Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Systems Thinking Principles

Systems Thinkers shape a worldview based on the realization of interconnectedness.

Systems Thinking by definition is a cognitive process (thinking), a profound thinking process to embrace holism and nonlinearity. Contemporary organizations are complex systems. Indeed, our whole world is a complex system. Setting the right principles is important to perceive the system more objectively and holistically. Systems Thinking Principles are the set of abstract and more “timeless” guidelines of helping to frame the questions in problem diagnosing and solving.



The system is more than its parts: Our visualization of complex systems is a sphere nested within another sphere within another sphere, etc. If you replace the picture of a "sphere" with a picture of a living cell, it is more accurate to understand human body as a complex system. As with any living cell, all the interesting activity happens with membranes. The membrane of mitochondria is nested in the cell membrane. Cells are nested in tissues, tissues in organs, etc. All bound in the "cell" that is defined by the skin. If you consider modern organizations are complex systems, and then, Systems Thinking helps you understand that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of functions because it has a set of cohesive capabilities that each individual function lack of. The starting point of Systems Thinking and exploration would be to understand how any system, as a whole, whether natural or engineered, would disturb by a nonlinear event, to understand interfaces and interactions associated with complex systems. You cannot oversimplify thinking about failures and functions. System Analysis requires many forms of additional thinking: Abstract, holistic, system, quantitative, objective, subjective, temporal (life cycle), and critical.


The purpose of Systems Thinking is to solve problems and creating desirable futures: The purpose of Systems Thinking is to solve problems and creating desirable futures. The majority of people do not know how to connect the dots within complex systems, nor think inclusively or holistically, nor comprehend dynamics, induction or deduction, nor understand expensive variables, interfaces, and interactions. Those who discover their way into Systems Thinking can indeed take a more holistic and integrated way of approaching situations and problems. The purpose of Systems Thinking is to frame-solve problems and creating desirable futures.  Humans feel usually uncomfortable in the presence of uncertainty so they prefer to search for a 'box' where to enter and feel safe, even if this means to accept a 'label' and then, sometimes, get struggled to find the exit from that exactly 'bordered' space. System Thinking is about the agility of decision making in the unfamiliar and rapidly changing environment. Solve problems in a lasting way without creating other and more problems, or, at least, optimize the solution via understanding the trees without missing the forest.


If you break a hologram in two, however, you end up with two holograms: Hologram is a three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source. If you tear an ordinary photograph in two, each piece shows only a part of the original image. If you break a hologram in two, however, you end up with two holograms, each of which shows the entire original scene, although from slightly different points of view. That's because each spot on a hologram contains enough information to show how the entire scene would look if it were viewed from a particular vantage point. (dictionary.com). So, the idea of hologram makes sense in that it reflects the complexity of a system. It’s important to learn how to think the systemic wholeness. In practices, always listen to the two sides of the stories, and always understand things contextually and holistically. This wholeness comprises various media that are each functionally contrary to the unitive, fluid and seamless nature of the whole.


Systems Thinkers are experts in helping people and the team get the complete and full pictures: Systems Thinking sees the essential components interconnected and interdependent, co-creating lifetimes of shared desirable consequences both intended and unintended. From the behavior perspective, once we fully understand that any act that we have made is having an effect on everything around us, we can truly understand the value and the importance of "Systems Thinking." Until then many may not understand the voice of the Systems Thinkers. From the problem-solving perspective, the systematic structure provides the shell within which individuals can collaborate to create transparency to problems in order to gain insight and understanding the problem more holistically. Within a team, observations come from different viewpoints, different mindsets, life experiences, educational backgrounds. A team must be grounded in the same digital paradigm, which in turn assures the integrity of individual contributions and process transparency. Once a state of transparency has been reached, collaboration turns into cooperation. True Systems Thinking practitioners are those who have integrated Systems Thinking so thoroughly that they see themselves too as being already integrally in the digital flow on a continuing basis.


A possible remedy is by using Systems Thinking as a high level digital "philosophy," create practical methodologies/ practices for solving complex problems: The purpose of a Systems Thinker is determined by the role she or he undertakes in the system she or he perceives as the one she or he inhabits. Everyone performs systems thinking to some degree, whether they're aware of it or not. Systems Thinking per se is a mental construct of the viewer of the system. Systems thinking is a way of understanding complexity; to transposing another term, 'systems,' put an emphasis on 'a way.' It is a descriptive term for an object or an experience. It aims at solving a particular class of tasks in particular domains. Systems Thinkers shape a worldview based on the realization of interconnectedness. Simply a lot of us as humans can and really think systemically, even if we are not aware of this fact or don't use the specific terms by default. It is worth the effort to strengthen your systems thinking muscle for understanding things deeply and solving problems thoroughly. Start with the mediating systemic wholeness with which you experience, remember, know, think, imagine, evaluate, and engage the rest of the intrinsic unity that is the whole.

System Thinking cannot be completely acquired from a theory, or book, or from formal schooling. System Thinking is gained via experience during professional practices. So many organizations are on the journey of digital transformation, the Systems Thinking progression is to be sensitive to the emergent trends, to keep balanced thinking, not via the stillness, but through the state of the flow with the harmony of interconnectivity and interdependence.

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