Some thoughts around September 11th LO27265

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 09/24/01

Replying to LO27250 --

Greetings Roy,

Thanks for your thoughts. Making a systems model is one part of the
picture. A systems model learns you that there is no cause without effect,
no effect without an cause and, more important, that the effects can cause
the effects you tried to "uncause". Systems Thinking breeds familiarity
with cycles and making maps.

The next step you also mentioned: mental models. This is the difficult
part. A mental model - for me - is a self-referential map. Not only does
the world consists of cycles of cause and effects, it also "looks the way
it is looked at".

Mental models - and this is one too - are based on assumptions about the
behaviour of others and youself. Everybody has an agenda and ways and
means to reach these goals, desires, visions, ethics. Because we are
limited in capacity, constrained by time and space, complexity of the
world is reduced to a few items, a few thoughts and feelings that we
become aware of. In order to be able to act quickly enough to survive, the
whole process of thinking, feeling and acting is compressed into a few
key-words, matra's, rules, commandlines. These we've mastered, these we
use to judge a situation and when they are 95% right, they are right in
every situations and we do not have to think or improve any more. What's
more, it is important that we do not question these rules, these models,
because then we run the change that we loose our group, our team, our
support. People can not survive alone, so part of the mental model has to
do with compliancy.

Argyris has highlighted the basic assumptions:
 1. we say we have a theory, a mental model (theory espoused: do not unto
others ... )

 2. we act according to any model (theory in use: we sometimes do unto

 3. When we seem not to act according to the theory, the difference is
denied (the others are not the same (devils, wrong), the deeds are not the
deeds we wouldn't do, etc)

 4. the fact that there might be a difference between theory in use and
theory espoused is undiscussable and the fact that it is undiscussable is
also denied. (we're open, we invite dialogue, as long as it is
constructive and respectful of our fundamental believes. We Are Right).

When you try to discuss this, you run the rsik of being evicted.

Have to go now, hope i added some insights,


Roy Greenhalgh wrote:

> This has been lying in my draft tray for 3 or 4 days as I have thought
> about what is happening. Rick's posting today and John Dicus's posting
> seems to be a reasonable trigger to put my thoughts here.
> Roy Greenhalgh
> .......
> At last year's Systems Thinking conference in San Diego, Prof. John
> Sterman invited us to try and adopt a simple mental model ...when you
> listen to the news, try and construct a simple causal loop from the events
> you hear.

With kind regards - met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Lelie

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan) LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development mind@work est. 1998 - Group Resolution Process Support Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 -

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