There is no Agency for our modelling

Here's where we can discuss projects we are considering, ongoing projects, project results, and so on. This is a tremendous opportunity to share with others what we have learned.
Philip Bangerter
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There is no Agency for our modelling

Postby Philip Bangerter » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:26 pm

Thwinkers,

Finding a spot for Jack's modelling. This has occupied my spare moments over the last few months (not very many of them). Creating the "agency" for modelling seems to be an important step in this. I have discussed with Jack his recent research into the application of Systems Dynamics in the business world - there has been quite a bit - and it seems to have been valuable if the three papers Jack sent me are typical. Counter-intuition seems to be the fruitful tree from which we will pick.

I am currently trying this line within my own company - its has to be relevant to the company (to create agency) and might establish the methodology for the benefit of the firm.

Similarly, we need some agency for the bigger problem this forum talks about - The Sustainability Problem. What is that agency? Jack & I (& others) have talked about a collaborative research organisation; various scales discussed.

Anyone got some ideas about how such an agency might be created, found, encouraged?

Philip

George Turner
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Agency

Postby George Turner » Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:05 am

Hi Phil:

Perhaps a think tank might be the proper agency for exploring sustainability from a systems dynamics perspective. Such an organization would be independent of Thwink, Hatch, and other private and public concerns but would enjoy input from them. It would necessarily begin very small but could grow via financial and intellectual input from an unlimited plethora of sources.

I have no idea how one goes about starting a think tank, but I do know that such organizations are influencing public and private policy out of all proportion to their financial and numerical strength.

Hope you're having a great Monday morning.

George Turner

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:44 pm

Philip,

Thanks for bringing this up. We have several options.

George mentioned one, starting a think tank. The American think tanks have been extremely influential on political decision making. There appear to be two main strategies: a long term, objective academic style study of policy related issues, with papers, book, and suggested legislation. The Brookings Institution is the stellar model on this approach. The other approach centers on rationalizing how to achieve a predetermined ideology, and then building your “research” around that. The Heritage Foundation is the leading model of this approach, and is currently the most influential TT in the US. I’m not familiar with how TTs work in other countries.

Another obvious model is a typical environmental NGO. You state your mission, and then staff and fund to achieve it. This is far and away the most popular model.

Then there are the large agencies affiliated with governments and international organizations. You can’t start one of these. Rather you work with them by suggesting a better mousetrap.

The statistics in the US are than about 80% of all new corporations fail in their first two years. Thus I have long built my strategy around trying to work with existing organizations. This skips the problems associated with founding and managing an organization, and saves many years. If it works. It also lets you work with multiple organizations.

Over the last few years I’ve written about 10 organizations. None took me seriously, apparently because I have no relevant credentials and am not working with an organization. Plus my ideas are very unconventional.

However, now that we have several people who have qualifications interested in the Thwink paradigm, we have a new option. For example, we can write a proposal that includes testimonial letters from Joe, George, Philip, and possibly Scott, a personal friend who is an international investment consultant. We use that proposal to raise interest in first round funding. Then we take the proposal and the funding commitment to an existing organization and say hey, here’s what we would like to do. We have this concept and funding. All we need is a high quality existing organization to play that role. If the initial research pans out, then the organization we have picked is probably going to get mighty excited about the potential. They will then lead the charge for additional funding, staffing, promotion, etc.

The feeling I get is there are plenty of environmental NGO out there who have notable people at the top and have ample funding. But they are simply not making large amounts of progress. They are frustrated. If we can present ourselves correctly, I think we will get several offers. A coalition may even emerge.

Philip, you and Martyn undoubtedly know of many possible organizations. One that you have mentioned in the past is Gorbachev’s Green Cross International (GCI). The Australian branch may be ripe for contact. Here’s GCI’s mission statement:
“The mission of Green Cross International is to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature.”

Notice the goal followed by the means. The goal is fine, but the means will not work. It’s Classic Activism in a new package. From Jay Forrester’s perspective, “fostering a value shift” is not a solution. It is a coincident symptom. The right values are a sign that we have shifted to sustainability. Therefore saying that we need to foster a value shift to solve the sustainability problem is like saying to solve the problem we need to solve the problem.

However, saying this directly to GCI or similar orgs will offend them. So instead, we just point out there is no evidence this approach will work, and it has not worked since 1993, when GCI was founded. Then we offer an alternative with a much greater chance of working. This centers on a process that fits the problem, etc.

My dream organizations to work with would be The Nature Conservancy and the European Union Environmental Directorate General (EUEDG). These were the only two environmental orgs that scored above 500 in the assessment of process maturity chapter in the Analytical Activism book. They each scored about 5,000, so you can see they are an order of magnitude more capable than the average environmental org. Martyn with his contacts may know of others. By the way, Green Cross International would score below 500.

I don’t want to get into too much detail. This is just a quick sketch. Organizing is not my forte. But the key to approaching these organization seems to be get a direct contact to the top, and point out a problem they are having that you have a solution to. For example, the Nature Conservancy’s problem is that despite all their efforts, the species extinction rate continues to grow exponentially. The EUEDG’s problem is inefficient and ineffective proper coupling. They are merely whacking away with the best solution they know of.

Regarding The Nature Conservancy and the EUEDG, once you start working with organizations of this size and quality, new options appear. One is that if you have a good idea, they can provide the funding or lead you to it. Another, I would hope, is they can provide some of the key staff for the project, if it looks extremely promising. But related to this, I expect this is best managed as an engineering project, which is a Hatch strength.

