System Archetypes? LO6493

Rol Fessenden (
07 Apr 96 21:43:02 EDT

Replying to LO6399 --

This question of what is an archetype is a good one. I think Rick is
saying that systems thinking can help us cut through the clutter of
natural systems which are complex and therefore difficult to understand.
Jack is saying that in cutting through the clutter -- ie in eliminating
the "unimportant" -- we need to remember always that we have done just
that -- eliminated something -- in order to make an artificial mental
model of a process that is easier to understand than the original real
process. Who knows whether what we are eliminating is really
"unimportant" to our needs? This is a valid point.

At the same time, while we must constantly reexamine that question of
whether we have eliminated anything that is important from our mental
model, we must accept that the idea of archetypes is a powerful and useful
one. Therefore, as in so many areas of learning, we are always proceeding
on 2 fronts. First, we are acting on our limited knowledge of archetypes
to gain insight into real world situations. Second, and at the same time,
we are constantly examining our archetypes to determine if we can make
them more accurate or more theoretically valid.

I think the mental models that we construct from our systems thinking can
be very useful. I will also say that speaking as a mathematician, I have
seen some very poorly constructed models even in the literature. The
question for us all is how do we bring the practice of this tool to a
higher standard.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc.

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