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Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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3.2 Explanatory systems

Secondly, there are explanatory systems, such as in the phrase ‘it’s the system for making the trains run on time’. The scope and components of these systems are much less clear and possibly more problematic to agree upon.

Indeed, if a system of this sort exists anywhere, it is in the mind of the individual(s) who conceives it. It is simply a particular way of thinking about selected aspects of the world and their interrelationships which is useful in relation to the individual’s concerns.

Systems of this second sort embody particular points of view and are useful to the extent that they offer some insight into what is puzzling or troublesome and by describing or ascribing a purpose to their system of interest they potentially make dealing with the complexity more tractable.

A cartoon of a car driving the wrong way in a one-way street, while a lorry driving the correct way.
Figure 4A one-way system.