Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is there a General Systems Principle?

“System” is defined as a set of elements in interaction.

The system is complex. The underpinning simple principle is that systems have properties, and systems thinking is the application of using these properties as a "lens" to examine a situation in order to get insight and understanding into the situation. 

The most basic principle is that every system is a construct of the mind. This automatically leads to the 2nd principle: Every system has an inside and an outside, created by the one defining the system. Systems properties include that a system is an assembly of competent elements that are connected or organized so as to show the properties of the whole rather than the parts. Other properties include systems having the purpose, affecting / being affected by the environment, performs a transformation.

System thinking is holistic and integral thinking. System thinking is all about organization, about relations between components, sub-systems, the viability of the system, how does it survive, what exactly are its relations with its 'environment', how does it adapt to changes. All other 'principle could be regarded as 'attributes' of a certain type of systems: In what way communicates a system with its outside, what is the best way to define the relationships between the components of the system of interest etc. You see the left hand, you see the right hand, and you try to explain all about the left and the right, but all that does is oppose, the simple principle includes relationships and that is why you clap the hands. So this means conceptually that ‘twoness’ doesn’t tell the whole story.

"A System is not the sum of its parts, but the product of the interaction of those parts" -Russ Ackoff. While science in a conventional/classical sense is about taking reality apart, and then examining those parts, Systemics (Organisms) is about experiencing the resultant whole of parts relating together. The essential difference between conventional science is an emphasis on the relationship between parts. Examination of a single part does not reveal the wholeness of parts. The truth lies in the relationships. Not what things are called but what things are doing together.

“System” is defined as “a set of elements in interaction” and expresses by the system of equation. No special hypothesis or statements are made about the nature of the system, of its elements or the relations between them. Nevertheless from this purely formal definition of “system”, many properties follow which in part are expressed in as well known in various fields of science, and, in part concern concepts previously regarded as anthropomorphic, vitalistic or metaphysical.

There are two systems; the SYSTEM as 'Being' and the system as 'Concept'. The latter is a construct of mind representing the former. The system as a concept can contain the concept of the construct, and the concept or mind, and the concept of the 'definer.' But all of them are representations of components, functions and interactions occurring within the SYSTEM. There is a difference between systems and the SYSTEM to which all other systems are subsystems. The subsystems are better understood in their relationships and interactions within the SYSTEM.

Enterprise is a complex business system, it is neither a problem nor the enemy, there’re both opportunities and risks in it. The management needs to apply these system principles to navigate through and walk over the uncertainty more confidently.


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