Given this, I don’t think the question is how can we find or create the right organization. Instead, all we have to do is continue to work up the food chain of those who are sold on the potential of the Thwink paradigm. The higher we get on the chain, the closer we come to the person(s) who can, with a single conversation, open the door to anything we need to take our promising vision further. Right now you, Philip, are our best flag carrier. And you may have scored a big hit with your plan to sell Hatch on the concept. If that works, then we will have Martyn and others behind us. That may be all we need to make things happen.

Just a few ideas....

Jack

Robert Gowans
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Postby Robert Gowans » Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:09 am

Hi All,

Here's my take...

Whilst the focus for Thwink.org is presenting the new paradigm and associated research, I felt there was a big need for an answer to the "Ok, but what do we do now?" question. www.solutionfactory.org.uk is partly my attempt to answer that question.

The short term aim for this project is as a launch pad for a european marketing campaign for the thwink approach. The strategy here is to present a simplified, easy to grasp version of the thwink approach which raises curiosity and interest for first time site visitors, enough so that they are willing to submit their email address to get the film and book. This gives us the opportunity to start building a relationship with them via email.

The medium to long term aim is to establish Solution Factory as a non-profit organisation (a UK registered charity) which can act as a focal point for building a strong advisory board, raising funds, grants, donations etc and then actually carrying out the project work. There is lots of funding available within the EU for projects of this sort, but the applicant organisation typically needs to be based within an EU member country.

With regards to the new vs existing organisation question, other organisations may see much promise in the Thwink approach, but being a paradigm shift, it's an inherently risky proposition. What Solution Factory (or some other new organisation) might offer is the ability to reduce that risk by enabling organisations to "share an investment" in a separate "startup" project, rather than championing an unproven approach under their own name.

So, as we're climbing the food chain and hunting out those key decision makers, Thwink.org provides the research and blueprint and Solution Factory could provide the focal point for building a coalition of the willing and moving forward.

Your thoughts thwinkers?

Rob

Note 1. I also secured globalsolutionfactory.com/.org/.net in case .org.uk turned out to be a bad fit :-)

Note 2. I had some really inspiring conversations with a two environmentalists I met last Friday evening - both were very aware of the need to take both a systemic approach and focus on the social side of the problem. I think the time is ripe for the thwink paradigm shift.

Note 3. Of course, the name and base country of the "startup" organisation is not so important, but rather the value of having a focal point for both answering the "ok, but what now?" question and building a coalition of the willing (apologies if that last piece of terminology is off putting - couldn't come with a better one off the top of my head).

Steve Gale
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Postby Steve Gale » Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:53 am

Some very brief thoughts:

The agency may very well reside in one or more of the following types of agencies:

1) Regional or national government agencies, such as Australia’s DECC (Department of Environment and Climate Change, regional) and DRIT (Department of Resources for Industry and Tourism, national)
2) International agencies, such as the United Nations
3) NGOs

1 and 2 have large discretionary budgets, where we can seek grant funding or special funding. The latter relies on a relationship.

In the case of 1 and 2 the funding can be readily sought BUT we need a relationship with a senior member of the department or a politician. 3 is easier to approach but rarely has money. However 3 has good access to 1 and 2 and may package what we have for funding.

Does anyone have a good relationship with an appropriate powerbroker in 1, 2 or 3?

Cheers,
Steve

Michael Hollcraft
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My Two Cents: The Story of Stuff

Postby Michael Hollcraft » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:11 am

Thwinkers,

Nice thoughts. Re: "I think the time is ripe for the thwink paradigm shift." I certainly hope so, because it seems we're all stuck with classic activism until we can actually fund a formal solution factory.
The higher we get on the chain, the closer we come to the person(s) who can, with a single conversation, open the door to anything we need to take our promising vision further. Right now you, Philip, are our best flag carrier.

Philip, it seems the limelight is on you brother :D

From Jay Forrester’s perspective, “fostering a value shift” is not a solution. It is a coincident symptom. The right values are a sign that we have shifted to sustainability.

If this is true, then what are the "right" values?

Therefore saying that we need to foster a value shift to solve the sustainability problem is like saying to solve the problem we need to solve the problem.

Right. This is a tautology bordering on solipsism. Rather than fall into that trap, I suggest we focus our discussion on an excerpt from the Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update book:
One is not allowed in the industrial culture to speak about love, except in the most romantic and trivial sense of the word. Anyone who calls upon the capacity of people to practice brotherly and sisterly love, love of humanity as a whole, love of nature and of our nurturing planet, is more likely to be ridiculed than to be taken seriously.

The deepest difference between optimists and pessimists is their position in the debate about whether human beings are able to cooperate collectively from a basis of love. In a society that systematically develops individualism, competitiveness, and short-term focus, the pessimists are in the vast majority.

Individualism and shortsightedness are the greatest problems of the current social system, we think, and the deepest cause of unsustainability.

Love and compassion institutionalized in collective solutions is the better alternative. A culture that does not believe in, discuss, and develop these better human qualities suffers from a tragic limitation in its options.

“How good a society does human nature permit?” asked psychologist Abraham Maslow. “How good a human nature does society permit?”

The sustainability revolution will have to be, above all, a collective transformation that permits the best of human nature, rather than the worst, to be expressed and nurtured.

