Senge Perverted LO25401 -Was: congress for systemic management

From: Gavin Ritz (
Date: 10/04/00

Replying to LO25395 --

Hi Steve

There is a structural issue with systems thinking model, the way I
perceive it working.

One develops interacting variables and causal looping that models
something. This then is an estimation of how the systems or organization
works under those parameters (variables) that have been chosen. (Variables
can be brainstormed using Hexagons or Fast break methods-then fitting the
variables to causal looping). Now because of this systems thinking does
not deal with many other issues like structure, cognition, motivation,
accountability, recursitivity, (it can though if one models that, however
not that easy). The four disciplines have been included to try lift
systems thinking into a more wholistic model unfortunately it does not
lift Systems thinking to a wholistic approach like VSM. There is the same
issue with Checklands Soft Systems methodology, both are problem solving
methodologies very effective to a certain degree.

If one imagines the loops in say multiple dimensions taking some of those
disciplines into account then systems thinking might become a model to
model higher complexity.

A good way to understand models or methodologies is see how far into the
future it can see. The further one looks the more a model needs to
abstract i.e. model thoughts on thoughts using higher logic like
bi-conditional variables (that is thoughts that effect thoughts that
effect each other-both ways)

e.g. if I want travel 300 kms it might be best to go by car, however if I
want to go 12000kms it is better to go by plane. It is a matter of
matching the modeling system to what one is trying to achieve.

To date no best model covers all situations. If I want to solve a certain
problem that has only a 1 year time horizon I would use the Kepner-Tregoe
method. If I want to solve a problem at shop floor with a 3 month time
horizon I will use the 5 Y's. If I have a 2-5 year problem I would use SSM
or ST. If I have an accountability or structure problem I would use SST,
if I want to look at recursiveness and take into account the law of
requisite variety I would use VSM. If I had a shop floor problem that
needed a 2 year time horizon I would use TOC. If I wanted to match
environments to viable systems and utilize tensions I would use EKS.

Systems thinking works well up to 5 years and probably this is good enough
for most companies, however large corporations must have much higher
adaptive capabilities and be able to see and adapt at least to a 20 year
time horizon.

I hope this gives clarification on the disciplines and why they are there.


"Swan, Steve R. SETA CONTR" wrote:

> "Whoever wrote this has not understood why Peter Senge wrote his Fifth
> Discipline. The point is - and please correct me if you see it differently
> - that if systems thinking were indeed the basis for the other four
> disciplines, there would be no need for the other four at all."
> My reply.....wrong. There would be a need. Ssytems thinking is a tool for
> assessing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating the
> others....


Gavin Ritz <>

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