What skills do I need to master to become a better systems thinker?
Review: This month’s focus on systems thinking was anchored by a simple model we use titled LIST: Learning, Interdependent Parts, Sensemaking, and Temperament. LIST encapsulates the key skills necessary to make systems thinking an integral part of your leadership. Ensuring that all of the moving parts of an organization are functioning well and in harmony with one another is the key to success. The challenge is to identify the parts that aren’t functioning properly, understand their context within the system, and pursue a solution that is sustainable. By using LIST as a model, you can capitalize on proven strategies each time you employ systems thinking.
Reflect: Learning is a key aspect of systems thinking because it develops the capacity of those in the organization to understand the complexities of situations without being overwhelmed by complications. As Einstien said, “you cannot solve problems by using the same thinking we used when creating them.” By embracing the L of list, Learning, you set yourself up for success by embodying the belief that self-growth leads to organizational growth. One result of this type of learning culture is the ability to gain perspective. Systems thinkers refer to this as “zooming.” Zooming in and out of situations helps to gain perspective to learn about and to uncover solutions to a problem within the system.
As a leader, are you able to step back from problems to see the big picture in order to focus on the right solution?How do I learn those skills…
What should I read to continually learn and grow if I want to be a systems thinker?
Review: In our #readthisseries we featured the work of authors who we have found to demonstrate the LIST spirit. The three books we featured are:
The Power of Small by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem
The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
You can’t miss our #readthisseries on systems thinking. Watch it again here.
Reflect: Am I willing to learn and grow as a leader? Do I have a high functioning, transparent team, connected to all of the moving parts of the organization? As the leader, are you able to understand the context of situations? If not, are you humble enough to elicit the help of those who are? Lastly, what is your temperament like? Worry, fear, anger, frustration are all emotions that need to be kept at bay to achieve perspective and to continually develop yourself and others.
Great leaders know that organizations are complex and when one part of the machine is not working the entire system can malfunction. Using LIST allows leaders to remain keenly aware of the system as a whole and to establish that all aspects of the system are aligned and functioning smoothly.Who should I follow…
What does an expert have to say about systems thinking?
Review: For our #onethingseries, we interviewed Ted Fujimoto, President of Landmark Consulting Group, Inc., a management and investment consultancy for scaling innovations in learning. Ted helped to design and create the replication of systems and strategies for several of the largest scalable, fastest growing, highest performing public school designs in the country that created over 350 schools, including Big Picture Learning and New Tech Network. Big Picture Learning public schools are located in some of the toughest urban areas in America, are graduating over 95% of their students with nearly 100% of them being accepted to college. Ted’s philosophy on systems can be summed up easily with, “freshwater fish can’t survive in saltwater tanks!”
Reflect: Are all systems aligned and functioning optimally? Are there environmental factors that are causing problems that they people wouldn’t otherwise have?That’s our #review&reflect for Systems Thinking. Take a look back to take a step forward. TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster. Please let us know how our leadership posts are working for you, what you are reading to improve yourself, and your thoughts on leadership and growth here on our blog and Twitter. You can also follow our #onethingseries podcast on iTunes and our #readthisseries on YouTube. Joe & T.J.