This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Systems Thinking: Recursion for Reconfiguration and Re-conceptualization

In the beginning, this learning platform, consisting of this blog, the related wiki, mindmap and diigo group, was to be designed so that it incorporated three principles.

First, it is targeted toward someone without experience and only minimal knowledge of economic or community development. Someone who is just getting the notion that they could make a better and more fully livable community and wants to start taking the necessary steps to do so, at least in the ideal sense.  Getting to that level of simplicity through the inherent complexity defining the involved challenges is an ongoing endeavor.

Second, this site will seek to help write the rules so that the new paradigms for communities can be chosen rather than imposed. It may be more of a matter of finding ways to break the old rules without losing everything but it definitely takes new systematic ways of thinking.

Third, part of the motivation to start this blog was to explore means of collaboration in public arenas, not only within specific focused public arenas but also across different arenas and more importantly incorporating a policy of expanded inclusiveness while maintaining project or program effectiveness. While there are still no real world examples of new community paradigms being implemented, the resources required to begin making them are readily available so the work continues.

This has been both an experimental and exploratory effort. It has also been a matter of recursion, consistently taking steps backwards to drill deeper into ideas, reconfigure concepts and re-conceptualize different systems. Each newly discovered resource whether it be an organization, movement, piece of knowledge, or application often necessitated going back and recalibrating the relationship of all of the pieces to the whole in a systematic way. The inclusion of Systems Thinking is seen as a means of improving this process.

The last blog post on New Community Paradigms Thinking Requires Systems Thinking initiated an overhaul of the New Community Paradigms Systems Mindmap clarifying the hierarchy and definitions of the various cross connections.  Some of those connections were dropped, reinvented or redefined. Possibilities for the future were also discovered with connections of Systems Thinking to Governance by Community and Policy Creation.

More specific to the concept of Systems Thinking as a component of Community Management and Technology was an updating of the resources at the Systems Thinking Approaches wiki-page. While the majority of the resources come from the Systems Thinking World Wiki, a new organization Systems Thinking Collaborative was added as a resource and two related articles that help make the case, as well as explain the difficulty, in making Systems Thinking an important component of new community paradigms were also included.

What is systems thinking? (Part I, Part II & Part III) « quantum shifting

Solving Wicked Problems: Using Systems Thinking in Design | Design on GOOD

 A number of Systems Thinking related applications are also included.
  • Insight Maker
    • Support the continued evolution and use of this FREE web based multi-user modeling & simulation environment. 
Systems Thinking could be a valuable collaborative tool for direct deliberative democratic discourse and less adversarial in nature than our current form of local politics.  It could also help in focusing on solutions rather than positions, assisting in addressing many of the technical based challenges, e.g. traffic, other infrastructure and budgets we face.

In regards to paradigm shifts, this effort has the audacity to propose that paradigm shifts within the governance of our communities is what is needed.  It is still a fledgling argument but believed to be a worthwhile one for a few reasons.  

First, we are now aware of Thomas Kuhn’s insight from "The Nature of Scientific Revolutions" where he indicated it to be a waste of time and energy to convey new paradigms to the current generation, being better to convey new paradigms to the next generation and writing off the current generation.  We are not stuck with it as before.  We should cognitively be able to anticipate that there will be paradigm shifts.  

Second, we have been living through a number of paradigm shifts with the World Wide Web and other transformations with more anticipated.  

Third, we are not going to truly address many of our challenges, particularly in the fields of economic development or community building by merely recycling old ideas. We need fundamental change that reconfigures and re-conceptualizes our overall approach.  There are numerous innovative ideas addressing extensive challenges out there but they need a means of integrating them into a manageable  process without the interference of political egos. (Means one still needs a way to overcome the political egos, working on it).

Systems Thinking will, no doubt, be more of a problematic paradigm shift in thinking for many people.  Peer effect models suggest that not everyone in a community though would have to be an expert to make it useful.  Some would only have to be comfortable with it, with those with expertise of various degrees helping with facilitation. It would have to be integrated into various academic fields such as public administration better over time but I suspect that that it could provide a greater opportunity for learning and be more self-reinforcing in a community environment.  There will always be some unwilling or uninitiated but they are not the real problem, which is instead those with a continuing stake in the old paradigms. 

Another cobblestone in the road.

Past Posts