The first is that it can be easy to identify and therefore get fixated on the elements: The elements of a system are often the easiest parts to notice, because many of them are visible, tangible things…you can divide elements into sub-elements and then sub-sub-elements. Your email address will not be published. The primary objective of the project was to determine if applying a new systems thinking approach to workplace safety could assist a large, aerospace manufacturing company to reduce workplace injuries. The article “Tools for Systems Thinkers: The 6 Fundamental Concepts of Systems Thinking” by Leyla Acaroglu gives a nice list of six ways to think about systems (and is part of a longer series of articles on systems and systems thinking that is definitely worth checking out). The best way to deduce the system’s purpose is to watch for a while to see how the system behaves…purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or states goals…System purposes need not be human purposes and are not necessarily those intended by any single actor within the system. Change the rules from those of football to those of basketball, and you’ve got, as they say, a whole new ball game…Changing interconnections in a system can change it dramatically. Pretty soon you lose sight of the system. Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. The company has been aggressively working to improve their workplace injury rates but has not fully achieved their desired goals. Your workplace is a system. that are interrelated in a way to achieve a function, such as producing your product or achieving your organization’s mission statement. Systems mapping is a way to draw/visualize a system to better understand the elements and relationship/interconnectedness and begin understanding the system better. The leadership challenge is accentuated by the realisation that for every legitimate, official or consciously designed system (which is intended to be and is supposedly rational) there is a shadow system. From this, we can shift the way we see the world, from a linear, structured “mechanical worldview’ to a dynamic, chaotic, interconnected array of relationships and feedback loops. It strikes me that this way of thinking is far more important now in business. It is very difficult to make a change to a system that has existed for a long period of time, and for someone to come in on a time crunch without being given the proper time to identify and issue and correct it is where training fails. The results of Munich COMFORT have been impressive so far. 76-77). Conduct audits, allowing staff to propose new ways of doing things, and ask for explanations of their thinking. But I also find it somewhat vague and hard to act on. Often, creativity involves lateral thinking, which is the ability to perceive patterns that are not obvious. In some cases, you may be absolutely delighted with the behavior created by a system, and in those cases, you probably won’t wonder how to change that behavior. …the least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior. It’s our plan to return to some of the materials in the second-half of Meadows’ book in future articles. If your stock is your employee population, your inflow is hiring and your outflow is employee departure. Culture & Leadership, Step Change, WOTSO Building Level 3, 55 Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW, 2009(02) 8030 8655, How to Develop Systems Thinking in Your Organisation, Content Strategy: Help People Find Your Business Online. When you and your members apply systems thinking, you get a handle your systems and are able to fully harness it. Practice Systems Thinking in Informational Writing. Taking the first step towards systems thinking is simpler than you might imagine- invite others to participate. As Meadows puts it: It is the consistent behavior pattern over a long period of time that is the first hint of the existence of a feedback loop…A feedback loop is formed when changes in a stock affect the flows into or out of that same stock…Feedback loops can cause stocks to maintain their level within a range or grow or decline. In fact, one of the most frustrating aspects of systems is that the purposes of sub-units may add up to an overall behavior that no one wants…[she gives an example of a system producing drug addiction]…Systems can be nested within systems. Some s… Meadows explains that while there are many different systems, they all have certain things in common: “the foundation of any system” and that “you can see, feel, count, or measure” stocks “at any given time….A system stock is just what it sounds like: a store, a quantity, an accumulation of material or information that has built up over time” (see pages 17 and 18). 30 Near Miss Examples Improve Reporting – For Employees Improve Reporting – For Employers Reporting Systems Using Safesite to Report Near Misses Digitally. Creative vs. Critical Thinking We’ve already explained that systems include stocks and flows. Thanks again for your thoughtful commentary on some of our articles today. As a result, I decided to do a little reading on systems thinking to learn more. The overall balance between inflows and outflows in the system will ultimately determine if the stock increases or decreases. That process is emergence. Now think about your workplace: workers in different job roles, supervisors, upper management, customers, suppliers, vendors, your office building, your IT infrastructure, and more are all interrelated in a way that creates a behavioral pattern. Creating how-to books is an excellent activity for using systems thinking to identify and write out the steps of different systems. Having open channels of communication is important for enabling feedback. Creative thinking means thinking outside the box. It enables teams to work in synergy instead of siloes, unlocking teamwork and collaboration. History’s Greatest Strategists: Che Guevara, Knowledge Nuggets Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, History’s Greatest Strategists: Bill Gates, Knowledge Nuggets: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy. This is the power of systems thinking. For an easy example, our oceans are stocks in the global water system. I think that this is where HPI can be more beneficial to an organization as HPI typically utilizes members who are within a system and understand how it functions. We exist to inspire step changes in businesses and in people. In my previous post I discussed about what systems thinking is. Causality is about how things happen. But all systems are dynamic and often complex; thus, we need a more holistic approach to understanding phenomena. Tagged: Not if reporting them makes the workplace safer—and it does. It utilizes computer simulation and different graphs and diagrams to illustrate and predict system behavior. We spend most of our time at the top, thinking about and responding to acute conditions, events, and failures. Steven Shorrock on Systems Thinking for Human Factors, Tools for Systems Thinkers: The 6 Fundamental Concepts of Systems Thinking, ANSI/ASSP Z490.1 & Z490.2 Discussions at ASSP Podcast Webpage, Effective EHS Training: A Step-by-Step Guide, Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide Checklist, Online Contractor Orientation Buyers Guide, Learning Management System (LMS) Buyer's Guide. Synthesis is about understanding the whole and the parts at the same time, along with the relationships and the connections that make up the dynamics of the whole. — Peter Senge, American systems scientist. Your workplace is a system. Be holistic. The point that folks make is that if you want to really solve problems, or really grasp opportunities, you’ve got to think of issues systemically. When a report is used to improve safety processes, workplace injuries and deaths decrease. Systems Thinking enables a framework that can produce sustainable success. However, the fundamental principles and practices of systems mapping are universal. Going back to our definition of a system, it’s important to remember that is not just a random collection of things. However, systems thinking can best be understood by viewing real life phenomena and everyday issues through the systems lens. What if you keep the players and the rules but change the purpose–from winning to losing, for example…A change in purpose changes a system profoundly, even if every element and interconnection remains the same. Harness the power of systems thinking to solve complex problems and arrive at sustainable solutions. Do you want the systems at work to lead to greater innovations and continuous improvement? Systems thinkers use the concepts of interconnectedness, synthesis, and emergence to study causality. The most thoroughly documented and discussed methodological example of action research and systems thinking is Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) which Peter Checkland created through his work in both the management and the academic world (Checkland P. B., Checkland, 2007). Here’s a quote from Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: “When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. Consider its initial challenge of becoming a legitimate manufacturer of electric automobiles. If so, you may want to “unleash” systems, allowing for the freedom and experimentation Meadows talks about. Required fields are marked *. If you change all the players on a football team, it is still recognizably a football team… A system generally goes on being itself, changing only slowly if at all, even with complete substitutions of its elements–as long as its interconnections and purposes remain intact…. The 4 Executive Modes: Which One Are You? So your stock may increase/rise, stay in equilibrium, or decrease/fall. Imagine having members who meet challenges head-on and not hide from it. Systems thinking creates a drive for never-ending improvement. They are: Resilience is the ability for the system to persist despite changing circumstances. So What’s NOT a System? Applying systems thinking in your organisation makes you and your team become better problem-solvers in that it allows you to ask better questions to reach a conclusion or make informed an decision. NOTE: Here’s one by Steven Shorrock on Systems Thinking for Human Factors that just got published. 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