Tools for Learning LO8054

arthur battram (
Sat, 22 Jun 1996 18:59:49 +0000

>I am interested in organisational learning:
>- - from the point of view of a consultant and a researcher
>- - in non-government organisations (NGOs) - known as non-profits in the
>USA. Especially those delivering foreign aid.
>- - to improve NGOs' capacity to learn from their clients, who generally
>have less influence on the aiding NGO than regulatory bodies or donors,
>and therefore can easily be ignored.
>- - the management of diversity within such organisations, and amongst
>their clients.
>- - the use of evolutionary theory as the basis for a theory of OL
>applicable both within organisations and in populations or ecologies of
>- - the design of monitoring systems focusing on qualitative information
>and participatory processes.
>- - the representation of organisational knowledge via
>- - the idea of demand for information and its effects on OL

I'm doing something similar in local government: see below

Best wishes

Arthur Battram

---Introducing Tools for Learning ----
Tools for Learning is the umbrella term for a series of related LGMB
projects which aim to assist local authorities by applying complexity
theory to:
the learning organisation and the development of learning cultures
the new role of training
management of change
implementation of initiatives
strategy and policy formulation
service improvement
involvement [community, service user, customer, stakeholder].

*New approaches to complexity in local government
A one day introductory workshop for senior local authority staff. The
first series ran successfully in Spring 1996. A single workshop is in
Birmingham on September 24th, and another series is planned for late

*Workshop objectives
By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
describe some new approaches to intractable problems;
explain some new concepts from the emerging sciences of complexity;
explain the application of 'tools for learning' to a range of contexts;
start to apply 'tools for learning' in their own organisation.

MagNet are networks for local authority staff with some understanding of
complexity concepts and their use. They are intended to be self-organising
interactive events: 'MagNets for learning'. MagNet South and MagNet North
start in early July.

*Complexity and...
A series of advanced workshops, on topics such as Complexity and Strategic
Management, Complexity and Learning are planned for Autumn 1996.

*Tools for Learning website
Offering online information and links to complexity research sites on the
World Wide Web, as well as access to an e-mail 'complexity and local
government' discusssion group and information service. The site is under
construction at present,email Arthur Battram at for more details.

*'Learning from Complexity' pack
This publication, due in September, will contain:
the Complexicon-a comprehensive guide to complexity concepts
Tools for Learning exercises and simulations
Case studies of Service Improvement
An introduction to complexity in local government and complexity science.

*Your involvement:
Several local authorities are now actively involved in the project; if you
work for or with a local authority, and would like to know more contact
Arthur Battram at:
LGMB, Arndale House, Arndale Centre,
LUTON LU1 2TS. phone : 01582-451166
fax: 01582-412525

MagNet newsletter---

[details of magnets- a text version of a 'newsletter/mailout follow...

Introducing the next stage of the Tools for Learning project-
the MagNETS:
a series of 'networkshops' for participants in the Tools for Learning

Responding to your requests
Preliminary analysis of participants responses to the Tools for Learning
workshops showed strong support for Regional networks, and little support
for a National network or National conference, which is why we are offering
the 3 regional 'MagNets'.

No obligation introductory offer
Because we feel that it is important to encourage self-organising,
self-sustaining networks, we intend them to be self-financing from the
outset. Our view is that subsidised networks tend to collapse when support
is eventually withdrawn, because the introduction of charges is not linked
to an clear benefit to members. We therefore intend to 'start as we mean
to go on' (sensitivity to initial conditions, to use the complexity term).
We intend them to be small, intense working events rather than large
'talking shop' meetings, so we're aiming for an attendance of around 8-10
people. (If demand is greater than this, we'll discuss it with you to
revise the plan). We have, therefore, set a figure of =A340 per networksho=
per person, to include lunch and all materials, in order to recover the
costs of venue, mailings, admin and facilitators. But the first meeting is
completely free, so that you can decide if it meets your needs.

MagNets: the first meetings
MagNetNorth, meeting in Manchester, on Friday 5th of July, in
association with North West Local Authorities' Employers' Organisation,
MagNetMidland, meeting in Birmingham, on Thursday 27th of June, in
association with West Midlands Employers' Organisation,
MagNetSouth, meeting in London, on Wednesday 3rd of July.

All meetings start at 10am and finish at 3pm.

Why MagNets?
The name has been chosen to reflect the both the focus and content of the
networkshops. A magnet is an example of an attractor- a key

complexity concept. 'MagNet' includes 2 ideas, the magazine format and
the network. We want the meetings to be like a magazine with a
mix of regular features, lead items and user involvement in the planning of
the content of the network.

