Michael Lissack

Michael Lissack
American Society for Cybernetics

DBA, Henley Management College

About

83
Publications
36,591
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Introduction
Michael Lissack is the immediate past president of the American Society for Cybernetics (2014-2020), the executive director emeritus of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE), Professor of Design and Innovation at Tongji University (Shanghai), and a serial entrepreneur.
Additional affiliations
July 1999 - present
The Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence
The Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence
Position
  • Coherence and Emergence: Social Complexity Theory
Description
  • please see http://isce.edu
Education
August 1995 - June 2000
Henley Management College, Brunel University
Field of study
  • Management
September 1979 - June 1981
Yale University
Field of study
  • Management
September 1976 - June 1979
Williams College
Field of study
  • American History, Political Economy

Publications

Publications (83)
Article
Purpose, essence, and simplicity can provide a foundation for humility in the practice of human-centered design. While those qualities may assist in preparing narratives about the findings and applications of science, they also can be used to justify sloppy practices in the conduct of science itself. Slodderwetenschap (Dutch for “sloppy science”) i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Trust in science is undermined when science is sloppy. Slodderwetenschap ("sloppy science") is a carelessness characterized by a willingness to tolerate scientific shortcuts and the lack of needed questioning of assumptions which that tolerance enables. When scientism (the fetish-like belief of all that is labeled as "science" is good) combines wit...
Preprint
Full-text available
Purpose, essence, and simplicity can provide a foundation for humility in the practice of human-centered design. While those qualities may assist in preparing narratives about the findings and applications of science, they also can be used to justify sloppy practices in the conduct of science itself. Slodderwetenschap ("sloppy science") is a form o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Trust in science is undermined when science is sloppy. Slodderwetenschap ("sloppy science") is a carelessness characterized by a willingness to tolerate scientific shortcuts and the lack of needed questioning of assumptions which that tolerance enables. When scientism (the fetish-like belief of all that is labeled as "science" is good) combines wit...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper analyses the impact of Said’s Orientalism on today’s call to decolonize western universities and the resulting decline in the search for knowledge. Orientalism, initially started as a discourse about perception of ‘oriental culture’ in the West, grew into criticism of foreign policy strategies, and interventions directed toward Muslim co...
Preprint
Full-text available
Trust in science is undermined when science is sloppy. Slodderwetenschap ("sloppy science") is a carelessness characterized by a willingness to tolerate scientific shortcuts and the lack of needed questioning of assumptions which that tolerance enables. When scientism (the fetish-like belief of all that is labeled as "science" is good) combines wit...
Preprint
Full-text available
In woke speak, the mere presence of a "symbol" of uncomfortable thought, or worse, the expression of that thought to a "marginalized person" is a micro-aggression. The concerns which the concept of micro-aggressions attempt to address are valid. As a society we all too often take the lazy way out and ignore the contextual situations of others whic...
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This article is a position paper written in reaction to the now-infamous paper titled "On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?" by Timnit Gebru, Emily Bender, and others who were, as of the date of this writing, still unnamed. I find the ethics of the Parrot Paper lacking, and in that lack, I worry about the direction...
Article
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What the media and its critics often fail to note about the “cancel culture” is its deep roots in some of the most hollowed-out parts of our so-called meritocracy. We have millions of teachers teaching students about content they know little about because they were busy studying “how to be a teacher” instead. We have hundreds of thousands of manage...
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Understanding and cognition are traditionally viewed as philosophical and scientific issues where there is little room for contribution from the design community. This article proposes a radically different approach based on the observation that we live in a world that is more complex than our minds/brains possess the ability to process in its enti...
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In a previous set of articles, I suggest that the road to better understanding might be approached from the perspective of designerly-thinking. More than sixteen commentators submitted reactions to these pieces. Here, I review my basic claims, respond to the commentators, and state clearly what I mean by "ascribed realism." I expand on my contrast...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding and cognition are traditionally viewed as philosophical and scientific issues where there is little room for contribution from the design community. This article proposes a radically different approach based on the observation that we live in a world that is more complex than our minds/brains possess the ability to process in its enti...
Chapter
Louis Kauffman's target article is but one of many where the concept "eigenform" (Foerster 1981) gets used. I must confess that despite my serving as the President of the American Society for Cybernetics, and despite nearly two decades' work in cybernetics, I have found this concept to be among cybernetics' most difficult. At its heart, an eigenfor...
Chapter
Stuart Umpleby's target article highlights the intellectual progress of second-order cybernetics and its related branch of constructivism while at the same time making note of (and slightly bemoaning) its lack of implementation in both contemporary academic thought and practitioner practice. His hopeful expressions of the paths second-order cyberne...
