Systems Thinking is a big idea. The idea that can help you understand, and tame the complexity of the real world. The essence of systems thinking is that the complexity of the real world, can be tamed by seeing things as a whole. Only by taking a broad view, can we avoid the dangers of a silo mentality, in which a fix here, simply shifts the problem to there, and organisational myopia, in which a fix now, gives rise to a much bigger problem to fix later. For an example of this, click on the Case Study icon.

Taking a broad view, however, is not at the expense of missing the detail. Much of business, is about paying attention to details. It is about taking a broad view, in the context of the right detail.

The benefit you get by doing this, is better, more robust, and wiser decisions. Decisions that are better, because they have been taken, by considering the problem as a whole, in all its complexity, decisions that are more robust, as they have been taken, in the full understanding of their consequences, decisions that are wiser, because they stand the test of time.

And no matter what organisation you are, better decisions mean better business, in the widest sense of the term.

This skill, will enable you to understand and tame complexity, enable you to use the tools and techniques of Systems thinking, to understand, describe, examine and explore the complexity of the real world.

A system comprises of a number of entities, which are interconnected to each other. One important characteristic of a system, is interconnectedness between the entities. Which means, if you remove one entity, it will affect the others, and the entire system. An example of a system can be a football team, a group of surgeons working on a patient, a board of directors of a company, or the members in a Formula One pit stop.

Todays managers want to understand, the likely consequences of their actions, they want to understand, the complex interconnectedness, of real business problems, they want to understand issues completely, and holistically, they want to understand, the impact of time delays. If they can do this, they are in a much better position, to take decisions that stand the test of time, decisions, that are truly wise.

Organizations also experience, systemic breakdowns, despite individual brilliance, and innovative products. This is because they are unable to pull their diverse functions, and talents, into a productive whole. Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the structures that underlie, complex situations. And for discerning, high leverage change, from, low leverage change.

The tools of Systems Thinking help us to take wise decisions that are well founded, and well considered. This is done, by exploring the context of the decision, holistically, in a broad perspective, both in terms of scope, as well as time. Systems thinking provides a broad perspective and the tools of Systems thinking are very powerful for capturing the essence of complex problems.

Systems Thinking Learning Objectives

  1. Introduction to Systems Thinking : An introduction to the concept of Systems Thinking, the need and impact in the business world. Demystifying Systems Thinking and effective application of the tool in business decisions.

  2. The discipline of Systems thinking : Organisations experience systemic breakdowns, despite individual brilliance and innovative products. Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the structures that underlie complex situations. And for discerning high leverage change from low leverage change.

  3. Underlying Theory : Systems thinking is one of the most effective management tools in long term problem solving and decision making. It enables taking decisions from a macro perspective, decisions that stand the test of time. Systems thinking helps look for solutions beyond the obvious.

  4. Systems Thinking Tools : The effective application of Systems thinking involves various tools and techniques based on identifying and acting on cause and effect. Systems thinking tools help in simplifying complexity. The tools of systems thinking enable effective decision making and the development of sustainable competitive advantage. It can be used to tame the complexity of the most complex systems.

Systems thinking can be applied to problems such as :

  • Business Problems as well as Non Business Problems
  • Negotiations
  • HR, Marketing, Finance, Operations
  • How to grow and build a business

The benefits of Systems Thinking can be elaborated as follows :

  1. Systems thinking can help you tame the complexity of real world problems by providing a structured way of balancing a broad, complete view, with the selection of the right level of detail.
  2. The tools of systems thinking are a visual method of capturing complexity. They are a powerful means of communication that help us understand problems in their real context.
  3. Systems Thinking tools help us identify the wisest way of influencing the system of interest. As a result, you can avoid taking poor decisions, decisions that are quick fixes, that have long term dis-benefits.
  4. Overall, systems thinking can help you take decisions that pass the most stringent test, the test of time.

The fundamental tenet, of systems thinking, is that real, complex problems are best described in terms of interconnected networks. However complex a problem, the underlying structure can be explained diagrammatically, and the examination of these is one of the ways, in which the complexity, can be understood, and tamed.

For more information on our customized workshops, contact us or send an email to: