Systems Thinking Circle


Systems Thinking

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Discussion


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Analytical Thinking

Some 500 years ago a new mode of reasoning came to dominate in Western society with the rise of the Scientific Revolution, what we call analytical reductionism, an approach to understanding things by breaking them down into their isolated parts and looking at the linear interaction between the part so as to understand the whole. Although very much intuitive to us this approach also has its limitations, a focus on parts blinds us to context while linear causality limits our capacity to see networked patterns and nonlinear processes; with analysis we get a detailed description of all the trees but fail to see the forest. After almost 5 hundred years of traveling down this road of applying an analytical reductionist approach to everything, we are starting to bump up against its limitations in a concrete way. It is ever more apparent that this imbalance in our way of looking at the world is what creates the problems we are facing.

New Approach

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” New ways of thinking now are critically needed to go beyond the modern industrial model of how we do things we call this “systems thinking” which counterbalances reductionism by looking at not just the parts but also the whole. As Peter Senge says systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static ‘snapshots’ it is a discipline for seeing the ‘structures’ that underlie complex situations, and for discerning high from low leverage points. Today systems thinking is needed more than ever because we are becoming overwhelmed by complexity.

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Systems Innovation

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