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The traditional sciences often bracket away ambiguity through the imposition of " enabling constraints "-making a set of assumptions and then declaring ceteris paribus. These enabling constraints take the form of uncritically examined presuppositions or " uceps. " Second order science reveals hidden issues, problems and assumptions which all too of...
Article
Full-text available
The traditional sciences have always had trouble with ambiguity. To overcome this barrier, 'science' has imposed " enabling constraints " – hidden assumptions which are given the status of ceteris paribus. Such assumptions allow ambiguity to be bracketed away at the expense of transparency. These enabling constraints take the form of uncritically e...
Article
The Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences (SBE) are facing pressure from government agencies and scholars from other disciplines regarding the robustness, reliability, and relevance of the research being performed. This article describes how to operationalize one methodology for improving such robustness, reliability, and relevance - Second-Orde...
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We are seldom taught that simplification has a high risk of failure. In truth, it only works up to a point, after which all that lies ahead is failure. To examine the limits of simplicity is to look at what happens when our efforts to make things fit into a sound bite, label, or keyword go awry. When simplification works, it can indeed be very effe...
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Ambiguity is ever present in our world, but all too often we choose to ignore it. We assert the simple in lieu of the complex – the direct in lieu of the nuanced – the label or category in lieu of recognizing the portfolio of choices that label/category represents. This article will argue that how we choose to deal with ambiguity is a design choice...
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Full-text available
Incommensurability is a rather poor design choice. It blocks rather than encourages dialogue and learning. This article elucidates the benefits of replacing that thinking framework with a different design choice: orthogonality. The varying perspectives which philosophers take with regard to the type of experiences labeled as " recognizant transform...
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The first thing Ranulph Glanville taught me about cybernetics would prove in the end to be the most prophetic: namely that Winston Churchill was the first practicing cyberneticians. I suspect that most if not all of the readers of this article are already shaking their heads. What could Lissack be talking about? Ranulph told me this when describing...
Article
Full-text available
The traditional sciences have always had trouble with ambiguity. Through the imposition of " enabling constraints "-making a set of assumptions and then declaring ceteris paribus-science can bracket away ambiguity. These enabling constraints take the form of uncritically examined presuppositions or " uceps. " Second order science examines variation...
Article
Full-text available
The role of immediate feedback in-group conversations has received scant attention in the recent literature. While studies from the early 1990's suggested that "added information" in the form of non-verbal cues would allow video conferencing to "augment" the audio-only conference in terms of effectiveness, stunningly little follow-on research has b...
Chapter
With all due respect to the previous chapter, on its face it seems that the scientific realists have it easy in attempting to “explain” the creationist/evolutionist debate: evolution as we understand it is a product of science. But, as the quotes above reveal, science alone does not tell the whole story. Emotions (Luskin), nonsense (Robertson), and...
Chapter
When starting on this project to explore “explanation,” I had the somewhat naive idea that perhaps there would exist one or two “homologies” (underlying samenesses) that would tie together the various conceptions of the idea of explanation that I encountered among the various sciences, humanities, and everyday life. These homologies would be in con...
Chapter
I believe that we are in a much stronger position now than we have been for many years, provided that we are: Realist in acknowledging the actuality of an independent, causally efficacious world while recognizing the limitations on our access to it. Systemic and interdisciplinary because the world is a complex intertwining or lamination of many kin...
Chapter
This chapter is intended to serve the function of a literature review: locating the present work within the context and structures of existing research and literature. However (and this is an important caveat), our belief is that the traditional format of a literature survey (author a said x, author b said y, arranged either chronologically or by t...
Chapter
This is a book about explanation. Its origins lie in the all too frequent observation that our way of thinking often does not match the world. Such mismatches give rise to ambiguity and uncertainty. The ambiguity, in turn, acts as both a constraint on possible actions (including the action of reliable prediction) and the desire to “explain” what is...
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Does the availability of instant reference checking and "find more like this" research on the Internet change the standards by which academics should feel "obligated" to cite the work of others? Is the deliberate refusal to look for the existence of parallel work by others an ethical lapse or merely negligence? At a minimum, the Dutch standard of S...
Book
A discussion on the social complexity approach, where dialogue and stories allow for the degrees of freedom needed for the opportunities of emergence to take root. The authors focus on the experience of coherence and how such experiential lessons differ from the establishment and maintenance of categories and labels. © Hugo Letiche, Michael Lissack...
