Problem solving and systems thinking LO20039

Leo Minnigh (
Mon, 30 Nov 1998 16:42:09 +0100 (MET)

Dear LO-ers,

In nearly every contribution to this list, 'creativity','problem solving'
and 'systems thinking' are frequently used terms.

My experience is that a lot of persons are attracted to 'problem solving'.
Sometimes I have the feeling that people are searching for the 'golden
formula' to solve problems.

But there are still so much persons who don't know what 'systems thinking'

The popularity of problem solving (PS) on one side and the mystery around
systems thinking (ST) on the other side, has probably to do with the fact
that we are tought from youth to recognise differences and anomalies (the

I was looking for a simple example to explain the difference between PS
and ST. The example I found has hardly words, but a lot of 'feeling'. I
will share with you this example and like to know if this could be an
elegant method of explaining and teaching ST.

We all know the set of nearly simmilar cartoons, where we have to find the
six differences. This example symbolises PS.

Now, consider the following three pictures: a rose, a large building (like
the Empire state b.) and a lamppost in a street. Three completely
different illustrations. The question is: look for the simmilarities.

This excercise forces one immediately to lift the mind towards higher
abstract levels. The answers I have received when testing this example
(but any example may work) are also delightful in their creativity.

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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