ask people what they think? What I think what happens is that by virtue of having to cope with the increasing complexity that comes with the demands of higher levels of management positions or anything that you’re operating on in life is highly complex, that you just come to realize in and of your own accord that I can’t do this by myself. I have to bring a lot of perspectives together because I need lots of kinds of expertise, lots of different ways about thinking about this in order to make the best possible decision. Because we have a certain kind of culture, this is a skill that kind of goes dormant for a while. Rediscovered in development as people; hopefully rediscovered in development. Not always rediscovered. A lot of managers can get very high levels without actually learning the skill but the most successful leaders are the ones that end up and are really rising to the top are people who have these and operate with these skills all the time.

TIM: We have identified two of these themes or sub-domains in decision making which is perspective taking and seeking.

THEO: Those are pre-requisites.

If you don’t have perspective seeking, you’re probably not going to be able to learn to do the other skills because perspective seeking is learning.

TIM: Right and it’s really the kind of way of getting the collective intelligence on board.

THEO: Exactly. The other skills that we target are collaborative thinking.

TIM: That’s the third, is it perspective coordination?

THEO: No, perspective coordination is the next one. Once you’ve got the seeking perspectives, the next thing that you will be able to do is actually coordinate the perspective you sought.

TIM: Can you tell me a little about what that means to you and how you’ve discovered that?

THEO: It means different things at different levels of development; which is why we kind of use that basket word — coordination. It means how you put perspectives together in some levels. It means how you prioritize those perspectives. It can mean how you give priority to different perspectives. In other levels, it can be how you could have extract common themes from different perspectives and so it’s about how you bring together the perspectives to help you formulate a decision. That’s the most general way to state it and it’s done in different ways over the course of development. And there are ways you can do it within a particular level of development as well. What are the sequences of these? It’s perspective coordination. I know I made the assessment. Its collaborative thinking, did we call it collaborative thinking?

TIM: I think you called it collaboration or at least when I did the full I think it is called Collaboration.

THEO: The fourth one is collaboration or collaborative thinking. The fifth one is contextual thinking and the sixth one is decision making process. We also tack on to the assessment skills for argumentation but those are actually not specifically related to the leadership in terms of the decision making domain.

TIM: That’s your logic, is it? Like how you think about what you’ve done.

THEO: It’s how coherent your thinking is; it’s how well you predict over your arguments and it’s kind of the quality of your thinking. We don’t really want to try. Well, we’re trying to put things on the scale in terms of how far along is someone on the scale. We don’t want to confuse that with the quality that which they do it.

TIM: What’s so interesting distinction with itself and it’s probably a long conversation there but..

THEO: It’s a really important one because if somebody is in this level of the scale but they have poor argumentation skills then its instructor is going to be helping them to develop the argumentation skills before they teach them the material, because the argumentation skills are about the mental map that you build as a terrain and until you build a good mental map you can’t make a good argument.

TIM: That’s interesting, that’s a new perspective for me on the argumentation which is really helpful actually.

THEO: That’s a very, very important piece of what we measure but that’s not specifically a decision making skill. It’s a skill that is brought to bear in lots of our assessments. The ones that are related to decision making are the perspective taking, perspective seeking, perspective coordination, collaborative thinking and contextual thinking. Those last two skills are important because it’s not enough that you can coordinate perspectives but in order to actually do good perspective taking, you need these set of skills called collaborative skills and they’re the kind of skills that you use in the process of seeking perspectives.

TIM: This is how you engage with another person or persons to get their perspective their intelligence.

THEO: And in the contextual thinking part, is about what are the context someone brings to bear when they’re thinking through a decision making problem; and by context we actually mean something that is broader than we usually mean when we use the word context because we’re actually also talking about the perspectives of individuals. An individual’s mind is like a context in which a perspective resides or an experience of something resides but there’s also the situation that that persons’ in — the specific situation they find themselves in a particular problem. And then there’s how that situation is nested within a broader context of an organizational unit or the team or something else and then that context is going to be nested in an organization as a whole or a school as a whole which is nested in a business community which is nested in the social. So the context are all about the different layers that we can bring to bear more thinking through our problems phase.

TIM: One of the ways to describe these problems phase at a certain level of development would be a kind of orientation to how the system works and often this kind of holarchical layering that you described the individual, their context maybe their team, their organization, society — that’s one way of describing systems or a systems within systems within systems.

THEO: Systems within systems but it’s really important to understand that a 7th grader can talk about society. It’s not the same thing as being able to say: ‘Oh we have to think about this society here’. It’s really about how well you actually can coordinate the interests of the society with the interests of the organization. At what level are you doing that? It’s not “am I thinking about the organization?” It’s how well I am coordinating the interests of the organization with the interests of that team.

TIM: The contextual thinking of theme or sub-domain is that how I coordinate the interest of a part with the interest of a whole.

THEO: That’s right. There’s certain relationship in how we do that with developmental level. There is some shared; we call “Shared Variants.” If we did a correlation within the two, you’d fine that they’re related to one another but there’s also a lot of independence as well. Only about a quarter of what’s going on in doing contextual thinking is about the level that you’re operating at on the Lectical Scale. Its counter to almost all of the models that exist out there because people have had a more simplistic way of thinking about it, probably that it comes out of never having actually to stud y how people learn to do this. By virtue of learning how people actually come to build these skills we learn that: ‘oh it doesn’t work the way that we used to think it worked.’ The same thing with perspective taking; the perspective taking models that existed prior to this work actually had it built into them that somehow you weren’t able to take the perspective of the organization into account unless you could already take individual perspectives into account, but what we’ve found is that even in quite low levels people have a way of taking their perspective of the organization. It’s just a less hierarchy complex way of doing so and they’re consequently less adequate.

TIM: Right, especially if you’re in a more complex world space as you say which if we bring this back around to conclude about PatternDynamics and its relationship to Lectica and the LDMA and the partnership we’re forming about creating a very specific way of helping people learn to make good decisions which is based on the Lectical Scale and the LDMA assessment and PatternDYnamics as a systems thinking or complexity thinking framework. The idea behind that integration is to equip people to make better decisions when they are in those more complex world spaces. For instance, if they’re the leader or a change maker you’re almost automatically in very complex territory these days. Maybe we can just wrap a bit Theo with why you think there’s value in the systems thinking orientation or framework like PatternDynamics in conjunction with the LDMA and those sub-domains?

THEO: The way that I think about it is that, I’ve emphasized throughout this conversation, that we build our understanding of how people learn these concepts on what people actually do. We’re not imposing a theoretical framework. We don’t have theoretical frameworks that were viewing people through; we’re just taking them for what they actually do. It’s called the ‘Phenomenological Approach’. Rediscovering and then representing and we can do powerful things with that but the one thing that we can’t do is prescribe. We can only say: “Here’s what I think might be on your zone to learn next.” But we can’t say: “What’s the best thing for you to learn next in terms of building your skill more quickly or building your skill more effectively?” We haven’t created that model. I think of PatternDynamics as an excellent model for helping people to build systems thinking skills that go beyond what it is that we do on our own like flaunting around in the world to figure it out but actually scaffold our ability to do that. So we can become not so much learn to do it faster but learn to so it more effectively.

TIM: Its actual framework there that people can learn and it’s reliable and it’s repeatable. Now we’re rapidly learning how to help people learn the competencies around the systems principles that these patterns represents. Therefore we have scaffolding and we have a kind of method you can put to work through marrying it with the sub-domain as a kind of method where we take perspectives, we seek perspectives, we coordinate those, we collaborate, we think contextually, we make a decision. We describe that through our argumentation and then we use that as our actual learning loop of process as a kind of dynamic steering in our decision making process. We’ll discover because we’re assessing everyone before they start and after they finish our program then we’ll know if that leads to more effective learning of the skill of decision making.

