• books,  Gary,  publications,  systems

    Handbook of Systems Sciences

    The Handbook of Systems Sciences in nearing completion.  It is published by Springer in their reference series.  The book consists of 49 chapters covering a range of theories and applications related to systems, cybernetics and complexity.  The online / living edition can be found here , where individual chapters can be purchased and downloaded.  The print version should be available by Spring 2020.    Pre-orders can be made for printed copies here.

  • climate change,  Gary,  publications

    The complexity of climate change and the need for policies of resilience

    Forthcoming in the Journal on Policy and Complex Systems *** Abstract:  The challenges presented by climate change may be the most complex issues humans have faced.  It is critical to capture that complexity in ways that can be understood across disciplines.  Equally daunting is the task of developing policies which can translate into actions.  Scientifically, humans need to cease all use of fossil fuels as soon as possible.  Feasibly, that could wreak havoc on global economies.  This paper explores the design of policies which could move human societies towards resilient and biophysically sustainable systems.  The petrochemical industry is considered as an example for change. Introduction There is arguably no more…

  • climate change,  Gary,  publications

    Complex systems science whitepaper (excerpts)

    There are numerous, in-depth reports about climate change from scientific communities and governmental committees.  Some of the most prominent are listed at the end of this paper.  Many reports detail the causes and outcomes of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and rising atmospheric temperatures.  Others, such as the 2018 special report by the IPCC, provide detailed scenarios for potential mitigation (slowing or ceasing CO2 emissions within given timeframes) and interventions (such as removing CO2 from the atmosphere.)  Due to the extent of existing climate science, this paper will focus on issues related to next steps, particularly with respect to human use of energy.  What would it mean to cease use of fossil…

  • books,  design thinking,  Gary,  interviews,  news,  podcast,  systems

    Social Systems and Design (Springer Verlag, 2014) by Gary Metcalf

    In the opening chapter of his edited volume, Social Systems and Design, out from Springer in 2014, Gary Metcalf asks if it is possible to establish ethical “first principles” for the design of social systems. Inspired by his mentor, Bela Banathy (a giant of the systems field), and pondering the potential levels of influence we might actually have over the evolutionary development of the social systems in which we are all embedded, Metcalf provocatively asks what sorts of goals should we set for ourselves and what sorts of means should we use to achieve them. Book homepage (Individual chapters can be purchased) Read the book review

  • Gary,  organizational resilience,  publications,  systems

    Adaptive Capacity in Project Teams (Edson & Metcalf)

    Organizational resilience has become critical in today’s environment. According to Engelhardt and Simmons (2002): “The need for organizational flexibility to accommodate a changing world is well understood. Today’s high-velocity and competitive markets apply added pressure to adapt rapidly and perform at high levels. Technology is opening up new ways to compete while making old ways obsolete. These trends are recognized in strategic management theories that focus on constant change and speed” (p. 113). Some project teams were adept at overcoming adversity, while others were not. The project teams that adapted to environmental constraints were able to modify their behaviors to meet goals without losing their function, while others were not.…

  • Gary,  organizational resilience

    The dilemmas of a service economy

    One of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is the shift towards a service economy. Depending on the statistics that you read, about 70% of American jobs, and 80% of US GDP, are based on services.  It’s not much different for many other “developed” (3rd World, OECD…) countries.  That information, though, only generates a lot more questions. For instance: What constitutes services?  The answer varies a great deal.  In the broadest economic terms, activities get lumped into two very general categories:  goods and services.  Everything that is not a physical product can be considered a service.  Those get categorized and counted quite differently, though, by different organizations and…

  • Gary,  organizational resilience,  publications,  systems

    Dialogue and Ecological Engineering

    The ways in which we envision or understand systems determine much about the ways in which we attempt to affect them. The industrial era created a concept of organizations which mirrored the machines on which it was built. An efficient organization was to run like “ a well-oiled machine.” A clear division of labor improved efficiency and productivity. Frederick Taylor’s program of Scientific Management further optimized each task through isolation and measurement. In work with human organizations and institutions, it appeared that this debate might have been resolved with the shift from a mechanistic to an organismic metaphor view. In reality it only seems to have created additional confusion. Very…