The Keynote Addresses
for the 8th. National & International HSSS Confrence
Thessaloniki, 5-7 July, 2012
Dr. Stephen Haines
CEO, Haines Centre for Strategic Management in San Diego, Ca., a global consulting, training and publishing firm he founded 1990 with Offices now in 25 countries. Their only business is Strategic Management (Planning-People-Leadership and Change to Deliver Customer Value).
Reinventing Strategic Planning™ into Strategic Management
Dr. Yiannis Laouris
Dr. Yiannis Laouris is Secretary General of the Cyprus Society for Systemic Studies, member of the Board of the Institute for 21st Century Agoras and Senior Scientist and Chair of the Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute (also known as Future Worlds Center: www.futureworlds.eu), whose 20 full-time scientists and many volunteers and interns focus their work at the interface of science and society. He participates in the “Concept Re-engineering” Think Tank (component of EC’s "Digital Futures), a participative visioning project, anticipating possible issues and generating inspiring ideas for the future of policy-making in the digital realm. He represents Cyprus in pan-European networks such as several COST Actions, Insafe, Inhope, etc.. He is medical graduate of the Leipzig University, Germany, completed a PhD in Neurophysiology at the Karl-Ludwig Institute and an MS in Systems and Industrial Engineering at the University of Arizona. For over 15 years, he applied linear and non-linear digital processing to biological signals from experimental animals to study facilitation and depression of small circuits of the brain. Laouris promotes the application of broadband technologies and structured dialogue as tools to bridge the digital; economic educational and inter-personal divides in our planet. He pioneered in the application of the Structured Dialogic Design process (SDD) in the Cyprus and the Middle East peace movement and in many pan-European networks; his work was published in several books and many scientific papers and was honored with numerous awards. For the past 5 years, together with Dr. Christakis’ group, he develops systems to enable scaling up the SDD process to engage asynchronously thousands in meaningful dialogue, thus accelerating change. Laouris has published over 50 papers in peered reviewed journals, half of which in neuroscience, a quarter in applied systems science and peace, and the rest in IT-children and neuroscience of learning. He contributed chapters in about 20 books and made over 130 conference papers and presentations.
Democracy in [R]evolution:
The recent eruption of the global economic crisis is both a threat and a challenge for the current model of “democratic” governance irrespective of whether we talk about States or about enterprises. Given the dynamic nature of the global changes, only applied systems approaches can come to rescue because of their inherent capability to bridge the gaps between theory and practice. Not only governments, enterprises and other organizations, but the world at large are in desperate need of effective methodologies and multi-methodologies in order to manage today’s organizational complexities and implement efficient strategic management. Our interdisciplinary international group is developing new concepts, scientific systemic tools and powerful social-media-based software capable of tackling contemporary multi-dimensional strategic complex problems. "Democracy in [R]evolution: Why & How We the People Ought to Connect our Minds" will challenge participants to appreciate the complexity of contemporary wicket problems and recognize the need for engaging people from all walks of life in democratic participatory dialogues scientifically grounded in the work of Christakis et al Group. “Connecting our minds…” will require new tools, which will enable the definition of shared problématique-, as well as solution spaces through exploration and processing of diverse contributions and opinions regarding importance or influence relationships between statements. The new tools aim to support stakeholders exploit their collective wisdom and reach consensus even when they are in large numbers. Our success to reinvent democracy in the digital realm will heavily depend on the availability of tools capable of supporting groups to reach consensual agreements, which can feed effective strategic management. The discussion of the system will be grounded on contemporary challenges taking place in Cyprus.
Dr. Alexander (Aleco) Christakis
Dr. Alexander (Aleco) Christakis is a PhD Theoretical Nuclear Physicist, Social Systems Design Scientist, and former faculty member or several Universities. He also serves in the Editorial Boards of several journals, was President of the International Society for Systems Sciences (http://isss.org/world/index.php), and he also is the Founder of the Institute of 21st Century Agoras (http://www.globalagoras.org/), a non-profit organization dedicated to the evolution of civic, global, and institutional capacity for coordinated democratic decision-making using professional systemics (Co-Laboratories of Democracy.) Aleco Christakis will share with the audience “Why” he became preoccupied for most of his professional life with the discovery and application of structured dialogic design (SDD) for the definition and resolution of "wicked problems." After answering the "Whys" of the title question, there will be an opportunity for questions from the participants before moving on to the "Hows”. Forty years of practicing his trade in the field has taught him that “strategic management” in the definition and resolution of wicked problems is not meaningful, effective, and feasible in a top-down approach based on the design and delivery of solutions by political or academic elites. We know now that such an approach violates “the axioms” of the systems approach, which is the theme of this conference.
Ms Maria Kakoulaki
Ms. Maria Kakoulaki is an active journalist, working as a News’ Chief Editor for Channel 4U, (as a Columnist for the newspaper “ΝΕΑ ΚΡΗΤΗ” (Crete TV Media Group) and her experience includes all types of media, with participation in various European Conferences and workshops abroad. She aims to address WHY a journalist embarks on a conscious journey searching for the Truth, concerning the modern Problematique, and why that very Truth is not a static or permanent condition, but rather a combination of strategic thinking and interactive systemic practicing of a life-time efforts and experiences, starting from each one, through many and for all. Taking as a starting point, her journalistic work, through a variety of interviews, mainly in politics and economics, she aims to elaborate HOW social media can enhance the capacity of stakeholders to engage in co-laboratories of democracy for the collective discovery of truth and consensual wisdom by the people, and for the people, in the context of our contemporary national and international settings, such as the recent European - Greek financial and political crisis. She will also address some [Meta]modern embedded myths and norms and point out the “ought to” vision, away from the “either/or” dilemmas, the unquestioned replies, the rhetoric questions, the endless monologues and the zero-sum games.
