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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 l.jpg

Introduction to Systems Thinking

By Louis Rowitz, PhD

Director

Illinois Institute for Maternal and Child Health Leadership


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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


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


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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


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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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Events

Patterns

Systemic Structure

Mental Models

Vision

The Iceberg


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Action Model


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Linear Perspective

AB C DE

Cause = Effect


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Feedback Perspective

AB C DE


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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)


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All systemic behavior can be described through two basic processes

  • Reinforcing

  • Balancing


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Saving Balance

Interest Payments

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


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Greater your weight

More you eat


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?

?

Give Examples


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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


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Balancing Loops

Actual Level

Desired Level

Corrective Action

Gap


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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?


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Every link in a system contains a delay

  • Physical

  • Transactional

  • Informational

  • Perceptual


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Put the Pieces togetherArchetypes


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?

?

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)


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Leaders work on the system not in the system


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