Many people have recognized that necessity and that opportunity. John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1932:

“The problem of want and poverty and the economic struggle between classes and nations is nothing but a frightful muddle, a transitory and unnecessary muddle. For the Western World already has the resource and the technique, if we could create the organization to use them, capable of reducing the Economic Problem, which now absorbs our moral and material energy, to a position of secondary importance…Thus the…day is not far off when the Economic Problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and …the arena of the heart and head will be occupied…by our real problems—the problems of life and human relations, of creation and behavior and religion.”

It is not easy to practice love, friendship, generosity, understanding, or solidarity within a system whose rules, goals, and information streams are geared for lessor human qualities. But we try, and we urge you to try. Be patient with yourself and others as you and they confront the difficulty of a changing world. Understand and empathize with inevitable resistance; there is resistance, some clinging to the ways of unsustainability, within each of us.

Seek out and trust in the best human instincts in yourself and in everyone. Listen to the cynicism around you, but don’t believe it yourself.

Humanity cannot triumph in the adventure of reducing the human footprint to a sustainable level if that adventure is not undertaken in the spirit of global partnership.

-- excerpt from The Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update (pp. 281-282)

In the Dueling Loops book (March 4, 2007 version) on page 5, Jack makes the statement:

"Going deeper, let's define progressive philosophy as a comprehensive rationale and value set whose goal is optimizing the human system for the common good of all."

If we are to develop a shared vision and build a coalition of the willing wouldn't it make sense to spend some of our time and energy defining the value set? Could that be what's missing in our approach?

So, as we're climbing the food chain and hunting out those key decision makers, Thwink.org provides the research and blueprint and Solution Factory could provide the focal point for building a coalition of the willing and moving forward.

Quite possibly. That would certainly be ideal.

I have also begun experimenting with adaptation in my own "home range". More specficially, I have just submitted a grant proposal to SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) which is a governmental agency. The title of my grant proposal is "Marketing an Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)" In brief, it flows from my belief in economic localization as one leveragable solution to the GES challenge.

http://www.communitysolution.org/ppts/C ... zation.ppt

Robert, you may enjoy this 20 minute presentation by Annie Leonard entitled "The Story of Stuff". Might help with your messaging and selling the thwink paradigm.

http://www.learnstuff.com/the-story-of-stuff/

Michael Hollcraft
Last edited by Michael Hollcraft on Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:56 am

Regarding “If this is true, then what are the ‘right’ values?”

Examine the context of the quote. This would lead you to go to the Green Cross International website, where you can find out what they think the right values are.


Regarding “I suggest we focus our discussion on an excerpt from the Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update book:”

How will that help Philip accomplish the goal of this thread, which centers on “Anyone got some ideas about how such an agency might be created, found, encouraged?” If you want to discuss the excerpt, start a new thread and state exactly what it is about the except you’d like to discuss.


Regarding “If we are to develop a shared vision and build a coalition of the willing wouldn't it make sense to spend some of our time and energy defining the value set? Could that be what's missing in our approach?”

Thanks. There’s an interesting question. Here’s my viewpoint:

Classic Activism needs a complex value set to inspire volunteers and focus their work, because it lacks anything else to do that. But Analytical Activism (like all of science) employs a process that fits the problem to accomplish the same thing. It is correct execution of the process, along with the use of the right tools the process suggests, that is the inspirational goal. Correct execution also focuses your work.

Classic and Analytical Activism both share a small value set. As far as I can tell the core of this is to strive to optimize the common good, rather than your own or your own group’s good.

I believe this small value set is assumed in Philip’s quest for the right agency(s).


Good luck on your proposal.

I took a look at the communitysolution.org powerpoint presentation. It is Classic Activism based. Does your proposal differ from this? Is there something in your proposal or communitysolution.org that will help Philip?

The storyofstuff.com page says “The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.” This would seem to be more Classic Activism. What exactly is it in the 20 minute presentation that will help those presenting the Thwink paradigm? It is not worth my time to watch it until I know this.

Thanks,

Jack

Philip Bangerter
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Postby Philip Bangerter » Sun Dec 23, 2007 5:56 am

Wow - some great responses. "Agency" seems to be an important topic; so apologies for leaving it a bit long to post again.

Well some news to start with: a few weeks ago, I tip-toed up to the Green Cross organisation and attended an "Advisory Committee" meeting as invited. It was a shambles, alas. The agenda of the organisation had been hijacked by very classic activist forces - a new CEO from a background of CA and a board stuffed full of (admittedly capapble and well-meaning) Australian business identities. I was horrified and said my peice to no avail, of course. Green Cross will go about a program of CA activities, noble ones for sure, but not any use to us. :shock:

I have a good feeling about the Thwink-tank approach (intuitive, sorry Jack). TTs can be constructed with a wide range of types of Thwinkers if we like; as long as the common values are shared.

I'm not sure how TTs are organised in Oz: the two I know a little about (The Australia Institute and the Wentworth Group) are research-based but I don't really know which pf the two models most accurately fits - Steve, you may know better than I. I'm pretty sure an NGO would not be a good model (intuitive again). So how would we go about choosing?

The Nature Conservancy and the European Union Environmental Directorate General (EUEDG). Perhaps we need a plan to get to these organisations? By the way, I have been reading a bit recently about genuine progress indicators (GPI); the Europeans are well ahead in this area and organisations there would seem attractive too.

At the moment, I'm thinking only as far as the "proposal" which I am likely to try to advance to first draft in the next few days after Xmas. If my company will benefit from the activities of that proposed project, it is a step on the way. As Michael says, we will be "stuck with CA until a Solution Factory" comes into being and that needs a Thwink-tank, and TT will need some minor proof-of-concept, which might come from deploying a systems-dynamics analysis in the business context.

