Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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Mastering systems thinking in practice

Week 8: Becoming a systems (thinking in practice) practitioner


Welcome to Week 8, and well done for getting to this final week of the course.

By now you should have a good idea of what systems thinking is and what putting it into practice might involve for yourself in your own context. You will also have gained some ideas about what is meant by a practitioner in general from the introductory videos to each week, and in particular the use of the juggler metaphor and the different balls that need to be handled. In this final week you will develop the notion of a systems practitioner, consider some of its implications and relate this to the four balls that need to be handled to develop your own systems thinking in practice.

Watch the following video which discusses developing systems practice over time.

Download this video clip.Video player: mstp_1_video_week8_intro.mp4
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This week is all about becoming a systems practitioner. This cartoon depicts a person over time. As unique human beings, we are part of a lineage, and our history is a product of both ontogeny, which means biological growth and development, and social development. Together, these form what I will call a tradition. A tradition is the history of our being in the world. Traditions are important because our models of understanding grow out of traditions.
The various shapes in the clouds above the practitioner's head in the cartoon are used to depict how our models of understanding change over time. The light bulbs depict how, over time, we can become more aware of our embodied understandings, which in turn influences systems practice. I've portrayed a practitioner with a prior model of understanding and a current model of understanding in the cartoon. From their current models, it need not be one. The systems practitioner connects with a real-world situation and makes a distinction.
Based on this distinction, the practitioner can probe or construct the history of a situation. This cartoon displays a refinement of the processes of being and engaging, two of the balls from my juggler metaphor at the start of the course. But to be an effective systems practitioner also requires attention to how you contextualise your approaches to those real-world situations and the ways you manage your involvement with those situations.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • decide for yourself what form of systems thinking in practice you want to adopt and why you made that choice as well as how you intend to develop as a systems practitioner.
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