Systems Thinking is based on the field of system dynamics, founded by MIT professor Jay Forrester in 1956. The idea behind systems thinking is to be used when analyzing change, interventions and solutions to consider how the component being under study is interacting with other components in the system.
So for example, if we’re trying to introduce new roles in the organization or solve a social issue or introduce new projects and initiatives in the community or organization…we need to consider how those interact with other parts of the system. Many of the traditional methods take a sequential approach to analyzing issues, systems think
This leads us to actually ask, what is a system? Well in a nutshell, a system is a group related, interdependent, bound and related components that interact together. So the computer you’re using is a system, organization you work in is a system, the city you’re in is a system, the country you’re in is a system. In this context, systems can be a “component” of a bigger system. Thus our world is constantly interconnected and has multiple influences from the broader system on the smaller ones, and vice versa.ing on the other hand focuses on the big picture and how are it’s components interacting thus a more complex and iterative approach.
For example, the company’s “system” is made up of:
- Policies & Procedures
- Human Capital
- Facilities & Equipment
So to introduce a change in one of those 3 elements, whether it’s team performance or overall cost reduction, there will be an impact on the other 2 elements and thus in many organizations instilling some change in one element will end up leading to un-expected changes in the other and thus the “original” problem would be resolved, but other problems would’ve popped up.
The key benefit of Systems Thinking is that it provides a better way for analysis and for solving most complex problems that are plaguing our world from governments to communities to business and so on.
Systems Thinking is being used in very wide spectrum of fields today and this proves that the people are becoming aware of it’s value. Some of the fields where it is being utilized are:
- Engineering & Construction
- Management & Consultancy
- Health & Medical Services
- Manufacturing & Industry
- Business Analysis
- Project Management
- Policy Making & Governance
- Community Development
- Computing & Information Technology
- Sustainable Development
In conclusion, with the increasing complexity of our world today it becoming a necessity to be able to see the “big picture” and understand the systems we are working with or else our proposed solutions and improvements will fail to reach the impact expected with long lasting sustainability.
2 thoughts on “Systems Thinking: Understanding the Complexity of Our World”
Thank you Afif for making systems thinking such a simple concept to grasp. Keep those posts coming, they are interesting and fruitful.
I would also suggest for the readers to read Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” in case they are interested in the above.
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