Philip



[code][/code] 8) 8)

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Mon Dec 24, 2007 9:56 am

The state of the Australian branch of Green Cross is typical of environmental grassroots NGOs. I was hoping their strategy was not yet set in stone, and that they would be open to a new way of thwinking. But still, this is a valuable lesson. It's amazing to see how strong CA is in most environmental orgs, and how that mindset is so unchangeable. I tried at the Sierra Club and the Club of Rome. Zero progress.

The type of work that needs to be done matches the think tank style of org more than any other, initially. But it soon matches an R&D department better, due to the heavy emphasis on practical application and extensive experimentation, with little emphasis on academic publishing and literature centric research. I think we are in the late think tank phase now. But the style of org is of minor concern. If it can self-adapt, then there are other factors that matter much more, like quality of management.

I don’t think we need to solve all this now. It’s going to solve itself once the Hatch analysis project is done and successful. Then we will have more people like Philip behind advancing this new way of thwinking. Experienced organizers like Martyn will rise to the opportunity and the challenge.

A month ago I asked myself what is the most important thing I could be doing with my time right now, considering Philip’s efforts. The answer was to write a paper and get it published in a peer reviewed journal. The right subject and the right journal could change everything. So, the subject is The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace. The journal is the System Dynamics Review, published by the System Dynamics Society. There are some very influential readers and members, like Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows, and hundreds of other influential believers in the power of system dynamics models to solve problems that no other approach can.

The paper is done and will be submitted after the holidays. Then I will look at writing another, possibly about how the right process has never been applied to the sustainability problem, and how that is the strategic reason it has not yet been solved. Or at that point my time may start going into the Hatch project.

Until we can get material like this published, the Thwink paradigm is, as Robert Gowans put it, a very hard sell.


“Perhaps we need a plan to get to these organisations?” – I think until we can attract experienced organizers and people with great contacts in orgs like this, we do not have the ability to successfully contact and negotiate with them ourselves. This is specialist work. Martyn may have these skills. One of your contacts Philip, L. Hunter Lovins, may also have this ability. These are the type of people we need to somehow bring into our inner circle.

Here’s a recent telling event: U.N. sets up environmental think tank
and International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management (IPSRM).

The second article says:
The driving forces behind the setting up of the Panel are the European Commission (EC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Basically, their ambition is for this Panel to become for ‘sustainable resource use/management’ what the IPCC became for Climate Change. The Panel will meet twice a year and in-between global research projects will be conducted to prepare papers for the Panel meetings to consider. Panelists will manage these projects, and work in teams. Global reports published in the name of the Panel will be regarded as the ‘voice of science’ on global economic restructuring, with special reference to resource and material use.

The core focus of the Panel is how to decouple economic growth from resource consumption. This is, in reality, the absolute centre of the SD challenge.


Pardon my honesty, but the EC managers are winners. UNEP managers are less than successful. So the EC has rigged the game by pushing this UN project into a winning pattern by making it science based.

However, it’s not hard to see that false assumptions have already been made. “Decouple economic growth from resource consumption” implicitly says that the A (consumption per capita) in the IPAT equation should continue to rise. But this makes the problem even harder to solve. For example, if a country’s GDP rises by 3% a year, in 10 years it has risen by 34% and in 40 years it has risen 226%. So has their normal environmental impact. Then consider that for just the climate change problem, it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by slightly over 1% a year. A 1% reduction per year would be a cumulative reduction of 49% in 40 years, for example. But if GDP is growing by 3% a year (this is approximately the current global average) in the same forty years normal emissions have risen 226%!!! This pressure makes the 49% reduction impossible to achieve, because it's really the equivalent of a 226 + 49 = 275% reduction. It’s like the right hand is fighting what the left hand is trying to do. The stronger hand will win.

The IPSRM managers will eventually discover this reality, and sooner or later come to the conclusion that the best way to solve the sustainability problem (from a technical point of view) is to make economic decline their central strategy. But because this is anathema to corporations, it will never happen proactively, given the present structure of the system.

The other false assumption is the hidden one. There is no conception of the idea of change resistance. There is no questioning of why the human system is so prone to unsustainable behavior. There is a gigantic blind spot. The result is attempts to impose command and control style solutions like quotas and tradable permits, which have a notorious record of failure. But if you cannot see alternatives, what else can you do?

I brought this event up as an example of how desperate the EU, the UN, and the world is for a solution path. I think that as we make progress in our contribution, we will eventually be able to offer parties like these a solution path that can be proven to be better than the one they are on now.

Thanks,

Jack

Chris Sequeira
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Postby Chris Sequeira » Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:55 am

(I am new and have just begun to dig into the Thwink site and its readings. I am enthralled so far but have yet to put digital pen to paper and try out the models as well as come up with my own. I'm currently in the process of writing my thesis and finding a job, so I may be here only occasionally.)

Hello Jack and others,

As some have pointed out, I think that the building of credibility is definitely important in creating a successful organization. There's an obvious chicken-egg problem here, of course... it seems like getting with a credible organization is a great way to build credibility, but it's hard to attract attention unless one is already credible (which has also been pointed out). I think that the way out of this is through publishing, so I do hope that a try at the System Dynamics Review is met with some success. I'm sure that there are other journals that could be worthy of a try (I am not familiar, however, with the system dynamics or general business publications).

