Sunday, October 7, 2012

Setting the Context

I pick up the phone; a panicked mother has found her child not breathing. As I walk the mom through infant CPR, I verify her location using her cell phone’s GPS. I send the closest paramedic to their house. Next, I check to see if any police cars are closer to get this kid hooked up to an infant defibrillator. In emergency services, if any of numerous systems fail, it can mean the difference between life and death. My experience as a 911 dispatcher epitomizes the importance of functioning systems. For me, it highlights the imperative need for system change when any component is dysfunctional.

Fundamentally, I am passionate about system change in the face of dysfunction. The problems of our world are all intertwined, and a macro perspective is essential in solution design. Twelve years ago, I developed a long term strategy to gain that macro perspective and achieve my ultimate career goals. This blueprint included building a foundation of education and experience until age thirty, followed by fifteen years in business and intrapreneuership, then finally moving into the education realm. I have remained committed to this “master plan” and am convinced that BGI has created a curriculum and community that would provide me with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue the next step in reaching my goals. BGI is an institution that reinforces two of my most fundamental beliefs: that business plays an essential role in generating solutions to many of our current global challenges and that education is one of the strongest catalysts for innovative system change.

My intention is to use this blog to document my learning and understanding of how our economic context sets the stage for our world.

Consumption diagram
Reading through the NY Times series - The Reckoning, it's startling to learn about the systems that were in place, as well as the intricate manners in which each system influenced each other. It was a weaving of system vulnerabilities; mortgages, bad loans, insurance, credit derivatives, susceptibility to fear, credit default swaps... the list goes on. From my perspective, it's extremely fascinating to learn about, and it's terrifying. When I relate to system thinking, and the massive systems/sub-systems within our world, the challenge of identifying leverage points is something I'm really hoping to gain in my education and experience. 


  1. Aric, Thanks for responding to my request on the commons forum. This is a great first blog! I enjoyed reading about your experience as a dispatcher and how you put that into the context of our introduction to systems. I'm interested to learn more about your perspective on the NY Times articles that we're reading and I look forward to future discussions with you on these and other topics. Great job weaving together your experiences and the various readings that we've been assigned. See you soon!

  2. Your lead-in anecdote offered a wonderful visual and provided me with an understanding of your perspective. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I look forward to hearing more... My blog focuses on some similar elements, so this one caught my eye in particular. I really enjoyed the story that you led with, as it created a very effective visual. I too, believe that education is a key component in terms of leverage. Over the past couple of weeks I have heard the phrase, "knowledge is power" on more than one occasion. It has stopped me in my tracks for a couple of reasons. I strongly support the concept that knowledge is power and I also believe that due to the current infrastructures we have in place, a significant portion of the population (more specifically, disenfranchised populations) is prevented from gaining access to utilizing knowledge/education in ways that will impact change within their communities.

    I too, give a lot of thought to systems and how one goes about creating effective leverages to impact LASTING and MEANINGFUL change. Similarly, if we are not able to effect change on systematic levels and within policies (macro levels), I believe we must ask ourselves how much change we are truly creating. I also want to keep these questions in the forefront of my mind as I begin to focus on my long-term business goals with BGI (more about this in my blog).

    The microeconomics reading this week touched upon some topics that certainly relate to education. Within the context of the following concepts, I observe systems that prevent education/knowledge from taking root: choice behavior (p.38), perfect information (p. 49) and constraints (p. 37). These barriers are real and true. So how do we effectively surmount such constraints, so that they no longer impact people's abilities to make different choices for themselves?

    Stayed tuned for an example.... I have to give this some more thought. It does pertain to "food deserts"...

  3. Thanks Hava for such a well written reply. You're definitely reading my subtext which I left out for brevity.

  4. Aric, I appreciate how quickly you have conveyed your intentions and given context for your observations. As you consider leverage points, ask who has historically pulled the levers of our economic system and for what purpose. How might this system function with different design goals?


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