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
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.
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.”
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 […]