CINQ Blog 11/3/19

1: The eight tenets of systems thinking


Multi-finalty consists of the idea that multiple outcomes have the potential to occur even though the inputs that go into the system remain the same. The idea of multi-finality is present within Ukweli Test Strips’ operations. Although the fact that Ukweli’s physical product (test strips) and training and messaging documents are the same, different outcomes are produced from that system. With these inputs, women will be screened for UTIs and preeclampsia, but produces another outcome where CHWs are able to receive a supplemental income

2: Equifinality

Equifinality is when the same outcome is produced in a system despite different inputs being used frequently within that system. This is present in Ukweli’s system when you consider the CHWs and Clinics as inputs in the system. These CHWs and clinics could be very different from one another in terms of culture, location, and ways they conduct their work, but the outcome of screening women is the final outcome produced.

3: Abstraction

The idea of describing a system in more than one dimension, speaking to the interconnections and interdependence of the system. The healthcare system of Sierra Leone that Ukweli operates in can be seen as an abstraction in the system. CHWs, NICs, and other healthworkers all operate in a different dimension of the healthcare system, and carry out different roles to work towards a healthier Sierra Leone.

4: Leverage Points

Leverage points are important points in a system that if altered or removed will create a large impact within the system. The ingredients in NewTrition’s muffins are leverage points within their specific operations, as removal of certain ingredients severely impacts the nutritional values and outcomes of the food they produce.

5: Regulation

The idea that in order for a system to be successful, it requires feedback in multiple aspects of said system to manage the high points and pitfalls of a system. Ukweli Test Strips utilizes multiple data collection methods that oversee how each operation within the project is working. We then utilize the data collection forms to make appropriate changes to certain operations.

6,7,8: Interdependence, Holism, Interdependence

These three systems idea thinkings revolve around the ideas that different parts of the system need to operate together to achieve an end goal, and each part has a specific task to take on that needs to be paired with the tasks of other pieces to effectively operate. For the NewTrition muffins, none of the ingredients used would be as effective alone as opposed to when they’re all baked into one food product, and each of these ingredients bring a unique characteristic to the table that allow the muffins to be effective.

2: Emergence

Emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties or behaviors its parts do not have on their own. This is similar to the idea of differentiation, where a system needs different solutions that work together to create a cohesive solution that the individual parts on their own cannot achieve. Ukweli showcases examples of emergence, as on the surface one would see a test strip that helps detect urinary tract infections and preeclampsia in pregnant women, but there are many parts that go into this end work that do not have this characteristic in of itself but contribute towards this end goal being possible. Ukweli has a multitude of different inputs into the system, such as a distribution manager who delivers strips and trains CHWs through messaging and training protocols, data collection methods to ensure smooth operations, and certified health workers throughout the Bombali district who will be sold the test strips, and many other important factors. On their own, none of these players have the capacity or resources to do carry out Ukweli’s operations. In other words, they do not have the properties or behaviors individually that Ukweli as a whole is able to achieve.

3: Multifinal solution to the Water Hyacinth problem

One solution that our team had discussed to solve the issue of locals being upset over the profiting of water hyacinth that grow in their communities could be to hire willing workers in the communities where the water hyacinth are growing to one day contract situations where they assist the company in harvesting the hyacinth out of the bodies of water and are compensated relative to the amount of water hyacinth returned to the company at the end of their shifts. If the local workers act in accordance with what the company expects of them, then these individuals will be able to continue to make themselves available to the company for hyacinth extraction on daily contracts. Under this proposed solution, this solves the issue of community members being upset over the fact that they are having this profitable product being taken out of their communities with no benefits being transferred to them, and the extra hands helping to harvest this resource allow the company to be more productive. This strategy exhibits multi finality in the context that this system creates a few different outcomes. First, it provides the locals living near the water the opportunity to get paid for work and to be recognized for helping out with things present in their communities. Additionally, an outcome includes increased production of water hyacinth retrieval for the company since there are more people working. Another outcome possibility is that, with more people working to remove water hyacinth, transportation through these waterways could benefit since there will be less water hyacinth that could inhibit travel. Holism is also present in this situation, as the company and the locals working alone could not achieve as much in terms of extracting water hyacinth as if they partner together to get the work done. Additionally, allowing productive, rule following daily contract workers to return for additional work can serve as a form of regulation, as it provides a system of feedback to manage different processes or outcomes within the work that is being done. By setting guidelines that lay out how people can continue to work and be paid, these volunteer workers know exactly what they have to do in order to be productive and continue to be able to work and be paid.

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