Icons: System States

I had a very interesting discussion regarding Aristotlean Drama, Linear Programming and Transactional Analysis today and it lead me to reevaluate my own thoughts on these concepts.

First I reevaluated my thoughts on States:




Aristotlean Drama is simple because it only involves the state of one character following a linear path.

However, when you begin to think about the outcomes for two characters the dynamic becomes tabular which brings us to game theory and the famous prisoner’s dilemma and game theory payoff matrixes:




However, it immediately becomes apparent that the Prisoner’s Dilemma does not account for all of the States.




Here we have the States of Transactional Analysis, however this state model is not complete either.




Even with a pentad the States are incomplete.  This is where my epiphany came in.  There has to be a begin state and an end state.




Now with a heptad, we have all seven States and a complete tabular model.

However, we are learning tabular models are not adequate.  We are learning network models are necessary.  And network models require an alternate portrayal.




Here we have a network presentation of the seven States.  And each of these States have seven states of their own.  There is no magic here.  The correlation to the week I do not think is coincidental, but cultural, however I do not think that astronomical phenomena have any causation.


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2 Responses to “Icons: System States”

  1. Stacy Bradshaw Says:


    Your idea exploration and blog posts are so very engaging and provoking – I’ll have to spend more time here diving into your discoveries. Thank you.

    I am fascinated by your conceptual iterations of systems thinking states – and i kept thinking about how your models could also be crossed by the ideas in William Bridges book Transitions. Specifically, as you indicate after your epiphany, you added a begin state and an end state. While this is applicable in the birth death – begin to end linear life line, the other models portend a loop or systems thinking that allows for more than one pass through the model. Bridges writes that the stages are sequenced as Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings.

    I wonder if you have given some thought to how these models differ at the individual, dyad, small group, and community levels. If you had a sepia overlay that explored social systems (?) to recognize that not all individuals rise, not individuals fully engage in play, etc.

    I bring this up because the stages suggested by Bridges are only part of the consideration when I write a communication plan to help support change in an Organization. I pursue inquiry around how individuals and groups ‘language’ i.e. speak what they are thinking about change. I explore group and individual narratives around change. I use Cooperrider & Whitney (1999) Appreciative Inquiry model to guide group dialogue to what is hoped for (rather than what is dreaded or feared). Finally, I look at a community or group’s self-capacity to move from their current state using ideas from Barge and the Imagine Chicago project (i.e. generative sensibility – a community of people who are action oriented and are building practical capacity). Read other thoughts on communication and community building in an article I wrote http://www.poi.bz/C2.pdf.
    I trained as a mediator at the Institute for Conflict Management so I have this point of view that recognizes that many of the states have more or less meaning based on an individuals’ idea of the starting point and ending point. That is to say a number of the dilemmas are more or less desirable if the only point of view that a participant has is self.

    I suppose I could be silly and say that the network presentation in shown on a flat plane and if this flat plane of individual people within a group was intersected with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, than we would see that some individuals in the system are just dealing with basic survival, while others in the system are striving towards, perhaps, self actualizing goals. This means that in groups of people there is a spectrum of experience within each state. Gaps in experience and starting points (as opposed to groups of people with more similar expectations and points o view) create tensions that tangle up movement to a subsequent stage. The oft quoted Mark Twain on habits:
    “Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” Looking at the endings required before a move to any new stage is a
    part of the magic that makes possible the human discoveries needed for change.

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