The world we live in is incredibly complex, and it’s not always easy to predict how different factors may interact and affect one another. However, by embracing systems thinking, we can gain a better understanding of these complex systems and make more informed decisions over time. This approach involves taking a holistic view of the systems we are working with, considering all the interconnected factors that contribute to their functioning. In this blog post, I will share two examples of how systems thinking can be applied, as outlined in Donella Meadows’ book, “Thinking in Systems “.
How ‘Thinking in Systems’ Can Help You Solve Complex Problems
At times, we become so consumed with our individual experiences that we can get stuck in a bubble. It can be challenging to step outside and take a comprehensive view, but doing so is crucial to understanding how all the different factors fit together and influence one another. This is why I like a book called ‘thinking in system’ by Donella Meadows, which explores the concept of systems thinking and its applications in various fields.
Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing ‘patterns of change’ rather than ‘static snapshots’.
Applying System Thinking to Personal life
A personal example is about improving our well-being during challenging times. A high-stress job is impacting our ability to sleep and exercise regularly, which is also making it harder for us to stick to a healthy diet. By applying systems thinking to personal health, we can identify the interconnected factors impacting our health, such as stress, diet, and sleep. By taking a holistic approach, such as avoiding screen time before bedtime, doing more yoga, or following a sleeping-aid program such as mindfulness meditation, make time for our exercise routines. Those small, sustainable changes can help us improve our overall well-being.
‘We can’t impose our will on a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.’.
Applying System Thinking to Business Strategy
You may expect an example of cloud-native innovation by applying thinking in systems in this post too. The most convincing example is cost optimization. Imagine a company looking into optimizing its cloud infrastructure for cost efficiency. For example, they may discover that some applications require more CPU and memory resources than others, leading to unnecessary costs for their cloud infrastructure overall.
To address this, they could implement containerization using Docker and Kubernetes for better resource utilization. For some applications, they may be better off leveraging auto-scaling capabilities for some applications to automatically adjust resource allocation based on application demand. To achieve this, they could leverage serverless computing, such as Azure Functions or AWS Lambda etc.
“Let’s face it, the universe is messy. It is nonlinear, turbulent, and chaotic. It is dynamic. It spends its time in transient behavior on its way to somewhere else, not in mathematically neat equilibria. It self-organizes and evolves. It creates diversity, not uniformity. That’s what makes the world interesting, that’s what makes it beautiful, and that’s what makes it work.”
By applying systems thinking, everyone can find a holistic approach to identify interconnected factors and achieve better performance.
This book is called Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows which involves understanding how different components of a complex system interact with one another and how changes in one component can have ripple effects throughout the entire system. You can purchase this book from here or listen to the audible audiobook here.