Systems Thinking is one of the most powerful tools of knowledge and understanding because it teaches us to devise models that are among the most effective for improving our intelligence.
Systemic models that can capture dynamism, repetitiveness, recursiveness and memory (Mella, 2008) allow us to “see the impossible”, to understand how situations evolve, to anticipate the future and “see things sooner”, to predict what we cannot yet “observe” in order to prepare us for what could influence our existence, to predict the future, to master complexity.
Nevertheless we should not overburden Systems Thinking with thaumaturgical powers, metaphysical capabilities, or ideal or exaggerated expectations.
We must be realists.
In many situations, no matter how much effort and energy we put into it, building effective systemic models does not seem possible, or is strongly obstructed by several conditions that make it practically “impossible to see” reality in all its interconnections and dynamics.
By using brief metaphors I want to touch on five of these conditions behind the “impossibility of seeing” that obstruct our systemic thinking with regard to understanding and predicting our world:
1) boiled frog, that is, the obstacle deriving from temporal slowness
2) networking effect, or the obstacle linked to the speed of processes
3) butterfly effect, the obstacle from distance in space
4) mono-directional view, the obstacle from observational direction
5) memory, the difficulty linked to structural, computational and temporal complexity
I will also indicate for each of these difficulties which strategies Systems Thinking proposes to neutralize them.
|Keywords:||Systems Thinking, Learning Organizations, Organizational Learning, Boiled Frog, Butterfly Effect, Networking Effect|
Chair of Business Administration, Department of Management Research, Faculty of Economics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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