Chapter
Full-text available
We depend upon explanation in order to "make sense" out of our world. And, making sense is all the more important when dealing with change. But, what happens if our explanations are wrong? This question is examined with respect to two types of explanatory model. Models based on labels and categories we shall refer to as "representations." More comp...
Chapter
Careful distinctions have been the focus of our discussion. Complex as distinguished from the complicated. Experienced from the ascribed. Homology/simulacra from transcendence/depth level.
Chapter
When self and context meet the opportunities that are presented to that self and which is that self recognizes are what we call affordances. J. J. Gibson (1977, 1979) first used the term “affordance” to refer to actionable properties between world and actor (a person or animal). To Gibson, affordances are relationships. They exist naturally; they d...
Chapter
The research and academic work of the authors for the past decade or more has been centered on the arena known as “complexity” or “complex systems.” The study of complex systems has made major inroads in the mathematical world, but fewer inroads in the realm of social and organizational studies. Part of the lack of progress involves difficulties in...
Chapter
Little did Bernanke know how blind reliance on rules would, only one year later, lead the financial world to one of its nastiest surprises. Rule-based regulation allowed banks, mortgage companies, and real estate investors to exploit and ignore the risks involved in subprime lending. The financial markets relied on strict compliance with rules, rat...
Chapter
Over the last twenty years, society, management, politics and organization have been beset by a myriad of miracles and nasty surprises. First was the crisis-proof new economy, then the enormous real estate boom, followed by financial crisis, and there is the ever on-going globalization. There have been enormous booms and abject busts. Bad things se...
Chapter
This chapter continues our exploration of complexity, emergence, and in particular coherence. We begin with definitions. Coherence has a common meaning, “a sticking or cleaving together; union of parts of the same body; cohesion” (Webster’s Dictionary) and in philosophy it has acquired a fairly specific meaning, “the maximum satisfaction of constra...
Chapter
When coherence arises via emergence it can be attributed to serendipity. What is seldom realized is that serendipity may not be luck but the coming together of affordance with sagacity, that is, preparedness. If one treats emergence and its impacts as only the product of luck, then miracles and nasty surprises are the likely results. The opposite o...
Chapter
The Tripod case narrates complexity and difference. The story of the tag line reveals multiplicity in community and analysis. There were multiple emergences: of internet tools, of communities, of profitability, of interpretation. Some of these emergences seem to have been unsustainable, conflict ridden, and perhaps even (self-)destructive. The inde...
Chapter
We are now able, in this chapter, to make four assertions/observations about practice derived from what has already been discussed: Experienced emergence is experienced as coherence. Coherence (often) leads to flow. Coherence is complex; there is difference (and even conflict) inside coherence. Coherence does not necessarily lead to business succes...
Chapter
Emergence and the coherence that may arise from it is not a principle of order and equilibrium, but rather a principle of interaction and self-creation. Complexification, development, and renewal may provide emergent energy, but their instability can also endanger existence. Becoming may lead to constant creation, activity, and participation, but w...
Chapter
With this chapter, we begin our in-depth discussion of our four primary concepts.
Chapter
Ascribed coherence tries to avoid the tension between process and structure by identifying processes after the fact. In real time, this reification does not work; only ex post facto can one define processes as if they were structures. Ascribed coherence avoids the preconscious, nonverbal, and not-yet-defined quality of emergence. It also abandons t...
Article
Full-text available
Organizational change is usually provoked by some outside event – often a perceived risk of failure but sometimes the perception by senior management of a major but unexploited opportunity. When a change project is committed to its very nature is threatening not only to the status quo but to the very coherence or sense of unity which pervades the o...
Article
This is a conceptual paper about 'affordances'. It is inspired by Gregory Bateson (1972) who argued that consciousness is a person/environment interactive process; we will focus on how relationships between environments and organisms lead to perceived possibilities, actions, and cognition. Both the relationships between environments and persons, an...
Article
The very notion of productivity improvement involves measurement against a context. The success of computers and other quantitative approaches during the past half century has led to an ideational context wherein transmitters of information often assume that the content of their message is like code—ascertainable to the recipient by means of a look...
Chapter
Resource Recovery Financing Structures A Case Analysis: Various Financing Alternatives for a Cogeneration Resource Recovery Facility over 20 years Case Analysis Summary References Appendix 6.1 Assessing Waste-To-Energy Project Risks Appendix 6.2 Resource Recovery Ratings (Bonds) Approach
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Full-text available
This paper explores the implications of the incompressibility of complex systems for the analysis and modelling of such systems. In particular, a provisional epistemology (theory of knowledge) will be developed that attempts to remain faithful to the limitations derived from this aspect of complexity science. We will argue that such an investigatio...
