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Introduction to Systems Thinking. By Louis Rowitz, PhD Director Illinois Institute for Maternal and Child Health Leadership.

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Introduction to Systems Thinking

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Introduction to Systems Thinking

By Louis Rowitz, PhD

Director

Illinois Institute for Maternal and Child Health Leadership


Systems Thinking is a way of seeing and talking about reality that helps us better understand and work with organization and communities to influx the quality of our lives.

Modified by Kim


A system is any group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent parts that form a complex and unified whole that has a specific purpose


Bowl of fruit

Football team

Toaster

Kitchen

Database of client

Cornerstone

Tool in a toolbox

Marriage

Local public health agency

Community

Which are systems and which are collections


Whenever you add people to a collection you almost always transform a collection to a system


Characteristics of a System

  • Systems have a purpose that defines it as a discrete entity that holds it together

    • Purpose of an automobile……

Take you from one place to the other


Characteristics of a System

  • All parts must be present for a system to carry out its purpose optimally

    • Automobile without its spark plugs……

Car doesn’t work


Characteristics of a System

  • The order in which parts are arranged affects the performance of a system

Automobile with the driver in the backseat and the tires in the front seat


Systems attempt to maintain stability through feedback

  • Feedback provides information to the system that lets it know how it is doing relative to some desired state

Steering car and Feedback


Events

Patterns

Systemic Structure

Mental Models

Vision

The Iceberg


Action Model


Linear Perspective

AB C DE

Cause = Effect


Feedback Perspective

AB C DE


Thinking in Loops

Sales are down

Marketing Promotions

Orders Increase

Sales are up

Sales are Down

Marketing Promotions

Backlogs

Marketing Promotions

(B)

Backlogs

(D)

Orders

Increase/Decrease

(C)

Sales are Down/Up

(A)


All systemic behavior can be described through two basic processes

  • Reinforcing

  • Balancing


Saving Balance

Interest Payments

Reinforcing Loops compound change in one direction with even more change in that direction


Greater your weight

More you eat


?

?

Give Examples


Use of meditation

Acceptable stress level

Gap

Stress level

Balancing loops seek equilibrium- some desired level of performance

S

O

S = Same

O = Opposite

S


Balancing Loops

Actual Level

Desired Level

Corrective Action

Gap


Questions these Diagrams help answer

  • Which gaps are driving our system when and by how much?

  • How accurately do we know what each of the gaps is?

  • How are we monitoring the gaps?

  • What are the different ways in which we can close the gaps?

  • How long does it take for perception to catch up to actual quality?


Every link in a system contains a delay

  • Physical

  • Transactional

  • Informational

  • Perceptual


Put the Pieces togetherArchetypes


?

?

Limits to Growth Template

Balancing Loop Target

Limits or constraints

Growing action

Growth Process

?

?

Corrective Action

Limting Process

Actual performance

(that you can measure or observe, that you can see growing)


Leaders work on the system not in the system


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