"How you think, is how you plan, is how you act—and that determines the results you get in work and life."
Welcome to this online "Strategically Speaking" monthly column on the 50 years of scientific research on the unity of science for living systems: Systems Thinking—and its universal strategic and daily application to all aspects of your work and life. You will learn simple new tools and tips on how to use less analytical and piecemeal thinking and more Strategic Thinking on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year basis.
My columns over the next 12 months will examine the "12 Common Analytical Thinking Mistakes" most people, teams, and organizations make and the corresponding best practice, simple antidotes.
This state-of-the-art best practices report is the result of a blend of four fundamental sources:
1. Our interpretation and translation of the Society of General Systems Research for more than 50 years (now www.isss.org).
2. The Strategic IQ Audits the Haines Centre conducts world-wide.
3. Our interpretation and translation of others' best practices research (we do not perform original research ourselves).
4. Our consulting practices around the world in more than 20 countries.
The four main concepts from Systems Thinking and the Society of General Systems Research that are the basis for these 12 simple, best practices applications are:
1. The Seven Levels of Living Systems
2. The 12 Characteristics of Living Systems
3. The Basic ABC Simplicity of Systems Thinking
4. The Rollercoaster of Change
The change management strengths of many successful organizations already include:
1. Clarity about the problem/issues and symptoms
2. The problem is approached and solved in its own right
3. Strong commitment by a key functional champion
4. Funding for the intervention is found
5. Seriousness with which the problem is taken
6. Strong commitment of the project team undertaking the change
7. Strong content skills and knowledge by project team members
8. Utilization of SMEs who can help solve the problem
9. Understand the need for good financial and operational metrics
10. The willingness to adopt a leadership development set of programs.
Yet, why do about 75 percent of all major changes fail to achieve their objectives? These strengths above are "necessary but not sufficient" for success. A new approach to thinking is required in the 21st Century. Think differently—think strategically: Daily-weekly-monthly-yearly by using the Systems Thinking Approach. Look for systems solutions to systems problems (not analytic and piecemeal solutions to systems problems).
This is what the state-of-the-art report that forms the basis for this column is all about.
Singular Change Efforts Fail
"A single and one time intervention will not change much of anything except for another short-term fix. Real change requires multiple strategies focused on clear outcomes." — OD Practitioner, May 2007
Our Level of Thinking
"Problems that are created by our current level of thinking can’'t be solved by that same level of thinking." —Albert Einstein
"So...if we generally use analytical thinking, we now need real "Systems Thinking" to resolve our issues." —Stephen G. Haines
The ABCs of Strategic and Systems Thinking
The process of THINKING has been extended from analytic and piecemeal/silo thinking to Systems Thinking and is now becoming mainstream in business as a better and more successful way to function. The research is from the Unity of Science for Living Systems and derives from the Society of General Systems Research beginning back in 1954. However, it has just now been scaled to specific and practical applications for organizations. So...Strategic and Systems Thinking is the new (old) way to ACHIEVE business excellence and superior results. For the past 50 years, Systems Thinking has been the way of most thought leaders in most disciplines but has often met with indifference (See Deming and TQM going to Japan to become famous—see the Toyota results ever since). Unfortunately for North American and Europe, Systems Thinking also is more natural to the Asian mind and culture—to our potentially disastrous competitive consequences in the 21st Century era of the Pacific.
There are now more than 50 years of scientific research on Systems Thinking. The father of Systems Thinking is generally agreed to be Ludwig Von Bertalanffy from Vienna, Austria; home also to Peter Drucker, a noted Systems Thinker and the number one Management Consultant of the 20th Century. This rich history includes Ludwig forming, in 1954, the Society of General Systems Research with three Nobel Prize Winners: Ken Boulding (Economics)—Anatole Rapaport (Math) and Ralph Gerard (Physiology). It also included other thought leaders such as Margaret Mead, Buckminster Fuller, James G. Miller, Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs), Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, Thomas Kuhn, Peter Drucker, Edward Deming, Russell Ackoff, Jay Forrester, Dick Beckhard, Steven Covey, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, Barry Oshry, and myself.
In summary, Systems Thinking is the new way to think and make sense of the world of the 21st Century, and those who want to succeed in it need to be a practitioner of this way of thinking—the fun part is it is easy, quite simple, and helps you see and act more clearly. Clarity + simplicity = success. And simplicity wins the game every time!
Stephen G. Haines (www.StephenHaines.com) is founder and CEO of the Haines Centre for Strategic Management: The World Leaders in Strategic Management: Powered by Systems Thinking (www.HainesCentre.com). For related information and the Haines Centre's three State-of-the-Art Best Practices Reports, (including this one on Systems Thinking), go to www.SystemsThinkingPress.com, and for free articles, go to www.hainescentre.com/haines1.htm.
For additional information on this topic, attend the following Training Live + Online certificate programs by Stephen Haines:
- Strategic and Systems Thinking Certificate: State-of-the-Art Best Practices Research.
A series of three sessions starting December 15
- Reinventing Strategic Planning Certificate: State-of-the-Art Best Practices Research.
A series of three sessions starting March 30
For details visit www.TrainingLiveandOnline.com. As a Training magazine reader, save $150 on each certificate when you register with Discount code: tme3f9. Open to new registrations only. No other discounts apply.