Have you seen the system?

I have been inspired by an article from Ka anyi kwuo okwu( let’s talk) about seeing systems and I want to tell you my story.

During the last 25 years of my professional career, I’ ve driving with my car to work for about 40 miles one way .In the beginning traffic was OK, and it lasted about 45 minutes ,but the last 10 years it was horrible.Instead of 45 minutes, it lasted average 2 hours to reach my work.Everyday there was a traffic jam and mostly it seems that it was caused by one or more events:quantity of cars on the road , number of trucks , accidents, bad weather ,speeding ,driving behavior etc…..In general , these events were seen as  separate causes, and isolated actions were implemented to prevent them ,such as :limited speeding by bad weather, trucks in one lane , more lanes , etc ..

And indeed , in the  short term improvements happened but after a certain time and  unpredictable ,traffic jam was bumping up again. I started to realize that there were a set of interconnected elements working together and that the traffic jam was caused by the dynamics of a system.

puzzle

So, can you see the system?Can you identify it ?

It’s not a easy task , because we are trained to think analytically and to break a problem up in his components and addressing the different components independently.

But systems are everywhere!Think about yourself :you are a system.what about the traffic system, quality system , economic system, social system , environmental system….

Management guru’s like Deming, Senge and Ackoff has defined systems in following way’s

Deming….Network of interdependent components that work together to try accomplish the aim of the system

Peter Senge….webs of interdependence

Russel Ackoff….focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behavior taken separately

When we take a systems view to addressing problems, we make an attempt to see as much of the whole picture as is possible.A systems thinking view to problem solving causes us to look beyond where we”think”the problems are to identifying the different components and interactions between these components that is actually leading to our problems.

When we take a systems view to adressing problems, we take an attempt to see as much of the whole picture as possible.

Let’s take another example:delivering products to the customer are late.Because there is a stop to hiring more people , workers are asked to work overtime and above that, management decide to implement a lean program in the manufacturing departement in order to eliminate waste .

Guess what the results are!!In the short term delivery was improving , but in the long term unexpected situations happened :sickness, more absentism,frustration and demotivation , bad quality……

When we take a systems view on this problem , we see that that the manufacturing is a subsystem of the whole organisation as a system , and is influenced by other subsystems as design department , sales department .The sales department has promised short delivery times , because that will increase sales and so their bonuses went up .By increase in volume , the design department cannot follow design and deliver incomplete drawings to manufacturing departement , which is limited in resources and capacity .

So, can you see  the system and identify it ???

Seeing systems can be thought and learned!It will take time but practice will help a lot .For example,when you are reading articles in newspapers , try to see if there are relations between some keypoints in the article so you will read the article more in a systemic way .

We need to learn how to become system thinkers, if we truly intend to disssolve our system problems .

www.systemeering.be

 

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