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We talk together to collaborate (or co-labor) and we use language when we write, email, tweet, and hang out in social spaces. Our words build relationships and connect us so we can accomplish things, from nailing down project details or creating strategies to designing systems or resolving complex challenges. We meet together to make sure everyone is aligned and committed to the work and, in organizational life, it is always about the work. And, it is our relationships that accomplish the work. When we meet face-to-face, we have visual and...
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My wife Katherine, who teaches preschool, overheard the following question raised by a 4-year-old during lunch last week, “Does your mommy let you download apps?” During the rest of the conversation, the 4 and 5-year-olds compared technology access policies in their homes. On a separate occasion, Katherine told me about a student who was baffled by what was once a staple for early readers: the lift-the-flap book. The student could not fathom why simply touching the designated spot on the page didn’t reveal what was behind the...
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As awareness grows that we are living in a world, not just made up by parts, but by complex systems, the desire to develop a systems perspective is growing. I am co-presenting at a conference of social workers this week, helping them understand how poverty is a systemic issue and how approaches to solving it must also be systemic. Fortunately, the session revolves around a powerful approach to addressing poverty developed by Scott Miller called "Circles," which I have written about in previous posts. In teaching a systems perspective...
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As a woman who is a survivor of violence and as a human rights advocate who focuses on women’s and children’s rights, I took part last week in the V-Day One Billion Rising campaign, which aims to create a space of celebration while questioning the culture of violence and other retrogressive cultural practices that violate women and girls, such as female genital mutilation. With very keen interest, I participated in the One Billion Rising campaign at the Central Park in Nairobi, Kenya. It was great to see children, women and men of...
Sorting out complexity is, by nature, difficult. When we talk about complexity we tend to mean something beyond normal, regular, or average.  Even agreeing on definitions is problematic. A search of the “systemspedia” in the online library of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence found 362 entries related to complexity. (Note that this is different than results from a general online search engine, such as Google, which may have little if any actual relevance.) The first reference for the first result cites...

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