In many of my recent blogs I have begun to focus on how we can implement transformational change. During my time as the CEO of a new company in the fastest growing city in the UK- Milton Keynes in the late 1990s, I found myself engaging with some of the foremost creative and influential academics in what was then the Centre for Complexity and Change at the Open University. One of the many outcomes of this collaboration was a piece of research by one of its students-Alexandra Di Stefano- on the company I was running. Her PhD was entitled -BEYOND the RHETORIC: A Grounded Perspective on Learning Company and Learning Community.
The creative initiatives the company took with the local business communities , schools and the 4 universities, from a systems perspective, had a profound effect on national education policy, because the company became the precursor of a national network of regional Learning and Skills Councils. Anyway , to the point of this blog! Alexandra’s work and her supervisor Professor Ray Ison introduced me to the importance and impact of systems thinking and practice. Ray and the OU systems team have pioneered work on systems thinking and practice for almost 50 years.
Last month , Ray and Ed Straw published a persuasive and well written book called the Hidden Power of Systems Thinking(https://youtu.be/f3Q-YLKoIQ8) , which shows how the failure of governance at all levels(national, regional , local and organisational) is fundamentally at the heart of “the collective incapacity to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises.”
As the preface of the book states:” it is an invitation to think differently. Because the world is in a fix”. And, it goes on to argue very persuasively that we need purposeful change to fix the world’s wicked problems. But not first order purposeful change(i.e. doing the same things more efficiently) but second order change (i.e. changing all systems)which embraces governing for emergence in a new and complex new epoch called the Anthropocene.