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{ Tag Archives } systems

Saving Lives with Systems Thinking – Atul Gawande and the 2014 Reith Lectures

  A three-year old drowning victim is alive and thriving today because someone in Switzerland cares about systems. Atul Gawande, surgeon, polymath, and author of The Checklist Manifesto, recounts the tale as the second of four BBC 2014 Reith Lectures on the future of medicine. The podcast of “The Century of the System” is well worth […]

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Learning to see systems – wolves and rivers

Systems in the real world are messy and complex. There’s a reason that Aldo Leopold was so cautious about interventions: “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand […]

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Poking effectively on complex systems

Here is a brief clip from an interview Steve Jobs did in 1995 while he was at Next. It neatly captures an important attitude about dealing with complex systems: Whenever you poke at a system, the system pokes back. If you grew up with siblings, you learned this at a visceral level.  Too many of […]

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Defining Characteristics of Wicked Problems

I’m just wrapping up a course I’ve been teaching at DePaul’s School for New Learning on Understanding Organizational Change. I’ve grounded the course in a view of organizations as dynamic systems from the perspective of Jay Forrester, Donella Meadows, and Peter Senge. In the last few sessions, we’ve also been discussing the notion of Wicked […]

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Russell Ackoff on Systems Thinking vs. Continuous Improvement

Russell Ackoff was one of the seminal thinkers in systems models of organization. Here is a short talk of his from 1994 that provides an excellent introduction to the topic. Learning to see and understand the systems behavior of organizations is an excellent antidote to much of the mythology around organizations that functions in lieu […]

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Two explanations for the near collapse of the financial system

The earliest blog posts were essentially pointers to ‘good stuff’ out there.  Here’s such a pointer from last fall from my former partners and still good friends Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui. They’ve found two very worthwhile reads that I otherwise would have missed. Following up on yesterday’s post about John Cassidy’s New Yorker article, […]

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Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Meadows, Donella From time to time, I recommend Meadows’ article, Places to Intervene in a System. It’s a succinct summary of her long experience at finding leverage points for effective change in complex human and organizational systems. In this slim volume, she provides an accessible and understandable introduction to systems […]

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