What is Wrong with Systems Thinking?

What is Wrong with Systems Thinking?  This was actually a hit from Google I had on my website.  I am not sure how I got that search hit.

Regardless, there is much to dislike about systems thinking sitting from the existing paradigm.  I don’t pretend that systems thinking is the end of improvement as there is always a better way.  There will be something better or that can advance the thinking or at least I hope.

Sitting from the existing command and control paradigm there is a lot wrong with systems thinking.  Here are some items to chew on:

  • The CEO or leader must get their hands dirty, meaning that they have to understand the work.  The place where business is transacted between the customer and their company.  No more can they rely on vendors, reports or anecdotal evidence of what is happening in the business.
  • The must quit managing by the financials to improve service.  To focus on costs is to increase costs.  The management paradox is as strange and uncomfortable as it sounds.  Yet, to improve service business we must understand the causes of costs.
  • And the causes of costs are not in the scale as we have all been taught in our college economics classes, they are in the flow (economies of flow), end-to-end from a customer perspective.
  • That technology, shared services, outsourcing, standardization, best practices, scripts, and benchmarking have helped to lock in costs rather than reduce them.  These are all things that we have been held to be self-evident as in truth.
  • Some say it sounds like there will be less control using a systems thinking approach, when in fact there is greater control.
  • Giving up command and control measures like those of cost and productivity is very uncomfortable.  Until managers understand they are replaced with better customer measures and done in an emergent way based on informed choices (meaning with good knowledge at your speed).

So yes, there is much to be afraid of in moving to a systems thinking approach.  We can only promise that the first step is the hardest . . . but the results are phenomenal.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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