Problem solving and systems thinking LO20058

Bill Braun (
Tue, 01 Dec 1998 18:38:12 -0500

Replying to LO20039 --

>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.

To the extent that we typically refer to observable behaviors as the focal
point for describing a problem, I would say that problem solving is the
effort and actions that take place in an effort to change/reduce/prevent
the observable behaviors.

Systems thinking would asume that if something is observable and/or
measurable, by definition it is a problem symptoms - problems cannot be
directly observed or measured. They can be inferred through the
application of systemic thinking (and related theoretical tools) to data
(i.e., the observed/measured behavior).

If the scrap rate is rising and I want to solve the scrap rate problem,
I'll spend some time on the shop floor. If I want to use systems
thinking, I'll consider all the possible views of the system that may
impact the scrap rate. Causal loop diagraming and system dynamics
modeling would be good tools for that.

Bill Braun


Bill Braun <>

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