Systems Thinking 2 – Day 1

After I got my blog fixed and ready to go after five years of inactivity this is a repost of my thoughts on day one of the Systems Thinking 2 course:

The first session of the Systems Thinking 2 course featured a general overview about Systems Thinking by David Ing and a presentation with final discussion of “Appreciative Systems”.

Appreciative Systems by Geoffrey Vickers were presented by the first group as a concept of understanding sense making. Vickers himself seemed to be mainly concerned with social systems, from a personal scale up to the society and, if I understood it correctly, especially with the meaning of any form of communication. This action, analysing the meaning of communication, he called appreciation.

The concept of Appreciation Judgement was presented as a three step process consisting of Reality Judgement, concerned with the communicated facts, Value Judgement, concerned with the value theses facts have for oneself and Instrumental Judgement, concerned with how that translates into actions.
Personally I am still struggling a bit with the distinction between judgements and decisions as to which builds on which. For me, in order to make a decision I am judging the matter in question based on certain criteria, ultimately leading to a decision, but I am not quite sure at the moment how that connects to  the statement of a decision being a narrower term than judgement in that a decision to me is comprised of on or many judgements.

Further concepts we discussed were Planning, Mess, and Transformation & Adaption.

With regard to planning it was mentioned that planning  itself needs planning, which feels a bit tricky and remembers me of a situation in which I was a member of a group of about 70 people who were to decide on two representatives, out of a couple of candidates. After a longer discussion we held a vote on how to vote for those two candidates and whether that vote would be public or private. Eventually that discussion, though justified to some extend, led to quite a bit of frustration among parts of the group as the whole process took ages. So the question is, where to start in order not to end up planning the planning of the planning for the planning (or voting on the process of voting on how to vote).

The quoted “plans are useless, planning is essential” made me think of my own group’s topic of coevolution, where it becomes obvious that sticking to a plan without taking into consideration changed realities becomes very useless very quickly. Constant evaluation of the environment and suitable readjustment in actions can potentially lead to success – though what that is should also be open for redefinition.

For me personally the though of evaluating communication in the presented appreciative systems is interesting on the one hand, as it leads me to think in more depth about communication going on around me, but on the other hand I feel a minor possibility of overthinking things, as  Paul Watzlawick said “One cannot not communicate” therefor I feel a bit torn, yet, as to whether the concept of Appreciative Systems will prove helpful for me during my future work, but the concept as presented served at least as a good reminder to question forms of communication and apply a decent amount of media critique that should always be present when e.g. consuming news.

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