If we could all think in systems, we could build a better world


Progress Namibia - If we could all think in systems, we could build a better world
24 September 2018

[Image source: Source: https://medium.com/disruptive-design/tools-for-systems-thinkers-the-6-fundamental-concepts-of-systems-thinking-379cdac3dc6a]

Most of us recognize the insurmountable challenges that are facing human civilisation. We also recognize that there is a need to (rapidly) transition to sustainable, resilient societies. The prospect of this is daunting - mostly because some of us feel helpless to change the system, much like a person running after a barrel rolling down a hill. It is daunting because it requires new ways of thinking about and addressing complex problems. We have been trained - both formally and informally - to think in silos. However, widespread adoption of systems thinking represents one of society's best bets for making a rapid transition to a world that we all want.

There was a recent article in the Solutions Journal that gives a nice introduction on what systems thinking means, and why it is important. I summarise a few points here, but encourage you all to read it.

Systems thinking is concerned with us seeing the relationships between parts and wholes rather than looking at the discrete, isolated parts. It means looking at the bigger picture, examining how things relate, looking for root causes and improvements. Those of us who do systems dynamics modeling, are then actually able to find the leverage points in the system where things could actually change for the better.

Dana Meadows, one of the great systems thinkers (and modelers) of our time, some years ago now, wrote an article called 'Leverage Points: Places to intervene in the system'.

People like herself, and others who are still out there doing this type of work, have many of the answers. We just need to listen.