How often do you find yourself “putting out fires?” Do you want to position yourself for more proactive and effective thinking?
Systems thinking allows you to look at organizational dynamics. Instead of getting caught up in the details of a situation, you engage in systems thinking to shift your thinking from details to dynamics. You see the interrelationships in any situation, allowing you to think cross-functionally.
Three steps are involved:
- Step 1: Observing patterns. Ask, “How many times have I seen this kind of behavior?” Is there a pattern emerging?
- Step 2: Uncovering underlying structure. What is causing this behavior? The structure of the system influences the behavior of its members. Consider, for example, a compensation system that rewards individual behavior even though one of your goals is team-based work.
- Step 3: Increasing your leverage in the system. Once you begin to see the patterns and underlying structures, you can then resolve your challenges for the long term by looking for the highest leverage in any situation. This leverage helps you to think strategically and solve problems for the long term because you are focused on fundamental causes-and implement solutions that benefit the whole organization rather than just individual departments due to the systems perspective of interconnectedness.
Systems thinking helps you to anticipate rather than react to events. The more you can anticipate what is going on, the more power you will have in dealing with an emerging challenge.