Systemic Business Community

A salon discussing research into systemics and business

In the third session of the SIG on Systems Applications in Business and Industry at Sonoma 2006, four papers are scheduled:

  • Pamela Buckle, “Obstacles to Consciousness in Corporations”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract, PDF, and HTML versions, and on the CDROM as paper #268;
  • John Pourdehnad, Bruce Warren, Maureen Wright and John Mairano, “Unlearning/Learning Organizations – The Role of Mindset”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract and PDF versions; and on the CDROM as paper #326;
  • Kambiz Maani and Anson Li, “Counter-Intuitive Managerial Interventions in Complex Systems”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract and PDF versions, and on the CDROM as paper #244; and
  • Filippina Risopoulos, “Which ‘Language’ need Organizations for a better Conversational Interaction? A Systemic View on applied every day Business Language”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract and PDF versions, and on the CDROM as paper #343.

Surfing over to JournalsISSS Proceedings, you can find the abstracts and papers. Attendees to the face-to-face SABI sessions are requested to take a look at the abstracts, if not the papers in their entireties. The SABI conversations are usually understandable from the layman’s level, but if you’re interested in a richer discussion, pre-reading helps us get to a deeper level, more rapidly.

In my role a SIG chair, I’ve clustered this diverse group of papers together, possibly described in a theme of “the manager’s mind, action and language”.

  • Pamela Buckle, another SABI contributor from as early as Shanghai 2002, probes coherence in organizational direction/action, adding the unintended/self-organizing perspective on top of the intended/rational one. Organizational effectiveness may be influenced, to a large extent, by the manager’s ability to see patterns of self-organization. (I’d love to see a test of that so we could find better managers … no, maybe that’s too rational!)
  • John Pourdehnad, Bruce Warren, Maureen Wright and John Mairano address the question of mindsets in business. (“Mindset” may be more colloquial for the term “worldview” with which many systems thinkers are familiar). Of course, every employee has a mindset, but managers have greater formal influence over broader contexts. Unlearning is described as a prerequisite to learning. Could Pamela Buckle’s ability of managers to see patterns of self-organization be one step of unlearning?
  • Kambiz Maani and Anson Li provide a list of “mental models and assumptions commonly held by managers”. These would seem to be consistent with the Pourdehnad, Warren, Wright and Mairano describe of “mindset” or “worldview”. Maani and Li take another step on the “learning” direction — I’d have to think about whether there’s unlearning going on as well — with microworlds (i.e. realistic simulation models of organizations). Simulations, particularly in educational contexts, can highlight intended/rational patterns, but I wonder if participants see the patterns of the unintended/self-organizing types that Pamela Buckle describes.
  • Filippina Risopoulos takes us out of the minds of business executives and managers, to questions on language. In innovating complex business systems, formal language (i.e. “top-down instructions”) may not be enough. Pamela Buckle’s better managers should be able to see patterns of self-organization, but can they communicate them to others? Should they even try? Would their efforts help (or not) unlearning and learning as described by Pourdehnad, Warren, Wright and Mairano? Would Filippina Risopoulos’ ideas help or hinder the “over intervention” by managers described by Maani and Li?

I’ve attempted to synthesize a theme across the four papers, but it’s not the only way of seeing them. You may want to suggest an alternative spin, or more on this trajectory, please do so as comments, below.

June 25th, 2006

Posted In: ISSS