Comparing the world to a machine is no longer useful.

What is Systems Learning?

We live in a world where we see everything as easy to fix. This prevailing worldview is deeply embedded in our culture. It assumes we simply take a problem to pieces to find the cause, diagnose it and then fix it – just like clockwork.

In Systems Learning we call this a ‘thing’ view of the world. The assumption is that everything can be measured – and if it can’t be measured it doesn’t exist.

But this worldview is starting to shift and evolve – taking an intuitive leap, perhaps, to a ‘relationship’ view of the world.

Complicated or Complex?
We all know the world as a highly complex place. At times, beyond complicated, it’s not easily understood. Increasingly, we are needing to adopt different approaches to find solutions to problems on an international, national, community and individual level.

To illustrate this point, think of a jet engine. Now, begin to imagine the inside of the engine with all its circuitry and different parts. Yes, it’s complicated. But as long as it’s working properly, it remains predictable. If it breaks, taking it to pieces to find the cause makes sense – and most likely there will be one thing wrong and one solution.

But when you look at complex systems – and add the unpredictability of things like human beings into the mix – what emerges is much less predictable. When things go wrong, it becomes very difficult, nigh-on impossible, to find a single cause or solution.

A different approach
These complex systems, where many outcomes are possible, need a different approach – a whole system approach, that involves both an inner and outer aspect:

The inner means being open, flexible, inquiring, ready to learn, to change perspective, able to let go of what no longer serves. This often involves a deal of humility and acceptance that the world may be too complex to be fully understood.

The outer means seeing the system and its characteristics. Once you shift to a mindset of inquiring and learning, you will start asking questions of the system itself.

We call this approach… Systems Thinking!

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