THEO: More than just having that cycle, they have a tool kit that you’re giving them it helps them to decide what are the patterns that are involved here in this problem space and how can I use these patterns to be able to support my thinking about these problems.

TIM: Well, I guess we’ll find out because we’re about to kick-off our program and students doing it will be watching this video and I’m just so grateful Theo that I’ve found your work, that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from you and Lectica and the other great people there and we can start to integrate this in to our program for what we hope to be very formative learning experience for folks. Thank you for your time today and I think we’ve all learned a great deal.

THEO: Thank you for having me and I just want to say to all the students in the course: “Happy virtual cycling!”

TIM: Great, Thank you Theo.

The post Interview with Dr Theo Dawson: Leading an Assessment Revolution first appeared on PatternDynamics™.

Jul 16 2015

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Aspects of Exchange In Organisational Life

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In this post members of the PatternDynamics Community of Practice discuss aspects of the Exchange Pattern and how these principles help us think more deeply about business processes, value creation, and talent management that optimise everyone’s capacity to learn and grow in the workplace. This wide ranging discussion touches on how thinking more clearly about diversity, generativity, education,  and the concept of the Baroque can play a role in helping create thriving organisations.

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3:57 to 6:40 Tim’s Introduction
6:41 to 16:09 Process Pattern
16:10 to 20:32 Source Pattern
20:31 to 25:35 The Trade Pattern
25:36 to 34:33 Organisational Diversity and the Uniqueness Pattern
34:34 to 41:14 Diversity, Specialisation, Generalists and Talent Development

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What Kamya did about special complex; it’s a good example though if we just step back there for a sec because when there’s lots of stuff units and there’s lots of relationships between them you can’t know. You can’t predict anything. Anyone who says they can is mistaken. I mean as far as we know, no one has reliably able to predict the future of complex adaptive system.
More than three variables in fact – it’s called the three body problem in physics, it means that it’s almost impossible to predict too far in the future on what’s going to happen. Probability works but the terministic outcomes those are thing of the past sometimes it helps physics consider how the world works. That has to do with complexity. Let’s get back over to process then Ben Sconnish. If I do that, do you see the workbook? Or do you still see the matrix chart?

BEN & Kamya: Matrix chart.

TIM: Ok let me try something here, still learning to drive apparently.
Ok, so if we look at the process pattern, the diagram itself helps express; it’s really a sequence. Process pattern represents a linear stage by stage development through a sequence of steps. It illustrates the development of value through stages where an element is added to and transformed at each step. The amount of steps has been pointed out must be balanced with the amount of value being created and its goal is to create a value through sequential development.
So that’s interesting. There’s this aggregation that happens at each step, there’s some kind of value transformation but there’s also a building value. I think the question is: Is there any point in having a process or a step in a process if it doesn’t add value? And that idea of adding value is a very, very interesting question. What exactly does that mean?
You know it’s worth spending a bit of time talking about this concept of value in the exchange patterns because their almost all about how you build “value”. Or however we might conceive of that but I think we should conceive of this in an exquisite way and we should talk about the meaning of that signifier.
So Ben, can you just give us a bit more insight into your world about process.

BEN: ‘yea well, I guess I was going to go beyond just the idea of how we model these steps in the computer as instructive . The other thing is that you work in businesses of any sides or government they say this too, they have business processes as well.

TIM: of course

BEN: And I think we probably all had experience of some probably pretty ordinary business processes, and I guess that will often come up; people will say this a terrible process and what do they mean by that? And I think that it’s often that is the case that there’s too many steps? Or it’s figurely? Or repetitive? Or something like that. I guess that if maybe we try to get much of an example of a good process, I guess if I could just try to run one by the group at the moment we’ll see if it fits by the number of steps fits. Yes? So it become popular these days the organizations lure an on boarding, off boarding process. Are you all familiar with that? A new hired staff never turns up and from day one they need to be registered in their email system, they need to get in their payroll system, they need to get a desk, and they need to get access to the building. All that kind of stuff they need to prove their qualifications within the learning management group. So, there’s a quite a sense of quite of complex process that could go on there. I guess my experience with that when I see it done well the number of steps was kind of irrelevant if they were pleasure to use and work reliably, that’s my sort of a little bit attention with the definition there.
And just a concrete example I can give you; this is from 1980’s, there was an off boarding process where I work that was really just so thorough that from the time that that person actually finished on their last day. All their computer accounts had been disabled all that cards just stopped working. basically, just felt like a bullet proof process and the value that they added is that sometimes people would lead in bad circumstances and have the potential to press do some damage to the organization if they left on bad terms. So, that was some of the value of same of having automated, well in fact there are a lot of steps there. The point is that they will automate it in a pleasure to use. So that explains a little bit of my verbal kind of tension I have bit of definition?

TIM: ‘yea, it does for me. The major variable here or the major polarity that we talked about in PatternDynamics with regard to each pattern might be the number of steps in relation to the creation of value that you know; a lot of steps versus the little steps might not be the main polarity at work. It might be how effective each step is. Is that what you’re saying?

BEN: ‘yea, exactly and how the train of events goes through very well recognized states. And maybe I’d even look at it as being in terms of getting that state changed to be complete or for that to be done with little input effort as possible. May be something like that. And I guess this is because this is so close to m y heart probably got a bit of a weird focus on it because I guess I’m a process –oriented guy and I worked in organizations that seem to me to have a lot of really inefficient and can be some processes. It can be more than just the steps to it for me. It’s a specific problem I had is its in completing the steps even if the work that you actually got to do is boring or repetitive or mind numbing in some way people intend to not do it. Well to me a really good process is one that is kind of a pleasure to use.
I’m not sure if I come on up to your normal at nub young through their timid definition major, minor an example and so forth. I think I’m somewhere close.

TIM: I think this is interesting because of the chart position between how do you process and how PatternDynamics process. So, Kamya do you have a comment?

Kamya: Yea, I just wanted to, remember one of the Melbourne Level 2s we did; around process that one of the discussions was about the value adding the value in each step. I made this little notes because I remember one of the, if anybody can see them, I’m holding them up to the camera. It is about putting each of the things: so you start with the circle and then the circle is in a triangle because you’re adding a depth or value — so you’re taking along with you. And I think one of the things about that diagram we talked about was that maybe it looked too much like it was transforming into something else and it wasn’t acknowledging the thing that came before in a kind of almost iterative way. Anyway, I just wanted to share that. I don’t know if anyone feels that about the diagram but I think there is for me something around process that is about adding value from one step to the next step, taking each step along with you.

STEVEN: I like what you just did Kam, and I’m just saying you know and it’s transcend and include. So perfect example and I love the way you diagramed that.

TIM: So were starting to interpret, were starting to bring meaning to the symbols — that is the signifier: the symbols. We’re starting to craft what were signifying and that’s just the important part.
Brent?

BRENT: Kamya I really like what you did there. I written it into my book as well. To me, it’s about getting to attend to your question: What is value in this context and what do we mean by value in patterns? Over all I’m thinking about conversation I think you and I Tim had at some point about generativity.

TIM: –yea, read my mind. Go ahead.

