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Unknowns

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Overview of several high profile system dynamics model-based applications, selected to show what such models look like, how they emerged (often in multidisciplinary interventions), and how they were used successfully to influence strategy, policy, and decision making. Examples include project management, commodity cycles, urban dynamics, and infectious disease policy. Video (30 minutes): Models that Matter: […]
This video of an hour-long workshop introduces the core concepts and patterns of thought of the system dynamics approach to complex problems: thinking dynamically, thinking causally, thinking about accumulations, and the key to it all, thinking endogenously. The session builds skills in the mechanics of defining problems dynamically, mapping systems structure, and teasing out qualitative […]
The encyclopedia is a searchable online database of concepts that support the advancement of cybernetic and systems research and applications. There are more than 3,800 entries. Topics include abstraction, complexity, decision hierarchy, emergence, feedback, gap analysis, hierarchy, interdependence, non-linear dynamics, path dependence, root definition, stakeholder analysis, and worldview. Each concept is briefly explained and linked […]
This introduction to systems thinking starts with the old adage “teach a man to fish and you feed him forever” and demonstrates why this may fail. It shows how the simple act of fishing is embedded in a complex web of stakeholders and issues, including climate change, pollution, overfishing, lack of access to income, irrigation […]
The problem of dealing with unknowns does not reside in any one discipline. Instead, it inhabits many disciplines. Nearly all disciplines and practice domains have perspectives on the unknown, and their perspectives employ methods ranging from mathematics to discourse analysis. These perspectives are, however, fragmented and specific to their discipline’s linguistic-conceptual frameworks. Thus, researchers and […]
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This taxonomy distinguishes between passive and active ignorance. Passive ignorance involves areas that we are ignorant of, whereas active ignorance refers to areas we ignore. The term ‘error’ is used for the unknowns encompassed by passive ignorance and ‘irrelevance’ for active ignorance. Each of these terms is then further divided into other kinds of ignorance […]
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The matrix below provides a useful way of distinguishing between three primary categories of unknowns. The most familiar is ignorance that we are aware of, the ‘known unknowns’. Most research addresses this kind of ignorance, seeking to fill known knowledge gaps. Another kind of unknown is knowledge that we do not know we have, the […]
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Six main features of values are described: “Values are beliefs linked inextricably to affect. When values are activated, they become infused with feeling”. “Values refer to desirable goals that motivate action.” “Values transcend specific actions and situations. … This feature distinguishes values from norms and attitudes that usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations.” […]

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