Skill Level Intermediate
- We live in a VUCA world. VUCA is an acronym coined by the military and now used widely in the private and public sectors. It stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The feeling of VUCA results from our sense that things are moving faster. Things seem more complex, that problems we face are more wicked. All of this is the result of the fact that there are more interconnections. Whether you're raising kids, managing a project at work, or simply trying to get a handle on the nightly news, interconnections make everything, both personal and professional, more VUCA. So why does systems thinking matter? Because while the world is more VUCA, the way we think about the world hasn't caught up yet. The way we tend to think is a technical term I like to call LAMO. Linear, anthropocentric, mechanistic, and ordered. Here is the problem, the world is nonlinear, and it includes feedback and webs of causality. Yet, we think in simplistic, linear, and causal ways. We are not the center of our world, yet we look at things through our human-centered lens. The world is adaptive and organic. Yet, we think it works like a machine. The world is networked and complex with a sprinkling of randomness, yet we think of things in ordered, static, categories, and hierarchies. Our thinking is biased in ways that don't match up with the way the world actually works. We project this bias onto the world, and often ignore the important feedback the world's giving us, leading to results that we do not like. The crux of systems thinking is to learn new ways of thinking that are in alignment with the real world and yield better solutions, better innovations and better results. I'm Derek Cabrera. I teach systems thinking at Cornell University, and I'm Chief Science Officer at Plectica, where we develop systems mapping tools. Join me to learn how to use these powerful ideas to be more effective personally and professionally.