Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Mastering systems thinking in practice

7 Summary

This week you have looked at three sets of distinctions relevant to systems thinking in practice. These are the distinctions between difficulties and messes, between hard and soft complexity and between systematic and systemic. These distinctions differ for people depending on the traditions and practices they have experienced, with a fundamental distinction being whether people see situations (systems) as being real (out there) or constructs of our minds (in here) with the latter implying that these constructions will be different for everyone involved in that situation. Understanding and working with these distinctions is an important part of system thinking in practice.

This week, like the first week, has also used the phrase ‘real world’ to distinguish from the conceptual world, the world of thinking. In many ways this is an artificial distinction because the world I perceive to be the ‘real world’ is, in fact, my own conceptual model. What I perceive is conditioned by my conceptual models. So for me the real ‘real world’, is unknowable. My desire is to change the question from ‘what is the world’ to ‘how do I know the world’. So every time I use the term ‘real world’ you should remember that this is a short-hand for the process of coming to know the world.

You should now be able to:

  • explain the notion of perceived complexity within situations through the frames of messes and difficulties, emotional and rational reactions and systemic and systematic thinking.

Next week you will look at appropriate language to define and distinguish systems of interest within complex situations as epistemological devices rather than actual ontological things.

You can now go to Week 3.

Skip Your course resources
MSTP_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371