System Thinking as a Collaborative Problem Solving Approach
So What is System Thinking
The Systems Thinking approach is a powerful problem solving tool that brings clarity to the problem dynamics while suggesting point of leverage to apply solution effort.
What makes system thinking such a great collaborative problem solving tool is that its more than just a tool, it is also a process that promote common understanding and interaction between groups of stakeholders in a problem domain.
It was born out of Peter Senge's book "The Fifth Discipline" where it was applied to solve business problems. At it core it illuminates how the different element in a domain system affects one another, and is about understanding how the individual connected parts work in relation to the holistic whole.
Promoting Stakeholder Collaborations with the Causal Loop Diagram
The Causal loop diagrams (CLDs) is clear visual representation of the relationships between the variables in the system consisting of arrows connecting the nodes in a way that shows how one variable or part affects another variable.
A great way to use the Systems Thinking approach is to get the key stakeholders in a problem domain to come together to create the Causal Loop Diagram. The arrows on the diagram clarifies the relationship between the different stakeholders and their respective nodes.
This helps the stakeholders to have a common frame of reference on which to understand the holistic effects of the individual actions on other nodes and the whole system. This process also emphasize the inter-dependency between the different nodes, helping the stakeholders work together for the common good of the whole domain.