BRENT: The system is to become more valuable, what that means in this context (PD context) is that it becomes more generative. It generates other systems and it generates more complexity. And its ability to create more complexity is that it’s increasing value for me. I’m curious about your thoughts about that.

TIM: –yea so, this goes right to the heart of what PatternDynamics is about and what source actually means. And I’m going to put up a copy of the Holarchy Chart here. Just give me a moment because I think this will better illustrate. So, if we look at the Holarchy Chart this is a different perspective on the PatternDynamics system, and part of that perspective is that source is in the middle and source has this meaning of the origin and evolution of a system, something that exists and it’s a bunch of parts that have things that they do and they’re in some kind of dynamic relationship. There’s a why question. Why are they in some kind of dynamic relationship? The why has to do with this idea of generativity. And now I think we can see the whole chart. So implicit in the PatternDynamics system is that there’s something going on, there’s something rather than nothing. The universe is configured to hold value or to be generative that is to put things to continue to exist and not only continue to exist in their static form but to actually have processes. So where there’s an aggregation of value in each step, there’s a bunch o f states that are transcended and included and that something happens and this something that happens this generativity or this creation of value is really interesting. It really goes back to the cosmology that we talked about last time, the view within PatternDynamics of being related to sort of energetic singularity that is expansion from nothing that allows everything to manifest and continue to unfold in levels of hierarchy of multiple complexities. It’s sort of energetic, and I explain that energy is a curious automotive status it’s neither fully material nor fully kind of alive you might say, subject-object sort of idealist materials split and how that relates to exchange. You notice that if we go back to the Holarchy or the Matrix chart, the trade is right in the middle of the chart; it’s smacked in the middle and the whole thing turns around in fact. If we look at the second order pattern and you look at the matrix.

STEVEN: Excuse me ben? Could you turn off your mic, there you go, thank you.

TIM: Ok can you all hear me reasonably clearly?
You’ll notice the trade is right in the middle, because PatternDynamics is a systems thinking view, so everything is viewed as a system. A mostly physical thing or a mostly kind of a non-physical thing let’s say. Trade is at the part of it because any system is a bunch of unique parts that come in to some kind of relationship and those relationships are all about exchange; they’re all about trading one thing for another. And in systems with many different sub components, they all do different things and they all enter to an exchange and the reason is because “that gives you a generative advantage over competitors.” If you want to exists in a universe you have to hold your flow, you have to hold your place in the flow stream of energy, and in the case of life on earth, it’s the flow is either the heat of the earth or the energy from the sun. And incidentally, it’s about a 50/50 split in terms of the gross amount of energy that’s available to us at the surface of the earth. But half of it comes from the heat of the earth itself and its called core and about half comes from the sun. Both those things drive life possesses. There’s a deep ocean vent where there’s life that form, grew and evolve as far as we know on the energy of the core of the earth coming up to those volcanic vents and then there’s lots of life on the surface of the earth which evolved into mostly predicated on the energy of the sun. Both of those came from the cosmic source, you know some sun that blew up and created high elements which was in fact condensate out of a gas cloud which was a feature of the energetic expansion called the Big Bang.
Everything kind of work its way back and you can ask yourself a question about value or generativity. That question is: ok well, for instance, why do I want a job? I want a job so I can make money. I don’t really want a job but I do need to make some money. Why do I need to make money? Because it makes me happy. Why does it make you happy? Because I have a place to live. Why is that important? Well, if I don’t have a place to live, I’m outside. And so what? Well if I’m outside I might be cold or die at exposure. Okay, then were getting back to existing. If you ask yourself the question enough why, why am I doing this? Why is this important? Why is this valuable to me? Almost always you’ll come back in the series of questioning to the question of existence. In the PatternDynamics view, being this kind of energetic semi kind of view is that the conversations, where the exchanges that would take place in the universe and this is a general pattern are all based on the idea of existence that is you need to be in conversation cause it need to be in a system to have the productive capacity to hold your energy flow in order to exist. Because if you don’t then you’re very likely to be out competed then your parts will broke down and you will substrates but you won’t exist in time. So this trade being in the middle of the chart is really, and if you can see above exchange as a productivity function and if you read the definition of exchange its very much aligned with how systems become productive, a bunch unique specialists in relational exchange that gives that system a productive advantage over a bunch of generalists for instance.
The very formation of life on earth and the advent of the evolution of the caryote itself, this is more advanced than just a simple cell. It’s actually an assembly of bunch of a different bacteria and a bunch of different elements that create quite complex cell and there’s relational exchanges between the elements of that cell, the nucleus does those job, the core passes through the job the cell membrane does the job the micro tubules do a job. All of those elements are in some kind of relational exchange so that those kinds of cells would have an advantage were in fact when those cells get together and they do different jobs within an organism which allows organism to exist but if we’re really looking at exchange, I think it’s about productivity, it’s about the ability to create value and be generative and therefore to hold the knish.
Do you have any comments about that? Even in terms of organizational life or ecological? Aiden?

AIDEN: Hi, so sorry I disappeared, my connection completely dropped out it seems to have restored itself now. So sorry about that, I wasn’t just disappearing. I just wanted to share just a little story, was recently doing work with a client one of Australia’s largest banks, the topic of diversity and we were actually working with the head of leadership in talent she was initiating a big project on diversity within the organization and I talked to her a little bit about why diversity was important and what kind of diversity that we’ll prioritize and as it happened we really focused on gender diversity. You know which of course a critical topic but its only one of many ways to think about diversity. I was asking them why it is important for them to have under this work force, both in the leadership team but also in staff. It never been cleared why there’s almost a thought like kind of a tick the box exercise, not really entirely short reasoning was having diversity until she twist the talking little bit about systems principles on how a systems become complex that the system actually relies upon greater specialization in the system to perform specialize functions but because you have great specializations you actually require more diversity. So, complex systems like organizations actually necessitate things like diversity in order for a complex system to run and I think that having this kind of perspective really help them to shift their views around either the necessity of a work force and it became more than just gender diversity to actually being about diverse perspectives that they require within the organization to support the outcomes of businesses.

TIM: –yea, and what’s really interesting for me about that Aiden is that you did what I call the subject-object move. So, what was something that was subjectively important to them? Was emotionally important probably, intellectual important, it was probably cultural important? Was that a fair assessment? Yea, ok.
That’s often how these assertions come up people will assert that diversity is a good idea but then it’s really useful to make object the principle behind that assertion. What I was saying is that there’s a tactic here that we should put on place a very specific thing we can do. Lets treat male- female gender diversity by doing this strategy. Tactic A, then I think it’s really useful to be able go on what’s the principle behind that? Because that makes it an object and when you’re operating on a principle it’s much different than you’re operating than perhaps talking about a tactic. But I’m interested in hearing more from you about why your client found it useful to be able think about or make objects or lead it to make object the principle behind it and explain it.

AIDEN: Yea, I mean I think there were two things. One was they were clear about they had a much stronger rationale for why focusing on diversity was actually important strategic priority rather just being told by the CEO to focus on it they actually had a clear rationale from a systems perspective around diversity actually fostered the effectiveness of the organization, I think that’s one thing. Secondly, I really have to broaden their perspective around what kind of diversity they were looking for? Not just how many men? How many women? But actually whole bunch of different diverse ranges of individuals, different perspectives, and different ways of working which felt far more integrative than just focusing on gender as an isolated issue.

