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Systems: very brief rules of thumb

I am reading Draper Kauffman Systems one: An Introduction to Systems Thinking. Here some things I am learning.

A system is “a collection of parts which interact with each other to function as a whole.” A system cannot be split into separate parts and still be useful. Similarly, you can’t add one system to another and make a bigger system; you’ll simply have two systems.

Rules of thumb to recognise systems

  • Everything is connected to everything else
  • You can never do just one thing
  • There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch
  • Nature knows best
  • If ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it’s what you DO know that ain’t so
  • “Obvious solutions” do more harm than good
  • Look for high leverage points
  • Nothing grows forever
  • Don’t fight positive feedback; support negative feedback instead
  • Don’t try to control the players, just change the rules
  • Don’t make rules that can’t be enforced
  • There are no simple solutions
  • Good intentions are not enough
  • If you can’t make people self-sufficient, your aid does more harm than good
  • There are no final answers
  • Every solution creates new problems
  • Loose systems are often better
  • Don’t be fooled by system cycles
  • Beware the empty compromise
  • Competition is often cooperation in disguise
  • Bad boundaries make bad governments
  • Beware the Tragedy of the Commons
  • Foresight always wins in the long run.
Photo by Hussain Mahmood on Unsplash
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Digital technologies and evidence informed policy systems

Last October I was in Islamabad and was interview at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute. We discussed the changes that new digital technologies bring and will continue to bring to evidence informed policy processes and systems.

Click on sdpi.tv to watch the interview.

You can also click here to watch the interview
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Is education the new currency?

If we can quantify the value of each educational opportunity, can that data help map a pathway for building the skills needed to succeed? One company is looking into it. Reposted from BBC

Source: Is education the new currency? – BBC Worklife

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UNDP and its systems journey

UNDP teams continue to publish interesting blog posts about their attempts to move to a system approach which includes managing portfolio of projects and experiments. Here is an interesting post written by Alex Oprunenco on Medium.

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” says the famous saying, and I would add that if all you have is a project, everything looks like a magic bullet. It is reductionist and does not allow people and teams to see interdependencies between project and thus the nature of issues more holistically. Another way of putting this: we tend to project our organizational building block (aka projects) onto the world, thereby limiting our understanding of issues (particularly when it comes to non-linear dynamics) rather than working backwards from the nature of the problem we are addressing.”

Source: The System Shift: Frames, Energies and Experiments – Regional Innovation Centre UNDP Asia-Pacific – Medium

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Organizational Sensemaking – IResearchNet

Organizational sensemaking is not an established body of knowledge; it is a developing set of ideas drawn from a range of disciplines (e.g., cognitive psychology, social psychology, communication studies, and cultural analysis) concerning a particular way to approach organization studies. Central to the sensemaking perspective is the notion that explanations of organizational issues cannot be […]

Source: Organizational Sensemaking – IResearchNet