Systems Thinking

Systems approach, systems thinking, system solutions are the notions that almost everybody has heard of. Many people feel that these ideas are needed, but only a handful understands them. So what is really the systems approach?

Imagine that while driving through the city you get stuck in a traffic jam. You put the car on the reverse, try another way and… a traffic jam again. Someone sounds the horn at you, you are getting angry. You become entangled in a series of subsequent events. You would like to get a bird’s-eye view of the streets to see where you can pass more easily. This perspective from above – is the first step in the systems approach. From above we can see the entire “system” of communication in the city. The details become less important, we recognize the emerging patterns, arranged in a whole. We begin to understand that every effect becomes the cause of another event, every cause is also the result of something that happened before.

This way of looking at phenomena is only the beginning. In fact, the behavior of a system results from its structure, which, in turn, stems from mental models. It is our deep-rooted beliefs and ways of perceiving and thinking that are so “obvious” to us that we often do not realize their existence. The analysis of mental models is the deepest level of systems thinking. It is often very difficult, as there are many defense mechanisms that hinder the possible change of hidden assumptions.

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