The Systemic Insight podcast






January 2020
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31


In this episode, Shawn and Marcus discuss the concept of competitiveness. The chat was inspired by some reading Marcus had been doing that condemned competition to be part of the driving force that makes our society so extractive and unequal. In particular, Marcus is using two quotes from Daniel Wahl’s book ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’ to exemplify the argument.
To contrast this viewpoint, Shawn and Marcus explore the positive aspects of competition and why competitiveness and in particular systemic competitiveness in the way it is used by Mesopartner and others still are and will remain important concepts in economic development - and why they can indeed also be forces that drive a positive transformation of society towards a more sustainable future. They asked Christian Schoen to share his opinion on competitiveness in development. 
Direct download: ep6_On_Competitiveness.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:40am CET

In this Podcast, Marcus Jenal interviews Kristin O’Planick from USAID’s Bureau for Food Security about the agency’s recent work on market systems resilience. Kristin is part of a team that has been developing a new framework to capture market system resilience, which is currently going through early field testing. The framework builds on similar ideas as Mesopartner has been using on its work on resilience.

Kristin O' Planick

For more information on our work on managing economic complexity and change, visit

This podcast is brought to you by


Direct download: Ep_5_Kristin_o_planick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:46am CET

Jeanne Downing, Senior Enterprise Development Advisor, Office of Microenterprise Development, USAID talks about the discussions she and her colleagues have within USAID about the necessity of using a systemic approach in development. She mentions the need to switch away from linear approaches towards approaches that are better able to capture the complexities of real world phenomena, especially when taking into account the new focus on resilience, which puts a further layer of complexity on the work in market systems. With regard to Monitoring and Evaluation frameworks, Jeanne gives examples of work that has already been done to make them more systemic, for example the Degrees of Evidence paper. M&E in complex systems mean accepting that the route a project takes from the baseline to the projected endline cannot be planned or predicted. Projects that take a facilitation approach need to be nimble and adaptable, which ultimately translates into increased sustainability. Jeanne also stresses the importance of collaborative learning between practitioners, donors, and researchers.

Jeanne Downing

For more information on our work on managing economic complexity and change, visit

This podcast is brought to you by

Direct download: Jeanne_Downing_Systemic_Insight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:43pm CET

In this episode, Marcus Jenal interviews Dave Snowden. The podcast explores the recognition that development takes place in a dynamic, complex system and the resulting consequences for monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Current monitoring and evaluation frameworks are built around predefined outcomes and based on assumptions of causal, linear, and attributable connections between a project's activities and changes at its outcome and impact levels.

Based on complex systems research, these assumptions tend not to reflect the reality of complex systems, such as markets or communities. Dave Snowden introduces emerging theories and tools that allow us to embrace complexity and manage development projects in a way that adapts to realities in complex systems. He discusses possible ways to design monitoring systems, and provides guidance on project design that is informed by scientific research in the field of complex systems.

This episode is part of the Systemic M&E series and was produced in partnership with the SEEP Network.

About Dave Snowden: Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Cognitive Edge

Snowden was Director of the IBM Institute of Knowledge Management for Europe Middle East and Africa and subsequently founded their Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity. He is currently the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, a research network that focuses on the development of the theory and practice of sense-making.

One of the founders of 'Organic Knowledge Management', he is an acknowledged expert on the management of tacit knowledge and has developed a series of pioneering methods including the use of anthropological techniques for knowledge disclosure through the ASHEN model, the use of stories as an advanced form of knowledge repository (based on six years of research into story telling cultures around the world) and the Cynefin "Just in Time" model of knowledge transfer between formal and informal communities. He regularly consults at board level on Knowledge Strategy with some of the Worlds largest companies as well as to Government and NGOs.

Snowden is an editor-in-chief of the journal, Emergence: Complexity and Organisation. Snowden has expertise in the further development of Story Techniques into advanced decision support, merger and acquisition and multi-cultural communication, and using Complexity Theory to link concepts from Learning and Knowledge Management. He has authored many articles on the subject and contributed commissioned chapters to two forthcoming books. Dave Snowden has an MBA from Middlesex University and a BA in Philosophy from Lancaster University. He is honorary fellow in knowledge management at the Universities of Surrey and Warwick and teaches on the MBA programmes at Warwick, Sophia Antipolis and Piacenza.


For more information on our work on managing economic complexity and change, visit

This podcast is brought to you by


Direct download: Dave_Snowden_-_Systemic_Insight_ep_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17am CET


In this episode, Marcus interviews Dr Shamim Bodhanya. The podcast explores the origins of complex adaptive systems research and the application of its findings to development work. Bodhanya explains the characteristics of complex adaptive systems and their consequences in social systems such as the economy. He stresses the need to include multiple perspectives to develop a systemic view of markets and allow for solutions from within the system to involve rather than prescribe top-down solutions. In this sense, he points out, development project needs to be co-constructed by multiple stakeholders. Project goals should not be predefined and be flexible enough to be able to change as the project traverses through time.

This episode was produced in partnership with the SEEP Network.


For more information on our work on managing economic complexity and change, visit

This podcast is brought to you by

Direct download: Shamim_Bodhanya_-_Systemic_Insight_ep_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm CET

In this first episode, Marcus and Shawn introduce the podcast series. Some of the key issues of economic development from a systems perspective are discussed.


For more information on our work on managing economic complexity and change, visit

This podcast is brought to you by

Direct download: Systemic_Insight_Episode_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07pm CET