May 15 was the sixteenth meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration was on Eventbrite.

Theme: Systems Thinking and the Socio-Psychological Perspective

Based on group feedback from the April 17 session on "Systems Thinking and Social Relations", a new program committee for Systems Thinking Ontario was formed. May 15 represents the first in a series of three sessions, as the program committee gains more input on how to evolve future sessions. The shift for these three sessions is:

  1. content in smaller chunks (i.e. ideas that are easier to get ones' hands around); and
  2. readings that are more concrete (now experimenting with case studies, rather than theoretical frameworks).

The program committee will reshape future sessions based on (double loop) learning gained in the sessions.

The Socio-Psychological Systems (SPS) perspective was the earliest focus of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations (even though the Socio-Technical Systems (STS) perspective and Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) perspective developed in parallel). Two pages from the April 17 session may help place the May 17 session in the larger context of the development of systems thinking.

This three-part series will be confirmed for continuation on June 19 and July 17.

Suggested pre-reading:

Some of the drivers for the Socio-Psychological Systems Perspective (and of the Tavistock Institute itself) was based on the problems of reintegrating soldiers from World War II back into British society. This was described in:

This Wilson-Trist-Curle article comes as the first of five themes within the socio-psychological perspective. The five are listed in the "Introduction to Volume 1" by Eric Trist.

  1. The first Theme, A New Social Psychiatry: A World War II Legacy, is the foundation on which the concept of The Social Engagement of Social Science has been built.
  2. The second, Varieties of Group Process, describes experience with the primary group, which was one of the first two fields with which the post-war Institute became pre-occupied.
  3. The other was the family - hence the Theme of New Paths in Family Studies.
  4. Somewhat later, work under the fourth Theme, The Dynamics of Organizational Change, became salient.
  5. From this background projects emerged related to the fifth Theme, The Unconscious in Culture and Society.

In the "Introduction to A New Social Psychiatry: A World War II Legacy", the Wilson-Trist-Curle article reports on is the idea of a therapeutic community first used to return soldiers to military duties could be applied the aid after soldiers were discharged into civilian life.

  • The Discovery of the Therapeutic Community. At the height of the war all available manpower was needed. Too many soldiers were being invalided out because of psychological illness. An attempt to reduce this outflow was made by Bion and Rickman (1943) at Northfield Military Hospital where hey introduced for the first time the notion of a therapeutic community -- a completely novel idea. [....]
  • Transitional Communities and Social Reconnection. The beliefs that arose from Northfield were strengthened by experiences with the second therapeutic community which was designed for the civil resettlement of repatriated prisoners of war. [...] It brought forward a new general concept -- the function of transitional communities in establishing the "social reconnection" of those who, for a variety of reasons, may find themselves outside or alienated from the main society. [....]
  • These war-time innovations need assessment as regards their usefulness for addressing current problems and Bridger is testing out their relevance to AIDS and the drug problem in the United States and Italy. [....]

Participants should not feel limited to this suggested pre-reading, but should recognize that other attendees may have not read, or are reading differently, that article.


Post-meeting artifacts

Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.