What is systems thinking?
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What is systems thinking?

Design Thinkers Podcast #12
Systems thinking

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About this podcast 

In our latest podcast, coach Simon Gough explains what systems thinking is and how it makes design thinking projects more successful.  

Simon Gough is one of our most experienced coaches, and also has wide experience in facilitating, consulting & training clients ranging from governmental bodies to fast-moving consumer goods companies. He also teaches our online Systems Thinking Essentials and in person Systems Thinking Fundamentals courses. In the latest Design Thinkers Podcast, Simon starts by defining what exactly is a system. 

"When we think about something like a car, we have to imagine that there's something which needs all of its parts to work together in order to function. So it's a useful definition, you know, [a system is] a set of kind of parts that have relationships that work together that allow something to function." 

So what is systems thinking? 

Simon says systems thinking is the power to see how systems work together and affect one another. 

"Systems thinking is a way of seeing the whole, in other words, how parts work together in order for us to [have a] better understanding of what will happen if we make a change." 

"So... we start to get this perspective on things, which allows us to see the parts, how they work together, more importantly, and how whole systems kind of interact with each other and fit within each other." 

How systems thinking and design thinking work well together 

Systems thinking therefore allows us to look at what happens if we change something, how it may affect other areas, for the better, or even the worse. So apart from helping come up with more effective solutions, and avoid negative unintended consequences, how else can systems thinking help design thinking?  

"We can kind of increase our toolkit and portfolio of things that we can do... to collaborate better, to get different perspectives from different people to understand exactly what these systems look like, that gives us a really good starting point for design thinking projects and any kind of improvement project."