At the beginning of March our team was on a retreat in a quiet, familiar place in the French Alps. We were thinking about the future, our future. We went for walks, enjoyed the fickle weather, prepared food together. Liquid conversations filled the cracks. We were grateful for each other's company. Just as we returned home, we collectively pushed the 'pause' button and our societies went into lockdown. As futures and systems thinkers we wanted to jump into the fray, and help to make sense of this extraordinary episode. But we didn't, at least not publicly. The buzz out there was simply deafening.
Instead we decided to take a step back, and soak it in. An internal learning process shaped up (thanks to our colleagues from Tweeperenboom for the nudge). We're ten weeks in now, and we refrain from drawing conclusions. But the exchange itself is heartening. It's a performance of sorts. Lois Holzman would say: we are sustaining our own 'zone of proximal development'; we are inviting ourselves to develop into who we are becoming. It is the space and the activity of becoming who we are by performing who we’re not. Yes, we can grow, even if we don't know ...
Meanwhile we continue to work and serve our clients
Marta is leading a project that tries to map out the impact of the pandemic on the Integrated Community Care agenda, which is driven by the Transnational Forum on Integrated Community Care (TransForm), a joint initiative of Foundations in and beyond Europe that aims to put the community at the centre of primary care and integrated care.
Randy is piloting an assignment that seeks to design a publicly and philanthropically-funded oncology research system that is able to bring innovations more quickly and equitably to patients. Client: the King Baudouin Foundation.
Philippe is helping OVAM, our Flemish Waste Management Agency, to envision alternative futures for the practice of soil and land stewardship. The question is really: how do we learn to take care for the earth in a very volatile future?
Kaat and Ana are coaching a community of 25 organisations who are working to improve health literacy in the setting of first line health care. Client: the Fund Dr Daniel De Coninck (hosted by the King Baudouin Foundation).
Jo continues to support the strategic positioning and development of the QUISPER platform for personalised nutrition advice within the context of EIT Food. A first real-life concept is soon going to be tested in a catering environment.
Randy and Philippe are guiding a trend scan and strategic reflection within Kom op tegen Kanker, our largest cancer-combating NGO, putting in place the foundation for a new 5-year plan.
You may be interested in a few recent publications we contributed to
Goal-oriented care. A shared language and co-creative practice for health and social care – King Baudouin Foundation, 2020.
Early March we also published a piece in our national daily De Tijd to plead for a more serious and structural investment into futures exploration at broad societal level. Rather vital at a time when the frequency of systemic crises seems inexorably on the increase.
Feel free also to tune in on Philippe's Medium channel: mixed observations on life as a systems practitioner, and a growing collection of reviews of systems books.
A few words on our shiftN Academy
We are wrapping up our 2019-2020 season and preparing for the next. We love sharing our knowledge on systems and futures approaches.
Registration for the International Certified Future Strategist program, starting in January 2021, is open.
Feel free to express your interest via the Academy pages on our website for our open training programs on systems mapping and soft systems methodology. We are running them from 6 participants onwards.
A new tour through the Systems Library will start in the fall. We'll be reading books at the intersection of systems theory and 'anthropocenic' concerns.
We hope to welcome you at one of our or our partners' programs soon.
Thanks for reading.
Take care, and all the very best.
The shiftN team