Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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Mastering systems thinking in practice

Week 5: Understanding multiple perspectives


So far in this course you have been asked to take new perspectives on complex situations but equally have noted how our traditions and experiences influence how we think and act. You will now revisit these aspects further by looking at situations where I am making sense of complex situations with other people rather than just making sense of it for my own benefit. If you are to be a systems practitioner then working with others is unavoidable, but as I also noted in Week 1 the ideas and practice of systems thinking may be unfamiliar and challenging for many people because of their own traditions and experiences influencing their own perspectives on situations they face.

Watch the following video which discusses what it means to experience systems practice.

Download this video clip.Video player: mstp_1_video_week5_intro.mp4
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Appreciating a complex situation often requires understanding the perspectives of those involved with or within that situation, and that includes the systems practitioner. Systems practice may be carried out individually or as part of a team. But how do different people experience that systems practice?
In doing any systems investigation with a community or client group, which is a form of managing, an important question is, am I investigating the situation as if from the outside looking in, or am I working collaboratively with the other participants? The answer to the question leads to different modes of systems practice. These modes of practice are related to the choices the aware and non-aware systems practitioner make in relation to the four balls that need to be juggled for effective practice and their relationship with the situation being investigated.
The non-aware practitioner always acts in the belief that they are outside the so-called 'real world situation'. In contrast, the aware practitioner acts from an understanding that there is no position external to the real world. That is, they are always in the situation, usually with others. In addition, they can also act as if it were possible to stand outside the situation in an awareness of the ethics of doing so. Now you have the opportunity to learn techniques for understanding multiple perspectives.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • explain how to take multiple perspectives of a complex situation yourself and how to find out the perspectives of others involved in that complex situation.
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