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Brian G. Dowling

Simplifying Complexity or Complexifying Simplicity: The Promise and Perils of Systems T... - 0 views

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    A potential danger in a systems approach is that there is a risk of overjargonizing and getting lost in complex terminology, maps and paralysis by analysis.
    One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion is that many people are starting to experiment with systems thinking but that it can be daunting or confusing to explain, operationalize or find common agreement. Does system thinking imply a rigorous and dynamic mapping of key actors, power relationships and other factors in a community (Yes)? But then how does systems thinking differ from a solid context analysis (still needs more explanation)? A potential danger in a systems approach is that there is a risk of overjargonizing and getting lost in complex terminology, maps and paralysis by analysis. One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion is that many people are starting to experiment with systems thinking but that it can be daunting or confusing to explain, operationalize or find common agreement. Does system thinking imply a rigorous and dynamic mapping of key actors, power relationships and other factors in a community (Yes)? But then how does systems thinking differ from a solid context analysis (still needs more explanation)? 
Brian G. Dowling

To Make an Impact in a World of Brutality and Strife, a Funder Embraces Systems Thinkin... - 0 views

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    Systems thinking, according to HU, has two important dimensions. One is the establishment of a new paradigm that understands global issues as inherently complex, multi-dimensional, conflictive and open to outside influence and intervention. A problem like slavery, for example, may seem intractable because of the economic interests it serves; in fact, the institutional and organizational linkages-the supply chains-that comprise slavery's power structure are vulnerable. The first step in system thinking is to map those linkages to better understand how they fit together and pinpoint their likely weak points. The next step is to devise a strategy that combines public advocacy, coalition building, insider lobbying, and investigative journalism to target those linkages, forcing those implicated in slavery, wittingly or unwittingly, to reform, and weakening the larger circuit of power over time.
Brian G. Dowling

PBNYC: The Challenges and Opportunities of Scale | Challenges to DemocracyChallenges to... - 0 views

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    The PBNYC example reminds us that pilot programs are useful testing grounds, but promising experiments are unlikely to translate into large-scale successes without careful effort. Such a transformation requires shifts in strategy and tactics, matched with steadfastness in mission and values. Those interested in government innovation can learn a lot from watching PBNYC as it charts this course for participatory budgeting processes around the world.

Brian G. Dowling

The Need for Biological Thinking to Solve Complex Problems - 0 views

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    When we're dealing with different interacting levels of a system, seemingly minor details can rise to the top and become important to the system as a whole. We need "Field biologists" to catalog and study detarticails and portions of our complex systems, including their failures and bugs. This kind of biological thinking not only leads to new insights, but might also be the primary way forward in a world of increasingly interconnected and incomprehensible technologies.

Brian G. Dowling

The beginning of system dynamics | McKinsey & Company - 0 views

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    Two threads run through the story of how I came to develop the field of system dynamics. First, everything I have ever done has converged on system dynamics. Second, at many critical moments, when opportunity knocked, I was willing to walk through the open door to what was on the other side.
Brian G. Dowling

2016: A Year Defined by America's Diverging Economies - CityLab - 0 views

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    The recovery has been characterized by yawning gaps between the rich, the middle, and the poor. But, as Trump's election made clear, it has also been characterized by yawning gaps between cities, the suburbs, and rural parts of the country.
Brian G. Dowling

Using Systems Thinking to Design Better Services - Medium - 0 views

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    When creating new services for clients, we very often don't delve deep enough into the organisation that delivers the service. Service solutions are often limited to pragmatic improvements that lie directly in the customer experience, what many consider 'the art of the possible'. But by combining classic service design and user journey mapping techniques with notation from Systems Thinking, we can go deeper into understanding WTF's really going on inside our organisations.
Brian G. Dowling

States Will Drive Clean Energy Forward Until the U.S. Leads | NRDC - 1 views

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    NRDC just released its Fourth Annual Energy Report: Accelerating Into A Clean Energy Future. The report explains the transition to clean energy is well underway, driven by a combination of market forces, state and federal policies, technological advancements, and strong public support in red and blue states alike.

