Thursday, 2 September 2010

Systems conference

The UK Systems Society have the annual conference at this time of year, and being interested in systems thinking and its application to business, I took the opportunity to go this year - my funded studentship finishes this month, :( so if I want to do something that costs, this is the last month to claim it. It was worth it because I met and talked with lots of interesting and knowledgeable people about systems, got to know of aspects of systems I'd not heard of before (like Connant-Ashby) and used systems thinking that I'm familiar with.

Systems thinking is a niche with few practitioners, a few small journals with low Research Asssesment ratings and little academic recognition. John Martin from the systems department of the Open University suggested that systems thinking is used in other non-specifically systems and published in other journals, but we don't have the evidence. So systems thinking isn't obvious in the academic literature, but may be applied in practice because we had a number of practitioners at the conference, and a couple of practitioner speakers: John Seddon of Vanguard consulting, and Hoverstadt.

Hoverstadt works in the sort of public sector areas that are relevant to my research, so we had an interesting conversation. His book, The Fractal Organisation, is one that I've been recently reading. He writes clearly, and explains the viable systems model much better than Stafford Beer does. He tutors one of the OU systems courses, and is running a systems workshop on VSM at the OU this month. I'm going to squeeze that in to my last month's funding too.

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