Lately I've read a article from Paul Schoemaker:"The 6 habits of True Strategic Thinkers".I was pleased about the content , because a lot was in agreement with what I had done in my career as leader of a company.I was even more pleased about the similarity of strategic thinking with systems thinking...the only question is what is part of.
It's the story of the chicken and the egg , but who matters..the important is , that the mindset is the same.
Before discussing , these similarity's it's my humble opinion that strategic thinking is important , but also tactical thinking as well linear thinking (analyse ) is as important as systems thinking(syntheses).
Let's compare now the 6 Habits with system thinking elements:
"Look for game changing information at the boundary's of your industry"
"Search beyond the current boundaries of your business"
"Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better"
A system thinker see his organization as an open system, composed of subsystems and elements , all in interrelationship which each other .
A system is dynamic.
Everything is influencing everything and the property of the system is more than the sum of the property's of his elements.You have to be aware that a small change in a element of relation, can have a big impact on the whole.
A System , has always a purpose.
Define the periphery of your system large enough ( but manageable)to have enough information to define the purpose and the external factors , which can influenced it .
" Re frame problems to get to the bottom of things"
"Challenge current beliefs and mindsets
"Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation ...."
A systems thinker is able to open his mind and to question his and others mental models .His communication is by dialogue, asking the right questions and to have good listening skills.
He goes beyond the events and take the information of all stakeholders in order to the most objective story.
" Seek patterns in multiple sources of data and encourage others to do the same"
"Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously"
A systems thinker is using the data of a team , and is a team player.
He put the data in a Behavior Over Time scheme, which will give him behavior patterns.
"Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter."
"Leave perfection to higher powers"
" Take a stand even with incomplete information"
A system thinker is aware of the system and critical elements that causes the behavior . Because of the interrelationship between the elements , there is NO One cause.
Different leverage points will be tried out and the decision will be taken which one is timely the best , to achieve the purpose of the system :different scenarios will exist , because the system is dynamic.
"Foster open dialogue"
"Build trust and engage key stakeholders"
"Asses risk tolerances"
A systems thinker has a personal mastery to create a shared vision, even when views diverge.By open dialogue and to be part of the system is capable to discuss the different mental models and to define the leverage points for alignment.
"Encourage and exemplify honest debriefs to extracts lessons"
"Celebrate both success and failures that provide insight"
A system thinker is aware of time delays and unexpected situations , by taking decisions.
Long term perspective is as such as important as short term results .
A system thinker doesn't look after the guilty person of process, but try to understand which relationship causes the failure.
As you can see , there is a lot of similarity and the good point is , systems thinking can be learned!!