• Marty Jacobs Social Impact Consulting
  • Bruce McKenzie


Collective thinking, Dialogue, experiential knowledge, rich picturing, emergence



Purpose: To explore the use of ‘dialogue’ to improve knowledge sharing when system scientists engage with Global challenges.


Participants: Conference attendees with experiences of or interest in the use of non-competitive knowledge sharing techniques in their systems’ practice.


Methods: Storytelling, rich picturing, emergence, Mural and WindTunneling software.


Outcome: Articulation of the role, value, and techniques of dialogue as systems sciences increasingly engage with global challenges.


Keywords: Collective thinking, Dialogue, experiential knowledge, rich picturing, emergence.



Since the 2021 ISSS Online Conference a group of Systems Practitioners has met monthly to discuss the role of dialogue in their system activities and the techniques used by group members in various circumstances. The group has also critically reviewed papers on dialogue.


One of the emergent themes from these discussions (dialogues) has been the increasing polarization about dialogue as a useful method within systems practices. As systems thinkers, designers, negotiators, etc. engage with global challenges (enunciated elsewhere in this Conference) the process of understanding the complexity of associated systems requires dialogues between stakeholders rather than debates or other competitive techniques. This is because it is increasingly unlikely that any one person knows enough about a specific challenge to adequately inform its resolution. We assume, therefore, that we are all dependent on the insights that emerge from sharing our separate experiences and learning.


This workshop invites all users of dialogue methods in their systems practice to join and share their short stories about their experiences of using dialogue and comment on what they see as the future use of dialogue techniques in engaging with global challenges. Data from all the stories and comments will be pooled using Mural software to create a rich picture of ‘Dialogue use in systems practice today.’ Themes and emergent insights will be identified in the ‘rich picture’ and used to inform a statement about future uses of dialogue methods to engage with global challenges.


Conference attendees are asked to participate even just for a brief visit, to contribute their short stories to the pool of experiences. The more stories the more significant and useful will be the emergent learning for us all. If because of time constraints participation is not possible synchronously you are invited to use the online software program to contribute your stories and comments. Link to where you Create an Account using the ‘Join Project Code’ ISSS2022 and follow the prompts to make your contribution. All contributions will be visible (without author identification) after the Conference along with other related activities in this Project for those interested.

Author Biography

Marty Jacobs, Social Impact Consulting

Marty Jacobs is currently a doctoral student in Organizational Systems at Saybrook University. Her research interests are in transformative and organizational learning in multi-sector transformational change, as well as complex adaptive systems and system sciences. She has been teaching and consulting for twenty years, applying a systems thinking approach to organizations. Marty has served on a variety of nonprofit, professional, and school boards over the past twenty years and has also written for The Systems Thinker, Vermont Business Magazine, American School Board Journal, Leverage Points Blog, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, and Confident Voices for Nurses on topics related to organizational learning, leadership, systems thinking, workplace culture, board governance, and community engagement.    





2022 Special Track 2: Confronting Systemic Global Challenges in the Present