Systems Thinking

Part 1: Defining and Providing Examples for 8 Aspects of Systems Thinking:

  1. Interdependence →  how factors (ideas, goals, people, projects) in a relating system all impact each other; pyramid from the bottom up
    1. Ex. 1: A lot of the projects take advantage of the interdependence between people and the “hierarchy” that exists between people
      1. Malnutrition tried to partner with community leaders such as the reverend david because of many people’s interdependence and trust in him and the church
  2. Holism → a system that is viewed as it own entity; as a sum of its parts; looking at the pyramid from the top down/seeing the big picture
    1. Ex. 1: Recycling facility for plastics — the public would just see it as something that takes in waste and produces product, forgets that the facility has many parts (machines, workers, managers, etc)
  3. Multifinality → Multiple unique outcomes resulting from a single initial product/system (win-win situation for all)
    1. Ex. 1: The products that the malnutrition team are making will not only help in the fight against malnutrition, but will help people to learn what exactly kids need to grow up healthy, will provide some labor for the abundance of unemployed people in Sierra Leone, and will help families save money (products like Plumpy nut and Bennimix are much more expensive)
  4. Equifinality → understanding that a goal can be achieved in a variety of ways/ paths
    1. Ex. 1:  PlasTech Ventures and Cloop used to be part of the same team with the same goals, now they are both trying to reach the same goal but through different approaches.
    2. Safemotherhod and Ukweli — both want to end maternal mortality but are going about it and completely different ways
  5. Differentiation → each part of a system has its own specific function
    1. Ex. 1: Malnutrition team breaking up and assigning roles after week 1 in SL
      1. Working on specific parts like Manufacturing, Research, Supply Chain, etc. that interact to run the larger system
  6. Regulation → assessing the system to make sure that it is achieving goals to take corrective action and hold everyone accountable
    1. Ex. 1:  NewTrition checking in with Translators to make sure our interviewing questions are being conveyed and received correctly.
    2. Weekly team meetings — keep us all on track
  7. Abstraction → looking at broad ideas instead of focusing on specific details (zooming out or zooming in)
    1. Ex. 1: Safe Motherhood: trying to inspire grassroot action to work to raise awareness for broader issues through specific mini-stories
  8. Leverage Points → understanding that there are small things that can be done to create a large effect; places in a complex system where a small shift can create big changes
    1. Ex. 1: Recycling Facilities: Gaining a relationship with Vincente Co to open up our network and knowledge
    2. Ex. 2: KJ was the leverage point for the malnutrition team to be able to use the bakery
    3. Ex. 3: Implementing a fine to give birth at home to encourage people to go to the clinic which saves a lot of people’s lives

Emergence is the idea that a system is greater than the total of all its parts. A real life example of this concept given in class include that ability of a bird to fly. The individual parts of a bird cannot fly, however, when combined, a bird is capable of flying.

An example of emergence within the GSIF projects would be PlasTech venture in the Phillipines. Individually, all the parts of their venture (all the different facilities and machines) are unable to accomplish their goal of sustainably recycling plastic waste into useful products. However, when these parts become interconnected and are joined by the right people, they will be able to make a major impact.

Part 2: Hyacinth Removal Issue Solution

Our proposed solution to the hyacinth removal issue would be to hire other community members to collect and process the hyacinth and then bring the product in exhcange for money. The amount that they are paid would be based on the quanitity of hyacinth they gather and process. Thus, they are kept motivated and there is always ample supply. The original 4 workers that were in charge of gathering the hyacinth could now be in charge of distribution/ transportation.

Some Applicable Emergent parts:

  1. Interdependence/Holism/Differentiation:  Each process now depends on the process before it, and the more successful each step is the more the greater system thrives
  2. Regulation:  The community members would be paid on commission. Therefore, they amount of money they get will be based on how much hyacinth they bring in instead of a salary day to day. This will form accountability.
  3. Leverage Points:  A possible leverage point could be to advertise how workers are helping community, environment, and fishermen. Putting this positive spin on the process would create more sales.
  4. Accountability: Each community member is accountable for what they can produce. They would not be paying everyone because that would be impossible
  5. Multifinality:  Community is reaching its goals of improving the hyacinth issue. Additionally, the entreprenuer would be effectively turnign the hyacinth into a useful product while making money, and therefore would be achieving their goals as well.



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