“Why & How We the People Ought to Connect the Dots …”
“Well, my dear Adeimantus, what is the nature of tyranny?
Haven’t we all spent hours of time trying to discover the best possible solutions for wicked questions, often with no any obvious answers? Haven’t we all be thinking for years, what does democracy really mean, whether freedom of expression is applicable, or whether our politicians, act upon according to an ethical vision or according to their private interests? Have we all felt, at certain occasions, deceived by those who are in power or distracted by media owners and propaganda techniques on what reality looks like? Haven’t we felt concerned or scared to raise our voices against what is being decided for us, without us? Is currently our “democratic consciousness” defined, simply, by voting every four years? Where are we standing at, as citizens of this world if we have succeeded in producing intelligent means of communication, but we haven’t developed the ability to discover who we are and where we want to go, through constructive democratic dialogue aiming in the revealing of a truth that will exclude no one?
Dr Martin Reynolds
Dr Martin Reynolds is a consultant, researcher and lecturer in Systems thinking at the Department of Communication and Systems, The Open University, UK. His teaching and research focus on issues of critical systems thinking in relation to environmental responsibility, business administration, and international development. He has published widely in these fields with many of his publications available on open access. His teaching involves contributing to the following postgraduate courses: Environmental Responsibility: ethics, policy and action (co-Chair); Thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change (Chair); Environmental Decision Making: A systems approach; Management Beyond the Mainstream (part of MBA programme); and Institutional Development: conflicts, values and meanings. Current research and scholarship include: collaboration with University of KwaZulu-Natal Leadership Centre and Open Door initiative on developing systems ideas for public administration; ESRC-supported project on using critical systems heuristics for wetland management in Guyana; EPSRC - supported work on critical systems thinking for energy security, and Systems thinking and evaluation - designing and facilitating a series of workshops through auspices of American Evaluation Association and European Evaluation Association. He is a co-founding member of the Open Systems Research Group (OSRG).
Systemic crises? Why strategic thinking needs critical systems practice
The Open University
The term systemic failure is one used with increasing frequency particularly by journalists and politicians to account for things going wrong in an increasingly complex and uncertain world. But what does it actually mean? Moreover, how might effective strategic thinking in management practice reduce incidences of systemic failure? This paper uses Systems thinking to explore the origins of systemic crises. It simultaneously offers a framework for systems thinking in practice to support strategic management.
From a systems thinking in practice perspective three interwoven traps contribute to systemic failure. Using the example of systemic failure of academic economics in averting the global financial crisis – as expressed by prominent economists themselves - each of the three traps is explored. For Trap 1 – reductionism – the example suggests something about there being a collapse in the way things are supposed to link up or interrelate. In a world where we increasingly appreciate that everything connects, and failure is commonly regarded in terms of disabled connections, the antidote to systemic failure is holistic thinking; often regarded in terms of ‘joined up thinking’ or ‘seeing the forest through the trees’. So having a wider holistic viewpoint involves looking beyond, say, the ‘rational representative agent’, and embracing more the interplay between micro and macro levels of economic activity. Systems thinking is here characterised in terms of modelling wholes rather than parts. But crucially, wholes or systems are not pre-given. The example hints towards a second failure in not appreciating particular perspectives on modelling.
Trap 2 – dogmatism - prompts a reminder that wholes are selected by someone for a purpose. Someone usually selects the whole with the purpose of making an intervention that they think will improve matters. Hence there are always different perspectives to appreciate. Other stakeholders may have different purposes associated with modelling financial realities, and hence produce different financial ‘systems’. Such systems may be complementary and helpful, or they may be disruptive. In either case, the underpinning systems models need to be appreciated to avoid systemic failure. Traps 1 and 2 signal the importance of Systems thinking for dealing with the bigger picture and multiple perspectives respectively. The example of systemic failure of academic economics signals an overriding third flaw often underpinning the modelling process in any discipline. This signals the need for a critical systems practice.
Trap 3 – managerialism – prompts the reminder that all systems are partial – or selective – in the dual sense of (i) representing only a section rather than the whole of the total universe of considerations, and (ii) serving some parties - or interests better than others. The two dimensions of partiality respond to being more holistic, and being more pluralistic. However, given the partiality of any systems thinking a third critical dimension is required where systems boundaries need to be made and questioned on the inevitable limitations of being holistic and pluralistic. In short, economists need to practice modesty in claims of inclusiveness, humility in levels of certitude, and responsibility to wider stakeholders. Where limitations are not acknowledged, the unquestioned boundary judgements on being holistic or pluralistic might be regarded as constituting holism and pluralism respectively- ‘here is the definitive big picture!’ or ‘here is my unbiased compilation of viewpoints’! – both constituents of managerialism.
Drawing on a framework for systems thinking in practice recently developed by the author for postgraduate teaching at the Open University, some practical tools from systems approaches are introduced to counter the three traps of systemic failure – narrow-minded reductionism, single-minded dogmatism, and absent-minded managerialism.