Open Thinkering


TB872: STiP terminology

Note: this is a post reflecting on one of the modules of my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. You can see all of the related posts in this category.

An artistic depiction in a street art style, emphasizing the theme of word definitions. The artwork features a central open book symbol, overlaid with a transparent magnifying glass. Surrounding the book are abstract shapes and lines, representing the flow and expansion of knowledge. The colour palette is vibrant yet harmonious, creating a dynamic and thought-provoking visual metaphor for the pursuit of learning and the complexity of language.

One of the things we’re encouraged to do as part of this module is to “keep note of new concepts as they [are] introduced and to monitor and learn from your changing understandings of these concepts”. This post serves as a record of concepts and terminology that are either entirely new to me (i.e. I was introduced to them as a result of studying this module), or somewhat new to me (i.e. I’d heard about them but couldn’t easily define them, or words used in new ways).

This list is based on the TB872 glossary, so I haven’t actually been introduced to all of these words yet. However, terms such as ‘isophor’ have been mentioned in passing a few times, and it’s worth getting the whole list of terminology that is new to me (or new-ish) in one place.

I’m going to skip giving definitions for terms with which I was familiar before starting studying for this module — e.g. epistemology and ontology. I’m also going to define these terms in ways that an intelligent person who is not taking TB872 would be able to understand.

Appreciation: The process of understanding a situation or a system in terms of its interconnected elements, including the evaluation of its facts and value judgments.

Boundary: The limits or edges of a system, defining what is inside and what is outside of it.

Boundary Judgments: Decisions made about where to set the boundaries of a system, which affect how the system is understood and analysed.

Causal-Loop Models: Diagrams used in systems thinking to show the relationships between different elements of a system, illustrating how changes in one part can affect others.

Critical: In the context of systems thinking, being critical means carefully evaluating and questioning the assumptions, methods, and outcomes of systems analysis.

Design Turn: A shift in approach from analysing existing systems to actively designing solutions or interventions in systems.

Discourses of Practice: The ways in which knowledge, norms, and values are communicated and understood within a specific field or practice.

Emergence: The process where new properties or behaviors arise in a system as a result of the interactions between its components, which cannot be predicted from the properties of the individual components alone.

Environment: In systems thinking, this refers to all elements that are outside the boundary of the system but may interact with or influence it.

First Order: Pertains to initial responses or changes in a system that do not alter its fundamental structures or rules.

Holon: A concept that describes something that is simultaneously a whole in itself and a part of a larger system.

Isophor: A metaphor used in systems thinking to illustrate complex ideas through relatable imagery or scenarios.

Knowing-in-Action: The knowledge that is demonstrated through action and practice, often implicitly, rather than through explicit statements or theories.

Layered Structure: A way of describing a system in terms of different levels or layers, each with its own characteristics and dynamics.

Living in Language: The idea that our understanding and perception of the world are shaped by the language we use.

Mess: A complex problem or situation characterised by high levels of uncertainty, ambiguity, and interconnectedness.

Modes of Practice: Different approaches or methods used in a particular field or discipline.

Organisation: A group or structure created to achieve specific goals, often characterized by a system of roles, rules, and processes.

Pathway Dependence: The concept that the decisions and actions taken in the past shape the range of possible future actions and outcomes.

Patterns of Knowing: Recognisable and repetitive ways in which knowledge is formed, understood, and applied.

Praxis: The integration of theory and practice, where knowledge and action are deeply interconnected.

Problem-Determined System: A system defined by the problem it is intended to address or solve.

Reflection-on-Reflection: A deeper level of reflective thinking where one reflects on the process and outcomes of their initial reflection.

Relational Dynamic: The ways in which elements within a system interact and influence each other.

Relational Practice: An approach that focuses on the relationships and interactions among elements within a system.

Relational Thinking: Thinking that emphasises connections and relationships between elements or parts of a system.

Second-Order Change: A deeper, more fundamental change that alters the underlying structures and rules of a system.

Single, Double, and Triple-Loop Learning: Progressive levels of learning in an organisation; single-loop involves making improvements within existing structures, double-loop questions and modifies the structures themselves, and triple-loop learning rethinks underlying values and goals.

Situation of Concern: A specific complex situation that is the focus of systems thinking analysis and intervention.

Soft Systems Methodology (SSM): A methodological approach in systems thinking that deals with problem situations where there are divergent views and complex social processes.

Structural Coupling: The process by which two or more systems become interconnected and evolve together over time.

Structure-Determined System: A system whose behavior is determined by its internal structure, rather than external influences.

System-Determined Problem: A problem that arises specifically from the characteristics or structure of the system itself.

System of Concern: The broader system within which a specific system of interest operates and interacts.

System of Interest: A specific system that is the focus of study or intervention within a larger context.

Systemic Failure: A breakdown or problem that occurs due to the interconnected and interdependent nature of a system’s components.

Systemic Inquiry: A comprehensive investigation that considers the complexities and interrelationships within a system.

Systemic Reformation: The process of making changes to a system that takes into account the interconnected nature of its components.

Systemic Sensibility: An awareness and understanding of the interconnected nature of systems and the complexity of their dynamics.

Systemic Thinking: An approach to problem-solving and analysis that considers the relationships, interactions, and complexities within a system.

Systematic Thinking: A methodical, step-by-step approach to understanding and addressing problems, often focusing on linear processes and cause-and-effect relationships.

Systemically Desirable: Something that is considered beneficial or advantageous when viewed from the perspective of the whole system.

Systems Literacy: The ability to understand and apply systems thinking principles and concepts.

Systems Thinking: An approach to understanding complex problems that views them as part of an interconnected whole, emphasizing the relationships among the parts rather than the parts themselves.

Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) Capability: The skills and abilities required to effectively apply systems thinking principles in real-world situations.

Tame Problem: A problem that is relatively well-defined and has a clear solution within existing knowledge frameworks.

Technosphere: The sphere of human-made technology and its interactions with the natural world and society.

Tradition of Practice: The established ways of doing things within a particular field or profession, shaped by history and culture.

Tradition of Understanding: The collective knowledge and conceptual frameworks that shape how a field or discipline is understood.

Trajectory: The path or progression of something over time, often used to describe the development of a system or a person’s career.

Viable System Model: A model used in systems thinking to assess and design organisational structures, ensuring they are capable of surviving and thriving in changing environments.

Wicked Problem: A complex, multifaceted problem with no clear solution, often characterized by interdependencies, changing requirements, and multiple stakeholders.

Image: DALL-E 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *