Podcast #4. Symbiotic Thinking

Listen to the podcast; join the follow-up teleconference at www.compression.org. This podcast topic is “Symbiotic Thinking.” Learn how to address complex issues, think from alternate viewpoints, originate solutions, and dialog with others.

Follow up Teleconference: Symbiotic Thinking is Systems Thinking with an added twist. For every decision of consequence, give its effects on nature top priority. Do we see reality, or only iconic representations of it? How can we improve our anticipation of the consequences of our actions? (That is, practice the Precautionary Principle?)

Systems thinking has a long history, but if it is new to you, Learning for Sustainability has an overview as up-to-date as any, and it begins tying systems thinking to environmental issues. Systemic Thinking builds on that, recognizing that our human processes and our own beliefs are part of most systems we perceive and analyze.

The teleconference will open with a question: When in a park, how do you interpret what you see? An aesthetic area for recreation, or webs of life? This question begs you to see the difference between a nature preserve and a park. Humans should rarely visit a nature preserve, letting nature design it on its own, to do whatever nature wants to do. Otherwise, it’s a park, designed first for human use. If nature has its way with part of it, well and good, but if human presence is frequent, it shapes the nature within a park to do more what we want it to do than what it wants to do. That is, without intending to, we encroach on biodiversity.

In business, systems thinking is often confined to human activities. For example, suppose we analyze how a supply chain works, or ought to work. We flow chart people, equipment, and money flows. Rarely do we assess what a supply chain does to nature. And estimating the costs of a supply chain to us almost always neglects its “external costs” to nature.

This discussion will likely devolve into more topics than we have time for. For example, what are external costs? Is it possible to estimate them with monetary valuations, or are we just kidding ourselves? What does “progress” mean to you? Personally? For society? For the nature around you?

Not least in importance is symbiotic thinking about any objectives we adopt: very narrow or very broad? Does setting objectives limit the scope of symbiotic thinking?

  • 8 PM Eastern, 12/24/202o

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