Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Introduction to Systems Thinking: System Structures and Behaviour
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Introduction to Systems Thinking: System Structures and Behaviour


Published on

Presentation for the Sydney Limited WIP Society …

Presentation for the Sydney Limited WIP Society

An introduction to Systems Thinking for people who I assume are familiar with designing, building IT systems and/or the mess of large organisations

Targeting beginners OR a review of fundamentals for non-beginners

  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

No notes for slide


  • 1. Introduction to Systems Thinking: System Structures and Behaviour Sydney Limited WIP Society Jason Yip @jchyip
  • 2. Select a problem as a working example. It should be somewhat complicated, and not too simple.
  • 3. What is a system?
  • 4. A system is a set of things interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behaviour over time
  • 5. A system is more than the sum of its parts
  • 6.
  • 7. Systems consists of three things 1. Elements 2. Interconnections 3. Function (non-human system) or Purpose (human system)
  • 8. Examples of systems ● Digestive system ● Sports team ● School ● City ● Factory ● Corporation ● National Economy ● Animal ● Tree ● Forest ● Earth ● Solar system ● Galaxy ● IT system
  • 9. “Bicycle system”
  • 10. “Frog system”
  • 11. Systems mostly cause their own behaviour; outside events unleash that behaviour
  • 12. Do politicians cause recessions and booms? Or is it inherent to market economies?
  • 13. Do competitors cause companies to lose market share? Or do their own policies create losses that competitors exploit?
  • 14. “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it gets.” Dr. Don Berwick
  • 15. Describe your situation as a system ● What are the elements? ● What are the interconnections between the elements? ● What is the purpose of the system? Intended vs actual based on behaviour?
  • 16. Stocks and Flows
  • 17. Stocks are the elements you can see, feel, count, or measure at any given time
  • 18. Examples of Stocks ● Water in a bathtub ● A population ● Books in a book store ● Wood in a tree ● Money in a bank
  • 19. Stocks change over time via Flows ● Work flow ● Information flow ● Both inflow and outflow
  • 20. Information Flow Work Flow Stocks
  • 21. Inflow Outflow Information flow Stock
  • 22. Stocks provide a memory of flows
  • 23. Stocks act as “shock absorbers”
  • 24. Stocks introduce delay. It takes time for flows to affect stocks.
  • 25. Delays decouple inflow and outflow
  • 26. Examples of stocks decoupling flows ● Gasoline storage tanks ● Wood in a forest ● Water reservoir
  • 27. “Stocks are pretty much queues” Me
  • 28. Let’s try describing a typical Agile team using stocks and flows
  • 29. How might stocks and flows change how you describe your situation?
  • 30. Feedback loops
  • 31. Systems run themselves via feedback loops
  • 32. Balancing feedback loops ● Thermostat ● Guided missile ● Iterative, incremental software development
  • 33. A stock with two competing balancing loops
  • 34. How feedback fails ● Late, lost, unclear, incomplete, hard to interpret information ● Weak, delayed, resource-constrained, ineffective response
  • 35. Two competing balancing loops with delays
  • 36. The problem with forecast-driven supply chains
  • 37. A delay in a balancing feedback loop makes a system likely to oscillate
  • 38. Aside: This is generally solved by using kanban
  • 39. Reinforcing feedback loops ● Market collapse: uncertainty -> remove money -> more uncertainty ● Compound interest ● Death march: Too much to do -> work harder -> more bugs -> work even harder
  • 40. A stock with one reinforcing loop and one balancing loop
  • 41. If A causes B, is it possible that B also causes A?
  • 42. How might feedback loops change how you describe your situation?
  • 43. Dealing with systems
  • 44. Systems consists of three things 1. Elements 2. Interconnections 3. Function (non-human system) or Purpose (human system)
  • 45. Changing elements usually has the least effect; changing interconnections or purpose is usually more dramatic
  • 46. Examples ● Change all members of a sports team vs change rules of the game or the definition of winning ● Change people in the organisation vs change the way of working or the definition of organisational success
  • 47. Focus more on interconnections and interactions than elements ● Interaction flow / sequence over class structure ● Work flow / value stream over org structure
  • 48. System interactions operate through information flow
  • 49. Address incongruent purposes System purposes do not necessarily match the intention of the designers or actors within it
  • 50. How might you intervene in your situation to improve the system?