How mismeasures steer us wrong

10/26/12 in Shining Light on “Dark Energy”, part of my “reality math” series, I describe how standard measures of business impacts vastly under-count them, and how it has equally misled our theory and practices of sustainable design.

We’re not counting the consumption required to deliver business services at all, and that’s commonly much larger than the impacts we can trace directly.   The article is in the Sept 2012 SB “New Metrics of Sustainability” letter (& here as a PDF).  The research for it is the peer reviewed 2011 SEA assessment method published in Sustainability (MDPI).  In discussing it on Systems Thinking World I found good added ways to explain the huge problem it causes us. The graphic below shows the scale of the error, the typical four-fold under-count.

But… Why Does the Changing Information Matter ???

Loraine noted that if the same error of perception is the same for all, it might not matter, for example.  So, the problem that misinformation distorts every decision you make wasn’t getting through.  The question she asked help set up a good explanation.


10/25/12 Loraine – Thanks for inquiring.   I do recognize there is something in my work that is hard to connect with.   Maybe its best exemplified by the weird quotes I get occasionally, like my dad’s, the outstanding physics professor who taught me to be so observant I could recognize behavior not following the laws of physics.   He finally gave up in exasperation saying “Everything you say is true dear, it’s *just not physics*”.   Needless to say, I also had no idea what to say to a response like that!!

Business energy use
The scales of counted and uncounted direct energy demands for operating the model business for the SEA case study.

But that was years ago, and I do see a lot more clearly what keeps people from recognizing how I depart from the common perspective.   I am, after all, talking about systemic errors in perception.  In this case it’s for the world’s standard setting bodies for economic measures.   They’ve been thinking our data was the reality, unaware of how much of business system impacts are hidden from view.   Thinking our information is reality is a problem lots of places. Continue reading How mismeasures steer us wrong

Fresh Thinking for The Tragedy of the Commons

The long Systems Thinking World discussion, started by Helene Finidori, to respond to UN Chairman Ban ki-moon’s Call for revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival… How to make this happen? . produced a great many complex and well reasoned views, 7800 of them! From that extensive collection she has evolved her sense of the group’s thinking in her Systems Thinking and ‘Commons-Sense’ and other interesting products in the works and from others too.

Recently Horst G Ludwig said in effect, it’s all just impossible.  He said it in a way, from really understanding the self-conflicts within most solutions, that prompted this rather clear statement of one of the exceptions we’ve been discussing, that others commented on liking a lot.


Horst – I think you’re missing some of the options, to say “As long as UN seeks to save the monetarian-economic system nothing can be done.”   What I’d agree with you on is that “The problem is that we are living in idiocratic worlds…”.   Living by ideologies not connected to reality is clearly a failure of ideas, but it does not mean that no fresh thinking is possible.

no commons
Over-investing in the commons till it’s barren

At least one alternate way to end the destructive use of money that exploits people and the earth seems to take only fresh thinking.   For example, the tragedy of the commons is that the commons can’t remain bountiful if you over-invest in exploiting it, like using your cattle to multiply the cattle grazing on the village green, in the example Harding gave.

So, for our earth as a commons to remain profitable for investment, something needs to limit the growth of the investments for exploiting it.  It would protect both the value of the investments and the value work, by forestalling an otherwise inevitable tragedy of our ever growing ‘husbandry’ of investments grazing on “the commons” till it’s barren. Continue reading Fresh Thinking for The Tragedy of the Commons

Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

There are a great variety of reasons to organize people

Sometimes it’s to discover something or to accomplish something
Sometimes it’s to connect people who share their views
Sometimes for people who share a common world from different views…
(but have remarkably different talents and views)

If you know of good examples or methods not mentioned here,
please post comments

It’s Collaborative Work between groups of stakeholders that often “don’t speak the same language”.  It takes art, patience and a sound method to get them to immerse themselves in the environment of the problem or opportunity that they need each other to respond to as partners.

They find there’s more to the reality than they thought, and to each other. Continue reading Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships