Systems Thinking and Personality Types LO22598

Thu, 9 Sep 1999 16:21:54 +530

Replying to LO22570 --

"Max Schupbach" <> wrote:

> I for one would like to hear more about what difference the
> vocabulary of 'soft systems thinking' makes to the study of
> personality, in your view.

When I mentioned 'soft systems thinking' in this context, I thought the
topic might not be related to the discussion. But later on, I find that
many of the recent contributors have shared ideas very close to what I had
in mind. May I quote two examples from the recent messages:

Winfreid Dressler: The violin is not about getting all the music into the
four strings, but to get all the music out of those four strings. A violin
is not an end but a source of music.

J.C. Lelie: ... the three baseball umpires, who were debating when a ball,
thrown by a pitcher, was in or out. The first said: "I calls them as I
sees them." The second said: "I calls them as they are." And the third
added: "They aint nothing until I calls them."

Also At's message on one to many and many to one.

Essentially, soft systems thinking deals with the situation which seems to
demand a 'many to one' reduction but where (due to some reason) it becomes
well nigh impossible to achieve such a reduction using scientific means.
For example, consider dealing with the task of reducing all the ideas
about what needs to be done to improve a practical situation within a
group environment. Essentially, soft systems thinking argues for
identifying a (small) number of alternative candidate ideas (Checkland's
'root definitions') which are by no means the reduction of the many ideas
available, but simply the anchors to stabilise the debate about the
alternative courses of action. To use the violin metaphor, these are like
the strings from which the music of the subsequent debate emanates.

The study of personality types becomes soft-systems-oriented when the
types identified are not treated as reductions of some variation, but
rather treated as the sources of some new variations. For example, Russell
Ackoff in his recent monograph on the subject of personality types
suggests that he has found that when one individual is instructed to
behave AS IF he belongs to some personality type (say t1) and another is
instructed to behave AS IF he belongs to some other personality type (say
t2), then their ensuing interaction is very much along predictable lines.

This can have some use for organisations too. If a certain type of
interaction pattern is desired in an organisation, one way to achieve it
might be to instruct the participants to behave AS IF they belong to some
personality types. A new difficulty arises when the participants become so
used to the instruction that they forget their originality and start to
believe that they actually belong to the type. It should not matter in
the everyday course of events unless a new type of interaction pattern
suddenly becomes desirable. This is when one needs to remind the
participant that it was only a game after all!

Sorry for the length of this message.



"DP DASH" <>

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