Friday, April 3, 2015

Systems Thinking vs Common Sense

“Common sense” is about interpreting experience to “think fast,” while systems thinking helps us focus on careful reasoning by “thinking slow.”

Common sense is an accumulated experience from day to day activities. With common sense, we avoid the complexity with the intention to think fast. However, we must be cautious of common sense. Because what seems to make sense in one circumstance might not work so well in another situation. Common sense often uses false assumptions and intuition instead of thinking thoroughly. What systems thinking appears to allow us to do pretty well is juggle our pre-conceptions and allow us to comprehend where they lead to. So system thinking vs. common sense: what’s the leverage point?

Common sense vs. Systems thinking: Common sense will in most cases be determined by what defines you as an individual at a certain point, your experience, and accumulated knowledge, the current context defined by its properties and interactions, the information and data at hand, your previous engagement with similar situations and your skills and capabilities to manage all of this into a structure. Systemic thinking is about the above in the very first instance, but more important is about thinking of your common sense, how it becomes influenced by the above and how you could change your approaches towards the desired transformation of the system. It is about developing further your common sense and fine-tuning it. People become so unrational because of fears and prejudices; system thinking could be another way of understanding the drivers behind people's fears and prejudices to help make people more rational. It might be worth seeing how your view of systems thinking and common sense fits with Kahneman's 'Thinking, fast and slow” patterns. It's an oversimplification to equate common sense to his 'system 1' mode and systems thinking to 'system 2', but it's maybe a good first approximation.

Common sense is individually driven; and Systems Thinking aims to have same base information: For Common Sense, each individual has a different set of information that makes the base of thinking turning into action, so what sounds logical or balanced to one will not to another individual or group. However, 'Systems Thinking' aims to have the same base information to make the eventual action more directed and balanced. Systems thinking sounds that it has all encompassing feature meaning that there is a system or model for the use of common sense but not vice versa. Also, there is an argument that systems thinking could have emerged in history from intuitive forms of interaction.

One aspect of common sense that distinct from systems thinking is the purported obviousness: Systems thinking is the discipline for discerning relationships and context that are not obvious and may upon first thought even appear to be doubtful in their veracity or usefulness. Common sense has its power of persuasion and the attribute of being widely shared or held. Just because some idea or notion is widely held does not make it so as history shown repeatedly. Also, common sense in many situations is found to have been based on some usefulness, but it is often deficient on why or how. Systems thinking allows us to go beyond the obvious. Indeed, it is very much the process of seeing what is obvious... then asking what additional connections might (or must) exist. There are many examples of common sense that have been overturned.

Systems thinking digs deeper: Systems thinking would help us get behind the "surface" validity and give us deeper insight into the nuances of why and how. “Common sense” is about interpreting experience, as it is perceived without much consideration for underlying factors or relationships. After all, if common sense were so effective, we might not have needed a formal analysis and policy in the first place. Everyone would have agreed on a course of action because it simply made sense. Or, the problem would have never arisen in the first place, because everyone would have used their common sense to choose actions that would not lead to such problems. When the problems arise, reasonable people disagree about the causes and solutions. So, it seems that common sense is not a sufficient tool for determining the logic (or potential effectiveness) or Logic Models. As such, systems thinking differs from common sense, in that a systems thinker is acutely aware of any experience in the context of interconnectivity and inter-relationships rather than standing alone.

Some say systems thinking is exactly common sense done right. “Common sense” is about interpreting experience to “think fast,” while systems thinking helps us focus on careful reasoning by “thinking slow,” and get underneath the surface by digging through the WHY.



Thank you.

A systems thinker has no limits for thinking, because complex and chaotic situations are not preventing him/her. They include to the knowledge.

Instead, any "common sense thinker" is afraid of new kind of challenges, because of missing skills for nondeterminism, stochastic processes, emergence...

Systems thinker knows more, and wants to know much more..

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