Open Meeting - Autumn 2017

£20 - pay via eventbrite please.
Event date: 
Monday, October 16, 2017
09:30 - 17:00 (09:30 is an introduction to the viable system model. Whole day starts at 10:00)
Open Meeting
Manchester Business School, Room 1.035, Dover Street, Manchester, M13 9GB
(All Welcome)
Event Details: 

An open meeting where a series of presentations of general interest regarding systems practice will be given - this will include 'craft' and active sessions, as well as introductions to theory.

Please pay via eventbrite:

Session: Portia Light - Fake art, bad science and what we can learn from using systems thinking to examine the mechanics of law

Stemming from the Enlightenment period, science has come to be viewed as the best way to establish truth from an objective standpoint. In its quest for the black and white outcomes of “guilty/not guilty”, it is perhaps not surprising that the legal system has become affected by the dominant reductionist narrative of positivism. Positivist politics have been enforced though both the technicalities of law and the details of legal procedures that have come to rely heavily on forensics.

Art on the other hand has, and always will be, a platform for communities who have been marginalised by scientific fact to disrupt the usual narrative, to point out its limitations.

When the two fields of art and science collide in the theatre of a courtroom it creates an intriguing situation from which to observe the mechanics of the legal system. With stories from the time she has spent observing such phenomena, Portia will show how considering what could be ‘true’ in what many people have come to define as ‘not true’ is key to creating both less-politicised and less-positive systems that allow for more variety of outcomes. Portia is a strategy consultant who studied Law and Anthropology to masters level at the London School of Economics.

Session: Steve Whitla - Making more meaningful models: A hands-on guide

This will be a practical session on visualising systems in ways that other people can understand. If “all models are wrong but some are useful”, we propose that some of this usefulness comes down to how meaningful the model is to those who didn’t create it. If you have ever built an elegant, powerful, predictive model of a system that excited little or no interest from the people affected by it, then this workshop is for you!

You can apply the principles from this session whether you are building a representation yourself or briefing a graphic designer, standing in front of a whiteboard with a marker pen or making sense of what someone else is scribbling in front of you, building a Powerpoint deck to explain your findings to stakeholders or revising existing material you have inherited. The session will be interactive and will involve drawing, but purely to make the principles come to life - you do not need any artistic talent.

The session will be run by Steve Whitla, the founder of Visual Meaning (, and illustrated with examples from real-life projects. Visual Meaning is a niche consultancy that seeks to make the world a more meaningful place by bringing systems thinking and visual thinking together.

Session: Peter Lacey - System Dynamics in Healthcare

Peter Lacey will provide insights from the use System Dynamics modelling over a 20yr career in health and social care consultancy. He will provide people with a walk through of some existing models (see here: ) and explore some of the pitfalls and benefits of the approach. There will be an opportunity to explore both quantitative and qualitative elements of systems and how they feature in SD modelling against a background of the culture and expectations of the health and care system today.

Session: Benjamin Taylor - Meta-contextuality through the medium of Bongard games: why methods and practices depend on context

Many of us are searching for 'neat and complete' answers to the messiness and complexity of (organisational / social / economic / ecological) life. Me too, though I've always known it's impossible. Then I stumbled across Bongard games on thanks to Mike Haber, and discovered a way to demonstrate - through experience - why it's not possible. I'll invite you to experience the joy of Bongard, and lead a discussion on Meta-contextuality, meaning-making and related ideas - focusing on why this is really valuable. This practice session will use a lot of pretentious language and high-falutin' concepts, but only for fun. The underlying idea is deadly simple, important, and useful.

Benjamin P Taylor runs RedQuadrant, a network consultancy, mainly in public services, and the not-for-profit social enterprise the Public Service Transformation Academy, is a nonexec director of SCIO and is trying to organise and make useful the world's systems thinking at

Event Type (Tag): 
Open Day Director