Last week we presented some definitions of System Thinking and positive implications this innovative mind-set can have both at the individual and society levels.
To continue the conversation another definition of the concept is interesting: A functional unity. This brings to mind a whole that unifies its parts around a functionality. But also, something that can be more or less functional. And – if less – we circle back to the concept of an urge of change.
It is also said it is a set of parts with a common destiny, which maintains their interrelations, even when placed in a different environment (F.BONSACK, 1990, p. 67).
And here lies what, in my opinion, is probably the best opportunity system thinking creates: its nature of collaboration and cooperation. It is difficult not to participate in the destiny of something you’re a part of. Although, we do see every day how disconnected people can also be, for example, from the society or the planet they live in. And then it is important to ask: why the disconnection is created and how can be mended? But also, which resources are present? What resilience? What chances of co-evolution?
”Each of the elements of a system is related, directly or indirectly, to all other elements so that a change in any element, to a greater or lesser degree changes the entire system. A system is distinguished from an aggregate (or congeries) by the interrelatedness of its elements” (Dechert)
In this sense, a system is basically a network.
What are the channels of communication between the parts? How this communication performs? How can be improved if needed?
All of these are important questions to ask when evaluating a system and the problems it may presents.
As we said last week, when a change is needed a system if not well understood in its functionality can be really hard to innovate. As, among other characteristics of systems, these are usually characterized by their complexity, their coherence and relative permanence, and their tendency to seek their own survival.
Although very brief, I hope these initial two articles show how rich the conversation around System Thinking can be. As I read here Systems thinking is “a perspective on parts, wholes and their relations. Part-part relation Part-whole relation and Whole-whole relations (with other systems)”.