‘If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.’ - Larry Dixon
Systems thinking explores how the world is interconnected and interdependent, with an action somewhere having an influence elsewhere. Peter Senge, an MIT Professor, is a renowned expert.
In 2015, Senge was working with Google, and together they estimated that 20 per cent of the world's energy is spent powering our gadgets. This is more than we use to power our homes, and it is growing rapidly. The wealthy and middle class are driving the use of this power, and they are having a profound impact on the poor.
There are 150 million dehydrated people in Northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Access to water is one of the biggest problems in the world, and it continues to worsen. A little fewer than a billion people have access to reliable drinking water.
Sadly, Senge believes our ability to understand how interdependent we all are has decreased as we have become more interconnected. As humans, we have a bias to see the world the way we wish or understand how to perceive.
We may mean well, but sometimes we are not understood, or worse, misunderstood. It has happened to all of us. Often, our intent can be good and honourable, but it can create conflict nonetheless.
The preface in Finding A Better Way is a focus and explanation of systems thinking and the potential benefit. Senge believes that in our busy modern lives, we don't step back often enough. As I begin this series of blogs that break out the book, you are encouraged to step back and consider;
To be mindful of the factors that may influence your perspective. How might your beliefs and values inform the way you see a situation?
How are you contributing to and influencing a situation?
Can you consider broader and more diverse perspectives to see a situation in a different way?
Who is not being acknowledged and heard, and how might they see the situation?
When considering other perspectives, how might your assumptions be tested?
This line of questioning is incredibly important, as it serves to better inform your decisions and actions. Many personal conflicts are simply due to people's different realities.
Senge believes when we are grounded and curious, we are humble, and collectively everyone benefits.