When I studied the OU systems thinking modules, TU811 and TU812 (in that order), I remember getting a little agitated that TU811 used the term ‘situation of interest’ and then TU812 used the term ‘situation of concern’. I did try at the time to understand the difference. Looking back now, I did write a blog about this at the time but mostly I just decided that of all the new language I was coming to terms with it wasn’t worth trying to work that one out.
But recently, I have found myself coming back to this. I think I am mulling it over because I can’t decide which of the two terms to use in my thesis. This is where my thinking is currently taking me.
I have been thinking about writing a lot recently. It’s partly because I have been reading a fab book by Rowena Murray on ‘How to write a Thesis’.
The last time I wrote about writing, was in the TU811 student forum for the recent presentation. Rather ironically it was written on 29 April 2017 – exactly 6 months ago. I have copied it below (with minor changes) Continue reading
I don’t know why this penny didn’t drop before – it seems so obvious now that it has….how systems thinking approaches and tools are sometimes framed as approaches for investigation and other times as approaches for intervention – or even as some sort of ‘woolly’ in between….
There was some person … who had caused the intervention to happen, someone without whom, there would not be an investigation at all…
Checkland and Poulter, 2010, p. 211 [my emphasis]
Please note: if you are studying TU811 the contents of this blog should not be favoured above a detailed reading of the module material and assessment information and advice from your tutor.
The OU module TU811 Thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change introduces the concepts ‘area of practice’ and ‘situation of interest’. I studied this module in 2010 and I now have the privilege of being an associate lecturer on that same module. The other evening I told my group of students that – with hindsight – I didn’t really ‘get’ the concept of ‘area of practice’ when I did the module and tried to explain why.
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’ – Continue reading
When we use systems to help us understand the busy, messy world of human activity, we are in effect drawing a boundary. We identify some things that are ‘in’ our ‘system of interest’ and that means other things are outside it i.e. not a focal part of our interest. We do this whether we realise it or not – the problem is, if we are not being explicit about our choice of boundaries then we blur them for ourselves and other people. Then we get confused and conflicted.
Take for example, the NHS planning guidance published in December 2015. The word system is used in it a lot – it is all about ‘the system’ but here are some insights into my thoughts as I read it…
Just recently I’ve read a couple of articles. They are both about the development of thinking in an educational context. One is about developing critical thinking (Moon, 2005) and the other is about the teaching of systems concepts and therefore of interest to the development of systems thinking (Salner 1986).
Both of the articles use theories of adult cognitive development or epistemological development as the foundation for their arguments. In short, they argue that critical thinking (Moon article) and understanding of systems concepts (Salner article) are not possible until the adult has reached a certain stage of development and have integrated particular epistemological assumptions into their world views. Both articles are written from a ‘pedagogical’ perspective so go onto discuss what educators can do to create the conditions where post-18 students can progress the development of their thinking – even if they are not consciously aware of it.
In the last week, I have been part of a great conversation in the LinkedIn STiP alumni group about systems approaches. It started with a question from Arwen asking what other systems approaches there are out there, other than the ones that made up the core part of our TU811 Systems approaches for managing change curriculum.
Before that thread disappears too far into the archive, I wanted to capture here some of my key reflections.
Now that my ‘talk samples’ are coming in and I have transcribed a couple and listened to a couple more, I feel it is time to decide how I am going to analyse them. Continue reading
I am really clear now about my research project and what it is about.
In short – just in case you have not been following the last couple of months of blogs – I would like to analyse samples of the ‘talk’ of people in leadership roles to see whether or not they are systems thinkers. But there’s the rub……. Continue reading