Systems Thinking

systems-thinking is what we call a paradigm a dictionary definition of a paradigm would read something like this a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject thus we can understand a paradigm to be the foundation that shapes our way of seeing the world it is the assumptions and methods out of which we build our theories now there are two fundamentally different paradigms within science one is called analysis and the other synthesis analysis is the traditional method of reasoning taken within modern science whereby we try to gain an understanding of a system by breaking it down into its constituent elements on the other hand synthesis which is the foundation to systems thinking works in the reverse direction trying to gain an understanding of an entity through the context of its relations within a whole that it is part of but let's start by talking a bit about analysis analysis is based upon the premise that our basic unit of interest should be the individual parts of a system from this follows a process of reasoning called reductionism reductionism is the process of breaking down or reducing systems to their constituent parts and then describing the whole system primarily as simply the sum of these constituent elements reductionism is often described in terms of a three-step process that we use for analyzing things firstly we take something and we break it down into its constituent elements this is deeply intuitive to us when we wish to understand how a car bird or business works the first thing we do is isolate it by taking it into a garage or lab and decompose it into its constituent parts secondly once we've broken down the system into its most elementary components we analyze these individual components in isolation in order to describe their properties and their functioning in isolation lastly we recombine these components into the original system that can now be described in terms of the properties of its individual elements reductionist approach is the fundamental method behind modern science and by extension our modern understanding of the world and it has proven highly successful in many ways from understanding atoms and DNA to designing the modern corporation and nation state but as successful as it has been it also has inherent limitations to it because we understand systems by breaking the parts down and isolating them the reductionist paradigm systematically and inherently D promotes the relationships between these components thus within this paradigm of reductionism the whole system is implicitly thought to be nothing more than the sum of its parts thus analysis works well when there is a low level of interconnectivity and interdependencies within the system we are modeling although this may be true for some systems it is certainly not always the case many of the systems we are interested in describing have a high level of interconnectivity and interdependence II examples being eco systems computer networks and many types of social systems these systems in contrary are primarily defined by the relations within the system and not the static properties of their elements we can and often do continue to use analysis to try to describe them but the reductionist approach is not designed for this and thus we need to change our basic paradigm to one that is more focused upon these relations as opposed to the components and this is where synthesis and Systems thinking comes in synthesis means the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole it is a process of reasoning that describes an entity through the context of its relations and functioning within the whole system that it is a part of systems thinking is the process of reasoning called synthesis and it is also referred to as being what is called holistic meaning that it is characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole thus synthesis focuses on the relations between the elements that is to say the way those elements are put together or arranged into a functioning entirety and like with analysis we can also identify a few key stages in this process of reasoning the first step in the process is to identify the system that our object of interest is a part of examples of this might be a bird being part of a broader ecosystem or person being part of a greater culture next we try to gain a broad outline of how this whole system functions so for example a hard drive is part of a computer and to properly understand it we need to have some understanding of the whole computer lastly we try to understand how the parts are interconnected and arranged to function as an entirety by completing this process we can identify the relations within which our entity is embedded its place and function within the whole and within systems thinking this context is considered the primary frame of reference for describing something

  1. How is this different from Synergy. There's minut differences, but this video is like almost splitting hairs which is possible. But on average you're video on synergy covers this

  2. Doesnt analysis also focus on relationships because you break a large subject matter down to its medium to small constituents and discovering how these constituents function cohesively to make the subject matter exist or work.

  3. If you like this you mght want to read "The systems thinking" from Fritijov Capra and Pierre Luis Luigi

  4. My whole doctoral study is embedded within system/complexity theory so finding this channel absolutely amazing. Thanks so much for the great content, animation and simple explanations.

  5. HI! This is very well done. I've contributed to your subtitles in spanish, do you have to aprobe or something? they're not available yet

  6. Are you guys aware of the journal Cosmos + Taxis? Are there any similar academic journals you can recommend? I'm pretty sure the Sante Fe Institute doesn't have a regular journal, though I may be wrong.

  7. From my experience, women seem to think more in terms of synthesis whereas male psychology is more geared towards analysis. Would you guys agree?

  8. Can someone explain this to me? It feels as if "Systems Thinking" and the "Analytical Approach" are one in the same. I don't think anyone ever looks at the "gas tank" of a vehicle and thinks "this is not related to the engine, which is a different component." You can't escape from separating things into components, and you can't escape from understanding that they all work together. So can someone explain to me the point that I'm missing?

  9. Hi there, I would like to make the translation of this vid and then reload it, is it possible? would I be breaking any rules (I most certainly don´t want to) Let me know! and Thanks for this great vid!

  10. Can you share what is the application/tool you use to create these videos? They are very clear and creative!

  11. Thank you for the video, I'm waiting for my books on the subject and wanna get a head start. I recently discovered this discipline and already I can see the good implications this type of systhesis thinking can have on our society.

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