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Posts tagged ‘journey’

My blog doesn’t get a massive number of visitors, but in the last couple of days I’ve noticed an increase in hits on some of my oldest blogs – the first ones I did as I studiously studied Tu812 Managing systemic change.  Today’s busiest post – Taking a design turn in my systems practice – was written on 16 January 2011.  That means that at this time in 2010 going into 2011 I was just grappling with the idea of the design turn for the first time.  It was ‘that winter’, the one with really really heavy snow.  I remember gazing out the window as slabs of snow slid down from the roof, enjoying the distraction from reading about the juggling balls and design turns.

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In the last few weeks I’ve been appointed as an associate lecturer (aka tutor) for the Open University.  I am going to be tutoring on TU811 “Thinking strategically: systems approaches for managing change” which I studied myself back in 2010.  My studying of TU811 preceded the launch of Just Practicing so I may end up blogging about the approaches as I re-discover the module materials – backfilling a gap in this blog!

Since I’ve been appointed I’ve been on induction – induction at a distance given that it is the OU.  It’s involved reading and watching short video clips about my duties and responsibilities, trying to master the ‘tech’ I will need to use, and, becoming familiar with procedures and resources.

I’ve realised that I am entering into a new (to me) ‘community of practice’ – Read more »

On blogging

I had a great day on Friday – once again I had a rare opportunity to come together with other OU Systems Thinking in Practice alumni/students and with the course team and tutors.  I’ll put aside the topic of the get together for now, needs more digesting.  But I wanted to reflect on something that happened in the social spaces – the number of times other people mentioned this blog and my blogging activity.

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Every so often in this blog I have marked a ‘key event’ in the flux of events unfolding through time that collectively make up my learning/development journey.  These transition points have often marked a change in the type of posts I write and why I am writing them.  This is one of those posts…as I am about to embark on a new phase of ‘temporary purposeful activity’ in my learning.

Just after Christmas I made the decision to apply to do a Professional Doctorate in Public Health with University of Lancaster.  And in the last couple of weeks I have been offered a place and accepted it.  It starts with a residential week in June (with some pre and post work) then in September it gets going again.  As a professional doctorate it is ‘distance learning’ and designed to be done alongside having a job.  In essence the first two years are ‘taught’ with a curriculum covering public health theory/policy/practice and research skills/methods then from year three you start a work-based research project leading to a 35,000 word Thesis.  Gulp.

So why?  what motivated me to do this?  what is my purpose?

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My 100th post

I just noticed on my dashboard that I have written 99 posts, so had an urge to mark the 100th one.

In some ways it is also my first post with the status of “I am no longer an OU MSc Systems Thinking in Practice student”.  So, that is another thing to mark to.  Read more »

Pre-amble – I have had this blog written for a while but kept it to a limited audience whilst I thought about it more and waited for my result.  I now have my result – a very welcome Distinction – but even with that great news, looking back at it all my thoughts about the experience remain.  So here they are….


At the end of TU812, I said that I was going on to ‘do’ T847 as part of my ongoing trajectory as a systems practitioner.  It’s ‘done’ now, the project is in so I have found myself thinking about whether or not the experience helped me develop my systems thinking in practice.

The question is – how did my T847 experience contribute as a ‘subsystem’ of a learning system intended to develop my mastery in systems thinking in practice? 

I am thinking about it in terms of Ison’s design turn – the module was designed as a system to… (that is what the module aims covered) but I am now looking at it in terms of how it was enacted and experienced…Of course, I can only reflect on that from the perspective of my own experience. Read more »

My last post set me off on a stream of thought in relation to what I am doing in my research – is it inductive? is it deductive? is it emic? is it etic?  I’ve started to realise that it is best to think of these pairs in terms of dualities, rather than dualisms. Through the research, there is an interplay.  But also I realised that my Research Project (with a big R and big P) does not stand alone – it is located in a wider stream of inquiry and it’s location in time impacts on what it is and how I relate to it. Read more »

The sort out

I’ve been a little quiet of late… but it is because I had a mission.

I realised that I had two or three different e-folders where I had dumped documents and journal articles that I wanted to read and had forgotten what was there.  On top of that I had a box file of hard copy documents and then various docs and articles slotted in amongst the bookshelf of OU materials.  In essence I had lost track and it was time for a sort out.

So, I’ve started using Zotero – a great add-on for Firefox (my web browser).  And have had the long drawn out task of cataloging all the things I want to keep and categorising/tagging then so I know what I can find them in the future.  Getting rid of duplicates – both e-copy and hard copy..making it all manageable…and getting rid of things that I have moved on from.

On the one hand tedious but on the other hand an interesting reminder of half-explored interests – the notion of ‘leadership’ in a partnership/collaborative environment seems to be one theme;  issues of discourse in work settings – how it affects how we think and do but also how stories and language can be used as part of change; and, one area I dabbled in but now have a new fascination for – the notion of strategy-as-practice.  I’m left wondering – amongst it all – is there the kernel of an idea for my research project.  Even though I did not know it at the time, they all seem linked to systems practice so there may be something relevant.

The other thing it made me think about is ‘keeping in touch’ with published literature.  What journals should I get regular email alerts for?  Which authors should I keep an eye out for?  The one downside of the OU module approach is you don’t learn to research for yourself and how to keep up to date and in touch with the ongoing developments in the field.  Perhaps they should recommend particular journals as the end of a module.

Anyway – got to go – got a bit of reading to catch up on!  🙂

There is a ‘problematic situation’ running around in my head.  It’s been there for a few weeks eating away at me – and getting me in a muddle.  It is only in the last few days, that I realised that I have a ‘tool’ for that – systemic inquiry – a structured exploration of a situation considered problematical.

So what’s the issue?

When I received my mark for my TU812 project, I noticed that in the profile of marks my ‘weakest area’ – or the area that was less strong than everything else – was the marks allocated to ‘making recommendations’.  It got me thinking and I realised that this is feedback that I have had throughout my OU studies – MBA, development management, and in systems.  Not just in projects but also in tutor marked assignments.  All of them end with some sort of ‘so what?’ or ‘what next?’ or ‘what are you going to do?’ or ‘what do you want the reader(s) to do?’ and mark profiles or tutor comments have invariably reflected this as an area of weakness.  I think in the early days I put it down to running out of steam by the end of the assignment – and just shrugged it off.  But the TU812 project mark has made me think differently – made me realise a pattern over time.  I’d started to mull this over and think of it as an area for personal development.  I even emailed my ‘CoP’ group of systemsy students and sought their comments.  And then the other day, my manager was reviewing a briefing paper I had written and in his comments he said ‘the description and analysis is fine but then I am not sure what you think should happen next.  It all gets a bit damp at the end’.  I don’t think he really expected my reaction to be so emphatic – ‘oh no’ I exclaimed and dropped my head on the table.  I came up giggling and explained my recent insight.  We’ve agreed to focus on this personal development area together. Read more »

Dear Blog

Today I got an email from the Open University that started:

I am pleased to confirm that you have satisfied the requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma in Systems Thinking in Practice of the Open University

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