Home
 
 What's New?
 
 This Site
 
 Organizational Basics
 
 About
 
 Systems Thoughts
 
 Business Applications
 
 Working Papers
 
 Social Issues
 
 Systems Links
 
 Consulting Links
 
 ST Class
 
 Politics
 Libertarian Objections
 Liberal Moments(SM)
 Political & Economic Links
 
 Health
 
 Music
 
 Pics


Get our Bulletin

Home >
Organizational Basics
Start Here: What is Systems Thinking?
6/30/04
Click on the link above for an essay on what systems thinking is about, but first read the insightful quotes below.

Systems thinking is seeking to understand system behavior by examining "the whole," instead of by analyzing the parts. That the whole is greater than the sum of its parts isn't just a "slogan;" it impacts our lives in a very real way. That's because living beings, organizations, and societies are systems. We need systems thinking to understand and improve the behavior of organizations and social systems. This article explains why we need it.

Insightful Quotes:

The power of "the whole": "The compatibility between the parts and their reinforcing mutual interactions create a resonance, a force, which will be an order of magnitude higher than the sum of the forces generated by the separate parts. Systems Thinking, Jamshid Gharajedaghi

If the systems approach seems unnecessary, please keep in mind: "Acceptable ideas are competent no more, but competent ideas are not yet acceptable. This is a dilemma of our time." Stafford Beer

"Conventional wisdom is like an old guard; it would rather die than surrender." Systems Thinking, Jamshid Gharajedaghi

On mental models: "The inertia of culture is manifested by public and private images acting as filters, developing a selective mode of reception. This tunes the receptors for particular messages. Those consistent with the image are absorbed and reinforced, while contradictory and antagonistic ones have no significant effect. This phenomenon, although an impediment to change, acts as a defense mechanism and structure maintaining function. Furthermore, since truth is commonly identified with simplicity and comprehensibility, what one does not understand is simply rejected as false." Systems Thinking, Jamshid Gharajedaghi

If this seems complicated, please keep in mind: "My worry when executives say, 'Keep it simple stupid,' is that they're underestimating the complexity of their own organizations and environments." From "Sense and Reliability, A Conversation with Celebrated Psychologist Karl E. Weick", Harvard Business Review, April 2003.


Organizational Basics
Next Here: The Pain. The Practical Remedy.

Organizations can greatly improve performance. We make it look easy; & it's fun, too! [And talk about performance! Here Scuba plays Frisbee.]
Organizational behaviors drive us crazy (see some of them when you click on this article link). We can overcome them if we "learn how to learn" using both single- and double-loop learning.

Systems thinking is extremely practical, even though to many it appears academic and theoretical. It's practical because systems thinking helps us deal with dynamic complexity (multiple feedbacks with delays) ... a challenge as great as detail complexity (to which we invest billions of dollars).

The materials on this site explain how we make it practical ... and creative ... and fun. They show specific applications of this approach to common and important organizational challenges; and they describe structures responsible for organizational behaviors.


... for policies that work!
Picture this: A Gary Larson, Far Side cartoon, shows two horn-helmeted Vikings looking ahead from the dragon-headed prow of their armored vessel. Behind them there are four rows of oarsmen, two per row. On the left side of the vessel are big, burly men; on the right, slight skinny guys. One says to the other, "I've got it, too, Omar -- a strange feeling that we're just going in circles."

The Point? Many organizations have a Mission that explains why they exist and a Vision that describes where they want to go, but that's not enough. The organization must understand its structure to understand the observed behavior. Understanding structure allows the organization to change its structure and redesign its policies to create the desired behaviors and outcomes.

For an example of structure using the causal loop language that describes "stories of structure," click on "Reading Systems Diagrams" (see Site Map at right) for a story about a popular restaurant.

Organizational Basics
Why ST? Professionals Rank It: Very Important!
2/1/03
Here's how project managers, quality professionals, and business students have ranked the importance of systems thinking relative to other considerations.

Download attachment(s): [ flyer_barriers2p.pdf ]

Organizational Basics
Reading Systems Diagrams

Here's how to read the diagrams.

Download attachment(s): [ systemsdiagrams2.pdf ]

<< prev next >>

Site Map
What's New?
What's New Lately?
Employment & Trade Papers
This Site
What's This Site About?
Organizational Basics
Start Here: What is Systems Thinking?
Next Here: The Pain. The Practical Remedy.
Why ST? Professionals Rank It: Very Important!
Reading Systems Diagrams
About
Why Exponential Improvement?
Contact Bob, About CIA
Why Use CIA Consulting?
Client & Workshop Comments
Website Traffic Increasing
Systems Thoughts
On Freedom
Repent
Heresy
"Maya": Illusion
What's Spirit Got to Do with It?
Primacy of the Whole
Mental Models & Beliefs
Business Applications
Workshop Overview
Facilitating Group Action
Exponential Improvement
Create Strategic Focus
Making Strategic Choices
Project Management Dynamics
Workshop Report on Project Management Dynamics 10/23/04
Working Papers
Sustainable Computing
Surviving Disruptive Technologies
Workforce Aging Strategy
Manufacturing Task Force Proposals
Social Issues
US Oil Exports Soar
'Free Market' Fundamentalism
Colorado Springs: A Broken Region
Smoot-Hawley Hogwash
The Growth Trap
Growth Facts of Life
The Trouble with TABOR
Systems Links
John Sterman's Business Dynamics Page
Fiddaman's System Dynamics Bookmarks
Road Maps: Learning Systems Dynamics
Sustainability Institute
Consulting Links
Web Site Design: Children Come First
Freedom from Software Faults
ST Class
ST & Problem Solving - Spring 2004
ST & Problem Solving - Fall 2003
Politics
Lies about Socialism
Oppose 2C sales tax increase: Pay for Past Sins; Sin No More
Response to Gardner on BCRA: Liar, Pants on Fire
Scarborough Promotes Failed Right-Wing Policies
Cory Gardner's 'Better Care' Betrayal
Letter to Lying Lamborn on Trump/Comey, AHCA, Republican Budget
AHCA Letter to Cory Gardner
Health
Isagenix
Music
Dance
Spiritual
Pics
The Woodpecker Problem
Stained Glass Goddess
House
Videos

© 2003 Continuous Improvement Associates