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4619 N. Ravenswood Ave., Ste 305
Chicago, IL 60640


We are a multidisciplinary innovation studio working with diverse partners to understand sustainability challenges and identify holistic, resilient solutions, and we are committed to training the next generation of leaders.


Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

Filtering by Tag: Systems Design

Intended Consequences?

Peter Nicholson

Thoughtful, Committed Citizens
The group was smaller than expected. Working in a nascent field can have more challenges than rewards. I persist because the pursuit is fulfilling and important, but it can be lonely. Named A Better How, last week’s gathering convened a handful of like-minded practitioners to forge, even if for only two days, a community of practice. Sometimes you have to create your own professional development opportunities, as well as blaze ahead with fewer participants than hoped. Sometimes you need to just start, no matter how modestly, push the stasis aside and try to generate a modicum of momentum.

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what does emergence even mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

For its 2017 Person of the Year, Time magazine just named “The Silence Breakers;” the brave people who have bared their pain from sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse by those at the highest levels of power and influence, and catalyzed the emergence of a truly transformative movement that is shifting our cultural tolerance. YES! 

While we have touched on the concept of emergence before in this series, this moment presents a compelling example and an opportunity to revisit it. So, let’s re-pose: what does emergence even mean?

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This Week In History

Peter Toth

Chicago’s history as an international example of urban design, showcased in this year’s Architecture Biennial, began in earnest on October 10, 1871, the day that the Great Chicago Fire ended. The conflagration was an undisputed tragedy, claiming hundreds of lives and devastating the city’s infrastructure, but it paved the way for an intentional and ambitious rebuilding effort, a shining example of building greater resilience.

What Does Developmental Evaluation Even Mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

How do we define success, let alone measure it, when intervening in complex challenges like climate change or poverty? The goals seem to evolve over time as conditions change. An emerging evaluation method, called developmental evaluation (DE), can be applied when the definition of and path to success is unclear. But what does developmental evaluation even mean?

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What Does A Social Lab Even Mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

The rise and potential of social innovation labs (or “social labs”) can no longer be overlooked. Today, they take many forms and are housed in diverse sectors, including civic, private, academic, and government. They all share the goal of bringing diverse stakeholders together around complex social challenges. But what does a “social lab” even mean?

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What does a systems archetype even mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

Systems thinkers seek to understand the root causes of problems. More specifically, they are uncovering the underlying dynamics that drive the problems. And after decades of study and practice, a series of systems archetypes have emerged to describe most of the troublesome dynamics we find. But what does a “systems archetype” even mean?

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What Does The Iceberg Model Even Mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

In a few days, I will have the honor of leading a passionate group of high schools students through a two-week change making seminar. One of the key lessons I hope to impart is the need for systems thinking when tackling society’s most complex challenges. To guide our discussion on systems thinking, we will turn to the iceberg model. What does the iceberg model even mean?

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