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Gharrajedaghi, Jamshid

Systems thinking: a case for second-order-learning


The learning organization Vol 14, no 6, 2007 473-479

This is an incredible article; it needs to be rerea several times

473
In order for change to take place, unlearning must occur Gharrajedaghi 473

Def. of systems thinking and analytical thinking “...analytical thinking, the science
of dealing with independent sets of variables, to systems thinking, the art, and
science of handling independent set of variables.” Gharrajedaghi 473

the same core system of values produces the same problems and the same non-
solutions
change requires second order learning and huge cultural change

consider the potential of systems thinking with classical rhetorical training


was it systems thinking? especially since it incorporated physical training?

474
review/locate Living systems theories (open systems are self-organizing and show
a tendency to move toward a predefined order)

Ghara has argued in 2006 article that something must know in order to self-
organize

“The shared image of the desired future provides default values for all decisions
and stands at the center of the process of change. That is why experience with
social transformation is fraught with frustration. The triumphant resurgence of old
patterns of behavior despite the concerted efforts of change agents is an
uninterrupted saga of despair. What seems to make this stubborn insurgency so
overpowering is the fact that the set of organizing principles (cultural codes) that
make the system to behave the way it does are implicit and in most cases are
considered sacred.
The set of implicit, sacred cultural codes or organizing principles responsible
for regenerating the existing order is what I metaphorically refer to as “second-
order-machine.” Second-order-machine is equivalent to the notion of attractor in
Chaos Theory. To produce a change in behavioral pattern of a social system its
second order machine need to be dismantled and the attractor in action to be
redesigned (sic). Otherwise, the existing order will outlive the temporary effects
of any interventions.” Def. of systems thinking and analytical thinking
“...analytical thinking, the science of dealing with independent sets of variables,
to systems thinking, the art, and science of handling independent set of
variables.” Gharrajedaghi 474

Self-reference is an obstruction to development; existing images don't allow the


evolving process to fully take place.
475
“In a more familiar context, consider education and/or healthcare system where
peer evaluations and strong self-referential values have produced a dominant
closed culture that keep (sic) reproducing the existing order despite numerous
calls for reform.”

analytical thinking centered on independent variables


476
Ackoff's systems methodology/ Interactive design—find it

“Analytical thinking assumes that understanding structure is sufficient to


understand a system. For synthetic thinking function is the key for seeing the
whole. The dynamic thinkers on the other hand, looks (sic) to the process, the
how question, for the necessary answer to define the whole. It is my contention
that structure, function, process represent three apects of the same thing and
with the containing environment form a complementary set. Together they define
the whole or make the understanding of the whole possible. Structure defines
components and their relationships; function defines the outcomes; and finally,
process explicitly defines the sequence and dynamic interactinos of activities that
produce the outcome.” Gharrajedaghi 476

477
the spiral process of context function structure process context GRAPHIC