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Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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9 Teasing out accommodations

An important feature of working together on a diagram is the way in which members of the group relate to or give comments to each other for the purpose of constructing the diagram. The normal responses we give and receive, verbal and non-verbal, conscious and unconscious, are fairly limited and incomplete. You may misinterpret or fail to notice a signal of dissent, or you may not know why people have reacted in a particular way. The social constraints that restrict comment on other people’s behaviour exist for very good reasons (the comments can be very destructive) but they also have their price: we lose out on information that might enable us to conduct ourselves more effectively.

When individuals or members of a group make comments on each other’s behaviour (either explicitly or tangentially) it’s a sign that things are going either very well or very badly. The basic condition for the giving and receiving of personal feedback to be constructive is that it should occur within relationships of trust and mutual respect. This teasing out of accommodations through these collective and collaborative processes is very much at the heart of soft systems methodology, a systems approach you will learn more about in Week 7.

Activity 3 How do you work with others?

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes for this activity.

Note down how you normally work with others and whether your thoughts on this have changed following your study of this week. Also, look back at the metaphor of the juggler in the video introduction to Week 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   and note down how you relate what you have studied so far with what this metaphor is trying to represent.

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As a systems practitioner it is important that I am always aware of, and attend to, how I relate to and work with others, the approaches I choose to use and also the situation under investigation. For the systems practitioner as juggler this touches on all four balls of being, engaging, contextualising and managing.