My Daily Thoughts


Systems Thinking and Business Analysis

Systems thinking Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing inter-relationships rather than things, for seeing patterns rather than static 'snapshots'. Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the 'structures' that underlie complex situations.
Peter Senge

Systems thinking is thinking in an ecological way.  Systems thinking shows how parts of an organization are interconnected.  The interconnected parts have feedback loops that keep the different processes in check.

An example of this type of thinking is ecosystems.  A simple ecosystem that consists of coyotes and rabbits becomes more complicated when you look at the interconnection and their effects.  When there are lots of rabbits there is lots of food for the coyotes so the system starts to produce more coyotes.  When there are lots of coyotes, there is a food shortage so the number of coyotes goes down which then causes the rabbits to go up.  Now, this simple system has created a cycle of rabbits and coyotes.  If we introduce a third element, such as rabbit food or the seasons the interconnections get more complicated.

Systems thinking is a way of understanding the whole, and at the same time understanding the different parts.

The interconnections and feedback loops give the system a life of its own.  One way of thinking about this is the systems and processes of a hockey time result in team chemistry.  Team chemistry is a trait of how the system as a whole is working.  Understanding the elements is the first part of systems thinking, the next part is understanding the interrelationships and feedback loops and what those processes produce in the overall system.

It is systems thinking that is most effective when facilitating a change in an organization.

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