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Layering human intuition onto the
“bytes and bolts” of today's technology

Systems thinking is three things at once. It is

  • a strategy
  • a concept and
  • a process
for managing complexity.

The Strategy

Systems thinkers strategically view the extended enterprise—from vendor partner through internal business process to the end user consumer—as a series of layers, each understandable by the astute participant.

The Concept

The concept of layered clarity coupled with mosaic management has tremendous power. It offers a roadmap, a blueprint, a plan for organizing complex operations into more manageable parts. This is key. Systems thinking provides scalable solutions. Stubborn dedication to the attitude, the belief, the concept that a better solution exits defines a systems thinker; whether they've ever heard the term or not.

Through a viewpoint emphasizing interacting wholes rather than independent parts, systems thinking provides comprehensive understanding without sacrificing clarity. Think of it this way: each new piece of the puzzle that you fit in makes finding ‘the edge piece with the tip of the tree and the roof shingle’ that much easier and more fun.

The Process

The process of systems thinking involves people, capital and products. (If your product is a service, that's ok, it still works.) By first understanding the individual parts of a system, through traditional training, OJT, etc., then reaching beyond those traditional techniques to grasp the linkages between the parts, systems thinkers offer their colleagues and clients a win-win approach.

Once again, systems thinking is the ability to analyze a situation in the full scope of its connecting elements. Because systems thinking is about fine tuning—understanding and managing the dynamics of wholes instead of optimizing the parts—it represents a win-win approach. On the one hand, while the language and techniques of formal systems thinking have nearly 40 years of market experience behind them, the systems thinking banner leads the march of a whole troop of changes: organizational learning, statistical process control, benchmarking, and others. The systems thinker, either within an emerging growth firm or an outside consultant, brings some of today's most valuable tools for creating and sustaining leverage within companies, markets and industries. On the other hand, while systems thinking concept has this power, this tremendous potential, it has not captured the hearts and minds of the everyday manager, perhaps with good reason: systems thinking is devastatingly simple.  

Article Continues…Clarity: A Two-Edged Sword 
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