TIM: That’s very interesting. I found this in the sustainability world as well, that because society is not used to or were not used to necessarily thinking about the principles of how whole systems work. We tend to default to tactics that you’ve seen work somewhere else or to would I refer to as cultural norms. In certain cultures it becomes normal and normative to value male-female gender diversity where in fact there are other cultures where the exact opposite is true. They value only, for instance the masculine perspective and this is called patriarchy it’s well on the stiff. But certain cultural groups nearly resonate with these patterns — the hierarchy pattern, with no uniqueness. So they value uniformed masculine views, they’re not interested in diversity and it’s a cultural norm; when you go to other organizations and they value diversity specifically but particularly gender diversity or race diversity but in both cases the principle the higher principle that give you a better rationale for adopting one or the other of those strategies doesn’t seem to be as pronounced, like I said I think that’s a feature in fact that just don’t have a history and a tradition of this holistic understandings while working with the principles of how whole systems work. That’s what pattern dynamics is all about its very, very powerful functional tool. I think Kamya did have this experience, Brent you had this experience and Aiden you’re relating experience in a organizational environment as a professional where we do the subject – object move.
–Cass?

CASS: Yea I also just wanted to mention I noticed all organizations ran talent strategies; often it is about growing more generalists. What I’m saying happened is you’d identify talent and they constantly move them around into different parts of the business so they become more generalists, and often they get them out or the talent ways? The talent is really focus on just developing leaders who can manage across all different parts of the organizations and without recognizing the necessity to have that progressity in terms of specialization and perspectives .

TIM: –Aiden?

AIDEN: I was going to say what’s very interesting by that, be very interesting to get Cass’s and other peoples feedback on that. And where I’ve seen organizations do that around trying to build generalists, what they often seem to do is put people in specialist’s roles in a sequence so even thou the people might be becoming generalized the roles that they’re performing are actually incredibly specialists or at least be in my experience.

TIM: –yea and then the pattern that’s at work here for me as I listen to Aiden and Cass, is that we are talking about uniqueness now. Uniqueness is over here is something like this; it’s purely the specialization of different roles or elements that processes and how different they are and how unique; another word for uniqueness is specialization but with this spectrum the primary polarity in uniqueness is between the specialist and the generalist. So, on the spectrum of uniqueness where you sit, you know, are you the CEO?, and have done many, many of these specialized roles therefore you have a very generalist capacity or had just been someone who’s worked in HR a specific role and burrowed down really, really deeply into that role for 20 years. And again its context dependent as we know in PatternDynamics the context is always changing and so to think about what is appropriate at the time. It’s not that a lot of uniqueness or specialization is good or bad or a lot of generalized experience is good or bad. It really depends on what you want to achieve or what context in this world you want to achieve at.
I’d like to get back a little bit more to..

BRENT: –Tim, just one thing before you get on the slide, when we started talking about diversity that’s kind of over my head when it’s stuck on the line of PatternDynamics , Aiden is talking about what people generally say is diversity and I thought, Aiden something you said was really interesting about your argument that to your client that diversity would cross their effectiveness in particularly diversity of thinking is oppose to just gender and I had this idea about, perhaps the why of that being that greater diversity creates better adaptability in a range of responses available for change whether that’s internal or external change and so if there’s a further argument to be made about what’s the value of having uniqueness or diversity it could be about that adaptability piece. So just a thought I had.

TIM: Yea, one interesting development in modernity has evolved I forgot where I read this. But the amount of specialized trades or professions in the yellow pages has grown at a certain rate as industrial society had evolved. And back in 1900’s there are only several hundred different roles in society and now there are hundreds of thousands. Those specialized roles that are continuing to grow and it’s about this idea of, we go back to structure the hierarchical complexity. The idea of that hierarchal growth, complexity grows hierarchal and that you get a lot of unique arts or elements come in to relational exchange and then they form a system and that becomes a sub system at the next level of the hierarchy of complexity. So our society for better or for worse is now at a point which requires a great deal of complexity. In fact if you’re going to existence in this world especially in the post modern western world you probably would have to have a very unique talent which you can integrate and go into exchange with other parts of the very complex world. So, you know the days of being that kind of ultimate generalists is not a whole lot of call for that but I don’t know, maybe someone could challenge that. Yes, I think both things are happening at the same time.
—Erkki?

PatternDynamics is in a sense is a general way to understand how the world work.

ERKKI: Yea I guess, you don’t have really broad on to tutor, I was just thinking about my own profession or my former profession about being a project manager and in some sense like a project manager is it tries to be in this general role whether a unique projects and at the same time is somebody who’s able to manage it more of course it doesn’t really say that much if this role diversifying or not, or becoming more unique over time or not. I guess the case could be made but there are actually different brands, different styles of project management now. But I was just thinking that, that’s sort of the generalized role still in the society and make sure there are other examples as well.
TIM: As you we’re saying that I was just reflecting, you know there is a requirement for people to understand the whole system where in fact that’s what PatternDynamics is and I’ve always been generalists and I think PatternDynamics is my attempt to make a specialization other than being a generalists.
Kamya?

Kamya: I just wanted to add to what Erkki was saying in this conversation about specialists and generalization and reading Sir Ken Robinsons’ book which probably many of you read the element and it’s very particular to me and my life around education systems. So, this idea OF you know how we are educating our children to enter the world that is before us and you know, we’re using a kind of primary and secondary education system that’s out of the industrial age and our treasury education has traditionally become more and more specialized. But I think there’s a big question about what are we specializing for? Because the world, the complexity, the hierarchy of complexity and our world is changing so much we don’t actually know what we’re able to specialize. So many universities are going backwards in generalizing. Did that make sense? There is an old friend in universities to do more general courses rather than specialized courses, that’s what I was sharing.

TIM: Yea and I think the interdisciplinary degrees that you can do now are a feature of that but Gary Hamsen, who did the last level 2 online training, he brought up this really important point, a really interesting point for me about the idea of the baroque not only is it a period in architecture or its expressed in music and so that, but I didn’t really understand what baroque meant., I thought it was a mognet architectural style but Gary pointed out that it’s both things at once, like there’s a polarity between a centralized theme very strong centralized theme and then all of this kind of , all of the flourishments, kind of you know complex expressions of it there is always a unifying theme that the baroque is quite different from say a plagiaristic post modern world where there is no unifying theme. Where in the baroque you can have both a very strong central theme where you have all this gourmet kind of ornamentation around and build that theme, build on that thing with all that ornamentation. But the baroque was not just about the ornamentation it’s based on the centralizing theme. So, this idea there’s a tension and all its utility between the polarity of the generalists and the specialists and in fact if you think about complexity they probably need both, they probably need to hold both at the same time; PatternDynamics is way, a literacy to gain some generalize understanding of how any system works. But we have to be specialists it’s kind of ironic and it’s kind of a useful insight that PatternDynamics is an extreme specialization in an extreme generalized way of understanding the world, right? And there’s something about that that’s important and this idea of the baroque you know the neo-baroque kind of mentality or understanding that’s really, really important.

The post Aspects of Exchange In Organisational Life first appeared on PatternDynamics™.

Jul 10 2015

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Getting Started with PatternDynamics™ Part 3: The Source Course

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Listen to this episode and discover how to put PatternDynamics to work straight away with a simple process that get’s you results every time. The Source Course takes you straight to the heart of the PatternDynamics framework to learn the three foundational aspects of it central organising principle. Understanding these 3 primordial dimensions within every system will help you gain critical insights for the better decision making, complex problem solving, and strategy design required to create systems that thrive in today’s increasingly complex world.

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Topics Discussed:

00:09 The Source Course: Getting Started with PatternDynamics
05:22 Source Tool: Demonstration
06:50 Purpose
13:24 Recommendations

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Transcript:

PatternDynamics helping you create systems that thrive.

