Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Leverage Systems Thinking in Problem Diagnosing and Solving in Digital Era?

You have to dig through the mindset level to diagnose the root causes of problems, and you need to leverage Systems Thinking in framing questions as well.

The world we live in is full of opportunities and problems. Many problems do exist because they are either ill-defined or the concept cannot be adequately captured by our current language contextually, or often, they get lost in translation. In addition, there's the problem that the same word means different things to different people because they carry different emotional baggage or have cognitive differences. So what’re the best scenarios for problems diagnosing and problems solving? And how to leverage Systems Thinking in managing them?

There are so many variables and lack of ontological understanding of the evolving digital world: The world has become over-complex with explosive information. At times, it seems that the expanding universe is more meaningful for expansion of knowledge which expands the universe around us. And so with every problem, we push the limits and create space for more opportunities, and perhaps produce more problems pessimistically. There are so many variables and lack of ontological understanding of the evolving world. As the old saying goes, there is a "Time and Place for Everything." Perhaps this means things catch on when they are supposed to. Maybe the people aren't mentally or consciously ready for some new ideas or alternative solutions. Therefore, more often than not, you have to dig through the mindset level to diagnose the root causes of problems, and changing the game is the mindset.

Understand the problem with context, and follow the logical scenario to diagnose it: Context aids us in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. From a practical perspective, 'seeing' the context you are 'part' of, allows one to identify the leverage points of the system and then 'choose' the 'decisive' factors, in the attempt to achieve the set purpose. The logical scenario to diagnose the problems include:
(1) Identify the problem. What is exactly wrong, out of balance, unjust, etc. the exact description of the problem.
(2Find the factors involved in the final "incorrect" outcome. See if you can measure or weigh each factor's contribution to the result, or the description of the unit of measure.
(3)  Build a hypothetical equation that describes your "incorrect" outcome. See how changing any of the getting better or worsens that outcome.

Leveraging Systems Thinking in understanding the Butterfly Effect: Often we ignore the problems around us because we can't know the exact cause and effect so the solutions are vague, variable or unknown. All we can do is guessing at the solution and then adjust in retrospect. There are so many variables in today's world, it is nearly impossible to quantify the one cause and effect. So it’s important to leverage Systems Thinking in understanding the problem holistically, to see the trees without missing the forest. Systems Thinking is not only about asking big questions recognizing the disconnectedness of things belonging to a system, it is also about taking a systematic approach to answering these questions, creating a framework within which the journey between the defined problem (question) and the proposed solution (answer) is clearly articulated with logical steps, assumptions, facts vs. opinions, symptoms vs root cause etc, and ultimately arriving at a valid defensible conclusion.

Since the dawn of the 20th century is partly responsible for many of the prevailing global problems prevailing due to the silo thinking and bureaucracy. Upon the digital paradigm shift, we are experiencing at the moment, with the new characteristics such as hyper-connectivity and interdependence of the digital world we live in, leveraging Systems Thinking in diagnosing and problem-solving is a strategic imperative. Because it is the common non-systemic view of the world that is being uploaded into every generation by the previous one - that generates most of human dysfunction and destructiveness. Yes, because the world is itself is a system, which means that any view of the world that is not based on the world being a system - must be inaccurate. Yes, because a view of the world that regards it as a system can be the most accurate view of the world, and, as such, is needed. And getting everyone to agree on actual systematic processes would be a great start for intelligent social problem-solving.


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