How do I see the world? And why is this important?
Churchman, one of the fathers of systems thinking, said “Systems thinking begins when first you see the world through the eyes of another”.
This is why we begin the Systems Thinking course with these questions: “How do I see the world? What assumptions and beliefs do I hold? What is important to me?”
The video, using Chris Argyris’ Ladder of Inference, (see ”In Depth” below) explains the importance of developing an awareness of what you choose to pay attention to (or not pay attention to), how this shapes your beliefs and ultimately your actions.
Here are two exercises to help you become more aware of how you see the world and how you act in it:
- Find an artefact that you are particularly attached to; something which has some kind of special meaning or significance. Tell the story of how you came by it, why it is important to you, and what values, beliefs and assumptions of yours are reflected in it.
- Experiment with shifting away from ‘advocating’, (telling others what you think) toward an attitude of ‘inquiring’ (asking how others see it). Be ready to frame/explain this change, even to illustrate it with an example or story, so others are aware that you are experimenting with a different approach.
Notice (without judging) the effects – on you, and on others.
(Useful resource: 'Action Inquiry: Interweaving Multiple Qualities of Attention for Timely Action' by Torbert and Taylor )
Churchman CW (1968) The Systems Approach Dell Publishing, New York
Argyris, Chris; Schön, Donald (1974). Theory in Practice. Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Torbert William R & Taylor Steven S (2008) Action Inquiry: Interweaving Multiple Qualities of Attention for Timely Action The Sage Handbook of Action Research, Participative Inquiry and Practice. Sage, London
This video follows Chris Argyris’ Ladder of Inference (see reference above)