I was back in the classroom, this week, interacting with bright students at Indian School of Development Management, Noida. These students challenged me to my core. Their sharp questions would often test my own depths – related to my knowledge of systems thinking, my understanding of how real world systems operate, my experience of working with communities and policy makers. It is these students who help me go deeper and explore my previously unexplored depths of knowledge and some glimpses of wisdom which is hidden deep within (this is true for all of us). It is a matter of time before some one helps us unearth it.
After many examples on how systems thinking is used, by making causal loops, and also by going through the systems thinking process, I finally decided to put up two slides which say what Systems Thinking is and what it is Not. These are my own, so I encouraged the students to add/modify them depending on their understanding and reading of the literature.
I am pasting these below:
What Systems Thinking is
–Method of Thinking
–Method to perform systemic diagnoses
–Engagement tool useful for communication
–Learning tool useful for testing assumptions
–Identifying impact pathways and
–Reasons that give rise to non linearity of system’s behavior
–Potential tool to generate insights and foresights
What Systems Thinking is NOT
–to predict future reality
–to control reality
–to identify who is to be blamed
–to be used in isolation
–to solve all problems at once
–to prove superiority
–to win arguments for the sake of just winning
Before the closing of our 16 hours of engagement, I requested students to keep these points in mind when they go out to interact with the real world complexities and the multiple stakeholders who would present their perspectives which would give them some information about why things are happening the way it is happening, but it would never be enough for them to understand reality in totallity.
In the next post I would elaborate on these points more to explain why I put them there. Stay Tuned!