Another way to "publish," however, is to add the analytical activism voice to the discourse by using the technique on scenarios, ideas, and policies that are already being suggested "out there" and producing short papers. What difficulties, opportunities, and strategies can AA illuminate that may otherwise go missed? These papers can then be posted and shared, perhaps even through press releases to established media outlets... and if the foundations of the work are solid, credible, and verifiable (good data quality, etc.), AA may gain in credibility too. Concise papers could go a long way toward making the technique concrete -and- showing how it can be employed, which will encourage people to critique the method (thereby encouraging them to explore it). Without something concrete, people can resist largely by using "that doesn't sound right and we're too busy to check it out and who are -you- anyway?" type "arguments." Once critique moves away from the modeler and toward the model, a real discussion can begin.

In a way, I already see Thwink.org as a "think tank"... that is, a collection of capabilities that make up a voice. That is, Thwink.org is already the "agency," and this discussion thread states that it does not have the capabilities, credibility, or capacity to undertake the projects that it wishes to. It makes sense to find a larger resource base from which to draw on... I also feel that it's absolutely critical to begin to attack the coordination problem by finding other similar voices. Thwink.org, however, is already its own foundation of sorts, and its history is something that can be built upon.

I'm curious to hear other people's reactions. Have a happy New Year.

- c

P.S. Re: “Decouple economic growth from resource consumption”: Jack, I think that the implication here is that decoupling economic growth from resource consumption would decouple economic growth from negative environmental impacts. Thus, the trends you mention would no longer hold. Here, however, is where the power of system modeling can be applied. Under what circumstances is a pro-economic growth policy a pro-death policy? Are there even situations where a pro-economic growth policy is a pro-life policy, as McDonough and Braungart believe (disclaimer: Cradle to Cradle is my biggest inspiration thus far)? Making our hopes and dreams and fears concrete and testable, with assumptions clearly visible, is what system modeling is all about. I'd be curious to see what answers to these questions pop up.
Chris

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:28 am

Chris,

Welcome to the forum. Good luck on your thesis. What’s it about?

Publishing is not easy. I’ve been turned down by a dozen article queries and two book queries. I’ve also been expelled by the Club of Rome. The Thwink paradigm is so different it is seen as radical. Few can see its potential based on logical inspection alone. Hopefully the reviewers at the System Dynamics Journal will be able to see the potential, since the field of system dynamics has a history of seeing what others have not.

A problem is I’m doing the work of an academic without being part of that profession. Thus I’m not a professor and not part of an organization. This gives me rather low credibility, no matter what I write. So I’m dependent on others, such as Philip and Robert, to advance the paradigm. The best use of my time is to support their efforts, rather than continue to promote the paradigm myself. The recent attempt to publish a paper in a peer reviewed journal, my second try, is a carefully considered exception.

I met with a new contact during the holidays, my cousin. He’s a non-profit CEO with lots of contacts, including some in US politics. He has studied the Dueling Loops book and the Progressive Paradox film. We plan to meet up soon to discuss a plan of attack with his contacts. Interestingly, he’s reacted just like Philip to my emphasis on finding non-intuitive high leverage points. He too hopes I can find some in his organization. :-)

“It's absolutely critical to begin to attack the coordination problem by finding other similar voices.” – Yes. This is what Robert hopes to address. Philip will too, after the Hatch analysis.

“Decoupling economic growth from resource consumption would decouple economic growth from negative environmental impacts. Thus, the trends you mention would no longer hold.” – They will hold in the immediate future. For example, there is no known existing technology, or that conceived as realistically possible in the next 20 years, that is capable of replacing the energy system with one that has zero negative environmental impact. Any increase in typical GDP components causes an increase in energy consumption, which is an increase in negative environmental impact. For example, the European Community sees it as impossible to lower greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels before 2050, so they are settling for less. To my knowledge, no country is even considering a deadline for zero emissions.
Sorry if I didn’t explain myself well on this.

That GDP can go up while environmental impact goes down is the core of the oxymoron of sustainability development. Some are starting to realize this. But to get the developing countries on board solving the sustainability problem, it was necessary to offer them this impossible dream. This is well documented in Maurice Strong’s Where on Earth Are We Going?. This, in my humble opinion, was a fatal error.

Some argue that economic development is necessary for a poor country to be able to solve its environmental impact problems. “Poverty causes unsustainability” is the rationale. But people are starting to realize this is fallacious. Studies have shown that poverty is only a minor source of deforestation, for example. The major cause is exploitation by the developed countries, via their corporations, and various national policies.

That the best way to quickly be more sustainable is to lower GDP is a message that is rather radical. But once you understand the system context, it makes perfect sense. It is so radical it is not a part of my written message, so that readers do not instantly turn off.

Good luck in your job search and your future,

Jack

Chris Sequeira
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Postby Chris Sequeira » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:56 pm

(I'd set my previous post to notify me when a reply was posted, but it did not. Hm, perhaps I or the board are missing a flag somewhere.)

I agree that it's important to know how academics think as one tries to approach them. My graduate research helps, but I am not a Ph.D and will not be a professor, so my voice is perhaps less powerful. I think that the easiest way to get academics (read: natural skeptics, and rightfully so) on board is to ground analytical activism firmly in the existing literature. Jack: you wrote in another thread on this board that it's possible to come up with something that's new. While this is true, even scientific revolutions "stand on the shoulders of giants." We already know that analytical activism is well-grounded in system dynamics, for instance, and I'm sure that there are other connections in the fields of organizational change, sociology, and political science. Again, I'm not familiar with this literature, but finding it and drawing upon it will be critical to build credibility if Thwink wants to publish.

