Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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Mastering systems thinking in practice

Week 1: Systems thinking in practice


Welcome to this badged open course, Mastering systems thinking in practice.

In this first week of the course, you will be encouraged to reflect on your existing knowledge and assumptions about systems thinking in practice, and it will give you a grounding of what the course as a whole will cover.

First, watch the following video in which Andy Lane, the course author, introduces a visual metaphor to describe a systems practitioner.

Download this video clip.Video player: mstp_1_video_week1_intro.mp4
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Welcome to this course on mastering systems thinking in practice. What do we mean by 'practice' in this course? Practice or practicing is something everyone does. The dictionary definition of "practice' is to carry out or perform habitually or constantly-- to carry out an action.
Almost everyone has some role or number of roles in which they regularly encounter issues that need dealing with, improving, or resolving. For example, I'm a practicing father as well as a practicing academic. So a practitioner is anyone involved in practice-- in regularly carrying out a number of actions.
If I reflect on my own practice, I'm aware that I experience myself as something of a juggler, trying to keep a number of balls in the air as I practise, as shown in this cartoon. More specifically, this course, first implicitly and then explicitly, employs the metaphor of the systems practitioner as juggler-- juggling four particular balls marked as B, E, C, and M in the cartoon-- that I think need to be kept in the air for any form of effective systems practice.
The metaphor of the juggler keeping the four balls in the air is a powerful way for me to think about what I do when I try to be effective in my systems practice. It matches with my experience. It takes concentration and skill to do it well and makes me think about the context in which I am practising. Now it is your turn to start reflecting on your existing knowledge and assumptions about systems thinking in practice.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • describe how this course deals with the nature of systems thinking and systems practice and that these require you to take responsibility for your own learning and to question how you know about the world.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

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