help us see our world clearly
maybe we WILL act
Wow, Gregory Johnson, you are a gift to the world. Scientist, poet and artist Johnson distilled the massive IPCC Climate Change report into a series of illustrated haikus. You can see and download this fabulous material on the Sightlines site (another great resource – hey, give them a donation!)
From the Sightlines article:
Condensing to this degree is not how scientists typically operate. But, as Johnson proves, scientists can also be poets. Still, he’s quick to caution that this is his own unofficial artistic interpretation and that it omits all the quantitative details and the IPCC’s scientific qualifications.
The Entire IPCC Report in 19 Illustrated Haiku | Sightline Daily.
A couple of weeks ago I shared the link to Donella Meadow’s seminal essay, Places to Intervene in a System. This was in the context of moving our perspective of some work from a linear progression to something complex.
She found the essay useful and asked “what basic readings would you suggest to follow up learning about complexity.”
Well, I know enough to be dangerous in this area, rather than useful. So I turned to my network and asked for recommendations for suggested readings in complexity and systems thinking. I created a simple Google form that feeds into a Google spreadsheet. Then I tweeted out the request. Today there are over 25 entries, books both familiar and new to me. And from people who care about this topic.
First, I want to thank all the people who have and who continue to add to this resource:
If you want to see or add to the resource, Suggested Readings in Complexity and Systems Thinking takes you to the spreadsheet to view. Below is the form to fill in if you have a suggestion. (Edit – just a screen shot. I forgot WP does not allow iframe! To fill out the form please go here.) If you leave me a comment, I can also add you to edit the spreadsheet directly if you would like.
Now my next step is to create a reading path through these, to build, and expand versus overwhelm us, the readers! Ideas? How would you navigate and why?
Later PS: Just saw this Tweet from Alice and it is sooo relevant:
There has been a great discussion on the KM4Dev mailing list the last 10 days or so about evaluation, impact and measurement. In the context of international development, this is critical. Why do something if it doesn’t make a difference. However, often we don’t do a very good job figuring out what does make a difference, let alone know why (causality.) Dave Snowden posted something that just rang the bell for me. I hastily copied it down to share here. The link to the web archive of the email discussion is at the bottom, if you want to mine for the rest of the thread. Emphasis is mine.
The linear concept of input, leading to outputs, leading to outcomes which in turn leads to impact is I think at the heart of the problem, It implies (and I can see why people would want this) a causal chain that can be replicated.
However if the system is complex (in the sense of complex adaptive) then any input is a stimulus or modulator which influences but does not determine impact. That means we need to start measuring the sensitivity of a system to different stimuli, and the way in which some stimuli produce a disproportionate effect in that they catalyze other inputs. This is newly developing area which has not hit the development sector yet, but we are working on it in related fields, loosely termed modulator mapping. It also leads us to evolutionary representations (such as fitness landscapes) and measure based on stability of landscapes. In all those cases mathematics are simplified by representation and linked micro-narratives. There is no point in measuring anything if the results do not convince both donors and recipients alike to take action
All of that moves the “impact” agenda on. I didn’t confuse outputs and outcomes, I conflated them as the model means there is no real difference in what is measured in practice.
I am now going to start paying attention to this idea of “measuring sensitivity of a system to different stimuli.” This relates closely to two projects I’m working on where I have been sensing this, but hadn’t had the words for it. Now I have a toehold. Onward!