Human Systems Dynamics (HSD) a first glance…

Today I participated in a training on Human Systems Dynamics (HSD). This is a blend of Complexity Sciences and Social Sciences. It’s the first of nine days and it is outstanding! We were introduced to three types of change: Static, Dynamic, and Dynamical or Complex.

We also were asked to look at systems. This includes looking at Similarities and Differences without placing judgment on either. Frankly, I’m intrigued by the idea of systems analysis.

We were asked to examine a wide range of fractal pictures in our warm up activity, select one, and hold on to it. The next step in the activity was to find a group based on connections to the fractal we selected and discuss similarities and differences. What a great conversation!

We were introduced to Simple Rules (which often become the unspoken rules of an organization). I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. I know that Simple Rules often include 3 elements: Boundary, Difference, and Relationship, but I’m not sure what that means…

When asked what our Simple Rules are at McAuliffe the first thoughts that popped into my head were:

1. “Presume Positive Intent in others.”

2. Know our students and start from where they are.

3. Let the students drive the learning.

4. Less Rules mean more opportunity for advanced decision making and problem solving.

Toward the end of the day the idea of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) as Self-Organizing Systems. A few good examples that were presented of this included a flock of birds in flight and a school of fish. There is no apparent or clear leader and yet they follow Simple Rules.

I found this concept very interesting. For example, I consider traffic at schools (which is almost a universal challenge in CA), a CAS. Left alone, traffic patterns emerge and organize themselves.

Occasionally, we/school administrators try to replace CAS with Static Change. Why? Perhaps its the desire to appease unhappy drivers or the belief that we are able to create a more effective model that a CAS. This raises the question for me: Can humans develop more effective models than those we find in nature? Are there examples of this that someone could share with me?

I’m heading back in for day 2. Clearly I still have much to learn which exactly why this is so exciting!

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