Article
Full-text available
Memetics has reached a crunch point. If, in the near future, it does not demonstrate that it can be more than merely a conceptual framework, it will be selected out. While it is true that many successful paradigms started out as such a framework and later moved on to become pivotal theories, it also true that many more have simply faded away. A fra...
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This article represents not so much a completed piece of research, but the beginning of a renewed discussion of ethics in business practice. It begins with a brief presentation of the highly reported recent events indicating the absence of ethics in modern business, and discusses briefly the role that ethics plays--- or does not play---in the educa...
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To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. Theodore Roosevelt We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is also bad economics. Franklin Delano Roosevelt A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. Dwight D. Eisenhower Given the recent revelat...
Article
rtly by their own previous actions, modern bureaucrats and politicians are adept at using this as further evidence for the need for yet more "rational" intervention and control; a more refined and careful use of "improved" technology ... the poison is also the cure. Complexity thinking forces us to review our conceptions of what natural boundaries...
Article
this article this view shall be referred to as the "merely study models" or MSM perspective. There are scientifically based reasons (especially within the complexity community) to expect that models cannot serve us in the way that representationalist MSM proponents believe. Moreover, achieving models that can serve as transparent and effective aids...
Article
This paper explores the implications of the incompressibility of complex systems for the analysis and modelling of such systems. In particular, a provisional epistemology will be developed that attempts to remain faithful to the limitations derived from this aspect of complexity science. We will argue that such an investigation of complex systems h...
Article
this article are briefly to familiarize the reader with the more popular aspects of complexity science, and then, by focusing on the issue of incompressibility, to provide a provisional outline epistemology that attempts to incorporate the lessons derived from computer-based observations of complex systems' behavior and mathematical analysis of sim...
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Electronic: Full price print subscribers to Volume 3, 2001 are entitled to receive the electronic version free of charge. Electronic-only subscriptions are available at a reduced price of $189.00 for institutions and $40.50 for individuals. Send information requests and address changes to the Journal Subscription Department. Address changes should...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the implications of the incompressibility of complex systems for the analysis and modelling of such systems. In particular, a provisional epistemology will be developed that attempts to remain faithful to the limitations derived from this aspect of complexity science. We will argue that such an investigation of complex systems h...
Article
From the Publisher: The old common sense was about how to deal with the separate and free-standing units of a complicated world. The next common sense is about mastering the complex swirl of interweaving events and situations around us. Life is faster, more interconnected, interdependent and interrelated in the online communities of AOL than in, fo...
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Many executives feel the need to articulate an ideal end-state for their organizations—often in the guise of a corporate vision. Striking the balance between novelty and believability of such an ideal end-state is often tricky, and empirical evidence shows that people are neither satisfied with the vision, nor the visioning process. This article ar...
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Full-text available
: This paper explores the implications of the incompressibility of complex systems for the analysis and modelling of such systems. In particular, a provisional epistemology will be developed that attempts to remain faithful to the limitations derived from this aspect of complexity science. We will argue that such an investigation of complex systems...
Article
Knowledge management is something more than a label for selling fancy computer systems to large organizations. Unfortunately, there exist too many consultants and software firms who misuse the label for just such selling. Yet, the need for tools that enable better access to "what, who, and how much" one needs to know has never been greater. If comp...
Article
A new form of sampling for qualitative content analysis is introduced-concept sampling. Making use of software originally targeted at finding documents on both the Internet and a user's hard drive, researchers can find important lexical concepts, document their use in context, separate groups of users who share similar meanings, and map the meaning...
Article
A new hypothesis to describe emergence in organizational settings is proposed. Organizations and their members are viewed as recursive networks of holons - entities which are simultaneously parts and wholes when viewed from different "levels." Each holon is viewed as a semiautopoietic entity - organizationally closed, closed to efficient causation,...
Article
Notes that as interest in the study of complex systems has grown, a new vocabulary is emerging to describe discoveries about wide-ranging and fundamental phenomena. Argues that a shared language based on the vocabulary of complexity can have an important role in a management context. Considers the need to identify value-added knowledge and suggests...
Article
Language use in general, and metaphors in particular, have the opportunity to influence competitive positioning, behaviour and strategy by an organization and its members. Common organizational metaphors such as being a machine or an organism, playing a game, fighting a war and climbing a mountain-where the landscape is presumed by the metaphor to...
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Full-text available
Abstract Both the theory and practice of strategic management,need to pay much more attention to language in organizationsbecause,it is in the emergent nature of languaging that change manifests itself. Languaging,is an emergentholonic property of situated day-to-day activity in organizations. Given the variety of situations that occur in organizat...