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comments on systemic in-formation leadership

The challenge that in-formation leadership addresses is that of a need for wide-spread paradigm shifts and the redesign of institutions and industries. Without leaders from the establishment pairing up with alternative thinkers in leadership networks, supported by systemic methodological frameworks that can guide a system transformation, this cannot be achieved. The alternative of being shaken out of our complacency by another world war or global calamity is too ghastly to contemplate.

We cannot wait for the small (sometimes hailed as organic) changes that trickle to some select few beneficiaries before drying up again. We need to upscale them on a grand scale without being tempted into the social engineering we observed in the industrial age (e.g. in the name of socialism).

The promise of the information age is the possibility of the direct participation by stakeholders in a focused national, regional or even global effort to (re)design existing systems, coordinated by a coherent methodology. The stakeholders contribute their diverse perspectives to co-design shared, desirable, viable and sustainable visions of the future and develop strategies relating to their specific sphere of influence to bring about a more desirable future.

There could be a visionary leader providing the impetus for a change, but this leader requires the support of leaders amongst all stakeholder groups to bring about the collective vision. In the context of the previously mentioned German energy transformation, Chancellor Angela Merkel took the lead in proposing the vision. She also set some very challenging targets for achieving it. However, unless she gets the support of stakeholders from both the renewable and non-renewable energy generators, distributors and consumers, amongst others, this vision is unattainable. Leaders from each stakeholder group (e.g. from along the energy supply chain and those being impacted on) need to come to the fore and coordinate their efforts. They will also need to convince the system they represent to sacrifice (at least short-term) advantages in order to bring about this vision. Resistance (especially from greedy shareholders and self-serving lobbies) is huge.

No single leader can achieve an outcome of the magnitude of changing global (or even national) energy generation and use. The leaders from the different stakeholder groupings depend on each other. Each leader needs to facilitate the contribution of creative solutions from their perspective of the problem and the desired solution. This contribution cannot come from others, least of all from politicians who represent a generic and functionally diverse majority. Only coordinated self-governance by the different parts of the system can deal with the complexity of such a challenge. Hence our definition of systemic in-formation leadership as the coordination of self-governing units for the benefit of the collective (i.e. the containing and contained systems of a larger whole).

The BiomatrixJam methodology is designed to facilitate a coordinated and focused (subject specific) dialogue (either workshop or online based) between stakeholders of the system and its sub-systems (e.g. the energy industry and its sub-industries and affected systems). It facilitates a systemic analysis of the problems in each (sub)system, as well as the collection of existing solutions and the brainstorming of new ones. A design team integrates and coordinates the jam output, using systemic organising principles to ensure a viable and sustainable redesign of the system. This design is subjected to another round of jamming for refinement and generating alignment.

Unlike social engineering which has master planners (usually from government) designing a change for a system and prescribing it to stakeholders for implementation, the BiomatrixJam facilitates participatory stakeholder planning. It is a bottom up approach in terms of generating the shared design from the perspective of different stakeholders. The jam acts as a framework of generic questions (based on systems theory) that prompts the generation of systemic input by stakeholders. It does not prescribe any content but it in-forms (i.e. it puts form into) the debate by creating contextualisation, integration and coordination of the stakeholder ideas. The methodology itself provides leadership, through the overarching systemic design as well as generic “leading questions” which apply to any system and are derived from generic organising principles.

The underlying paradigm of the BiomatrixJam and its associated system (re)design methodology (i.e. the Biomatrix Societal Development Programme) is systems thinking or (w)holistic thinking. More specifically, the systems approach we follow is Biomatrix Systems Theory. It is a comprehensive integration and extension of the key concepts, models, tools and methods of other thinkers associated with different systems approaches, cybernetics, operations research, complexity theory, chaos theory and related bodies of knowledge. See for an overview and brief discussion of its key concepts.


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