Okay, now we move on to the source course. This is how we get started with PatternDynamics. It’s the very first thing we learn that allow us to get a result using the PatternDynamics framework. And we’re just working with one principle — that is, one pattern. The principle behind me, the organizing principle and if you look behind me it’s here, it’s the source diagram. That’s what we call the pattern — the diagram itself. And when we understand what that diagram means, what that symbol, the information or the meaning behind that symbol, then we’ll be able to apply it as a principle of how systems works, how it’s organized and how we can change it.

We look at the slide here, in the source course getting started with PatternDynamics. The source symbol that you can see there in blue is the source code. It’s what we call the collective awareness identity in purpose but you think of it primarily as purpose. That is, having strong purpose or strong aim as a system, as an organization provides a very, very powerful self organizing force — with all the parts, all the people within that organization are aligned and they can self- organize. They can determine what it is they need to do and they’re motivated to do it and that is an extremely powerful self-organizing force, and it’s a principle organization that work in all systems that we can come to understand and identify and then use as a principle. So, we call it the most central and important source of any system self-organizing capacity. So, PatternDynamics is the central organizing principle and it is the most important pattern in the PatternDynamics framework.

If we look at the diagram, that pattern represents three primary aspects of source or what we call the ‘three basic principles; sub-principles that work in source. Sometimes, we call it dimensions. So these dimensions of source, the part and the whole of the first one, you can see a bar; a slider we call it. In the diagram, you could see there’s two parts bounded by a whole. So, if you look at the chart behind me, we have these two parts and their bounded by a larger oval which is the whole. So, parts and whole are represented in this diagram. If we go to the next slider down, there are short term and long term as two different aims of a continuum because just like no system is just a whole. It always is composed of parts and nothing is ever a part because it’s always composed of parts itself. So therefore, it’s a whole. Then there’s a continuum between them — how we can look at a system as a part or a whole. There’s also a polarity there. When there’s a polarity, there’s also a polarity between the short term and the long term. Now, the long term here is represented by the infinity symbol which is very long term and the oval as one revolution as the short term; just one cycle. So again, when we’re talking about a system there are always short term concerns and then there are always things that need to longer term outcomes and finding the balance between that polarity is something that will allow us to adjust systems using the source principle or at least the dimensions of it.

And we have represented in the diagram the tangible versus the intangible. And the lines themselves are tangible; we can see them. They look like the thing that is the diagram but actually it’s only defined by the less tangible white space in and around it. And any system has its tangible things; things that we can measure and poke with a stick, more objective elements of the system and business sometimes. You know, money is a very objective tangible thing or plant in equipment is tangible but in the business world organization believes that the strength of relationships and trust in an organization — these are less tangible assets in fact, will be guided by the parts of the system. Again, it’s never ‘either or’ and they’re not really in conflict. They’re just two different sides at one point or two polarities. And we can evaluate systems or aspects of systems based on, you know, just how tangible thing are we talking about or how intangible and what difference does that make to a thinking and what does being able to make that distinction do for us.

And so if we go back to the slide, the whole course is on this one slide. And that’s what we call it getting started because it’s that simple and this is how you can get a result. You use, just draw the diagram or the pattern on a piece of paper or white board, label its source, draw the three sliders, put part, whole, short term, long term, tangible, intangible and use that to help you think more carefully about how this issue you’re talking about or you’re thinking about relates to the system. So, I’m going to do that exercise right now and just show you how simple it is and I’ll just put up my trusty white board. Okay, I’ve drawn the source tool up on the white board here direct from the source course slide. And what I’ll do now is I’ll go through an example from my own life and work to demonstrate how you can use this to get better insights about some of the issues in your own life and work. So the issue, I’m going to work with in this example is from PatternDynamics itself and its related to the creation of this level one training program as something as meaningful to me and this is a real life example.

So, I had a conversation with my, with Kenya O’Keith. She’s my chief collaborator, and my central flop partner in the development of PatternDynamics as a social enterprise. And in that conversation, we spoke about the creation of this training module. And my perspective, first of all, we use PatternDynamics on the development of PatternDynamics very often. It’s how we, it’s one of the central ways — this is not the only way but it’s our principal way of creating our own organization, designing it, making better decisions and solving our challenges. So, we sat down and the first thing we do is ask ourselves “What’s the source of this issue of what we’re going to discuss? We’re going to discuss the level one training program and its creation and make decisions about it. Then, “What’s the source of that? Well, you know the purpose. That’s where we start. “What’s the purpose of the level one training program? And the creation of it and how does it relate to our larger purpose, the social enterprise, the PatternDynamics itself? So that’s where we start, with source.

And then, we go on to explore our perspectives and point of view using the three primordial dimensions of source — well, ways that we can make adjustments to our purpose and in this case the purpose of the level one training course. So, my, I realize after this conversation, after we did this exercise; that I was very focused on the level one training program and I’m the one who is mostly doing it, and actually creating the video training modules and other support materials in the workbook and things like that. And I have been very, very focused on that and my perspective is very oriented around that part of our organization. Now, for a while I think of it become, for me just about all there was in the organization and the social enterprise. I’m so focused on it that, you know, I’d lost side of a little bit of the whole project. You know, with our discussion, Kenya; my interpretation, my inquiry after I asked her what she was thinking about how we were going with the development of the program; part of the reflection was, you know, (a) let’s think about how this serves the greater whole — the bigger social enterprise, the community practice aspect, our commercial aspects making sure this is available as for not profit resource on a planetary scale. (b) Let’s make sure that we consider how this part fits within the whole. So, she’s advocating for making sure that this fit with the big picture, and that we will make a good decision with regard to the whole enterprise. And also my focus, I realized or I came to understand with very much and I do; it’s right over here on the end of the slider for short term, long term. On short term, I was really keen, that it was a big priority for me to help people get a result and an outcome from engaging with the level one training right away. I wanted, especially the source course and using this tool I want people to be able to learn it easily, I want them to be able to go away and go up to the white board or the back of the napkin and just go through the exercise to get better insights, to start making that difference. You know, little bit by little bit, getting a result can be a small result at first but that’s okay and a slightly bigger result and get better and better insights and get more and more units too, reflecting on the systems dimension or how their issues relate to the system in their lives, their organizations, their communities, their businesses.

So, I want to do results with people; a short term result with people and that was my focus. And Kenya spoke more about the medium term, I think. That was my interpretation after inquiring about her perspective — about how she felt going with the development of the level one program. She said, “Yes, the short term memory is fine but don’t make it so simplistic that some of the depth on what we’re doing gets lost. We don’t have to unfold the full journey. That can be a bit more overwhelming. PatternDynamics, in its level three training can be very complex and it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners but look, don’t lose side of the fact that there is depth in this, and don’t dilute it and make it too simplistic.” So, we recorded those or I recorded those perspectives for you here that was my interpretation and I think with the level one program that I’m developing now, I’ll be doing; I’m very focused on the tangible dimension of it. That is, its creation as a tangible asset that can generate revenue so that we have a budget to fulfill our social mission. And I think, you know, I’m not overly focused because this is not primarily a commercial enterprise. It’s a social enterprise. Our overall source of PatternDynamics, our overall purpose is to provide a social benefit to helping people learn purpose-driven collaborative types of systems thinking. But, I did want sub tangible outcomes of this. So I’m quite focused on that. And Kenya, on her perspective, was a little bit more on the intangible side not much still we’re very, we’re quite aligned actually in the commitment to making this work commercially and making sure we have commercial-great product and that it would have a market that we can generate revenue. Kenya was also advocating for making sure that the level one program was designed, and we made decisions about how its constructed and disseminated that support the culture of our organization. Maybe a slightly less tangible outcome, where we use the training to help consolidate our commitment, our real belief in the value of systems thinking and being collaborative and having high purpose in our work for our social transformation.

