Systems Practitioner 1: Why Systems Thinking


Despite many efforts to deal with the various complex issues facing our societies, plans and problem solutions are seldom long lasting, because we, as individuals, and our leaders are most likely to fall into the trap of using traditional linear thinking. It is natural and easy, but does not usually deliver long-term solutions in the context of highly complex modern communities.

There is an urgent need for innovative ways of thinking and a fresh approach to dealing with the unprecedented and complex challenges facing our world.

We are surrounded by systems, and are, indeed, a part of systems. Humans are not, however, in the habit of either seeing this or of thinking systemically.

Even when we can see that ‘something is wrong with the system’, we tend to analyse the problem by breaking the system down to smaller and smaller parts looking for that which is faulty, until we begin to lose sight of the interactions between all the elements

This type of thinking is a logical consequence of the sheer difficulty of observing and interpreting the actions and reactions of people or things synthetically (or holistically).

That is, it is mentally easier to break a thing down to inspect individual components than to study the component and its relationship to other components simultaneously.

Linear thinking might be satisfactory if you are deciding where to build a house if there are no councils and no environmental regulations.

And powering modern economies would be easy if we could burn oil and coal without consequence.

But these activities, like all activities, have consequences.

Additionally, humans instinctively understand the importance of systems and their parts. What we do not instinctively do in society at large is to regularly solve problems by considering the whole system, tending to focus instead on the part that appears to be malfunctioning.

Thus, governments attempt to control obesity by encouraging exercise or influencing food choices without also considering food culture, city planning, pet ownership, economic pressures, advertising, agriculture, human nature, serving portions, convenience, the availability of time for food preparation or other health issues that inhibit activity. Or they try to save endangered species by establishing national parks with porous boundaries which are already full of feral animals.

The lack of systemic management and cross-sectoral communication and collaboration are not new problems. There are seminars, retreats and courses that
focus on finding solutions and entire books have been written on these problems. However, little has been done that is new or has proved able to both overcome the barrier to communication caused by the differing mental models of the world and to devise systemic management strategies towards complex problems.

In addition, governments and business institutions are under pressure to make the right investment decisions in the face of a continually changing world.

Policy makers, managers and leaders today are expected to deliver innovative solutions to cope with increasing change and uncertainty.

In order to govern our complex society towards resilient technical, economic and social developments there is an urgent need to step outside our collective ‘comfort zone’ and to develop new ways of thinking and acting in the interest of our future.

It is essential for current and future managers and leaders, and any citizen of our society, to be equipped with new ways of thinking (systems thinking) to deal with complex problems in a systemic, integrated and collaborative fashion. That is, working together in identifying and dealing with root causes of issues rather than focusing on short-term fixes.

Systems Practitioner Course Introduction

Until now our inability to effectively deal with ever-increasing globally complex environments sees our world abound with failed projects and programs. The waste and opportunity cost is staggering at the local, regional, national and global level. In this respect, it is striking how wedded our international community is to linear approaches when dealing with complex issues. Our willingness to repeat the same mistakes and our unwillingness to embrace a more systemic approach was strongly evident until recently.

Fortunately, the world has moved on and today there is growing acceptance that current tools and processes, whilst important, are not sufficient for dealing with complexity. Complex issues – those that exhibit non-linearity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and emergence – those that have multiple stakeholders or may be subject to political influence, require a different approach. Given an assessment of the international community over the past years it appears apparent that systems thinking stands as the single most important contribution we need to embrace and to improve our capacity to better deal with complex issues and as a consequence, help create a better world.

Professor Ockie Bosch and Dr. Nam Nguyen the authors of this course have spent years refining their concepts and applications of systems, moving highly theoretical concepts into practice within specific settings. Through this course, the two professors have put systems thinking into a practical context that will enable anyone to make a difference whether that will be at a local or global level. This course is all about the art of change. It addresses the complex challenges we meet every day. It enables us to draw better maps of the world. It encourages learning not only about the technical world, but more than that about the micro and macro dimensions of political and cultural realities.

We learn about the dynamics that lead to complexity and how to channel them. We learn about the power of context and we learn to reflect on our role in creating a world and our responsibility for the outcome. This book takes us on a learning journey to become the change we want to see in the world. This course is designed to help ‘everyone’ with what is required to deal with complex issues – to start to focus on systems.

The Importance and Challenges of Token Economics

In this panel at the Malta A.I. & Blockchain Summit, token economics is discussed. The panelists are: Sebastian Markowsky – GP Bullhound; Godwin Schembri – KnowMeNow; Wei Zhou – Binance; Sarah Olsen – Gemini; moderated by Olga Finkel – WH Partners;

Olsen discusses the importance of a stable coin and the challenge of regulation.

Schembri talks about security tokens.

Markowsky talks about what type of tokenization is attractive to investors and getting the incentives right. He advocates an interlinked multi-token model for the purpose of utility and security/investment.

Zhou talks about the “Binance Effect,” which he describes as contributing to the perception that a token is premium, since Binance only lists 3% of the tokens that apply. He emphasizes the need for clarity in regulation.

This discussion was part of the Tokenomics & Crypto Conference.

Blockchain 15: Blockchain & Society

Peer-to-peer networked forms of social organization have always been there from the earliest days, however, previously they have remained the domain of the local and the personal as they do not scale well without supporting communications technology.

Throughout the modern era, formal hierarchical social structures came to replace informal communities as the dominant organizational paradigm. It is only in the past decades that we have seen the emergence of a new form of social structure that reverses this process, the social network. With the advent of blockchain technologies, these forms of distributed organization are presented with an opportunity to sustain more and more areas of social life, establishing themselves as a core pillar of a world where peer-to-peer is the way forward.

Blockchain 13: Technology and the Internet of Things

As we move from the technology paradigm of the industrial age characterized by machines and stand-alone mechanical systems, a new class of technology is emerging. Namely, the Internet of Things (IoT), which promises to revolutionize human life at unprecedented levels.

The Internet of Things is a journey we are just beginning. Over the course of the next decade billions of devices will come online. The amount of data the internet has to deal with will grow massively as vast networks of machines continuously communicate with each other, to coordinate production processes, for transport and logistics, for construction, climate control etc.

Coupled with blockchain, IoT could find a bright future in enabling mashes of smart devices to safely navigate the sea of data we produce while achieving a varied of tasks.

The Blockchain/Crypto Path Ahead

Charles Hoskinson, CEO of IOHK/Cardano, speaks about the path ahead for the crypto and decentralized industry on March 14, 2019 as well as the decline of global financial markets.

Hoskinson believes that we can solve the world’s financial problems with open source technology.

He outlines parallel futures whereby we can have truly private, decentralized, financial transactions vs hierarchial, centralized control, such as we are accustomed.

Blockchain 12: Blockchain Economy

As with other areas, the blockchain has the capacity to decentralize economic organization creating distributed peer-to-peer networks for exchange. In so doing, greatly expand the scope and extent of economic markets and finance. And using the blockchain as an infrastructure to expand the opportunities of the global market economy to all is critical to enabling social sustainability through inclusion.

Blockchain 11: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

This video explains the idea of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and talks about the current context surrounding the term.

A decentralized autonomous organization is an organization that is run by rules that are created by their members through a consensus process and then written into a set of contracts that are run via computer code, thus enabling the automated management of a distributed organization.