Everything is Related

From my home office in Blacksburg, Virginia where I work on starting Rural System, Nairobi is 8,000 miles away, the length of the earth’s diameter.

In August, 2013, I was there with Risa and our small group as we flew into the Nairobi airport, temporarily restored after a recent fire. Now I imagine the uncertainties and horrors of the people beset by the crises related to the attacks of September 21,2013.

Nairobi is a volcano-crater distance away from our destination, Uganda, where we traveled to consider whether the Rural System startup might have a role there and to assist Kissito with its poverty and health projects in southeast Uganda. [Read more…]

Standback: What’s Standback? Standback!

General Systems Theory has been around a long time, before Von Bertalanffy’s book by a similar title in 1968. I believe – based on my reading, study, consulting, assistance to outstanding graduate students, field direction of staff, synthetic writing, and comparative syntheses – that general systems work needs a new component: standback.

With other systems-oriented people in the past 20 years I have advocated starting systems design work and taking a systems approach with “objectives.” I now start with “standback,” defined as a sharing of observations in various forms and various media of a proposed or developing system. It is material which only a few people will read, see or hear and fewer will try to understand its importance, at least its role in evaluating the results, the system or its effects.

Standback_v3_600 [Read more…]