So, that is how we recorded our perspectives or in fact, match thorough each of our perspectives and we can then reflect differently and allow us to avoid conflict. You know here, when we’re far apart, it’s easy sometimes to have conflict. Unlike, “You’re wrong.” “You’re right, I’m wrong.” So, in PatternDynamics and dealing with these exercises, we especially, as we get better at it, we can see that these are just two complimentary perspectives on our whole system and especially around the central organizing force of our system, or our source code which our moral purpose. And that I’m focused on that part. Kenya was advocating a little more for the whole organization or the whole system and that we can think now about ways to coordinate these and the value of these perspectives on maybe which ones we should prioritize, make sure we don’t have a blind spot and certainly making sure that we are collaborative, we coordinate our perspectives, we bring a collective intelligence to helping solve our complex challenges and help us make better decisions so that our system can thrive.

So, we have a series of recommendations now that we’ve gone through some of the introductory features of PatternDynamics, how to use it and giving you a basic tool. And these recommendations are:

1. Getting out of trying to identify the purpose and the source of issues in your life and your life from work. So, just find the trigger and the trigger sometimes can be something that’s bothering you; attention or an opportunity that gets you excited.

2. And second point: regularly evaluate the effects of how you and others are thinking about these issues in terms with the three dimensions of source. So, that’s the source course and that’s an exercise you can d0 — it’s actually a tool. Use the source tool, pull it out anytime you like, go on the back of an envelope when you’re at a café and think about any issue on your life or anything that’s causing you a bit of attention or looks like a bit of an opportunity and think about that central organizing principle and its three dimensions. How you’re feeling about it or the issue you’re thinking about relates to in terms of the part of what you’re doing or the whole, the short term outcomes versus the long term outcomes, intangible things versus the less tangible things and what impact that has.

Just draw that down, mark where you think your perspective lies on each slider, make this a regular habit and reflect on how it changes your thinking about issues that arise and your ability to communicate how you feel about them.

Reflect through, reflections through journaling, blogging, or other writing will be particularly effective here. And reflection, especially when we write gives us a chance to contemplate and consolidate what we have learned. So, the more reflection we can do, especially intentional reflection through things like writing and blogging, the better we will learn. So, I encourage you to start using PatternDynamics system. I’m passionate about it because I get a result from it and it works and I can make the kinds of changes that I’d like to make and help systems become healthier and more functional around me.

And the first place to get started is simply develop a habit of using purpose driven collaborative systems thinking and putting up, drawing the source tool and making the three evaluations of its primary aspects or its primary dimensions and seeing and then reflect on those and ask yourself on how you might change what you’re doing based on your reflections and understandings of source.

PatternDynamics helping you create systems that thrive.

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Jun 23 2015

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Getting Started with PatternDynamics™ Part 2

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In this episode you’ll learn more foundational material for getting started with PatternDynamics and for putting it to work in your life and work. We cover the keys to understanding complexity itself, why collaborative systems thinking is a highly leveraged strategy for generative change, and why a pattern language can help create more robust organisational cultures. You also discover the step by step process we’ve developed for helping you learn to become a better systems thinker.

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Topics Discussed:

00:09 Keys to Complexity
02:27 Learning Outcomes
04:14 Learning Method
07:49 Learning Design

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Transcript:

PatternDynamics helping you create systems that thrive.

Well, the keys to complexity at least in PatternDynamics’ view, we have to look at the slide here, it said that: PatternDynamics is a unique systems thinking framework that enables a key strategy for managing higher levels of complexity. Now, the key strategy is that the key to complexity is a collaborative type of systems thinking. Not just an analysis of the system and like I said, trying to pull a lever to get it to change or tinker to get it to change, is to collaborate and use many perspectives to understand the system, communicate about it and that type of systems thinking is the key to complexity.

Now, the key to this type of systems thinking is patterns because the Dynamic patterns of organization that from how systems work and organizations and affect ourselves. How we work as complex systems shows up as patterns and once we learn to see these patterns of organization, our world changes. And we put aside our glasses that allow us to see the world in a whole new and more effective way. The key to these patterns is using them as a language because language is the key to culture. And in fact, culture — our beliefs, our values, our shared understandings; the things that motivate us collectively are actually what shape systems. At least in the PatternDynamics’ view and using patterns as a language is the power behind PatternDynamics because I mean, from the words of Peter Drucker: “Culture eat strategy for breakfast.” That is, you can employ all kinds of strategies to change the system instrumentally but unless you change the culture, in fact, unless you have a culture that helps create that change that change will be undone. That is the frustration I felt for years and years as a change maker. And once I learned to have a collaborative systems thinking that was a language that allowed us to create a culture together of systems thinking that valued exchanging our perspectives on a system, then I started to get some traction And that’s what’s so exciting for me about sharing PatternDynamics with you.

We have warning outcomes that we hope to achieve and I’ll read them here. There are three levels of skill attainment and each level of PatternDynamics training.

  • Familiarity – where you can identify the relevant patterns in your life, work and world with reference to learning materials or a support from an advanced practitioners.
  • Competency – in this level, this is the level where you can identify the relevant patterns consistently in most situations without reference to learning materials or at people.
  • And there’s fluency – where you can identify and prioritize the levels of importance of relevant patterns consistently in all situations without reference or support and communicating about your perspective effectively to different people in different cont

This learning resource is designed to support the attainment of competency in the use of the source pattern and its three dimensions and familiarity with the other six first order patterns.

We look at the chart behind me, those other six are: RHYTHM, POLARITY, STRUCTURE, EXCHANGE, CREATIVITY and DYNAMICS. And they represent different aspects of source well you know, the central purpose of any system on organization. They give us different dynamic patterns of organization that we can look at. What is looking familiarity with those? You can identify them with support from handbook or this resource or someone who knows more about the PatternDynamics system. But we’re looking for competency that is the ability to recognize the purpose at work as an organizing principle in any system — the purpose is strong, all the parts of the system seems to know what to do because they’re all aligned behind the aims of that purpose is pointing to.

We have a learning method, and I’ll read the slide here because PatternDynamics and systems thinking in general requires different ways of learning. So, I’ll read it.

Learning to think holistically about the dynamic patterns of organization and systems requires a different type of learning practice. This is different to how we usually learn about the parts of those systems. In PatternDynamics training you will notice;

1. A lot of repetition, a very similar pattern of explanation and each pattern module and multiple and closely related examples of ways of exploring each pattern. So, repetition is the friend of learning especially when we’re trying to learn something counter-intuitive because most of us if we’re trained in the western tradition and we’ve gone through school, we’ve been trained to learn about things — just trained to be analytical and look at parts. We haven’t really been trained to learn how to think necessarily unto our institutionalized learning about how things are put together, how whole systems work, the relationships, the dynamics, the patterns that help us think more holistically. So, repetition is really helpful. One of the reasons for that is that when we’re learning something that’s counter-intuitive the more times we’re exposed to the thing that we’re trying to identify, the better off we are. And we have a very, very similar structure through each training module because again that helps us with repetition and those elements are different but closely related ways at looking at the same thing. Now we think about the elephant example, you know, you got to look at all the different parts, the tail, the trunk, the side of the elephant, the ears, its tusks; these will all give us a different perspective on the system that makes up the whole elephant. Well, if you look at it as a whole biological living creature, and so taking multiple but sometimes very close perspectives, you know left leg might be very close to the right leg but in fact both of those perspectives are important because it’s actually left and right front and left and right back legs and they’re critical but very, very similar perspectives that are necessary for us to understand the whole elephant.

