Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Leverage Systems Thinking in Catching the True Wisdom

Wisdom is often abstract, and System Thinking is the ability to think conceptually on the higher level.

Systems Thinking is to understand the interconnectivity between parts and whole. Wisdom is the insightful quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the inner quality of being wise. By practicing Systems Thinking, can contemporary leaders and workers have a better chance to grasp the true wisdom, not just “conventional wisdom”? By practicing Systems Thinking, can business managers and professionals make a sound judgment, build a good strategy or make better decisions?

Wisdom ought to be common and available to the masses. Wisdom is being tied intricately with good living. So, if wisdom is not common, then the masses don't even have a chance. People struggle for wisdom. Wisdom ought to be 'commonly' available. But in the context of Systems Thinking, there is a huge difference in what ST wisdom stands for - and that is possibly what makes it 'uncommon' in the sense of being difficult to 'acquire.' Rational wisdom is the usual meaning of the term 'wisdom' - it means accumulative wisdom that grows with age - or 'learning from past experience.' But often such “conventional wisdom” is lagging behind the internet speed, not an ultimate wisdom, they need to continue to be refined via the full  “learning, de-learning and relearning” cycle, therefore, Systems Thinking is a good thought process to help see the forest for the trees.

In ST, the true wisdom often comes from a willingness to let go of past learning. So, non-intuitively ST wisdom is not derived from 'accumulating' - but in observing the changing context of relationships - and in many cases, that means 'letting go of accumulated traditional wisdom.' The reason people are struggling for wisdom because it means that one has to make a huge effort to get beyond rational linear thinking - what all educational systems groom us to do - and the 'rational wisdom' that comes as part of that package. But true wisdom is transcendental knowledge which often comes through nonlinear thinking and abstract of insight by practicing systems thinking or out-of-box thinking. Unlearning is difficult. And the difficulty grows exponentially with age. So, ST wisdom is more difficult to acquire with age. Rational wisdom - we assume - is easier to acquire with age!

The process of acquiring human wisdom possess some systemic weakness. Wisdom like trust is hard to acquire, easy to lose faith in, and impossible to retrieve once faith in its insight is lost. Systems that apply a shaken paradigm of wisdom cannot, by virtue of the complexity of interwoven wisdom applied, magically become unshakable. But that seems to be what is being asked of systems thinkers: To become common wisdom or common sense? People can develop common sense with experience. They can develop empathy and emotional intelligence. Does it need an empathy wrapper to bond into the community? With today's complexity, ambiguity and interdependence of business dynamic, the collective wisdom via bridging the cognitive and experience gaps becomes more crucial to breaking down the group thinking or being called conventional wisdom.

Wisdom is often abstract, and System Thinking is the ability to think conceptually on the higher level. Systems Thinking can only be appreciated by a (relatively small) finite group of people who have the ability to think conceptually on this level. Fewer really understand it well and even less can practically deploy it successfully. As we learn and understand more about our world, which is a lot more complex than we realize, the need for systems thinking, to continue to improve it, will increase - but this uncommon sense will remain the domain of only a few. The gap between "raising awareness" and "internalization" is not a single step but requires ongoing communication and effort. With the advent of modern technology and communication channels, many more people can be reached with greater ease.

Wisdom is an umbrella term, at its best, it is the amalgamation of thought, analysis, planning, prediction of consequences, and so on. Ultimately, wisdom is all about making 'distinctions' between what works - and what does not work - in the real world. Systems Thinking definitely helps to reach and manage wisdom more systematically.

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