Fri 16 Feb 2007
This is not only an eulogy for Hasan Ozbekhan, but a revisit of the early days of the Club of
Rome, the "Methodenstreit", and what was lost when scientists just
go for one "solution", like just for prospective, and not just for partivciŁpative and normative futures. It is also about
Information Management and stakeholder participation, dialog- and decision
Hasan Ozbekhan [link] and his The
Predicament of Mankind (Report to the Club of Rome (PDF at [link]) or his
"Toward a General Theory of Planning", 1968 [link], will be long
He quietly passed away in Philadelphia on February 13.
I think it is high time to remember not only the "Predicament of
Mankind" and the "Problematique", but the "Methodenstreit"
("struggle over methods") as this "Streit"
in my view was a critical leverage point! - a point
where Humanity had a chance to learn two important things: first of all, to
better adress the issues around how we treat
ourselves and the Planet, and, secondly, of equal importance and crying for
solutions: how we go for multiple options and paths beyond the need to agree
and get fixed on "one" way or "one" solution.
Such a fixation and focussing on one factor or one side is a dead-end which
neglects and ignores the multitude, variety, and beauty around us.
The report "THE PREDICAMENT OF MANKIND" was not understood and
appreciated enough to stay on the table of people like the founders of the
Club of Rome. Their decision was to go for "quick fixes", by simply
plotting some scenarios of possible "gloom or doom" instead of
looking additionally into the problems and solutions, and how they are
related and can reinforce each other, - which is exactly where the solutions
are to be found! This is in my eyes the real TRAGEDY of the early days of the
Club of Rome - see Methodenstreit.
Much has been written in this blog about vicious problem cycles, dilemmas,
and how a collection of problems, solutions, actions, options, strategies
(existing for now 30 years -> see the UIA's Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potentials!)
should be used to not just jot some curves (scenarios) onto the wall, but
additionally check with the people how issues are related, what meanings and
values are connected to them, and so on.
Hasan Ozbekhan and
another planner named Constantinos A. Doxiadis (see [[http://www.ekistics.org/Eindex.htm]] were
people with another way of seeing things. People who look into the details,
structures, processes, but who are also able to step back and see a bigger
picture, the frame or context.
Looking at the "Problematique" today, - as it has become even more
serious, even more complex than 35 years ago! - I feel today, it is high time
again to get back to getting this right, this time around: checking the
terminologies (verbiage), values, and scales, the proportions and
consequences, when we want to look at viable approaches.
This Methodenstreit boiled up around Hannover where the Volkswagen Foundation
supported Jay Forrester's approach of Global Modelling and Scenarios, - and
left aside the need to check the base and involve the people (see prospective
vs. participative vs. normative futures).
Now, 35 years later we should revisit such decisions or disagreements and so
look for other approaches, old and new ones.
At last weeks National Press Conference about CLIMATE CHANGE policies in Germany the
state secretary and member of parliament Michael Mueller from the Ministry of
Environment requested: 1. different thinking, 2. overcoming isolated worlds
or turfs, and 3. a different understanding of time.
I think this is what above systems thinkers and planners were doing, just
stepping out of the box, embodying, visualizing, and adding extra
As we are preparing for the 2010Imperative maybe visit this event [link] and my
contribution from February 20th: [link] and
and some answers to the question raised by Lynton Caldwell some years ago: IS
HUMANITY DESTINED TO SELF-DESTRUCT ? [link] and many ot the ivited answers, not just
my little: "Show or Schau?": [link]
PLEASE SEE ALSO: Harnessing the Collective Wisdom ... [link]