We go to the slide, the reason for this is that learning to see in inverted commas, patterns of organization and systems requires that we look at each one for multiple perspectives as I just described, in multiple context and in a repeated fashion. The different types of learning content to practices that the support to this approach include: written material — which we encounter in the work book and other written resources, videos such as the one you are watching now, the charts and the graphic symbols which form the core intellectual property of PatternDynamics and then the key learning resources, exercises and practices you can do in everyday life and work, examples of patterns and different contexts; and these examples are very powerful because they help us see in the real world, and embodied exercises that include movements and group practices. And you may encounter these in the PatternDynamics workshop, which is an embodied process where we work as a collective and use our bodies to form a living system and experiment with some of these organizing principles and most importantly how to talk about them and adjust them and get a better outcome.

Learning design states: the PatternDynamics learning system or what we call the learning practice is designed to start simply rebuild step by step towards more complex skills and understandings. So, with the introduction, what we call the source course which you will be exposed to in the PatternDynamics work book and also in this training module, we get started by learning about source the most central pattern in the PatternDynamics system and how to apply it simply and easily to get immediate results. And this is important you’ll see on the right of the slide there is the source diagram which I will explain in a moment. And there are three ways or three dimensions that help us think about our central purpose, our central organizing force or power as an organization as a system and it’s really simple. I’ll demonstrate that what in this video. It’s very quick and you can do it over and over again and get a result every time.

Level one, then we move on to learn the other six first order patterns, which I just illustrated on the chart behind me, which form aspects of source. This provides a foundation for systems thinking and applications. So, this is where we move from understanding one systems principle to understanding a number of important systems principles — some of the most fundamental ones. And when we can do that, we can start to think about the systems as a whole. Not just one principle but many principles and we can start thinking about how they relate but most of it just learning different distinctions about the different dynamic organizing patterns that we can identify in the systems.

Level two, you’ll be able to find the forty-nine-second order pattern and how to use them as an interrelated system for more advance system thinking and to help others learn introductory PatternDynamics skills. Now, level two you can see the yellow points to what we call the matrix chart. We don’t need to worry about that in any detail of this training module but it’s interesting and important for you to know the greater context of the system of PatternDynamics itself, where the next step is and put this training in that context.

Level three, the final stage helps practitioners to use a total system of fifty-six patterns to craft their application effectively for different contexts and to use these patterns fluently to support the development of systems thinking skills in others such as decision making skills and complex problem solving. In level three you become very fluent and we can apply PatternDynamics in multiple contexts and ways to understand, are understandable by people very, very easily.

PatternDynamics helping you create systems that thrive.

Next: Getting Started with PatternDynamics Part 3: The Source Course

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Jun 23 2015

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Getting Started with PatternDynamics™ Part 1

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Welcome to the first post in our blog podcast series. Start here to begin learning how to use PatternDynamics in your life, organisation, or community as a form of purpose-driven collaborative systems thinking that will help you learn to create systems that thrive in an increasingly complex world. In this episode you’ll learn about the context in which PatternDynamics was created, what it is, how it functions as a pattern language, and some of its features and benefits.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 15:50 — 18.1MB)

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Topics Discussed:

00:50 Welcome Message
01:38 Introduction to PatternDynamics
03:32 Step by Step framework for learning purpose-driven, collaborative systems thinking.
05:07 A social technology for improving decision making and complex problem solving.
07:27 Benefits of Learning PatternDynamics
10:42 Facilitates the application of collective intelligence.
11:10 The Challenge: Complexity

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Transcript:

Hi, I’m Tim Winton creator of Pattern Dynamics. – A system thinking framework designed to foster purpose driven collaboration. PatternDynamics is designed to help you learn to create systems that thrive. Behind me, are seven simple patterns that are the key to using the pattern dynamics framework effectively.

In this introductory module we’re going to learn about the PatternDynamics system, its patterns, the principles behind them, and how to start using them to make a difference in your life, your work and in your world.

Let’s go to the first slide here. So, we are starting Level One training and I’ll read the bullet points.

  •  This material provides an introduction to PatternDynamics Training.
  • It will help you begin learning  a systems thinking framework that assist with:
    • Better decision making
    • Improved complex problem solving
  • And, we get you started quickly and easily with a systems thinking tool that can make an immediate difference for the ability of system in your life, your work, and your world to thrive.

So, this introductory material, this is how we get started with PatternDynamics training and how you can use it in your life. We focus on two primary skills because decision making is the basis for complex problem solving. And as we  see, our world is getting more and more complex and the skill of good decisions that can help us be complex to challenges is now a critical one. And this is the basis of how PatternDynamics works and provides value for you, and for organizations you may be a part of and more importantly we get you started really quickly. So, right away in this module, this introduction module we’re going to introduce you to a technique —a tool that you can use based on one PatternDynamics pattern that will get you a result every time. Quick, easy, very simple and you can start getting results.

So, now I’d like to introduce you to PatternDynamics and the way to refer to it officially and what it is — PatternDynamics is a pattern language for creating systems that thrive. Before I go on, I just want to explain about pattern languages and why they’re relevant and why they’re now important. Because there’s a number of them that are starting to emerge and they’re being seen as an excellent strategy, an excellent way for us to start thinking about complexity and for communicating, more importantly, for communicating about the complex world that we live in. And a language made out of patterns that help us see more holistically, is something that has not really been a part of the western tradition of learning. This course will help us solve problems. But more and more of the systems sciences, and the practices and disciplines of ecology and the more holistic conceptions and understandings that we know, we now need in our world. One of the very, very effective ways of thinking about that and communicating is
through these things called Pattern Languages. And Christopher Alexander, an architect and Mathematician, developed an architectural pattern language. It really started of using patterns to communicate about something and how we design things or improve them. And from there, there have been pattern languages that had been developed for computer science and computer code creation or software code creation. There’s been pattern languages for education now in group work and other pattern about languages or the concept about a pattern language is starting to emerge as a powerful, new way for us to start solving our problems together collectively and creating better situations for ourselves. We should go back to the slide here, the second bullet, the first bullet point says, and now that we stall the features I’ll read the bullet points.

