Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #82: System Thinking vs. Complexity Management

At the most mechanistic end of systems thinking, it's still about cause and effect.

Systems Thinking is the way of thinking to understand holistically the interconnections and interdependencies between parts, and Complexity Management is the way to deal with them to steer the system in the desired direction.

Systems work toward some common purpose or goal of the system: It is often including the continuing viability of that system. This is not the same though as "Systems Thinking" seeks to define an ideal future, and then define strategies to “close the gap” without first understanding the system itself, understanding the dynamics of a system, what happen if you don't touch it, don't regulate it.

Systems thinking is a way of understanding complex system. Systems thinking by definition is a cognitive thinking process: A system is a set of interdependent components forming an integrated whole. Each system is delineated by its spatial boundaries and described by its structure, purpose, and operations. Complexity principles are in the realm of systems thinking, but not all systems thinking principles are in the realm of complexity. At the most mechanistic end of systems thinking, it's still about cause and effect. Even double-loop feedback is essentially cause and effect, albeit somewhat nonlinear. Complexity is about cause-and-effect, as illustrated in the Butterfly Effect.

Systems thinking is what you are supposed to do for managing complexity. Systematic Thinking is about the collection of valid information, and turning information into knowledge. Complexity Management is about using knowledge to move energies in the pursuit of survival. The systemic following is about conserving knowledge and the outcomes of complexity management to conserve energy. As such and in certain contexts where it seems appropriate to build simple and systematic structures, the systems thinkers will do so with their eyes open to how they handle complexity, whereas the unsystematic thinkers are blind to the chaos they create. Systems thinking includes reductionist methods and good science, such as systems engineering.

In-depth understanding of systems thinking is that it is a cognitive process interprets many, but not all, experiences as consisting of interconnected components directed towards some common purpose or goal.

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