BB Bob Bollen Public Seen by 28

I think it would be great for a group of us who are conversant with/ digging into systems understanding to start writing stories for the TELL THE STORY theme.

These might introduce people to systems concepts - perhaps an article on each of Senge's so called laws

  • Today's problems come from yesterday's solutions

  • the harder you push the harder the system pushes back

  • behaviour grows better before it grows worse

  • the easy way out usually leads back in

  • the cure can be worse than the disease

  • faster is slower

  • cause and effect are not closely related in time and space

  • small changes can produce big results - but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious - eg the trimtab on the rudder

  • you can have your cake and eat it too - but not at once

  • dividing an elephant in half does not produce two small elephants

  • there is no blame

They might tell stories (if we can find them!) of how particular tools from the systems world have been successfully used. eg Participatory Systems Mapping https://www.cecan.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2019-03/PSM%20Workshop%20method.pdf


Anybody else up for it?



Pat Kane Sun 29 Mar 2020 5:34PM

Hi Bob, yes well up for this. I’ve always remembered this from Jake Chapman:

“One way to visualise the difference between the mechanistic, linear approach to policy and the holistic, systemic approach is to compare the results of throwing a rock and a live bird. Mechanical linear models are excellent for understanding where the rock will end up, but useless for predicting the trajectory of a bird – even though both are subject to the same laws of physics. To the degree that social and organisational systems, like the NHS, show adaptive behaviours they are better regarded as similar to live birds than lumps of rock”.

Link here it fits to your/Senge’s “the harder you push the harder the system pushes back”


Bob Bollen Sun 29 Mar 2020 10:07PM

OK, let's give it some thought, convene a zoom and invite others?

thanks for the story and the link - will read it


Bob Bollen Tue 31 Mar 2020 6:25PM

Hi Pat

I've just been having second thoughts. I'm not experienced in systems thinking, so a little concerned about making a mess of it. I'd be happier to invite others in who've had practice using it in business or government or NGOs. There's only one person I know I might ask - who really gets systems thinking - and knows the world's got to change (as opposed to simply using the mindset and tools to further the current purposes of business and government). Do you know any?

And there's potentially some people (or all?) we might invite from this NEON thread https://neweconomyorganisers.mobilize.io/main/groups/27469/lounge/posts/438244

What do you think?