#35 – Human System Dynamics

Is there any methodology or framework that can help us approach creatively and solve the many entangled wicked issues we face collectively?

I want to start with a quote:

 “In the past, changing the self and changing the world were often regarded as separate endeavors and viewed in either-or terms. But in the story of the Great Turning, they are recognized as mutually reinforcing and essential to one another.” 

― Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone, Active Hope

In my own biography from an early age I was overwhelmed with what today is called the omni-crisis, multi-crisis or poly-crisis. When we look at the state of affairs on planet Earth, we are faced with runaway climate change, many of the crucial planetary boundaries crossed, large macro-economic changes away from a Western dominated narrative and exploitative late stage capitalism going haywire.

It seems we need to adjust to chaos. But I reckon most listeners will agree, that’s not what we are used to in our brains that pretty much haven’t changed since we roamed the Earth as hunters and gatherers. 

  • So, where does Human System Dynamics (HSD) fit into the puzzle of the Great Turning?
  • “Certainty used to be the foundation of knowledge and action. Those days are gone. Today, uncertainty is the only certainty. HSD’s Pattern Logic helps you make decisions and take action, even when you can’t predict or control anything in your world.” Please explain that quote from the website. 
  • If I got it right, HSD is not a ™ but an open source methodology that everyone can nudge, tweak, integrate into her respective toolbox? What do you think is the cooperative advantage that follows that open source approach?
  • Is HSD more than “just” another change management methodology?
  • Please start with describing HSD, at best by using a hands-on example?
  • What are the crucial ingredients of HSD?
  • What’s the vision? I read on the website “Our Vision: People everywhere thrive because we see patterns clearly, seek to understand, and act with courage to transform turbulence and uncertainty into possibility for all.” What does that mean in practice?
  • Please highlight some best practice examples and success stories where HSD has made a difference.
  • Where do you see the future of HSD?
  • What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?


Dr. Glenda Eoyang 

works with public and private organizations to help them thrive in the face of overwhelming complexity and uncertainty. She is a pioneer in the field of human systems dynamics (HSD), which she founded. Through Human Systems Dynamic Institute, Glenda uses her Models and Methods to help others see patterns in the chaos that surrounds them, understand the patterns in simple and powerful ways, and take practical steps to shift chaos into order. Her clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oxfam International, Canada School of Public Service, Cargill, Fraser Health Authority (BC), and Roche/Genentech.

Glenda’s latest book, with co-author Royce Holladay, is Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization (Stanford University Press, April 2013). https://www.hsdinstitute.org 

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