Open Thinkering


TB872: Four advantages of systems practice

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.

This is just a quick post, mostly as a reminder to myself, that Chapter 4 of Systems Practice: How to Act outlines four advantages of systems practice over other forms of practice:

  1. Systems practice is unique in its approach, offering something different from other methods. It’s not just about tackling problems in the usual way but about thinking and acting in a distinctive manner that sets it apart. That is to say it’s qualitatively different.
  2. Someone skilled in systems practice has more tools at their disposal to handle complex real-world issues. Unlike other practitioners, they can choose from a wider range of strategies to address complicated situations. This means they are more flexible.
  3. Having a variety of options to bring about positive (and feasible) changes in a system carries ethical implications. It means that a systems practitioner needs to think carefully about the moral aspects of their choices and actions, aiming to do what’s right not just what’s possible. Other forms of practice do not necessarily foreground ethical concerns as much.
  4. As humans, we’re not as good as we could be at thinking and acting in a systemic way. It can be counterintuitive, to use Donella Meadows language, and this is a problem when we’re facing significant global challenges such as climate change. Improving our ability to think and act systemically is crucial for our survival and well-being. Other, less holistic approaches are therefore potentially existentially risky.

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