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Introduction to Systems Thinking

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  1. Introduction to Systems Thinking

  2. Zaipul Anwar Bin Zainudin Lecturer in Institute of Product Design & Manufacturing, (IPROM) Universiti Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03-27154715, 019-3262427 Email: Website: Blog: Facebook: You may download softcopies of all my materials in this session from this link: - To verify the URL, go to ‘Download’ link at my website ABOUT THE SPEAKER

  3. “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which they were created.” Albert Einstein

  4. WHAT IS SYSTEMS THINKING? • Founded in 1956 by MIT professor, Jay Forrester. • System thinking allows people to make their understanding of social system explicit and improve them in the same way that people use engineering principles to improve their understanding of mechanical system. • It is use to:- • Examining how we create our own problems • Seeing the big picture • Structure influences performance


  6. Examples of area System Thinking has proven its value include: • Complex problems that involve helping many actors see the “big picture” and not just their part of it • Recurring problems or those that have been made worse by past attempts to fix them • Issues where an action affects (or is affected by) the environment surrounding the issue, either the natural environment or the competitive environment • Problems whose solutions are not obvious

  7. !!! ?? ?? Systems ThinkingLearning to see the world systemically Encourages us to see the whole as well as the parts. • WHOLE   PARTS •  Holistic Thinking Multiple (often) restricted views

  8. Systems Thinking… Helps us explore interdependencies and looking for patterns. Max Barret

  9. Systems Thinking… Helps us understand feedback structures that change systems over time. River Fractal - Héctor Garrido

  10. Systems Thinking… Helps us understand results of our decisions…

  11. SYSTEMS THINKING TOOLS • Causal Loop Diagrams • A useful way to represent dynamic interrelationships • Provide a visual representation with which to communicate that understanding • Make explicit one's understanding of a system structure - Capture the mental model

  12. Components of Causal Loop Diagrams • Variables - an element in a situation which may act or be acted upon •  Vary up or down over time (not an event) •  Nouns or noun phrases (not action words) • Links / Arrows - show the relationship and the direction • of influence between variables • S's and O's - show the way one variable moves or changes in relation to another •  S stands for "same direction” •  O stands for "opposite direction” • or B - Balancing feedback loop that seeks equilibrium • or R - Reinforcing feedback loop that amplifies change

  13. Behavior Over Time Supportive Behavior Perf. Level Unsupportive Behavior Time Types of Causal Loop Diagrams Reinforcing Loop Structure Employee Performance Employee Performance S S Supervisor’s Supportive Behavior Supervisor’s Supportive Behavior

  14. Behavior Over Time Actual Inventory 100 ++ Desired Inventory 100 100 - - Time Types of Causal Loop Diagrams Balancing Loop Structure Desired Inventory S Discrepancy O S Actual Inventory Inventory Adjustment S

  15. SYSTEMS THINKING ARCHETYPES • A class of tools that capture the "common stories” in systems thinking • Powerful tools for diagnosing problems and identifying high leverage interventions that creates fundamental change

  16. List of System Thinking Archetype • Fixes that Fail / Backfire • Limits to Growth/Success • Shifting the Burden / Addiction • Tragedy of the Commons • Drifting Goals

  17. 1. Fixes that Fail S Behavior Over Time Problem Symptom Fix O Delay S S Time Unintended Consequences

  18. 1. Fixes that Fail • Breaking a “Fixes that Fail” cycle usually requires two actions: acknowledging that the fix is merely alleviating a symptom, and making a commitment to solve the real problem now. • A two pronged attack of applying the fix and planning out the fundamental solution will help ensure that you don’t get caught in a perpetual cycle of solving yesterdays “solutions”

  19. 2. Limits to Growth Behavior Over Time Perf. Level Time Structure “Burnout” S Growing Action Target Diminishing Returns S O S Positive Reinforcement Corrective Action Actual Performance S

  20. 2. Limits to Growth Market Exposure to Potential Customers S Market Size S S Potential Customers S Sales O

  21. 3. Shifting the Burden Quick fixes + _ + _ Problem/symptom Side effects + _ _ + Time Source of problem /Root cause _ Behavior Over Time Efforts Quick fix Problem symptom Capacity of system to fix itself