My thesis explores how aviation emissions regulations (set by the International Civil Aviation Organization and eventually promulgated by its member countries) connect with health effects from changes in local air quality caused by aircraft. Specifically, I'm looking at various components of fine particulate matter and how changing regulations could lead to changes in the masses of those components. It's meant to be a preliminary assessment... good thing too, because I have 18 days to finish!
Chris

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:12 pm

Chris,

“I think that the easiest way to get academics (read: natural skeptics, and rightfully so) on board is to ground analytical activism firmly in the existing literature.” – Which means I will be unable to do this, because I’m not a professor. I’m unfamiliar with the voluminous literature. To promote the concept of Analytical Activism, I have no idea what journals to publish in, which journals and articles to reference, and what the proper jargon is.

In November 2005 I submitted a Dueling Loops article to this journal:
http://ejournal.nbii.org/
Here is an excerpt from the rejection letter:

The discussion is not anchored in preexisting literature and hence does not delineate a particular "knowledge frontier" that it seeks to expand. In other words, who comprises the audience of competent scholars to whom this contribution is aimed? A key element of a scientific process of discovery is to identify a particular audience to communicate your findings. This is done by selectively referring to the bodies of scholarship on which you build your analysis/critique.


But what if your work does not build on existing “bodies of scholarship?” What if Analytical Activism and the concept that change resistance is the crux of the sustainability problem have no existing references? Then about all you can do is use fake references to show that it’s not here, and it’s not there, etc. But this would turn off journal editors and reviewers, because a reference is used to say what IS there, not what it NOT there.

Jay Forrester had a similar problem when writing about his novel analysis of the US urban decay crisis of the 1960s. In his Urban Dynamics book of 1969, page x of the preface, he wrote that:

The history of this effort explains why there are no references to the urban literature in this book. Several reviewers of the manuscript criticized the absence of ties to the literature on the assumption that such ties must exist but had not been revealed. Actually the book comes from a different body of knowledge, from the insights of those who know the urban scene firsthand, from my own reading in the public and business press, and from the literature on the dynamics of social systems for which references are given. There are indeed relevant studies on urban behavior and urban dynamics, but to identify these is a large and separate task.


In other words, Forrester’s study is based on analysis of the actual system, not the literature. So are the Dueling Loops. The Urban Dynamics book contained only 6 references. 5 were to his own work. The other one was not in a journal.

That a journal editor would insist that articles must be “anchored in preexisting literature” excludes all work that does not build on such literature. This is evidence of the ivory tower bias of much of academia: only we know the truth. To publish in our sacred journals, you must pay homage to our priceless literature.

Sigh…. Change resistance is indeed everywhere.

Hopefully the System Dynamics Review has no such bias.


18 days to go! The home stretch! Good luck in your efforts,

I don’t know what’s causing you to not receive email notification of posts to this thread. Could your Yahoo email service be filtering them out as spam?

Jack

Chris Sequeira
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Postby Chris Sequeira » Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:52 pm

Hi Jack and everyone,

(I got an email notification about your post this time, Jack... maybe everything's okay after all. We'll see.)


But what if your work does not build on existing “bodies of scholarship?”

Your work -does- "build on existing bodies of scholarship"... analytical activism builds extensively on system dynamics, as is discussed throughout Thwink.org.

Then about all you can do is use fake references to show that it’s not here, and it’s not there, etc. But this would turn off journal editors and reviewers, because a reference is used to say what IS there, not what it NOT there.

I remember searching about for an interesting thesis topic at the beginning of my graduate studies. One of the professors that I talked to suggested that I start reading the literature as the first thing and told me that identifying the gaps will show me where I can make a contribution. So I would think about this differently: "so it seems like these researchers did this one thing, and these other researchers did this other thing, and so on, but no one's connected the pieces like I have." Or even, "those guys tried all this stuff but I've a better approach, and here's why." That's a very valid thing to do, and it's entirely appropriate to make connections across seemingly disparate fields, as Dr. Forrester did with system dynamics by drawing on control theory.

That a journal editor would insist that articles must be “anchored in preexisting literature” excludes all work that does not build on such literature.

This shouldn't bother you, since analytical activism is anchored in system dynamics. It may very well be extensions of work that has been done in political science, etc., though one would not know of that unless one is familiar with the field. I agree that is indeed difficult to know what's already been done; there's so much stuff out there. And given that, it's likely that maybe someone's thought of analytical approaches to solving social problems and maybe tried a few things about it, but not quite the same as AA... maybe not quite as useful, appropriate, or sufficient. To say, "here's the improvement on that stuff" is useful.

I remember feeling down when I realized that I was interested in business and ecology, two topics that I know nothing about. As I was thinking that maybe I should go back to school -again-, one of my friends told me that one does not have to learn everything oneself... more importantly, one must find the people with the capabilities that one seeks. I think that analytical types like many researchers would be highly interested in analytical activism if you can show where it fits. You don't have to be a Ph.D yourself to do this; I'm sure that there are plenty of talented people from all sorts of backgrounds on this board and in other places, as you've already said.

I bring up this topic in the general sense because building an agency (a home) is distinct from, yet related to building agency itself (influence). In this case, I don't know which should be done first for optimum effectiveness. Hopefully when my thesis is finished I can start playing around with analytical activism models and doing some exploring, though I may not be able to do anything for the next several weeks. Happy New Year; be well.
Chris

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:02 pm

Chris,

There's some good thwinking here. Thanks. Let me give this some thought for awhile.

