Thursday, August 12, 2010

King Lear on the Heath

I was honored to be one of several featured speakers on August 10 at the inaugural U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2010 Environmental Conference in Warrenton, Virginia.  The purpose of the Conference was to foster improved communications, and to share senior environmental leadership experiences both internally within the Army Corps and as well as with external partners from environmental academia, NGOs, industry and other federal agencies.  The conference focused on broad senior-level environmental issues and included such topics as climate change, sustainability, ecosystem restoration, renewable energy, and remediation, with an emphasis on learning, sharing, networking and reinforcing key concepts and strategies.  In a talk entitled, "King Lear on the Heath," I spoke to the over 100 attendees about the complexity of the social, economical and ecological systems within which we are working, the "wicked problems"  that can arise (seemingly - but not actually - out of nowhere) during our work within these systems, and how institutions (specifically the Army Corps of Engineers) might be better poised to employ "collaborative systems thinking"  to stimulate thinking, proactively manage problems and handle inherent uncertainty.

To read more about collaborative systems thinking, read (pdf file) and see the extensive reference section in "Systems Thinking as an Emergent Team Property: Ongoing research into the enablers and barriers to team-level systems thinking" by Caroline Twomey Lamb and Donna H. Rhodes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Published in the SysCon 2008 proceedings – IEEE International Systems Conference in Montreal, Canada, April 7–10, 2008.

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