A free copy of the Complexity pack:
'Learning from Complexity'
Each member of the group will receive a free copy of the the 'Complexity
pack: Learning from Complexity', when they attend their second meeting.
The pack comes in the form of an A4 polypropylene wallet, containing a
number of items which include:
Learning from Complexity' : an introduction. Examines recent changes in
central and local government from a complexity viewpoint, and introduces
the pack.
Perspectives On Complexity No.1: Self-Organising For Success: Creating A
Learning Culture This book contains a case study of local authority service
improvement. The TeamTalk approach used by the consultant is based on both
the Fifth Discipline - systems thinking of Peter Senge and the emerging
science of complexity.
Perspectives on complexity No2: The Simple and the Complex: the patterns of =
The Complexicon: a lexicon of complexity This is a practical reference work
containing a number of entries, each of which is describes a concept
derived from, or influenced by, the emerging sciences of complexity. It is
intended that the entries are thought provoking and challenging: when
actively applied to the work of your organisation they become Tools for
Learning which stimulate creativity and assist the implementation of new
The Complexity cards The cards are a quick summary of the entries in the
Complexicon. They carry the name, number and visual image of each entry on
the front, and a list of the key features of the concept on the back.
Phoenix 60s These little books are background material on topics related
to complexity: biology, science, literature and culture. Charles Darwin
Natural Selection extracts from the 1872 edition of 'The Origin of the
Species'. Richard Dawkins God's Utility Function extracts from his latest
book 'River out of Eden'. Dawkins is one of the foremost neo-Darwinians;
inventor of memes John Brockman and Katinka Matson [Editors] Science,
Mind and Cosmos [extracts from"How things are'. ] Chapters by Stephen Jay
Gould on evolution, Steve Jones on genetics, William Calvin on Darwinian
approaches to thinking, etcetera. Ben Okri Birds of Heaven. 2 essays on
the power of language. The role of language is a key part of the multiple
perspectives of complexity theory.
Supplements (There are 3 free supplements included in the initial purchase
price of the pack) These will include exercises, simulations and public
sector case studies.

About the format
We are planning in terms of 'flexible time-slots' -which will work like the
design 'grid' of a magazine, allowing for variation within a structure. We
see a range of regular items and specials, determined by the MagNet group

Regular items
We think that these would take up no more than 2 to 21/2 hours, including
lunch. We suggest that regular items should include the following:
the Complexity Surgery: participants are invited to consult on a work or
personal issue with the facilitators. This could be either a private
consultation, or a 'fishbowl' with the support of the group.
Action Learning: for those of you not familiar with it, action learning
was developed by Reg Revans as a way of helping managers learn from their
peers. Although unfashionable, it has merit as a simple, easy to apply
technique, which can offer results straight away.
Agendatising: a structured method for determining an agenda for the group.
This method would be used in the final timeslot, to determine the content
of the next meeting.
Lunch: yes a normal buffet lunch, but with two provisos:
It lasts a full sacrosanct hour, and preceding events are not allowed to
eat into the time
It is a networking information opportunity, so things like software demos
will be excluded.
Biography introductions: each participant is required to bring a brief
potted biography, detailing
their current work, interests and responsibilities,
a summary of their previous work
any other biographical information about themselves that they feel is
relevant to their personal approach to learning, change, management, etc

Special items
These are the special features, 'star interviews' and the like. These
items will take up the largest amount of time at the meeting, occupying 3
half-hour slots. The 3 slots may be filled by one long item or 2-3 shorter
ones. The sort of things we have in mind are:

Case studies by participants: based on the application of complexity ideas
and concepts to learning, management and change.
Supplements: Previews of new materials intended for inclusion inthe
'Complexity pack: Learning from Complexity'. This will be an opportunity
to both use the materials in advance of publication, and to critique and
shape the materials.
Simulations: we are keen to develop management games and simulations which
reflect the nature of complexity in local government. Rather than relying
on complex scenarios, they would ber based on simple rules with many
iterations, allowing users to develop a feel for the possibilities in a
situation. We are currently developing ideas based on a voluntary sector
funding crisis and a customer service issue. Participants are invited to
take part in the development of the simulations.
Applications: these would be opportunities to take a particular complexity
concept or group of concepts and apply them to an area of management , in
facilitated group discussion. For example: self-organising and teamwork,
autopoesis and middle management, 'the edge of chaos' and individual
Guest speakers: On request, we could arrange input by complexity speakers
and practitioners.
Workshop training sessions: Brief training inputs on topics requested by
the group.

Book now using the attached form
Please use the attached form to both book a place and comment on these ideas=


arthur battram <>

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