Gryphon Theriault-Loubier, Kelly Okamura, Dan Eng, Zaid Khan, and David Ing

Have you ever found difficulty in explaining systems or design concepts to possible collaborators? While the general public has arguably picked up on the idea of “a system,” moving that understanding to a working dialogue is often harder than it sounds.  In this workshop, we explore how to engage with difficult systems concepts with a variety of audiences, using Systems Changes Learning as a backdrop.

This workshop topic is informed by the Systems Changes Learning Circle, which originated in 2019 on a 10-year year discovery journey to investigate the idea of system(s) and their associated change(s). In particular, the workshop will focus on the current hub and spoke process of systems changes and will dive into the idea of rhythmic shifts within systems (Ing, 2022b). This topic provides an introduction to Systems Changes in general, as well as a compelling element of systems changes that require better explanation.

In this workshop, participants engage with the subtlety and difficulty of sharing systems and design concepts when faced with a wide variation in systems literacy. Participants explore a number of techniques (e.g., metaphor, tone) that can both assist and hinder in sharing these concepts.

We consider the sharing of concepts to be “explaining,” and our circle uses the term explain to define our work. Given this, we accept this term could be perceived as a one-way transmission, and we recognise a “good or satisfying explanation” will require a relationship with and understanding of both ourselves, as systems practitioners, and the audience, for instance, their place of attention, context, and experience. The learning in Systems Changes Learning is collective between participants and facilitators. We consider the workshop to be contributing to translational action between research and practice, or more specifically, the contextual action learning approach (Barba, 2023; Ing, 2022b; Ramirez, 1983).

As the 2023 RSD theme of Entanglements suggests, how we set, interact with and reflect upon initial conditions and relationships, as well as their outcomes, informs our worldview and way of being (Barba, 2023). Within the Systems Changes Circle, we like to bring some consideration of humility and even humour to this—we’ll see what we can do for you here!

With this in mind, the workshop guides look forward to collectively learning with attendees to improve our collective ability to share and relate to systems ideas with the goal of building understanding.

KEYWORDS:  systems changes, systems thinking, rhythm, communication, action learning

Presentation date

Saturday, October 14, 2023 | In-person

RSD12-Toronto and RSD12-ONLINE

Citation Data

Author(s): Gryphon Theriault-Loubier, Kelly Okamura, Dan Eng, Zaid Khan, and David Ing
Year: 2023
Title: Explaining Systems Changes Learning: Metaphors and translations
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Toronto, CAN
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 3 July 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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