Friday, April 20, 2007

Systems Thinking!

Problems! Problems! How to solve them?Most of the time we adopt short cut by focusing on its symptom.This wont give the long-lasting results.What we need to do is "Address Fundamental Causes".SystemsThinking is a tool to do that.It helps us to focus on solution rather than the problem.It instructs on viewing the problem holistically.Then there will be less scope to miss essential elements of the problem.
It is increasingly being used to tackle a wide variety of subjects in fields such as computing, engineering, epidemiology, information science, health, manufacture, management, and the environment.

Let us see the following case studies -->
(1)Transform Education :: This case study addresses the problem of information explosion.I am also a victim of this problem.Daily my inbox is inundated by thousands of mails,Google Search does a fantastic job in giving the required information but what I get is information islands this list goes on and on.
Coming to our case study the authors suggests that "As the amount of information increases exponentially, our educational system can no longer focus primarily on memorizing a core body of knowledge. There is no way any single individual can master all of the information available. Rather, our schools must help children become skillful manipulators, synthesizers and creators of knowledge.And since we are now entering an era of global communication and collaboration, we need professionals who can work on teams to solve complex problems. Society no longer relies primarily on factory workers, but on life long learners who can think critically, solve problems and work collaboratively. These are the skills of tomorrow's "knowledge workers" (Drucker, 1994). Since, industrial age schools were not designed with this goal in mind, we need entirely new concepts in learning and teaching—rather than more efficient industrial age schools." The traditional solutions say that examination system is to be changed,teachers are to be changed blah! blah! but focusing on information dissemination all these chestnuts look like side-effects of the actual problem.To get to the bottom of this problem please refer this

(2)Vanilla Ice Cream :: This is the case study discussed in systems thinking training session in my company.A customer writes to General Motors saying that he is in the habit of having icecream as dessert after dinner each night.Whenever he buys a vanilla ,the car just wont start.For any other flavour choclate,strawberry etc., the problem never occured.GM sent an engineer to look at this problem.The engineer observed the problem and was puzzled to know that the car hates vanilla!Being a system thinker he didn't let go any information like average speed of the drive,distance,duration of the drive,time of the day,weather,type of fuel,time spent in the parlour that is relevant to the problem in some manner.
Voila! he got the clue.The problem is vapour lock! not the vanilla!
When ever the man ordered vanilla , he is out of the parlour sooner than when he ordered any other flavour.This is because vanilla being a popular flavour it is placed handily for quick customer response.So in the case of other flavours the engine got sufficient time to cool down whereas vanilla is not allowing it to cool down for the vapour lock to dissipate.

Let us start applying system thinking to the small problems around us,then slowly to somewhat bigger ones and then suddenly we will be applying it to hot problems of this world .Ofcourse we will certainly find the correct,long-lasting solution.

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