What a wide and wonderful world is systems thinking even in a relatively small country like Scotland.

The brand new Institute for Socio Technical Complex Systems at Strathclyde Uni hosted an open and exploratory workshop on the subject on Friday 23rd.  Coming up for 30 delegates gave their own take on what systems thinking means to them.

And what a diverse bunch we were. They will forgive me if my list of their interests and projects does scant justice to what was clearly often a lifetime of commitment and understanding. They included

  • our world as a system and what we need to do to make it sustainable
  • radical new financial mechanisms with the potential to make the traditional banking system redundant
  • systems thinking and national regeneration
  • the failure of education and how systems thinking could transform it
  • systems thinking as a means of improving work (my interest)
  • the application of systems thinking to drugs and alcohol policy
  • designing and manufacturing better ships though systems engineering
  • the interface of art and science as a system
  • systems thinking and IT
  • psychology and systems thinking
  • the application of systems thinking to contact centres.

There was a will amongst at least some of those present to continue to talk and meet. Whether that adds value depends on two things

  1. the old question of ensuring communication and discussion is based on a common understanding of the meaning of words (if I had a £, even a $, for every time I’ve seen people rage at each other on the assumption they had different points of view when in fact they were talking about different things…)
  2. agreeing a purpose for those exchanges.

So no difference there between a wide ranging discussion on systems and any other area of life!