Jack

Jeannie Scown
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standing on the shoulders of giants?

Postby Jeannie Scown » Wed May 21, 2008 4:36 pm

I think that Chris had something here. I am now reading the 30 year update book. If you wanted to publish in a "scholarly" journal, you have used these authors. You could also site authors that say (like Limits to growth) that the condition is not improving....blah blah blah...therefore tada dueling loops. What they look for is an argument that makes what you are doing reasonable. The argument needs to be grounded, then your choices for your dueling loops nodes and/or points of leverage needs to be grounded on written corruption articles. This is an arduous task, but there are programs such as End Notes that help you site from notes you make as you read. The research you need is from scholarly journals, not from popular books. One needs access to a university library. This I could help with. Google scholar will find the articles, but you need to subscribe to a university to get them. Have you thought of writing an article for Time or Newsweek. They are less interested in siting as long as you dont slander. Readers digest might also be considered. The article for a popular well read magazine needs to be concise maybe about why you are doing what you are doing, and then point to the website.

I know that this very issue was my frustration. All the "literature" was tackling rational numbers to be the area that kids fail in in mathematics. Yes it is true, that is an area in which they fail, but it happens way before. No one who was anyone had written that, so how could I know?????ARRRGGGGHHH

If you wanted to write something like I said above, I think you could go back and find people who had written things that corroborate your work. It just needs to be a small part of what you are doing. Once you publish in a journal, then you can quote yourself....i find that amusing. Anyway, I would be willing to assist here.

I am slowly consuming all the areas, so that what I have to say later will be on target and not a waste of your time. I am slow but steadfast. :shock: 8)
If nature intended that children be educated in herds, they would be born in litters.

Jeannie Scown
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research

Postby Jeannie Scown » Thu May 22, 2008 12:08 pm

I was listening again to your videos. A phrase (paraphrased from my notes)
social evolution has powered political strategies into 2 types...corrupt and virtuous.
ok...a lot of us agree to that, but who said that? I have sent you this article Determinants of Political Strategies in U.S. Multinationals
Hillman Business Society.2003; 42: 455-484
It begins a discussion on strategies. If there is nothing in there, look at her bibliography. Look for journal articles, etcetera. Then, you can corroborate some of your statements that may seem a bit inflationary or opinionated. If you like the opinion, you can say (statement) by so and so, who i believe has merit etc.
If you don't want this type of assistance, let me know.
If nature intended that children be educated in herds, they would be born in litters.

Jeannie Scown
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 3:13 pm
Location: Mesa, Arizona

Why politicians lie

Postby Jeannie Scown » Thu May 22, 2008 4:19 pm

This is an article from Public Choice. I am sending you the PDF file (it is an old microfich) written by Mchael L. Davis and Ferrantino
This paper presents a model in which politicians can increase the probability of election by making exaggerated claims about the benefits of their own platform.....politicians must tradeoff immediate benefits agains potntial future costs....
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If nature intended that children be educated in herds, they would be born in litters.

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Fri May 23, 2008 6:39 pm

Jeanie,

Regarding my “Over time, social evolution has pared the many strategies available for gaining political support into just two main types: the use of truth (virtue) and the use of falsehood and favoritism (corruption).” – This is my own conception. There are so many original propositions in my writing that I don’t identify what is original and what’s not.

Thanks for sending me the paper on “Determinants of Political Strategies in US Multinationals.” The abstract says:

This study focuses on the determinants of political strategies used by U.S. multinationals (MNCs) in Europe. Empirical support is found for Hillman and Hitt’s taxonomy of political decisions—that is, approach, participation level, and strategy.
The role of institutional- versus firm-level variable determinants of these choices is explored as are the relative effects of firm versus industry variables within differing political contexts. Results based on a survey sample of 169 U.S. MNC subsidiaries within 14 European countries support the finding that both institutional- and firm-level variables are important determinants of political strategy approach, participation level, and strategy.

I can’t understand this. When I encounter abstracts that are not written in plain English, or are encumbered in jargon that obviously requires a high level of specialty expertise, I instantly decide the paper would be a waste of my time. So I don’t read them.

The reason I feel confident I don’t have to read them is my analysis is based on observation of the actual system, not the literature. In other words, my premises are based on what I see, rather than relying on what others say they see. The latter, in my opinion, is unreliable on any problem whose solution has defied the very people writing these arcane papers for decades, with rare exceptions.

As you go through the Thwink.org materials, the “whole” of the paradigm will emerge. Once it does, then you will be in a position to thwink hard, and ask yourself “How can I best help here?” This of course would consider you skills, contacts, interests, etc.

I wouldn’t read the materials and then do research on ideas that come to mind, and send me articles. This is too haphazard. Instead, develop a strategy.

For example, you might ask me what I’m working on right now, and do I need assistance in research, manuscript review, basic argument review, experimentation, etc. That would be a great help. It’s a question I hope that many will ask. If they do, eventually there will standard answers we can build a stable strategy around.


Strategy

As it is now, my strategy is in transition. I’ve completed my basic research, except for experimentation. Now I’m trying to communicate it to the world. I’m hoping that I can learn from the results of the Dueling Loops paper submitted to the System Dynamics Review on March 16. Acceptance or not, recommended changes or not, we shall see what the reviewers feedback is. Hopefully the paper will soon be published. Once it is accepted, then I will apply what I’ve learned to a second paper that has been complete for a month. This is on process and the system dynamics field. After revisions, that paper will be submitted to the same journal.

