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Problem Solving Desperately Needs Systems Thinking

Systems thinking

Is a way of seeing the world as a series of interconnected and interdependent systems rather than lots of independent parts. 

As a thinking tool, it seeks to oppose the reductionist view  (the idea that a system can be understood by the sum of its isolated parts ) and replace it with the view that everything is part of a larger whole and that the connections between all elements are critical.

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Problem Solving Desperately Needs Systems Thinking

Problem Solving Desperately Needs Systems Thinking

https://medium.com/disruptive-design/problem-solving-desperately-needs-systems-thinking-607d34e4fc80#

medium.com

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Key Ideas

Systems thinking

Is a way of seeing the world as a series of interconnected and interdependent systems rather than lots of independent parts. 

As a thinking tool, it seeks to oppose the reductionist view  (the idea that a system can be understood by the sum of its isolated parts ) and replace it with the view that everything is part of a larger whole and that the connections between all elements are critical.

Systems

...are sets of related components that work together in a particular environment to perform whatever functions are required to achieve the system's objective.

The 3 main systems at play

  • Social systems: rules and structures, created by humans, that keep society functioning.
  • Industrial systems: all manufactured material world, created to facilitate human needs.
  • The ecosystem: which provides all the natural services (clean air, food, fresh water, minerals and natural resources) needed for the other two systems to exist.

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Comparison vs. First Principles Thinking

Comparison Thinking (reason through analogy)

When you make decisions and judgement calls based on what you or others have experienced. An easy mode of thinking but also

Advantages of First Principles Thinking
  • Allows for a more personal, customized mode of thinking and application.
  • A key to doing any sort of systemic inquiry.
  • Even though it does take far more mental energy to work in this mode, the results can be quite staggering.
  • A new and innovative way of thinking.
Applying the First Principles Thinking

Identify the Problem

What is something that I want to change in my life?

Deconstruct the Problem

What are the causes of my problems? How does it affect my life?

Solve the Problem

Start creating your new framework. You could think of multiple ways to achieve your goals easily.

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First-principles thinking

Breaking down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up.

It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative poten...

A first principle

...is a foundational proposition or assumption that stands alone. We cannot deduce first principles from any other proposition or assumption.

Reasoning by first principles removes the impurity of assumptions and conventions. What remains is the essentials. 

Cutting through the dogma

If we never learn to take something apart, test the assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in what other people tell us.

We remain trapped in the way things have always been done. When the environment changes, we just continue as if things were the same.

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Short-term thinking

Most of us imagine that we engage in some form of long-term thinking; after all, we have goals and plans. And basically we are in denial about this because it is hard to have perspective about our ...

Unintended consequences

Because we mostly react instead of think, our actions are based on insufficient information. We grab for a solution without thinking deeply about the context of the problem: e.g: We try to cheer up a depressed person by making her realize that her life is not that bad and that the sun is shining, only to find out we have made her even more depressed. She now feels guilty about her feelings, worthless, and more alone in her unhappiness.

Tactical hell

You find yourself embroiled in several struggles or battles. You seem to get nowhere but you feel like you have invested so much time and energy already that it would be a waste to give up. You have actually  lost sight of your goals. Instead it has become a question of asserting your ego.

You need some detachment and perspective. Remind yourself that winning an argument or proving your point really gets you nowhere in the long run.

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