Systems Thinking

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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EdithKeeler
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Systems Thinking

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:48 am

Anyone recommend some good, BASIC books on systems thinking and practical applications? I’ve been tapped to lead a project team at work, and I’ve had a couple conversations with colleagues about systems and got blank looks. I know a little—probably just enough to be dangerous—and definitely not enough to explain to others in an understandable way.

Any edX, Coursera-type classes would be good, too, etc.

Thanks!

jacob
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by jacob » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:28 am

Since it's work/practical, maybe Senge's Fifth Discipline. This should lead to Morgan's Images of Organization.
If it's more general/sciencey, then Donella Meadows has a good intro, following by Weinberg's General Introduction book.

https://www.amazon.com/Fifth-Discipline ... 385517254/
https://www.amazon.com/Images-Organizat ... 412939798/

https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Systems ... 603580557/
https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Gen ... 004VS9AUS/

There used to be an absolute dearth of books on this topic but in the last few years, it has become more fashionable so there are more books. I don't know if any of those newer ones are any good. Also, it's going to be hard to find anything "BASIC", since systems thinking by construction comes after the basic learning levels like to-do lists, tips and tricks, or simple guides.

Scott 2
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:55 am

You may have luck with books that have applied a systems basis to your specific problem. I think this is a good one for project management:

https://www.amazon.com/Making-Work-Visi ... 1942788150

Approaching a meta-framework without understanding experiential examples first, is too hard.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:58 am

https://www.amazon.com/How-Fail-Almost- ... B00COOFBA4

I read this recently and I found it very interesting/ helpful. It's not strictly about systems thinking and there is a lot of anecdotes/ biographical information/ fluff. If you like to start out with an easy entertaining read that describes how someone has used systems thinking in their life, this is a good place to start. If you like to get straight to the how-to of it all, then this is a terrible book.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:04 pm

I liked the intro by Meadows and “The Systems View if Life: A Unifying Vision” by Capra and Luisi. The second is not particularly “easy”, but it addresses the level of biology between permaculture and the level daylen blogs about, and was a good mix for a Scientific Pantheist ish type like me.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:32 pm

a Scientific Pantheist ish type like me.
Yeah... just like all the insurance middle managers I’ll be working with on this project! 😁

Like, does it have pictures? 😂

Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions. I ordered a few of these, and a couple more I found. I’ll jam something out for them to look at. We did the “5th discipline” a few years ago around here and people complained “it’s too hard/long/boring.” I’m looking for “systems thinking for dummies,” but alas, it does not appear to exist. (Maybe someone here needs to write that!!)

I keep drawing these diagrams about why our cycle times, etc are too long, and I tried to explain Goldratt’s “The Goal,” which I think is a great example of our issue, but no one seems interested.

Scott 2
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:06 pm

If you like Goldratt, these guys specialize in books applying lean philosophies to technology and product development:

https://itrevolution.com/devops-books/

One of the authors has written a couple novels around it, with a heavy software development focus:

Phoenix Project - from the managers perspective
Unicorn Project - from the developers perspective

jacob
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by jacob » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:37 am

EdithKeeler wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:32 pm
We did the “5th discipline” a few years ago around here and people complained “it’s too hard/long/boring.” I’m looking for “systems thinking for dummies,” but alas, it does not appear to exist. (Maybe someone here needs to write that!!)
5th discipline is systems theory for dummies :lol:

EdithKeeler
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Re: Systems Thinking

Post by EdithKeeler » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:41 am

5th discipline is systems theory for dummies :lol:
So you understand my problem.....

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