Sunday, September 27, 2015

How to Leverage Systems Thinking in Cause Effect Analysis

The purpose of Systems Thinking is to frame-solve problems and creating desirable futures.

Systems Thinking is searching for meaningful relationships both within these subsystems and between them; monitoring and observing links and feedback systems. That is complex. One thing that seems often to be left unconsidered is that in order to leverage Systems Thinking, one must have grown a brain capable of highly complex cognition to do cause-effect analysis, with the goals not to complicate a system, but to simplify and optimize via understanding the interconnectivity of system and digging through the root cause in order to solve the problem more effectively.

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, struggling to find the exit from that exactly 'bordered' space ~ while in order to solve the complex problems facing humankind today, Out-of-Box thinking implies to connect the dots often cross-disciplinary domains. The purpose of Systems Thinking is to solve problems and creating desirable futures. So many 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. System Thinking cannot be completely acquired from theory, or book, or from formal schooling. System Thinking is gained via experience during professional practices.

To understand Cause-Effect is to dig through and understand systems. Cause-Effect Analysis entails (a) Effect on context, (b) Intended vs. Actual, and (c) Source of Effect. Designers are the source of the intended effect and unintended effects. The system in operation is the source of actual effects, thereby reveals actual purpose. Systems Thinking is a very large field with widely different perspectives relating to the understanding of what the system looks like and is. It enables you to make systems relatively simple to understand, explain, and use. People are biased to attribute causation and intention to changes in their environments. Rigorous experimentation can establish real cause and effect relationships in the physical sciences depending on the scale. Variables are easier to control. But in explorations in the social and psychological areas, statistics must be used. The trouble is sample/population sizes. Too small results in the emergence of artifacts. The same as if we ask the wrong questions.

The purpose is attributed to systems via design, and thus purpose is linked to cause and effect. Cause and Effect do not permit any conclusion with respect to purpose. Purpose implies intention. The intention, however, is not implicit in any cause-and-effect relationship. Relating purpose and cause and effect may be useful to gain an understanding of a system or from a hypothesis about a system's behavior. There is a purpose that comes from within, and it means within one’s unconscious and collective unconscious. These are the basic instincts they have a key role in shaping what externally we see as our ideals – enlightenment, love, truth, etc. We also have purposes that arise from our interactions with others. They too are influenced by unconscious emotions these are manifest as social, political, technical values, etc. These tend to be dynamic because our interactions are dynamic. We also have purposes that we associate with outcomes, these are influenced by our unconscious motives and are manifest as goals objectives, etc. There is a bias in our thinking, and ST is by no means exempt, to see purpose only as goals and even there to ignore their origin in unconscious motives. So the purpose itself is a multidimensional system. It has the same properties as any other system. It has emergent properties that help deal with future possibilities. It has outcome properties that help get things done by relying on past experience. It has relational properties that help resolve the tensions between future possibilities and past experience.

From a management perspective, it’s important to leverage Systems Thinking for doing in-depth cause-effect analysis, to simplify complicated things, and to manage complexity accordingly. As Systems Thinking guru Russell Ackoff, said: "Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other.”


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