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Systems Thinking for the Rest Of Us

tobiasfors
April 16, 2018

Systems Thinking for the Rest Of Us

Presentation slides from the 75 minute workshop on systems thinking at the global Scrum Gathering in Minneapolis, USA, in april 2018.

tobiasfors

April 16, 2018
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  1. ”Systems Thinking For The Rest Of Us”
    Tobias Fors
    @tofo

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  2. ‣ Consultant and partner @ Citerus since 2000 (www.citerus.se)

    ‣ CST since 2006

    ‣ Full stack management consultant
    ‣ @tofo on Twitter

    ‣ Blog: www.tobiasfors.se
    About Tobias Fors

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  3. Systems thinking helps you succeed
    Systems thinking
    Agile Scrum Lean

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  4. ”Hard” ”Soft”

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  5. A system is …
    Environment
    System
    Part
    Part
    Part
    Part
    Part
    ”A system is a whole which consists
    of a set of two or more parts. Each
    part affects the behavior of the
    whole, depending on how it interacts
    with the other parts of the system.”
    https://thesystemsthinker.com/from-mechanistic-to-social-systemic-thinking/

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  6. Practice 1: Seeing the system

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  7. Step 1
    Pick a challenging situation at work,
    which you are interested in exploring

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  8. Step 2: Zoom out to see the system
    ‣ Yourself (in the middle)

    ‣ Other people (use distance and size appropriately)

    ‣ (Remember: zoom out beyond your normal view)
    ‣ Things
    ‣ Interactions (lines, thin/thick, arrows, …)

    ‣ Problems (illustrate graphically)

    ‣ Strengths
    ‣ Anything else
    ‣ Add a descriptive title

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  9. Partner up (~1 min each)
    ‣ Explain your picture briefly

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  10. Systems thinking

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  11. Changing our thinking

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  12. 1300 1600 1900
    Age of machines
    Age of
    systems
    Middle Ages Renaissance
    Age of faith
    Enlightenment
    cross-
    disciplinarity
    required

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  13. Machine Age Thinking: Analysis
    ‣ Identify the parts
    ‣ Try to understand each part
    ‣ Merge into an understanding of the whole
    Whole
    Part Part
    Part
    Part
    ANALYSIS

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  14. When you take a system apart, it
    looses its essential properties, and
    so do its parts.
    HEURISTIC

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  15. Systems Age Thinking: Synthesis
    ‣ Identify the larger whole
    ‣ Understand the larger whole
    ‣ Understand our system based on the role it plays in the larger whole
    SYNTHESIS
    Whole
    Larger whole

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  16. Connecting purpose and parts
    EXAMPLE
    Source: Gojko Adzic - https://www.impactmapping.org/

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  17. Practice 2: 

    ”What seems to be the problem?”

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  18. Quick buzz with a partner (~1 min each)
    ‣ To what degree do people in your picture
    agree on what the problem is?

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  19. Problem as difference
    ”A problem is a
    difference between
    things as desired and
    things as perceived.”

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  20. The problem with ”the problem is”
    ”Disciplinary categories reveal nothing
    about [the problem] but they do tell us
    something about the nature of those
    who categorize them”

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  21. Ackoff’s ”Mess”
    ”Mess”:
    A system of problems

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  22. Technique: ”Assume they are rational”

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  23. Skilled facilitation brings out perspectives
    ”Gradually
    revealing
    reality”

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  24. Practice 3:
    How to deal with the mess?

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  25. The performance of a system is 

    not the sum of its parts, it is 

    the product of their interactions.
    HEURISTIC

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  26. Better for us vs better for me
    EXAMPLE

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  27. Improving the parts individually often 

    does not lead to an improvement of the whole
    HEURISTIC

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  28. We need to

    focus on the interactions
    (not just the actions)

    of the parts of the system.
    HEURISTIC

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  29. Get some help from your partner 

    (~3 mins each)
    ‣ Which interactions might hold the key to
    improving your system’s performance?
    ‣ How could you help improve them?

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  30. Wrapping up …

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  31. ”It’s not so much about systems, 

    but how to use yourself in the system”
    – Edie Seashore
    (google: ”edie seashore use of self”)

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  32. Your take-away
    A larger systemic
    change that needs to
    be made to improve
    your ”mess” A small next step
    you could take
    tomorrow

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  33. My take-aways
    ‣ If you want to understand: zoom out
    ‣ Get more curious
    ‣ Minimize blaming
    ‣ Try to improve the larger system
    ‣ … and remember use yourself in the system

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  34. Learn More
    ‣ Re-Creating the Corporation. Russell L. Ackoff.
    ‣ Quality Software Management, Volume 1. Systems Thinking.
    ‣ The Systems Bible. John Gall.
    ‣ Learning for Action. Peter Checkland and John Poulter.
    ‣ A General Introduction to Systems Thinking. Gerald M. Weinberg.
    ‣ Ackoff’s Best. Russell L. Ackoff
    ‣ Video: Beyond Method @ Öredev 2011 - https://vimeo.com/37603163

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  35. Let’s stay in touch!
    @tofo
    www.tobiasfors.se

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