Category: Systems Thinking

Symptoms vs. Systems Thinking

When you encourage people to use systems thinking, you’re asking them to explore and identify the underlying forces at work rather than focus on the superficial symptoms.

A Quick Exercise in Systems Thinking

No matter what your business does—transporting cargo, delivering better health care, protecting the environment—every organization produces things. But too often, people lose sight of what exactly it is that they produce…

Critical Systems Thinking Blind Spots

Conflicting mental models often occur. The result is critical systems thinking blind spots. “I’ve got two vice presidents, both very good at what they do, who just can’t get along,” the executive director of a non-profit agency told us. “I spend an inordinate time mediating their conflicts. What can I do?” she asked. When we …

The Benefits of Systems Thinking

Here are more examples that may help you see the benefits of systems thinking. When the Titanic set sail from England, the engineers who designed the watertight bulkheads assumed that the hull would never be breached across multiple compartments below the waterline. This led to the popular illusion that the Titanic was unsinkable. Thus, for …

Systems Thinking Examples

Systems thinking means having the ability to view things in different time scales simultaneously and thus resolving the paradoxes between them. Here are some systems thinking examples. We were asked to facilitate the transformation of a blighted urban neighborhood. We invited a number of “experts” to offer their views to a panel of residents. A …

Five Frames of Systems Thinking in Business

When you use systems thinking in business, you discover patterns of assumptions that may have been invisible. We refer to these as “frames.” In the field of cognitive science, it’s well understood that frames influence how people think about a particular issue or problem. In the world of politics, there’s a conservative frame (“We need …

Three Challenges to Maintaining a Systems Perspective

Watching leaders and managers in action, I’ve observed that there are three major challenges to maintaining a systems perspective. First, because we live in an era of accelerating change, it’s easy to become distracted by the daily influx of events and issues – “to spend 24 hours a day fighting fires,” as the vice president …