Lessons from Fuschl 2006

IFSR Newsletter 2006 Vol. 24 No. 1 November
The Executive Committee of the IFSR decided that the Conversation-style was the right tool and Fuschl the right environment to achieve the goal of understanding the current and future trends of the Systems Sciences and setting new directions for the For 2006 the EC choose topics which were relevant to the systems movement at large and to the IFSR in particular. Representatives of member organisations were invited to suggest participants.
Despite this break in tradition from the previous topic selection process the EC believes that this approach was the right approach and even more in the sense of Bela’s original objective to make stakeholders discuss their problems and design their own system. For details see ‘The Fuschl Conversation 2006 (above) and the Proceedings of the Fuschl Conversation (Metcalf, G. and Chroust, G.: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Fuschl Conversation, April 22-27, 2006, Inst. f. Systems Engineering and Automation, Kepler Univ. Linz, 2006, SEA-SR-13}, ISBN 3-902457-13-9}, 68 pages.
Given the double task of both evaluating the systems movement in general and IFSR’s future role in particular was expected to create some confusion and some friction at the Conversation, and it did.
Conclusions of Fuschl 2006
Matjaz Mulej (Slovenia), Jifa Gu (China), Gary Metcalf (USA), Gerhard Chroust (Austria)

(copied from Mulej, M. and Gu, J. and Metcalf, G. and Chroust, G.}, Conlusions of Fuschl 2006}, in: Metacalf, G and Chroust,G. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Fuschl Conversation, April 22-27, 2006, Inst. f. Systems Engineering and Automation, Kepler Univ. Linz, 2006, SEA-SR-13, ISBN 3-902457-13-9}, pp. 10-11)
The 2006 Fuschl conversation was unique in several ways. It was essentially a meta-conversation in that it used the conversation setting to talk about conversation as a process. At the same time it allowed representatives of the member associations to consider the future of the IFSR and its role in the future of systems sciences. Discussions at such a level can be confusing if people gravitate to proposing and defending theories which may not be familiar to others. This is a key reason for having five-day, small-group meetings, which are a considerable exception to most other professional meetings now. It takes time for people learn to understand each other, especially when topics are large and abstract. Though the effort required was taxing at times, we can be proud of the number of additional ideas, suggestions and volunteering voices which surfaced during these five days at Fuschl.
General consensus seems to be achieved on the following conclusions:
Conclusion 1: The IFSR should be careful not to compete with its member organizations in any of its activities. The IFSR should be an umbrella service organization covering topics and activities that the individual member associations find difficult to do individually and consider important to many;
Conclusion 2: The IFSR should support and sponsor activities and organizational forms that would help both the systems community at large and all of us to promote systemic thinking, observing, decision making, and action rather than the one-sidedness, which prevails in modern times to the detriment of humankind.
Conclusion 3: Meetings like Fuschl 2006 are a useful means to bring systems organizations together and foster cooperation and common ideas.
Conclusion 4: Meetings like Fuschl 2006 are also very inspiring to the participants with respect to understanding and insight.
In more detail some of the salient comments/conclusions were (for more details see the proceedings):

  • The IFSR can and should provide services to (a) society at-large (i.e. systems thinking, systems science, education), and (b) member organizations. These services should be agreed upon by the members and should not be in competition with the individual members’ aspirations. Such services include:
    • Foundation of an International Academy of Cybernetics and Systems Sciences.
    • An active and interactive homepage with data and information from and for all member associations.
    • International Encyclopedia of Systems Science and Cybernetics – to continue the work done so far by Charles Francois;
    • Archiving Services, preserving, structuring and making available the legacy of system thinkers and the foundations of Systems Sciences.
  • The IFSR should serve as an umbrella organization by
    • coordination and supporting cooperation in the area of System Science and Systems Education, in view of professionalism and curriculum development and
    • establishing contacts and cooperation and support with Asian associations, as well as Latin-American and African.
    • Providing a Web-Site which provides strategic support for IFSR’s objectives.
  • The Fuschl Conversation should serve as a platform to both establish consensus between systems organization and serve as a guiding tool for IFSR’s next future activities.
    • There should be a Fuschl 2008 Conversation as a support for strategic decisions beyond the relative short board meetings of the IFSR.
    • Representatives of member organizations should be invited to the Fuschl Conversations.
    • Essentially the Fuschl Conversations should be continued in the same form with improvements in the preparation and post-evolution, including selection process for topics and participants.
    • The IFSR-oriented view of Fuschl should be reduced.
  • The IFSR should initiate projects together with it members,
    • The should be approved by the Board
    • They should be useful for society at large and for the systems science field.
    • Projects should be of a kind which is outside of the scope or means of the member organizations.
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