Open Thinkering


TB871: Flamingos and hedgehog croquet

Note: this is a post reflecting on one of the modules of my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. You can see all of the related posts in this category

A wicked game of croquet? Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is illustrated by Arthur Rackham and published by The Viking Press as part of their ‘Studio’ book.

I’m skipping some of the early activities in TB871 because I’ve already covered them in more depth in TB872. I was, however, quite taken by this metaphor:

Some of you may know about the wonderful game of croquet described in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which the balls were hedgehogs that unrolled and walked away and the croquet mallets were flamingos that craned their necks up to Alice rather than staying in the shape required to be a mallet. Human systems are a bit like that: people play by the rules while they want to, but in principle they are quite capable of unrolling and walking away – though there are usually strong incentives not to do so.

(The Open University, 2020)

I referenced Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a while ago in an article about digital literacy and ambiguity I co-wrote with my thesis supervisor. In that case it was the Mad Hatter likening a raven to a writing-desk, but I like this one with the flamingos and hedgehogs just as much as it helps people understand how much the world is in flux.


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