Brian G. Dowling

Nonprofits Assume a Bigger Role in City Government - CityLab - 0 views

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    But the good stuff only happens if these organizations know what the entire neighborhood actually needs. Sometimes they don't. And in those cases, it's not possible to vote them out or hold them accountable. If a nonprofit dissolves, it's hard to pick up the pieces quickly, because the infrastructure for a new organization has to be rebuilt from scratch.
Brian G. Dowling

Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers | People, Spaces, D... - 0 views

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    "We activists need to become better "reflectivists", taking the time to understand the system before (and while) engaging with it. We need to better understand the stop-start rhythm of change exhibited by complex systems and adapt our efforts accordingly. And we need to become less arrogant, more willing to learn from accidents, from failures, and from other people. Finally, we have to make friends with ambiguity and uncertainty, while maintaining the energy and determination so essential to changing the world."
Brian G. Dowling

What is Placemaking? - Project for Public Spaces - 0 views

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    WHAT IF WE BUILT OUR COMMUNITIES AROUND PLACES?
    As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.
Brian G. Dowling

The Cities Of The Future Will Be Great If We Figure Out How To Make Them Affordable | C... - 0 views

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    There are shocking statistics aplenty. Here is one: in 1995, the average house in London cost around four times the average salary. Today, it costs 12 times the average salary. In Europe, there are only two major cities-Athens and Manchester-where more than half the residents think housing is affordable.

    Expensive housing means less money in your pocket, a longer commute from further away, a constant pressure pushing the standard of living down towards mere subsistence. And for cities, it means the emergence of financially defined ghettos, where previously diverse neighborhoods become inhabited solely by the rich.

    At its worst, this becomes the Paris problem: a rich but sterile center encircled by a ring of poverty and disadvantage that nurtures terrorism and can explode into appalling violence.
Brian G. Dowling

Why The Future Will Be Dictated By Cities, Not Nations | Co.Exist | ideas + impact - 0 views

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    Cristina Ampatzidou, editor-in-chief of Amateur Cities, a "city-making" publishing platform in Rotterdam: "It is often said that great cities survived great empires. So it is not unrealistic to think of cities as discrete entities that compete and collaborate with each other, independently from the states to which they belong."
Brian G. Dowling

What can Mother Nature teach us about managing financial systems? - CSMonitor.com - 0 views

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    Like ecosystems, financial markets are complex evolving systems from which unexpected bubbles, crashes, and other surprising behaviors can emerge. Building resilient financial systems may require policymakers to take cues from biology.
Brian G. Dowling

13 Ways We Can Fix The "Free Market" So It Works For Regular People, Not Just The Rich ... - 0 views

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    The solution lies not in a freer marketplace with less government intervention, but in a marketplace that expresses the wishes and best interests of the majority, in one that fairly protects the rights of minorities with what we might call a "democratic marketplace," driven by a commitment to justice, equity, interdependence, ecological regeneration, and the well-being of all life. 
Brian G. Dowling

We're in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here? - The New York Times - 0 views

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    This slow growth is not some new phenomenon, but rather the way it has been for 15 years and counting. In the United States, per-person gross domestic product rose by an average of 2.2 percent a year from 1947 through 2000 - but starting in 2001 has averaged only 0.9 percent. The economies of Western Europe and Japan have done worse than that.
Brian G. Dowling

Systems thinking - Learning for Sustainability - 0 views

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    Systems thinking is an approach to integration that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system will act differently when isolated from the system's environment or other parts of the system. Standing in contrast to positivist and reductionist thinking, systems thinking sets out to view systems in a holistic manner. 
Brian G. Dowling

Why Social Ventures Need Systems Thinking - 0 views

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    Systems thinking. An individual or organization must first be able to put forward a new solution or set of solutions to a pressing social challenge. This sounds obvious, but we're suggesting that organizational theories of change, business plans, and other foundational materials need to reflect systems thinking. The most important tool in the new systems entrepreneur's suite is the ability to embed the solution into the larger system being targeted.
Brian G. Dowling

Economics Shows Us Why Laissez-Faire Economics Always Fails: Why markets are like garde... - 0 views

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    If we want a high-growth society with broadly shared prosperity, and if we want to avoid dislocations like the one we have just gone through, we need to change our theory of action foundationally. We need to stop thinking about the economy as a perfect, self-correcting machine and start thinking of it as a garden.
Brian G. Dowling

The Growing Size and Incomes of the Upper Middle Class | Urban Institute - 0 views

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    This report uses absolute income thresholds adjusted for inflation and family size to show that the size of the upper middle class grew from 12.9 percent of the population in 1979 to 29.4 percent in 2014. In terms of shares of total income, the middle class controlled a bit more than 46 percent of all incomes in 1979, while the upper middle class and rich controlled 30 percent. By 2014, the rich and upper middle class controlled 63 percent of all incomes, while the middle class share had shrunk to 26 percent.

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