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

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2.3 Trap 3 Dealing with holism and pluralism

This is a concern about avoiding responsibility for boundary judgements made in systems thinking.

The tool that addresses this issue in particular is critical systems heuristics. Figure 5 illustrates the trap of holism and pluralism.

Figure 5 Causal-loop diagram of the trap of holism and pluralism in systems thinking

Each of the five approaches attends to all three traps and associated purposes. However, while each of the five deals with all three purposes, historically each was born out of a particular emphasis on one over the other two purposes. This does not suppose that any one approach only fulfils one purpose to the exclusion of the other two. The maturing of each approach over 25 years has meant that they have evolved to serve all three purposes.

Your exploration of the usefulness of each systems approach in the Tools stream will be undertaken in an area of practice that is both appealing to you and rich enough in terms of comprising many variables and contrasting perspectives.