Apparently, the difference between ‘inquiry’ and ‘enquiry’ isn’t simply an example of variation between American and British English. Rather, as the course materials note, “recent British usage enquire has tended to mean ‘to ask’ and inquire has meant ‘to investigate’, but this difference is not apparent everywhere”. The TB872 module therefore uses ‘inquiry’ in the sense of an exploration or investigation.
We understand ‘systemic inquiry’ as a meta-process for project or programme managing suited to some, but not all, situations. A systemic inquiry can precede or run in parallel with a programme or project. Inquiry is a form of practice as well as a disposition and it is enhanced by acknowledging uncertainty from the start i.e. an attitude of avoiding the hubris of certainty.
To be honest, I didn’t really understand Activity 1.18, so I asked my “little robot friend” (I’ve created a GPT using the TB872 course materials, being sure to tick the option not to use them for ChatGPT’s training data). It said that this activity is an exercise in self-examination and a way to align my personal or professional practices with the principles of managing systemic change. This activity, and therefore this blog post, is only about setting it up.
As such, I need to consider:
- Reflecting on my current practice: particularly in terms of managing changes in complex systems. This might involve considering how I approach problems, make decisions, and interact with others in situations that require systemic thinking.
- Identifying Practices: I need to think about specific practices or habits I currently use when faced with systemic challenges. This could include both formal methods and informal strategies that I employ in professional or personal contexts.
- Analysing the effectiveness of these practices: for example, are there areas where my approach works well? Are there aspects that could be improved? Through this analysis, I should be able to recognise strengths as well as areas for development in my systemic practice.
- Praxis: by connecting my personal practices with theoretical concepts and frameworks I’m learning module, I should figure out how my methods align with or diverge from the principles of systems thinking.
- Iteration: my systems literacy will improve over time, so I only need to consider what I would call System Inquiry v0.1. As I progress through the module I’ll then integrate new insights and learning.
There are so many areas I could cover, but given that I’m blogging publicly about all of this I think I’ll probably steer clear of anything solely related to my family. Instead I’ll focus more on personal or work-related things.
For example (again, with the help of my little robot friend), I could consider:
- Decision-making processes: how do I make decisions, especially in complex situations? Do I consider multiple perspectives? How do I deal with uncertainty or conflicting information?
- Problem-solving approaches: how do I approach problem-solving? Do I tend to look at problems in isolation, or do I consider the wider system and potential ripple effects of my solutions?
- Communication & collaboration: if I consider my communication and collaboration practices, particularly in group settings or teams, how do I ensure diverse viewpoints are considered? How do I manage conflicts or integrate different ideas?
- Change management: by reflecting on a specific instance where I was involved in managing change, what were the strategies I used, the challenges I faced, and the outcomes that were achieved?
- Workplace practices: what are the systems and processes within my organisation. How do they impact my work? Are there inefficiencies or areas for improvement that a systems thinking approach could address?
- Personal habits & routines: looking at my daily habits and routines, how do these contribute to my overall well-being or goals? Are there systemic factors influencing these habits?
- Handling stress & complexity: reflecting on how I handle stress and complex situations, do I have strategies for maintaining a holistic perspective and not getting overwhelmed by details?
- Balancing different life roles: considering how I balance different roles in my life (e.g., professional, parent, community member), how do these roles interact and influence each other?
- Learning & education: thinking about my approach to learning and education, how do I integrate new knowledge into my practice? Do I consider the broader implications of what I learn?
- Community engagement: in terms of community activities in which I’ve involved, I could consider how I contribute and what systemic factors affect the community. How do I approach community issues from a systems perspective?
It was useful to ask for some options, as otherwise I’d probably just have looked about something specific to our co-op. Instead, I think I’ll reflect on my practice in terms of how I remain productive despite all of the different things that could hinder that (health, time pressures due to family commitments, study, etc.)
I’ll refine this further as I get into things a bit more, but thinking about my ‘practice’ in terms of the way I set up my life to be as (sustainably) productive as possible seems like a good start.
Image: DALL-E 3