Complex Systems & Focused Solutions

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Complex Systems & Focused Solutions

  1. 1. .L Booth Sweeney October ,21 2010 UWEX Complex Systems & Focused Solutions Roll Your Sleeves Up and Try It!
  2. 2. Today WORKING WITH SYSTEMS: • EXPERIENCE SYSTEMS MAKE-OVERS AND SYSTEMS CONVERSATIONS Learning Goals Learning Goals Understanding systems Making systems visible Working with systems Talking about Systems …developing systems literacy
  3. 3. When we understand systems, we… Get off the problem-solving treadmill Make more informed decisions Move beyond laundry lists and bullet points… to seeing patterns of interaction that more closely match the more interdependent, complex world we live in. Stop jumping to blame a single cause for the challenges we encounter… Instead, look for multiple causes, effects and unintended impacts “Solve for Pattern” Solving more than one problem at a time (at least three) while minimizing or eliminating the creation of new problems. -- Wendell Berry Give our attention to the whole and the parts
  4. 4. Let’s think about Joe Teen. What does he think when buys a Coke?
  5. 5. Fossil FuelsManufacturing Global warming Burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming.
  6. 6. Weather patterns Environmental catastrophes Destroy Infrastructure More environmental disasters, more infrastructure destruction.
  7. 7. $$ spent on Infrastructure improvements QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Less $$ available for health care Decline in healthcare increases fatality rates Less money available, decline in healthcare.
  8. 8. Buying a Coke then is a very serious matter… QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. …one that requires an understanding of interconnections, dynamics, and systems.
  9. 9. Systems Thinking Focuses on FEEDBACK to describe the interconnections and dynamics in the system An open-loop, linear view asks: how should we react to the problem? Situation Goal Problem Decisions Results A systems view asks: What is causing the problem and how have our past decisions and actions been part of it? Situation Goal Problem Decisions Results
  10. 10. Systems Thinking Focuses on FEEDBACK to describe the interconnections and dynamics in the system An open-loop, linear view asks: how should we react to the problem? Situation Goal Problem Decisions Results A systems view asks: What is causing the problem and how have our past decisions and actions been part of it? Situation Goal Problem Decisions Results
  11. 11. Balancing Feedback: Predator/Prey Number of wolves Number of rabbits B Population Time
  12. 12. Reinforcing Feedback: Population Growth Number of births R population IllustrativePopulation years1960 1980 2000
  13. 13. 2. Name the key elements 3. Sketch the trends 1. Describe the challenge 5. Find Leverage 5. Find Leverage 4. Make System Visible 6. Share, Test & Improve 6. Share, Test & Improve Applied Systems Thinking
  14. 14. Applied Systems Thinking 2. Name the Key Elements What are the important drivers? Write these as variables. Describe any known direct causal connections. 3. Sketch the Trends Graph behavior over time of the issue(s). Does the pattern suggest any familiar structures? Archetypes? 1. Describe the Challenge & Related Vision What are we concerned about? What is happening over time? What is the future we want to see created? 6. Share, Test & Improve Get feedback from others. Find data. Perhaps use simulation modeling. Act and observe real world results. 6. Share, Test & Improve Get feedback from others. Find data. Perhaps use simulation modeling. Act and observe real world results. 5. Find Leverage What changes would lead to a more desirable behavior? What strategy could you use to achieve these changes? 5. Find Leverage What changes would lead to a more desirable behavior? What strategy could you use to achieve these changes? 4. Make the System Visible • Ask: What structure or set of relationships might be driving the behavior or interest? • Start with a key element • Add causes & consequences (option: connection circles) • Close feedback loops OR: • Start with a key feedback loop or an appropriate archetype structure • Add feedback as needed to explain the behavior
  15. 15. Sometimes We Find “Leverage Points” -- Where Small Actions Yield Large Results “Maybe we should write that spot down.”
  16. 16. Applied Systems Thinking 1. Describe the challenge Adapted from the Sustainability Institute “Air quality in our town is getting worse. What is driving this trend and what would address the problem over the coming years?”
  17. 17. Systems Thinking Flow 2. Name the key elements 1. Describe the challenge Adapted from the Sustainability Institute •Number of high-particulate days •Bad press •Attractiveness of region (in migration) •Population •Health problems (asthma rates) •Pressure for regulation •Regulation requiring scrubbers •Use of scrubbers
  18. 18. Systems Thinking Flow 2. Name the key elements 1. Describe the challenge Adapted from the Sustainability Institute •Number of high-particulate days •Bad press •Attractiveness of region (in migration) •Population •Health problems (asthma rates) •Pressure for regulation •Regulation requiring scrubbers •Use of scrubbers
  19. 19. Applied Systems Thinking 2. Name Key Elements 3. Sketch the Trends 1. Describe the challenge Expected future trend Goal Years 1980 2000 20101990 Observed past behavior history future Number of high particulate days per year
  20. 20. Applied Systems Thinking 2. Name Key Elements 3. Sketch the Trends 1. Describe the challenge 4. Make the System Visible Adapted from the Sustainability Institute
  21. 21. Applied Systems Thinking 2. Name key elements 3. Sketch the trends 1. Describe the challenge 5. Find leverage 5. Find leverage 4. Make the system visible Adapted from the Sustainability Institute
  22. 22. 2. Name the key elements 3. Sketch the trends 1. Describe the challenge 5. Find Leverage 5. Find Leverage 4. Make System Visible 6. Share, Test & Improve 6. Share, Test & Improve Applied Systems Thinking
  23. 23. Options (using 6 steps): 1. Example from your work 2. Apply to this question: How to expand the network of sustainable communities in Wisconsin? Try it yourself

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