Systems Thinking – Understanding The Onion, Understanding Our World Today

DEVELOPED BY SHEILA DAMODARAN

Thinking the system requires the use of a very different kind of lens.

Well, let me put it this way.

When we want to see the details beyond what our eyes are able to see, we would use eyeglasses or magnifying lenses and for finer details the microscope. And when we want to zoom in out into the vast areas of our outer spaces, we use the telescope. Yes?

Still, all of the above examples use one basic technology and that is “to zoom” in. Then again, I sometimes, do wonder, that in all of our years of ‘zooming in’ or ‘drilling down’ or ‘unpacking root causes’ that these experiences have caused us to lose our inherent capacities to “zoom-out”.

What would the experience of ‘zooming out’ look like?

Take a look at this clip here and notice your experience. What do you see?

Notice there is always a bigger pattern from within which an object which caught our eye is a part of, yet, the bigger pattern stayed out of our view till we stepped back far enough.

That right there, is exactly what an experience of seeing the forest through the trees would look like.

Now, you may ask, why would ‘zooming out’ be important for us? Why is it as important to see the forest as much as we see the tree?

Nothing exists without a reason. And when an issue persists and resists our efforts to change or resolve it, it is always a part of a larger set of inter-locking (reinforcing) causalities that have assumed a recurring quality. Without a way for us to “zoom-out” from our fields of view, it will not be possible to identify these underlying structures.

What technology could we use so that when we zoom out to see how what we are experiencing is part of something else that is larger than what we see right in front of our eyes?

The experience of the onion here (see below) and the system archetypes are the ‘zoom out’ technologies that we use in strategy development in the working spaces of a Learning Organization. There are in my view technologies that allow us to do that for us. More will be discussed on our programmes.

The Systemic Onion - A way to understand Dynamic Complexity
Uncovered & Tested by Ms Sheila Damodaran, since 2002
First Global Presentation @ Pegasus Conference 2006
Updated 2018, 2019

[BL]     [StS]     [Esc]     [StB]     [FtB]     [DG]     [G&U]     [LtG]     [ToC]     [AA]     [RL]

 

KEY SUCCESS LOOPS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Key Success Loop 1: HUMAN & HUMAN INTERRELATIONS

  • SDG 4: Quality Education
  • (THE BLIND SPOT: SYNERGY OF CORE INTACT FAMILIES, SYNERGY OF COMMUNITIES)

Key Success Loop 2: HUMAN & NATURE INTERRELATIONS

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy
  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 14: Life Below Water
  • SDG 15: Life On Land
  • (THE BLIND SPOT: LIFE OF THE AIR)

Key Success Loop 3: HUMAN & ECONOMY INTERRELATIONS

  • SDG 1: No Poverty
  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • (THE BLIND SPOT: SYNERGISTIC MATRIX-ED VALUE CHAINS FOR THE REGION & WITH THE WORLD)

Key Success Loop 4: HUMAN & WORLD INTERRELATIONS

  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
  • (THE BLIND SPOT: SYNERGISTIC RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE WORLD)

 

Videos of Interest To Watch:

  1. What does seeing the forest and the trees mean
  2. When The People Speaks …. A Systems Story in our Lives as Family
  3. When Nature Speaks … Seeing the Forest. Literally
  4. When the Economy Speaks … The Value of Systems Thinking at the Work Place