Strategic planning: systems thinking in practice
Strategic planning: systems thinking in practice

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1.3 Competencies

Box 2 continues from the listing of competencies in Box 1.

Box 2 Systems competencies 2: systems practice

  • Systems practice is reflective practice.
  • Part of the skill of an aware systems practitioner is their ability to use systems thinking as part of a process of learning (by them or with others), in which the outcome is some improvement to a situation of concern.
  • The particular form of learning at the core of systems practice is concerned with enabling effective action among stakeholders in complex situations. This involves collaborative action or social learning.
  • Systems practice recognises the significance of making boundary judgements and continually exploring purpose.
  • In addition to problem solving, systems practice can help identify what other problems might be relevant to a situation.
  • Systems practice is a transdisciplinary skill used to complement and support an existing skill set from a single discipline.
  • Part of the transdisciplinary skill is in using a systems literacy that helps facilitate interdisciplinarity.
  • Systems practice draws on, but is different from, systems science or complexity science in that it attends to judgements on boundaries and values as much as judgement on facts.
(Source: adapted and further developed from Open Systems Group, 2004)

Activity 3 Systems thinking in practice in other skill sets

From the list of competencies in Box 2 make a note of any competencies that you feel represent an existing strength in your own practice and one that is less strong.

A further competence might be described in terms of a willingness to be disturbed. Thinking differently can be experienced as discomforting in that it often requires disturbing conventional ways of thinking and doing. This is related to recognising traps and thinking of strategies for avoiding them and/or escaping from them.

The next section describes three common traps and gives a rationale for the selection of the five systems approaches chosen as a means of avoiding or springing the traps.

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