In preparation for a deep end

July 1, 2014

I'm in Copenhagen for the rest of this week for the Summer Institute where I am speaking or facilitating several times during the three days.  So early today I started to review the event and my slots.   I generally do this the day before an event and that starts the thinking process.  Then if I need slides I start putting them together on the plane or before breakfast on the day itself.   It's a way of staying focused and my view is that if you know your material over preparation is a bad thing.  There are some exceptions to this but I am talking about our work with narrative and basic Cynefin/complexity so this is not one of them.

The first thing I noticed was the event is a celebration of “systemic and social constructionist ideas and practice” and at that point I realised that Michael (who set this up) has decided get revenge for all the times I have deep-ended him on projects over the years.  The event is in conjunction with the TAOS Institute and has several founders of said institute at the event including prominent advocates of Appreciative Inquiry which I fondly poke from time to time.  I also satirise social constructivism in the children's party story (the chaos section) and generally distinguish complexity thinking from systems thinking.  So it looks to be Daniel into the Lion's Den time.

I'll post each day during the event which I look forward to, finding a way to challenge some of the thinking here, not by opposition but transition is going to be important.  The opposition to over analytic approaches and an over focus on solving problems that inspired a lot of these methods and philosophies (in that order) is understandable and laudable, the problem for me is that the pendulum has swung too far and ideological based practice now takes precedence over science.  

Hume famously said that we should not make a claim about what ought to be the case from what is the case. Reformulated by Moore as the Naturalistic Fallacy to-wit assuming that what we see in nature is by itself right.  A sin committed by the neo-darwinian right and the new age fluffy bunny natural systems guys with equal levels of foolishness and deserving of equal distain.  Now that does not mean that oughts are not constrained by the ises any practice is constrained by what is possible.   To my mind that is where we need to understand the nature of systems and the nature of human social cognition and design our approaches based on that insight,  We still make moral judgements about choices and directions.   So the evidence in a complex system can support competing hypotheses, we can choose not to pursue some of those hypothesis on moral or ideological grounds.

So over the next few days I have to work some of this through, in more depth than I have before given some of the other participants.  The Foucault pendulum pictured returns to it's starting point as the earth moves under it, and with a little help from an electromagnet to create the effect of a frictionless pendulum.  If we follow the pendulum, rather than thinking first we always end up back at the starting point.  

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