Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

The Conversation

Econogenesis and Flow

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The key to a sustainable local economy is flow and confluence. I once visited the little town of Hinesville, Georgia, which is situated right outside the gates of the U.S. Army’s massive Fort Stewart. Like many military towns, Hinesville features long six-lane boulevards lined with crummy retail strips. Every massive block seems to include the same combination of nail salon, pizza joint, cheap... [Read more]


A Principled Approach to Econogenesis

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For the past two years, we’ve been assisting organizations and communities to become more resilient by incorporating whole-systems thinking into every aspect of their enterprise, from strategy to daily operations. Whole-systems thinking is a habit of analysis and decision-making that looks at the interrelationships of the constituent parts of a system rather than narrowly focusing on the parts... [Read more]


“Ask The People Who Live There”

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Rogers Frantz had spent the morning putting the finishing touches on the afternoon’s main event. His colleague Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class, “was to have a lunchtime discussion with the legendary urbanist, writer and activist Jane Jacobs, author of many books including the seminal “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Frantz had come... [Read more]


A Tale of Two Outcomes

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Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana, are similar in many ways. Both are beautiful cities with rich histories and famed for their distinctive brands of southern Gothic charm. Both are coastal cities situated at the intersection of major freshwater river systems, one on the Atlantic Ocean, the other on the Gulf Coast. Like many coastal communities, both Charleston and New Orleans enjoy... [Read more]


Understanding connections … in plain English

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“The systems view looks at the world in terms of relationships and integration” -Fritjof Capra Okay, now we probe to the very core of systems thinking: connectivity.  You’ll recall that in our first discussion, we defined a system as “an integrated set of elements that perform a desired function.” That’s not the only definition of a system, but it shares with all... [Read more]


Understanding conditions… in plain English

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Until now, our brief explanations of systems, scales, shocks, and flow have been little more than table-setting. With conditions, we begin to move into the heart of whole-systems thinking, which is all about assessing conditions, mapping connections and capabilities, and achieving life-capital in a flow with change. As we noted in our discussion of shocks, systems exist and operate within a broader... [Read more]


Understanding shocks… in plain English

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Every system exists and operates in a wider context characterized by ever-changing conditions. Automobiles, for instance, operate on roads that may be bumpy or smooth. Thermostats monitor temperatures that alternate between warm and cold. Cell phones are tapped, dropped, tossed, and sometimes submerged. A political system is shaped by scandal, war, or the economy. Your body’s endocrine system encounters carrots... [Read more]


Understanding scales… in plain English

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All systems operate at scale, and all scales are relational.  One of the first steps in making use of whole-systems thinking is understanding scales and your relationship to them.  We propose four scales: the “Me” scale, the “My” scale, the “Us/Them” scale, and the “One” or global scale. The “Me” Scale The “Me” scale refers... [Read more]


Understanding systems … in plain English

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A system can be defined as an integrated set of elements that perform a desired function. Although systems vary in complexity, they all share some basic elements. A stock flows into the system and is subject to some form of control, such as rate or temperature. The stock is then catalyzed or depleted in some form, which results in an outflow from the system, usually in the form of energy. At the same... [Read more]


Understanding flow… in plain English

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As practitioners of whole-systems thinking will find, we talk about achieving ‘flow’ as one of the goals of practicing the thinking. But it’s important to reflect on what ‘flow’ is, and what it is not. Flow: What It’s Not First of all, flow isn’t apathy. It doesn’t denote a withdrawal from the world. Quite the contrary, in fact. A lack of passion, apathy, is one of the spades we use... [Read more]