How to Become a Systems Thinker?

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How to Become a Systems Thinker?
Gerard Leigh, Business Consultant, United Kingdom

How does one become a systems thinker? After reading The Fifth Discipline and getting interested in the subject I have read a number of books; some of which are mind blowingly complex! How have other people become systems thinkers? Reading? Courses?
What are your tips on becoming a systems thinker... Thanks.

How Does One Become a Systems Thinker
Mia grijp, CEO, Belgium
Dear Gerhard, that everything is connected is something we forgot on our way to explore the world, but the knowledge is still in us. I can use this worldview in my theater work, because, without connection with everything around me, the plays would be very boring for actors and spectators. In fruitful team activities and creative processes we are all (organically) focused on system thinking I guess. (but system 'thinking' is, for me, a bit misleading, our heads are only a small part of us no?)The hidden connection from Fritjorf Capra can be helpful, and Kosmos, from Ervin Lazlo & Jude Currivan. And of course the 'ancient' knowledge of the tribal communities.
I hope I'm understandable enough, English is not my mother tongue. Have I nice weekend, Mia.

Necessity to Be Real
Brian Keedwell, CEO, Sweden
Must have a real business case to work with... Too virtual teaches nothing. If one cannot elaborate it's a brick wall.

4 Phases of Systemic Thinking
Jaime Fernandez V., Professor, Chile
In my opinion, THE XXI century question is: What is the practice of a System Thinker? And also: How can I teach system(ic) thinking?
I have been dealing with this subject for over 15 years, since Peter SengeŽs 5th Discipline). I am convinced that changing the way people think is a major cultural challenge; it is a change of paradigm (Kuhn). The "Information Society" already entered the phase of the "Knowledge Society".
R Ackoff insinuates that we have 2 more stages: the "Understanding Society" and the "Wisdom Society".
Understanding = learning how systems work, the ability to replicate, recreate them, while wisdom is our capacity to co-exist, live-within systems, getting them under our skin as our 2nd nature, make it a daily practice. At that point we will be able to solve global warming, survival of species, air and water defense.
I have developed a Systemic "Value Model", that is based on the measurement of unseen relations inside a productive system. If youŽre interested, contact me. IŽd like to hear your comments.

Learning Systems Thinking
Paul von Zeuner, Consultant, South Africa
At the risk of over simplifying something that is not easy try what Peter Senge suggests. I have used it many times and more specifically with groups that battle with this concept.Try the 5 WHY method. Asking WHY? 5 times has amazing results and helps to illustrate the impact of Systemic thinking. Remember until Lehman Brothers the business world had the same problem.

Systemic Value Model
Gerard Leigh, Business Consultant, United Kingdom
Hi Jaime - I would be intetered to take a look at your work, maybe you can e-mail it to me?

Systemic Thinking
Jaime Fernandez V., Professor, Chile
My pleasure Gerard. YouŽll have to give me a few days to translate an extract of the relevant contents.

How to Reclaim our Capacity as System Thinkers
Michael Ameye, Coach, Belgium
Dear Gerard - We are system thinkers by nature. Our cognition is only a systemic grid, we think only by associations and we are so interconnect with the outer and inner world of perceptions that our brain has found ways to create "an illusion of causality" early in our childhood.
In my classes (teaching engineers) or my corporate trainings (on leadership and collective intelligence) I use the following training logic:
1. Understand oneself as a system (using NLP and TA)
2. Re appropriate the basic characteristics of systems
3. Understand how to create resonance within human systems
This is done through experience because as I said in my introduction we are all systemic thinkers so we just need to open to that aspect of our experience and our functioning.

Maybe Think 'What If'
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States
That is a great question, and can really be as complex, or at times simple, depending on what problems and/or conditions your trying to resolve. I loved Dr Senge's book "The Fifth Discipline" and found there was so much material there that was so apropos. I think his work relates so much to Dr. Einstein's quote, "The significant problems we face to day, cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at, when we created them."
In my opinion, conceptual and process thinking can be aligned around "What ifs" as opportunities not problems.
With the dynamics of all the change we are seeing in the world today, making the world so much smaller, makes system thinking, and how things relate to each other, a critical discipline.
By the way I think, the words "Change" & "Leadership" are two of the core ingredients for building a systems thinking mentality.
Also a "Vision Statement", aligned with organizational direction can be helpful tools also.
OK, Just some of my thoughts.


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Gerard Leigh
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