From Amos Clifford's entry in his blog Restorative Resources: Friday last week I attended a networking event in Sonoma. There I met Loren Cole, who is CEO of Inquiring Systems, Inc. I had a very interesting conversation with him about his speciality; he is an “ecosystemsologist” who takes an ecosystem approach to working with organizations. Sounds right up my alley. On his website (www.inquiringsystems.org) this bit of description appears:
“Inquiring Systems is the mechanism for, and the process of, making a systemic inquiry into the situation, activity or organization that is to be managed or not, as the situation warrants. That is, we never approach a situation with a predetermined set of insights about that ecosystem nor do we necessarily apply the same methods or techniques for addressing the situation regardless of the ecosystem involved. The methods and techniques to be used must be compatible with each unique situation and the corresponding ecosystem of which that situation is a part.”
Now, that sounds to me like a good description of how restorative practitioners should aspire to operate. I think we often fall short of the mark. Which is unfortunate; because our principles are entirely in accord with the above. Where we err, in my humble opinion, is when we decide on what procedures to apply to a given situation before we even know what the situation is.