  • An intuitive systems language based on natural principles. – and again ,” natural principles” looking at ecologists and biological systems provides a really great foundation of understanding how systems work, they’re easy for us to see, they’re systems that many of us are used to. And therefore, it provides more intuitive basis for systems thinking because often systems thinking, complexity theory, chaos theory can be quite technical due to some of the disciplines  more academic disciplines surrounds systems thinking but PatternDynamics is very naturalistic and very intuitive and easy to use.
  • The second bullet point says: it’s a step by step framework for learning purposedriven, collaborative systems thinking. Being able to collaborate or communicate with each other about what we see going on in the system is an excellent way to get a better result because the systems are complex things and if individually we only have one or limited perspective, but if we coordinate other perspectives —  if we collaborate based on this, we get a better result. And even more important, if we have strong purpose — if we’re all aligned around achieving some  aim and that is another very, very powerful organizing dynamic that we can use. And PatternDynamics is a step by step process where you can learn to do this.
  • The third bullet point states: it’s a social technology for improving decision making and complex problem solving. So, a social technology is really just a way of doing things together that’s been qualified — where there’s a process and a method so, we call that a social technology. And one of the first applications of the PatternDynamics social technology is in decision making, your own and in groups, and solving complex problems better both of these are very important in the world that we’re living in now and as it unfolds.
  • The fourth bullet point states that a practice that forms the basis of a simple but effective operating system for individuals, groups, organizations and businesses.So, once you’ve learned PatternDynamics, you can start applying it as a, what we call an operating system. A way, again, a method that is really reliable, that’s easily learned, that you can apply in any situation to help at those better decisions to solve your challenges better and to make your organizations better. In fact, in our words, to help them thrive, become healthy more vigorous and for them to flourish and become great environments to be in.
  • The last point is PatternDynamics is a method for shifting organizations from a mechanistic operating structure to a living systems operating model. And this is a really important frame or a way that we could start thinking about the changes that we need to make organizationally and individually. And in society at large, as our world become more complex and the challenges around that greater complexity become a more and more over and we are more motivated to change them. So, you know the old approach was very hierarchal demanding control type of organizational style based on the machine, a model of the machine — a mechanistic model. And now we are shifting, and this is a broad trend that’s helping us with complexity to move to what’s called the living systems model.

Along the way we will get to ecologists and biological systems and the way they self organize and they able to be and adapt to extremely complex challenges, extraordinary complex systems and why is that we don’t quite understand in full, or what we’re beginning to understand but we do not yet fully apply in our own organizations and in our own society but we’re beginning to and PatternDynamics is a part of that project of a great shift and transition to a living systems world.

Now we move on to the Benefits of learning PatternDynamics: Well, as we stated,

  • It helps you create systems that thrive. That’s our over-arching goal. Systems that have what we call generated health where there are great places to be, everything works well, there’s a robust health, a resilient and they can meet challenges and adapt, grow and evolve. That’s what we call Five Ability and that’s our central commitment.
  • And another benefit is it improves understanding of organizational, social and business systems. Systems literacy or sometimes call pattern recognition — being able to understand how the whole systems work, you know, not just having expertise on the part but understanding how all those parts relate and how those parts form dynamics systems that it can achieve some goals in a healthy way.
  • And, it facilitates organizational change at the systems level. So, if you want to make change, and you want to be at the systems level, and you don’t want to be frustrated because you change the part but because the greater system has an impact on that part the change gets unraveled. If you want to make change at a systems level, the pattern dynamics is very helpful.
  • And, it makes it easier to have difficult conversations. It does that because we can start talking about the systems dynamics. And most of the time, people have genuine perspectives they like to contribute. Now, sometimes we can interpret those as things that are negativities, we don’t agree with them, we can get into conflict with them, when in fact we can use the systems thinking mentality we can see what part of the system or what perspective is being brought on the system and we can coordinate those because ultimately people’s perspectives are often about one dynamic in a system and another person’s will be about another dynamic or another pattern and they’re complementary but we’re just looking at other, you know different parts of the elephant in that  parable where the blind men are feeling different parts of the elephant and arguing about who’s right about the part of their feeling. Where In fact, if they can coordinate those perspectives they would have better opportunity to understand the whole elephant. So, in PatternDynamics we are trying to understand the whole element and help you do that. And sometimes those difficult conversations can be very generative if we can get over the conflict and start to figure out how to coordinate the perspectives for the greater whole.
  • The PatternDynamics shifts power and politics to a liberating new level. It does that through how we have the conversations because political conversations can be liberated from conflict to generatively through being able to understand what perspectives we are each bringing to try and create a healthy system.
  • It improves decision making and complex problem solving, is a social process and it is through the social process the communication that we get better decision making and better problem solving because we’re getting more perspectives on board and we know how to coordinate those perspectives to get us a better idea about the whole system.
  • And that’s the kind of collective intelligence — the last point on the slide, is that the PatternDynamics facilitates the application of collective intelligence. That’s how we actually get traction with it. We coordinate our perspectives through
    understanding the system better and then we can make an adjustment that gives us the outcome, that’s the application.

You know, the central challenge that we are talking about in the PatternDynamics system is designed to meet is what I call ‘complexity challenge’ or some people call it the ‘complexity crises’.

And, for over twenty years I’ve been working as a leader in sustainability initiatives of various sorts. And for a great period of time, many years in fact, I struggled because I didn’t have tools for making effective changes to complex systems. Now I didn’t realize that at the time I was just frustrated because I couldn’t make changes to, you know forestry and help that practice to be more sustainable or agriculture help that undertaking be more sustainable. These are great big complex systems and I was trying to have an effect on parts of them and it change parts for a while but then the greater system would unwind some of that change. While even within my own organizations has a complex system, I would try initiate change but I didn’t understand how to do it at a systems level and I was frustrated.

And then I discovered the power of what I call ‘collaborative systems thinking’. Now, these isn’t just instrumental systems thinking such as looking at the system and try to pull some lever and some kind of mechanism to get it to work differently. This is having collaborative conversations, using other people’s intelligence, forming better relationships around how we see our system and how we can make change. Now that starts to get traction. I didn’t know what I was doing at first or how it worked but I developed the PatternDynamics framework as a way to make it easier for other people to learn how I was thinking and for me to note down how I was actually thinking.

And now I have reliable method for working more effectively with complex challenges. The PatternDynamics framework, as I’ve learned to understand it is packed by substantial research now and that’s because collaborative types of system thinking. The research have shown that it gives us more perspectives and that’s a good way to understand systems and if we can inquire from each other as to how each of us are seeing the system we have more intelligence on board. And that really relates to this diagram on the right hand side of the slide called the ‘Complexity Crisis’ and that is researched by our good friends Lectica and supported by other research. That, as the complexity of our tasks grows; our ability to deal with them becomes less affective.  And what we mean by complexity is that we have more things in our world increasingly having more and more elements in it. There is more relationships between those elements, more communication and there’s more activity, it’s faster. And that all three of those interrelated dynamics are continuing to increase and are overwhelming us, sometimes it’s called being in over our heads. We have a very, very complex situation and as you go up in the
levels of leadership, the challenges that you face are greater relative to the people in entry level leadership roles. And I think this is displayed throughout society. Anyone, and if you’re working in sustainability, or an organizational life or you’re a change maker, you’re working in a complex space now. And that means that the gap between most people’s capability to deal with complexity and the complexity you’re faced with is high and closing that gap is a way that we can get better results, be less frustrated instead of having dysfunctional systems and organizations in our lives we can create much more functional ones, and in fact ones that can thrive, that have a kind of super health, that if we can learn to deal with complexity better. And systems thinking are a big part of that. Especially purpose driven collaborative systems thinking like PatternDynamics is advocating. We can close that complexity gap and that’s what makes it so practical. The PatternDynamics framework is a tool that people can learn and I can share, that I can introduce to people to help shrink the complexity gap for everybody. When we do that collectively, we get even better results.

And now I don’t feel so isolated, because I have a way of communicating my not-holistic perspective. Whereas before people used to give me blank looks because I didn’t explain myself very well. I now have a very consistent, step by step way I can introduce people to this way of thinking and I have a much more effective way of communicating it. I’m using words, and principles, and I have ways of structuring that and making myself really clear through learning the PatternDynamics principles.

Next: Getting Started with PatternDynamics Part 2

The post Getting Started with PatternDynamics™ Part 1 first appeared on PatternDynamics™.

Jun 20 2015

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