What is Systems Thinking? LO6182

Charles Parry (74150.236@compuserve.com)
23 Mar 96 10:27:52 EST

What is Systems Thinking? LO6163
re: >When I sought for a definition of systems thinking, (snip)>


A quick thought - If I'm not mistaken, there is a significant difference
between the meaning of "system" "systems" and "systemic". IMHO systemic is
what (we) mean to say. In fact, the word system often carries a linear
thinking connotation, as in "His system for doing x is: Step 1...., step
2...etc. An interesting, but problematic confusion IMHO.

A second thought is that the act of truly thinking/percieving in terms of
whole systems is a visual-kinesthetic type of processing which does not
lend itself to the linear constraints of auditory processing and
communication (text is really an auditory digital form of
communication/thinking (the analog parts of speech communication deleted).

I've often had the sense that what well known "systems thinkers" are doing
is *translating* from the richness of a whole system/ holistic vision or
grasp of some entity or set of processes to a linear analytic code which
sometimes added value or understanding. For example, in watching Peter
Senge do systems modeling live, or answer questions about some real
situation that he had direct experience of (as opposed to something more
general or theoretical), I was repeatedly left with the strong impression
that it was almost as if he had flowed *himself* through the "system" in
some way in his imagination, and then translated that experience into
symbols and diagrams and sentences of (linear) description.

This brings me back to my earlier queries about what sorts of reference
experiences (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) people are relying on /using
as templates for doing systemic "thinking".

For example, had you "grasped" the understanding of any of the "official"
system archetypes (such as the Tragedy of the Commons pattern, for
example) in your life experience prior to it being named and put into
diagrams? Take a minute and see if you can discover something... when you
think of that TOC System Archetype, HOW do you actually represent it
("think" about it) in your own mind? Is it a series of pictures, a movie
about a town and cows, a diagram, a bunch of words, the feeling of having
something precious gradually disappear mysteriously - or in spite of your
efforts to reverse it - followed by a flash of understanding, stories from
"Limits to Growth", or what...??

I'm quite curious for any and all replies about this, as it seems central
to designing communication, teaching, enrolling others in considering ST
and LO ideas, etc.


Charles Parry
Specialized Resources International

Boston University Sargent Camp
36 Sargent Camp Road
Hancock, New Hampshire 03449 USA
Fax: 603.525.4151 Tel: 603.525.4451


Charles Parry <74150.236@compuserve.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>