Individuals & Systems Thinking LO1234

Doug Seeley (
16 May 95 02:44:41 EDT

Responding to Steve Presley in LO1184 and Ketan in LO1100 in the
Incentives thread,

"More and more I believe that what is lacking in systems thinking is the
whole human aspect of MORALS and ETHICS - thus far I have seen less than
satisfactory answers to these questions from systems thinkers. Thus your
question is ultimately rooted not in the system but in the morality of
individuals - which leads me to consider that systems thinking is largely
a descriptive science and does little to acknowledge to INDIVIDUAL in
tandem with the system."

and David Markham in the Soulful Work thread LO1187...who says..

"A primary characteristic of soul in organizations is it encouraging
comment and reflection about itself, its activities, its ways of working.
In many spiritual traditions this has been called the Witness. What we
know about dysfunctional families is that they have the "Don't talk" rule.
Healthy families have the "Do talk" rule. "

I feel that the issue regarding "reflection about itself" is an important
one when we consider the role of systems thinking in organizations. Is it
not possible that when We use notions of systems which exclude individual
participation (i.e. are "objective") that We are in fact guaranteeing that
Morals and Ethics will be left out, and that the work will not be

(For me, the contrast between objectivizing systems thinking and
participative systems thinking is like the difference between "bird's eye
view" games and "viewpoint" games wherein your experience is from within
the game model. I have avoided the word "virtual" here, the other term is
older, because the context of the discussion is real thinking, real models
which influence systems behaviour. oops, maybe that is the point to
thinking and modelling, they actually are virtual??)

When We leave out the role of participation, do We not ensure that: i) We
will use a purely descriptive approach to decisions, interventions and
advice...leading to ii) an objectivication of all the individuals of the
system, which can then be abstracted... iii) leading to decision-making
and board level strategies which are not moral and ethical... iv) and
reinforce a commercial culture which pursues its "objectivied missions"
independent of the individual lives which must be lived... and hence, v)
independent of what sustains the lives of individuals and the planet ??

In other words, by leaving out the role of individuals in our roles as
systems thinkers and actors, are we not co-conspirators in ensuring the
survival of some abstract system based upon virtual ideas at the expense
of actual human fulfillment??

If this is so, then how can We ensure that individual participation is
acknowledged in all systems levels in an organization??

Doug Seeley:  compuserve 100433,133... Fax: +41  22  756  3957
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