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Facilitated Systems


Action research

Action research resources
Action Research and Evaluation OnLine
Short pieces on action research

Action science (developmental facilitation)

How to make decisions in the face of differing opinions, a short Q&A on action science by Bill Harris of Facilitated Systems
Argyris and Schön: some elements of their models, the first chapter of a very approachable book on action science by Bob Dick and Tim Dalmau
An interview with Chris Argyris
Log in (free), select "Search and Browse", and then search for the exact phrase "An Interview with Chris Argyris" from the First Quarter 1998 issue.


Art in all its forms addresses a side of us that numbers and systems and analysis don't. From time to time, I'll include links to sites that have caught my eye.

umoja!, Rodney D. Coates' page of poetry
Deep Fun articles, Bernie DeKoven's resources on the art of fun
AcademicInfo's page on the arts, with helpful resources for those exploring the arts


Entrepreneur's Resource Center from the Edward Lowe Foundation


To do good simulation and analysis, you need good data.

Google Gapminder World beta
Social, Economic and Political Change
Gene Shackman, Applied Sociologist, created this site. It links to a useful Data page, among other places.

Discrete event simulation

Colored Petri Nets


IAF Methods Database
IAF Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Facilitators
GRP-FACL mailing list
Some Speak With Silence: Facilitating Mixed Silent/Verbal Groups
Friend and colleague Barbara Pirie of Pirie Associates in Lautoka, Fiji Islands, has written this article to help facilitators understand how to work effectively with mixed silent and verbal groups. She has graciously allowed me to post it here for others to read.
Full Circle Associates

Knowledge management

emacs wiki, a tool for personal knowledge management and more
TiddlyWiki, an experimental personal Wiki that's very intriguing.
Lotus Agenda, still one of the more flexible ways to manage information; there's also an FAQ.

Language (facilitating wider dialogs)

Online translation
Online dictionaries

Learning organizations

The Dance of Change, a Fifth Discipline Fieldbook
A useful map from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland (click on "Systems Thinking" on the right and then click on the "Enter" button)

Program evaluation

Guiding Principles for Evaluators
Online Resources from the American Evaluation Association

Project management

OpenProj™, a free project management tool from Projity that claims to read Microsoft Project files
GanttProject, a Java-based project management tool
PHProjekt, an open-source groupware suite that includes project management tools
TeXProject, a LaTeX package for managing projects

Quantitative analysis

Calc, the GNU Emacs Calculator for doing arbitrary precision calculations on numbers, including rational and complex numbers, algebraic manipulations on formulas and equations, and symbolic calculus
J, a highly productive functional array programming language (in a way, an alternative to a spreadsheet)
R, a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics
PostgreSQL, a powerful, object-relational database management system
SQLite, a public domain, tiny, zero-configuration SQL database engine with bindings for many languages
Druid, a tool to help create and document SQL databases
Gnuplot, a program for plotting data and functions on a broad variety of platforms


Sometimes you want to send an email or file without potential eavesdroppers being able to see what you wrote. Sometimes you want to be able to sign an email or document, as you could with a physical letter. GnuPG allows you to do just that. You can send me such messages using my public key, also available on keyservers world-wide.

A Practical Introduction to GPG in Windows is an easy introduction to GnuPG, whether you're using Windows or not.

If you'd like a graphical user interface for GnuPG, the GnuPG site has a list of alternatives. On Windows, I generally use the latest version of WinPT.

When you configure GnuPG, you'll need to create a secure "passphrase". Diceware is a secure and convenient tool for creating passphrases.

When you start using GnuPG, you'll need to learn about the web of trust, GnuPG's mechanism for ensuring you and others can trust the results of this process. The GNU Privacy Handbook has several important sections on the web of trust. Read those, even if you intend to use a tool such as WinPT to hide some of the command line details of GnuPG.

System dynamics

MCSim, a GPL'd simulator. Be sure to get version 5.1.beta or later.
System Dynamics with MCSim: A Facilitated Systems Quick Reference
See all the steps involved in creating your first system dynamics model using MCSim, along with a list of software you might find useful. For easiest use, print it on legal paper (14" by 8.5"), and fold it in a Z-fold pattern.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
System Dynamics for Cheapskates, a presentation on MCSim given at Evaluation 2006 in Portland, Oregon, USA
Tom Fiddaman's System Dynamics Model Library
Günther Ossimitz' System Dynamics Megalist
System dynamics mailing list
Dietrich Dörner and Harald Schaub's "Errors in Planning and Decision Making and the Nature of Human Information Processing," providing research into the need for system dynamics to augment human decision-making
isee Player from isee systems (free) to run models such as Facilitated System's Expense Management model or those found in At Any Rate.
Model Reader from Vensim (free) to run models created and packaged using the Vensim simulator. For information on the licensing requirements of other software listed on that page, see the Vensim download page.


GNU Emacs, a highly effective way to generate text (and do many other things) on almost any computer system. See Randall Wood's The Woodnotes Guide to Emacs for Writers for an introduction.
LaTeX, a free typesetting package. See The TeX showcase for some impressive examples, Word Processors: Stupid and Inefficient for thoughts on how to generate text well, and The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e and LaTeX for Word Processor Users to ease into this way of working
beamer, one approach to typesetting presentations using LaTeX
DocBook, an XML application for books and articles about computer hardware, computer software, and other topics
 Use OpenOffice.org, for those not yet ready to switch to LaTeX and J for presentations and spreadsheet-like calculations
Reference.com, with dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference material you may need to write well
Viz-o-matic: it's all in how you present it, right? Or maybe not. See an artistic commentary from the Cornell Theory Center by clicking on the screenshot near the bottom of the page
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Bill Harris,
Aug 25, 2012, 9:37 AM