David Ing


A social enterprise aims to sustain a commercially viable organization with positive social impact and environmental responsibility.

In “The Systems Approach and Its Enemies”, C. West Churchman depicts the struggles between reason (the rational mind), and four enemies: (i) morality; (ii) politics; (iii) religion; and (iv) aesthetics.  Leaders who do not negotiate with the non-rational will end up dealing with the irrational.

Systems thinking guides us to critically reframe the way we see the world, through explorations of assumptions that we make individually and collectively.

Mastery in systems thinking develops on the time scale of years, not hours. However, open-minded teams can start productive dialogues that can inform actions that we choose, both individually and collectively.

In a few hours, we can start some discussions on:

(a) appreciating the value(s) that can be afforded to stakeholders with interests in coproducing outcomes, beyond consuming outputs;

(b) intervening in wicked messes by architecting offerings in service ecologies, as contexts for designing programs with effective production behaviors; and

(c) managing through dilemmas and double binds by prioritizing learning over optimizing.

Systems approaches build on philosophies and theories underlying concepts and language, both general and specific. They cross (i) mechanistic technologies, (ii) living biological beings, (iii) social collectives, and (iv) ecologies both natural and man-made.

David Ing invites participation in this exploratory dialogue.  I am honored to be a past president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (2011-2012).  I graduated from IBM after 28 years of service, with assignments in management consulting, industry solutions, market development and headquarters planning. Doctoral research at Aalto University led to the publishing of a book, “ Open Innovation Learning ”, launched in February 2018. Prior degrees include a Master's of Management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Commerce from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. Small businesses are in my family history, growing up in Gravenhurst. We lived first over a restaurant, and then a furniture and appliance store. My blogging and publications can be readily found on the Internet at .

As cohorts, we can discuss how we might continue to advance our joint learning on a longer horizon. For continuing education, social entrepreneurs may benefit from the slower and nonlinear dialogues at the regular monthly meetings of Systems Thinking Ontario. This group meets every third Wednesday evening of the month, usually at OCADU.


David Ing, "A Systems Approach on Social Enterprise", Agents of Change accelerator program, Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto, Ontario, July 11, 2018


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2018/07/11 A Systems Approach on Social Enterprise