By then I’m hoping there will be a bit of a buzz, and capable people will start stepping forward and offer to lead the next phase. This is essentially the “applied research” (?) stage of R&D. We need to apply these concepts, improve them as required, and mature them to the point where they are capable of solving the full size problem. This is a major project.

Until that project(s) starts, the biggest need is for proof these radically different concepts work. It doesn’t have to be big proof. It can be small, laboratory size proof. It can be experiments like the First Experiment.

Imagine how much easier it will be to convince others to seriously consider these concepts if we have proof that some work. (Thus the biggest current need is not contacting others. That comes later.)

All this is not much of a plan or a strategy. But it’s all I have at the moment. I’m not a manager. I’m an analyst.


The Why do politicians lie?” paper

On the Davis and Ferrantino paper, titled “Why do politicians lie?”, 1996:

I carefully read the entire article, without taking notes. I found it very interesting that someone else was focusing on the phenomenon of lying politicians. The sentence that the First Amendment, at least in the US, allows expression of opinion even if it comes across as an obvious lie, was useful. The extreme contrast between the shallow viewpoint of economists and the routinely deeper one system dynamicists was striking.

There are some major errors in logic in the paper. For example, the analogy between why politicians and corporations lie is weak. They have entirely different relationships between their customers. One is a casual, distant voting relationship. The other is a tight, close buying relationship. One would naturally expect this to cause major behavioral differences, such as in honesty.

Another error is the insistence that politicians don’t have to consider the consequences of their promises, if they will occur after their term is up. They do, because they may be reelected, or their reputation will follow them into another office, or into the business world.

This paper focuses on a tiny bit of the political corruption problem. The tiny bit is so isolated, over idealized, and small that I found it nearly irrelevant. But this is how most academics pad their CVs and gain tenure, by writing about trivia. Every now and then, they stumble on something that matters, and a good paper results.

This is not being cynical, but realistic. As proof, paper authors eventually discovered that the more papers they cited, the more other authors would feel friendly toward them, and the more likely other authors would be to cite the author. This would increase their citation count and ranking. So authors started padding their papers with tons of unnecessary references. The result? There is now a limit on the number of endnotes in many (most?) journals, and in my humble opinion most (over 50%) endnotes are unnecessary in a majority of papers.

For example, in the “Determinants” paper here is the first paragraph:

Interactions between firms and governments have long been of interest to scholars. Researchers in the strategic management and social issues areas devote considerable attention to the strategies firms use to shape government policy (e.g., Epstein, 1969; Getz, 1993; Hillman&Hitt, 1999; Keim & Baysinger, 1988; Lord, 2000; Mahon, 1993; Schuler, 1996). Similarly, scholars such as Brewer (1992), Mahini (1988), Murtha and Lenway (1994), Rugman and Verbeke (1993), Stopford and Strange (1991), Vernon (1971), and others stress the importance of government to multinationals (MNCs). Throughout this literature, an emphasis has been placed on understanding “corporate political strategies,” which are defined as proactive actions taken by a firm to affect the public policy environment in a way favorable to it (Baysinger, 1984).



Time for a little Thwinking….

I don’t want to discourage you, but there are thousands of articles out there just as related to my work as this one. Much more efficient and effective, by several orders of magnitude, would be to find some experts in various fields, turn them on the work at Thwink.org, and ask them “What are the key ideas, key people, and key papers and books in your field, as they relate to the Thwink.org paradigm?” That would give us an instant mother lode of gold to sift. Talking to such people and reading what they recommended would be a pleasure.

Over 99% of people doing work like what I’m doing are already so networked they are already in touch with the above people. But I’m not. I’m not a professor. I don’t work at or for an organization. I’ve never published anything except for a few software articles. Worse yet (tactically, but strategically better) is I deliberately isolated myself for the first four years of my investigations and cogitations. So I’m starting with no network.

This by the way is one reason Bill S may be able to help substantially. He made the outstanding offer to “offer my time and network of resources to your project.” Apparently Bill S knows the value of a high quality network.

Thus I will ask the same question of you that I asked of Bill R: Given your skills, interests, contacts, etc, what do you see as the areas you could help in the most?

And here’s an additional question: What is your strategic plan?

This may take time to answer. There is still much material to read and a lot of new concepts to integrate into an understandable new “whole.”

Solving insanely difficult problems is all a matter of quality of effort, not quantity.


Thanks for all your efforts,

Jack

Jack Harich
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Postby Jack Harich » Mon May 26, 2008 8:57 pm

Jeannie,

I’ve been feeling awkward for months due to no current strategy. I’ve been waiting for certain trends to clarify. Meanwhile, this has made is hard for you and others to figure out what’s going on. That’s my fault.

Thus I spent considerable effort in writing a brief strategic plan, and assembling all the current work efforts. These are now all in one place, on the new Current Status page. I thought specifically of you, Bill S, and Bill R as I wrote it.

The How You Can Help page was also reorganized and the concept of “making your own job” was added.

Do these two pages enough for you to figure out what’s going on and how you can best plug in? Or are there further weaknesses that need addressing?

BTW, I’ve been working very hard every day on roofing at the Tower. Great exercise, but exhausting. The big push may be over tomorrow if things go well and I beat the rain one more time.

Did you receive the books?

Jack


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