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Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking
© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted from the Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development and Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development with Nonprofits. Three of the biggest breakthroughs in how we understand and successfully guide changes in ourselves, others and organizations are systems theory, systems thinking and systems tools. To understand how they are used, we first must understand the concept of a system. Many of us have an intuitive understanding of the concept. However, we need to make that intuition even more explicit in order to use systems thinking and systems tools. Sections of This Topic Include Basics -- Definitions - - - What's a System? Also seeRelated Library Topics Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Systems Theory, Chaos Theory and Systems Thinking Definitions: Systems, Systems Theory, Systems Thinking, Tools What's a System? Systems range from simple to complex. A pile of sand is not a system.

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Develop Systems Thinking To cope with complexity, leaders have been taught to divide things into simpler component parts and to manage these as best they can. This often leads to today’s solutions creating tomorrow’s problems. Systems thinking is required for long term leadership success in our complex world. This Workplace Development Guide provides 10 activities to develop your systems thinking while you work. Systems thinking will give you a more accurate picture of reality so that you can work with a system's natural forces in order to achieve the results you desire. THE GENERAL SYSTEM? REVIEWED by Charles Francois, Editor, International Encyclopedia of Cybernetics and Systemics By Thomas Mandel "A human being is part of the Whole...He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Systems Thinking Primer THE LANGUAGE OF SYSTEMS THINKING Linear Thinking Focuses on the immediate cause and effect of events. Cause and effect are assumed to occur together. Systems Thinking Focuses on the interrelationship and dynamics among system components. Cause and effect are separated in time and space. What is Systems Theory? Systems theory is an interdisciplinary theory about the nature of complex systems in nature, society, and science, and is a framework by which one can investigate and/or describe any group of objects that work together to produce some result. This could be a single organism, any organization or society, or any electro-mechanical or informational artifact. As a technical and general academic area of study it predominantly refers to the science of systems that resulted from Bertalanffy's General System Theory (GST), among others, in initiating what became a project of systems research and practice. Systems theoretical approaches were later appropriated in other fields, such as in the structural functionalist sociology of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann. Overview

10 Useful Ideas on Systems By Richard Wilkinson, 2001 “Real life is lived in a complex world system where all the subsystems overlap and affect each other.” At the heart of systems thinking is the principle of interconnectedness. I compiled the following list to make this core idea translatable to daily life. System dynamics Dynamic stock and flow diagram of model New product adoption (model from article by John Sterman 2001) System dynamics is an approach to understanding the behaviour of complex systems over time. It deals with internal feedback loops and time delays that affect the behaviour of the entire system.[1] What makes using system dynamics different from other approaches to studying complex systems is the use of feedback loops and stocks and flows. These elements help describe how even seemingly simple systems display baffling nonlinearity. Overview[edit]

Systems Thinking Resources - The U Process Concepts and Frameworks The Five Learning Disciplines Developed by renowned systems thinker Peter Senge, these five disciplines each enhance the ability of a person or organization to use learning effectively. Leveraged together, they contribute heavily to the success of learning organizations, defined by Senge as, “…organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”

Systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research.[citation needed] The term does not yet have a well-established, precise meaning, but systems theory can reasonably be considered a specialization of systems thinking; alternatively as a goal output of systems science and systems engineering, with an emphasis on generality useful across a broad range of systems (versus the particular models of individual fields). A central topic of systems theory is self-regulating systems, i.e. systems self-correcting through feedback. Self-regulating systems are found in nature, including the physiological systems of our body, in local and global ecosystems, and in climate—and in human learning processes (from the individual on up through international organizations like the UN).[3] Overview[edit] Examples of applications[edit]

The McKinsey 7S Framework Ensuring That All Parts of Your Organization Work in Harmony Learn how to use the 7-S Framework, with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson. How do you go about analyzing how well your organization is positioned to achieve its intended objective? This is a question that has been asked for many years, and there are many different answers.

Homeostasis Homeostasis, also spelled homoeostasis (from Greek: ὅμοιος homœos, "similar" and στάσις stasis, "standing still"), is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant. Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of temperature and the balance between acidity and alkalinity (pH). It is a process that maintains the stability of the human body's internal environment in response to changes in external conditions.

Business leaders need systemic thinking for sustainability The economy is in the tank and thousands of people are out of work. At the same time, the planet is dangerously heating up and ecological systems are declining. What are we to make of these troubles? Are they merely the result of poor policies? Or is something more fundamental at play?

Systems engineering Systems engineering techniques are used in complex projects: spacecraft design, computer chip design, robotics, software integration, and bridge building. Systems engineering uses a host of tools that include modeling and simulation, requirements analysis and scheduling to manage complexity. Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on how to design and manage complex engineering systems over their life cycles. Issues such as requirements engineering, reliability, logistics, coordination of different teams, testing and evaluation, maintainability and many other disciplines necessary for successful system development, design, implementation, and ultimate decommission become more difficult when dealing with large or complex projects. Systems engineering deals with work-processes, optimization methods, and risk management tools in such projects.

The Paradigm Shift of Systems Theory I. The Perspective of Systems Theory and its Relationship to the Traditional Mainstream Sciences, and its Approach to Mental Illness “Systems theory” is the name given to both a broad perspective and a large body of knowledge which has formed through the original efforts of many men and women in the last century, all of whom were working under the impulses of an important epistemological paradigm shift. That shift- the implications of which are too numerous and transformative to state or explain adequately in one place- was from the causal/linear and reductionist perspective that had largely dominated scientific thinking in their time, to an interactional perspective that explored reality in important new ways. From the perspective of the traditional sciences, the paradigm shift of systems theory was and is both radical and subversive. A Radical Shift

Conceptual model A conceptual model is a model made of the composition of concepts, which are used to help people know, understand, or simulate a subject the model represents. Some models are physical objects; for example, a toy model which may be assembled, and may be made to work like the object it represents. The term conceptual model may be used to refer to models which are formed after a conceptualization (generalization)[1] process in the mind.