  22. + _ + _ Damage of Road Feeling of Okay + _ _ + Time Proper Road Contruction _ Apply Patches Behavior Over Time 3. Shifting the Burden Apply patches Damage of road Proper road construction

  23. A B S B’s Activity Time Time Net Gains for B S 4. Tragedy of the Commons Net Gains for A S Resource Limit S A’s Activity S S S Gain per Individual Activity O Total Activity S S

  24. A B Time Time 4. Tragedy of the Commons Fixed Budget S Investment in features S O Success from Product Investment O Investment in Integration S Perceived Success from Integration S DELAY Investment in Integration S Success from Product Investment O O S Investment in features Fixed Budget S

  25. 4. Tragedy of the Commons • Solutions for a “Tragedy of the Commons” never lie at the individual level (The Libertarian Nightmare) • What are the incentives for individuals to persist in their actions? • Can the long-term collective loss be made more real? • Find ways to reconcile short-term individual rewards with long-term cumulative consequences

  26. 5. Drifting Goals Goal Time O Goal Pressure to Lower Goal S S Gap S O Actual Corrective Action S Delay

  27. 5. Drifting Goals Drifting performance figures are indicators that the “Drifting Goals” archetype is at work and that real corrective actions are not being taken. Understand how goals are set

  28. 5. The Boiled Frog If you put a frog in boiling water, it will hop out immediately If you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring the water to boil, the frog will unwittingly enjoy its last blissful warm bath

  29. Time 5. The Boiled Frog S Perceived Desired Temperature Tolerance for Temperature O S Temp Temperature Gap S O Hop Out

  30. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring the water to boil the frog will jump out when it gets uncomfortable. If you put a frog in boiling water, it will croak immediately. 5. The Boiled Frog

  31. Systems ThinkingCase Study Crop Damaging by Insects

  32. Reducing Crop Damage by Insects: • When an insect is eating a crop, the conventional response is to spray the crop with a pesticide designed to kill that insect. • Putting aside the limited effectiveness of some pesticides and the water and soil pollution they can cause, imagine a perfect pesticide that kills all of the insects against which it is used and which has no side effects on air, water, or soil. • Is using this pesticide likely to make the farmer or company whose crops are being eaten better off?

  33. Reducing Crop Damage by Insects: If we represent the thinking used by those applying the pesticides, it would look like this: Pesticide Application Insects Damaging Crops O • The letter indicates how the two variables are related: an “s” means they change in the same direction - if one goes up then the other goes up, and an “o” means they change in the opposite direction - if one goes up then the other goes down (or vice versa). • This diagram is read “a change in the amount of pesticide applied causes the number of insects damaging crops to change in the opposite direction.” • The belief being represented here is that “as the amount of pesticide applied increases, the number of insects damaging crops decreases”.

  34. Reducing Crop Damage by Insects: Number of Insect A Damaging Crop O O Number of Insect B Pesticide Application S S Number of Insect B Damaging Crop S Total number of Insects damaging crop S

  35. Reducing Crop Damage by Insects: • The problem of crop damage due to insects often does get better - in the short term. • Unfortunately, what frequently happens is that in following years the problem of crop damage gets worse and worse and the pesticide that formerly seemed so effective does not seem to help anymore. • This is because the insect A that was eating the crops was controlling the population of another insect B, either by preying on it or by competing with it. • When the pesticide kills the insects A that were eating the crops, it eliminates the control that those insects were applying on the population of the other insects, insects B). • Then the population of the insects B that were being controlled explodes and continue to damage the crops.

  36. Reducing Crop Damage by Insects: So now how do you solve the problem of Insect B damaging the crop? Find the solution…..

  37. THE FIVE DISCIPLINES To more about Systems Thinking, read this book! Personal Mastery Shared Vision Mental Models Systems Thinking Team Learning

  38. References Warfield, J. Societal Systems, Intersystems, 1989. Joseph O’Connor & Ian McDermott. The Art of Systems Thinking, Thorsons, 1997. Senge, P.M. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Doubleday, 1990. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building A Learning Organization, Doubleday, 1994. System Dynamics / Systems Thinking Mega Link List The Way of Systems (System Archetypes) Daniel Aronson, Overview of Systems Thinking, 1996-8