“Acquisition & transfer” of knowledge, vs “participation, construction, becoming.”

It seems reasonable to me that our Cognition and the way that we think is shaped by the fact that we are embodied minds. Based on that I would expect that metaphor could be a useful concept when understanding the way that we learn. However, I find it implausible that members of a profession all … Continue reading “Acquisition & transfer” of knowledge, vs “participation, construction, becoming.”


The Generative Dance Between Organisational Knowledge and Organisational Knowing

Some reflections on:  Cook, S. D. N. and Brown, J. S. (1999) ‘Bridging Epistemologies: The Generative Dance Between Organizational Knowledge and Organizational Knowing’, Organization Science, INFORMS: Institute for Operations Research, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 381–400 [Online]. DOI: 10.1287/orsc.10.4.381.   Where they make two contentions: The knowledge that we  possess fits into four distinct categories … Continue reading The Generative Dance Between Organisational Knowledge and Organisational Knowing

Continuing Professional Development in Practice

I have just started U810 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Practice as the next module in my Open University Masters degree on Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP). This six-month module is aimed at people with a professional qualification (degree or professional equivalent) and who have undertaken at least 150 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) … Continue reading Continuing Professional Development in Practice

IT Integration service lines as a Community of Practice

Part 3 of the of the MSC Systems Thinking in Practice was all about using social learning to manage systemic change. The section on Communities of Practice was fascinating because it is so relevant to my own practice and I wrote up below for one of the course assignments. IT Integration service lines as a … Continue reading IT Integration service lines as a Community of Practice

Why do we need critical social learning systems?

Humanity is facing a number of messy problems, with complex unpredictable changes happening in the world. (Richard Bawden in "Messy Issues, Worldviews and Systemic Competencies" 2010). These problems have come about largely as the unintended consequences of the increasing modernisation of societies, as a the wondrous advantages of western civilisation spread around the world. Bawden … Continue reading Why do we need critical social learning systems?

A summary of ‘The Systems Approach’

In developing as a systems thinker I think that it is important to get a balance between the theoretical frameworks, and practical action in the world. This is another post that I need to return to, the MSc is devouring all my free time though!


This is a 15-paragraph overview of a series of 15 blogging posts, which covered the whole of Churchman’s The Systems Approach (TSA), a rather well-known book he wrote in 1968, of which I am convinced that it hasn’t lost any of its relevance to the decision-making problems of the world today. At the end of each paragraph is a link to the original post, providing a more extensive summary of the original chapter. By quickly reading through the 2000+ words of this overview you get a good impression of what Churchman’s seminal book is about. You will also see the first outlines of the framework of categorical considerations that Churchman presents in his next book (The Design of Inquiring Systems) and that forms the basis for Werner Ulrich’s Critical System Heuristics. You will also get a better sense of how that framework was originally used by Churchman, which isn’t all that…

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Learning Contract as a Systems Model

I am doing this same course… about 5 years later to the day and appreciated seeing this diagram! I based my version on a systemic inquiry process, so its interesting to see a different perspective based on the juggler metaphor.

Systems Thinking-A Student

This is my first iteration of my learning contract for this course as a systems model
It will change as my current understanding even from producing this first iteration is developing and changing

Let me know what you think

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Principles of Outstanding Leadership

In 2010 The Work Foundation conducted a qualitative study on what leaders themselves believe leadership to be and how they practice it. Through interviews with 77 leaders, their managers and direct reports, the top characteristic identified was that outstanding leaders "Think systemically and act long term, and achieve through a combination of systemic thinking and … Continue reading Principles of Outstanding Leadership

The systems approach: theory for practice

In 5 sections Sjon summarises the theory behind his systems approach:
– What’s the systems approach?
– Why wicked solutions?
– Why isn’t the systems approach applied more often?
– The link with design
– Some related approaches

I am saving this post for future reference when I get and read through ‘Wicked Solutions’ … unfortunately my reading list a bit packed at the moment due to the MSc, but this post is going in at the top!


Over the past 4 years I have written a good number of posts on various aspects of the systems approach. In this post I will re-arrange more than 30 of them, to provide a more or less coherent body of theoretical insights underlying Wicked Solutions, a practical book – in fact, a work book –  about the systems approach. Along the way you will learn why “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” (Maslow, 1962). Make sure you do not give in to that temptation!

What’s a wicked problem?         Many scholars before me – and beware, I am not much of a scholar myself, preferring practice over theory, but sometimes a bit of theory can help – have introduced their version of the systems approach by first explaining what a wicked problem is. That makes sense, because…

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