Thursday, January 29, 2015

A System Thinker’s Mind

You don't need to be a system engineer/scientist to master systems thinking; just like you don't need to be a philosopher to think philosophically.

Systems Thinking is the thinking about how things interact with one another and get the insight of the whole. As a social construction, system thinking is positive because it helps understand the links between one action, a solution, and the different behaviors it might influence. By comparing different actions, solutions together gives you a better understanding of the potential impact of each action and helps identify the one that will have a better chance of success overall.

Systems thinking is a type of synthetic thinking with complex mix of several components; typically it includes:
  • Dynamic thinking: positioning your issue as part of a pattern of behavior that has developed over time;
  • Scientific thinking: using models to test hypotheses and discard falsehoods, not just to ascertain ‘the truth;’
  • System-as-cause’ thinking: constructing a model to explain how the problem behavior arises;
  • Forest’ thinking: seeing the ‘big picture’ and taking a more holistic view of that system;
  • Operational’ thinking: analyzing how things actually work, the cause and effect relationships, and how performance is actually being generated;
  • Closed-loop thinking: moving away from laundry lists of exacerbating factors and describing the ‘feedback loops’ that interact to create the performance of the system;
  • Quantitative’ thinking: quantifying not just the hard data but also the soft variables that are operating in the system;

Systems thinking involves identifying systems and studying their dynamics. Systems thinking seems to catch the thinking of humans in a way that conforms as much as possible to the way nature simply unfolds - day after day after day.... Systems are alive: they come/grow, they go/deteriorate, they adapt… Understanding what is going on is one positive result -- it satisfies curiosity. When a system produces "bad" side-effects, you may wish to intervene. Understanding a system is a necessary precondition for an effective intervention. Anything else is a shot in the dark. One of the negative impacts of system thinking is associated with the rectification process. If you start thinking that a system is an object, you take away the responsibility in the creation of the social environment you live in. Perhaps the relevant social construct is the system thinkers' wish to intervene for the sake of improving situations.

A system is a dynamic series of processes whose relative nature define the emergent behavior we see...the "whole greater than the sum of its parts" concept. It is the emergent behavior of sub-systems within super systems that define the nature of the gestalic processes we see ...consciousness, social behaviors, businesses...etc. Systems Thinking is a representation of how we see patterns in life, it is also an emergent property of the basic aspects of nature, layer on layer of systems, each with their own emergent behavior, coming together to create super systems we interact with daily. They are the interactive and layered systems that exhibit behaviors that both allow us the interaction of our minds to that of what we create with them...contributing to systems layered above us in the nature of the emergent behavior we collectively play a part of in its creation.

System thinking is an approach on how we view nature. Social constructions are by their very nature created views of reality; more for what we don't know than we do, but systems thinking, much like the scientific method, is an approach, to how we view nature. It is a tool, maybe even an algorithm of how the universe actually works. Filling in the details of course and understanding them may take life times...even nature is a social construction. Everything we can refer to is a social construction since we use social/socialized terms/sets of terms to talk about it. From such perspective, all sciences are social, since we use them to explain ourselves to an environment we are into. One aspect of systems thinking is a basic understanding of differential equations. The key to a system; is the dynamic aspects of these waves, whether it is sub-nuclear patterns, or patterns layered up to the point of our consciousness and the social dynamics that are rendered from it, define the cloud of polarized waves of activity that most of us tend to reduce to static components, losing the nature of our understanding in the snapshots we think are real.

Systems thinking is nothing more than the good combination of analytic and synthetic thinking,  see the trees without missing the forest; quantify not just the hard data, but also the soft variables; go beyond the surface to dig through the root cause of problem arising, and take a scientific approach to explore the nature and universe.     


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