When another perspective is needed


Originally posted on Achieving Business Outcome With Enterprise Architecture:

Russell Ackoff taught about synthesis, the opposite of analysis.


He said you can’t understand something by looking at its pieces.

His three steps of synthetic thinking are to ask:

  1. What is this thing a part of?
  2. What is the behavior of its containing whole?
  3. What is the role of the thing in that containing whole?

Think big picture. Ask big-picture questions.

Dr. Russell Ackoff on Systems Thinking – Pt 1

Dr. Russell Ackoff on Systems Thinking – Pt 2

Dr. Russell Ackoff on Systems Thinking – Pt 3

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Wearing your systems thinking hat: habits for better evaluation

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Originally posted on Megan Rita Roberts:

My undergraduate education had a strong foundation in systems thinking – it is one tool that is particularly well aligned with the work of Human Ecologists , for helping us understand complex interactions in social-ecological systems and mechanisms for change. I came, naively, to evaluation thinking that I would be able to apply these big systems thinking approaches (e.g. soft systems methodology , critical systems heuristics ) on a large scale in evaluations. That is, that I would be writing them into methodologies, that clients would be lapping them up, excited to see the possibilities for reflective practice. In reality, this reflects my initially instrumental understanding of systems thinking!

It’s also why I was so excited when I discovered that there is a body of literature around systems concepts and thinking in evaluation – bringing two interest areas of mine together. Bob Williams and Iraj Imam’s anthology of systems thinking…

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Do We Fully Understand Diversity?


Originally posted on Systems Savvy:

Dimensions of Diversity

This graphic does a decent job of showing the different dimensions in which we find diversity

What do we mean when we talk about diversity? Merriam-Webster online’s first definition is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” Not bad. Not bad at all. How about the second definition? It’s presented as “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.”

I find this second definition somewhat troublesome and simplistic, in large part because I think a large percentage, if not an overwhelming majority, of people think of diversity in a very limited form. In my experience, within organizations — i.e. enterprise-size businesses — race, ethnicity, physical ability, and gender are about the only classifications in which “diversity” is interpreted to matter. This in spite of definitions that suggest far more inclusiveness, like this one from the University…

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Search Interface Design (workshop at ESE 2014)


Originally posted on Information Interaction:

ESE 2014

I’m pleased to say that on Monday 28 April I’ll be leading a workshop at Enterprise Search Europe on the subject of Search Interface Design. It’ll be held at the Park Plaza Victoria London, and will consist of a mix of formal presentations, group work and discussion. It’s a chance to discuss with like-minded folks your own challenges in the world of search interface design and usability, and to share ideas, best practices and solutions. I’ve appended a longer abstract below. If you have any queries, just drop me a line.

Hope to see you there!

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