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Essay Systemic Prose

Essay Systemic Prose

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Published by Fabian Szulanski
How to express systems thinking related concepts in a jargon free way
How to express systems thinking related concepts in a jargon free way

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Published by: Fabian Szulanski on Dec 01, 2010
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01/16/2013

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ESSAY: SYSTEMS THINKING ENABLING PROSE
Fabián Szulanski, DirectorSystem Dynamics CentreInstituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires
fabiansz@hotmail.comPURPOSE AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
 The author expects that sensibilization of system dynamicists possessingdifferent expertise levels through this essay, prompting them to de-jargonand use simple phrases and questions that enable systems thinking, it willbe a point of departure for a much comprehensive and larger collectivework that will engross a conceptual portfolio, together with examples foreach additional concept, that will serve as a leverage to make systemsthinking available for the ‘base of the pyramid’, (people unaware of theexistence and usefulness of Systems Thinking) who are the vast majority of the world population.
INTRODUCTION
It is known that being able to think systemically contributes to strengthenthe decision making process of people of all ages.On the one hand several authors say (especially Prof Jay W Forrester), it isconvenient to provide systems thinking capabilities from an early age, andcontinue until the end and beyond the academic and professional learningprocess.On the other hand, typical visual and conceptual tools from systemsthinking constitute strong barriers of entry to learning systems thinking,which can even frustrate the novice wanting to initiate her learning processof the systems approach, at every stage of the learner’s evolution. The author of the present essay proposes, and makes the first step, theintroduction of a portfolio of key phrases and words that should beencouraged to be used in everyday communication situations, that willenable and sensitize systems thinking concurrently.Phrases and words should be adapted to each learning stage and level of expertise.
 
PROPOSED TAXONOMY 
 The following concepts and ideas are proposed by the author, as a point of departure
Causality
Direction
Intensity
Polarity
Feedback Delays
Information delays
Material Delays
NonlinearitiesDynamics
Sense of variation
Intensity
 Trajectory Shape
Structure
Feedback Loop
Stock
FlowFollowing this taxonomy, some “communication molecules” will bepresented for each category.
 
COMMUNICATION MOLECULES
Causality
Affects or is affected by – influences or is influenced – impacts or isimpacted – provokes or is provoked by
Direction
: The former impacts the latter
Intensity 
: It can take the binary concepts of strongly and weakly, orfuzzy concepts such as very weakly, weakly, fairly strongly, a lot, intensely,very intensely.Polarity: When this variable increases, the other decreases - Whenthis decreases, the other increases- When this increases, the otherincreases as well – when this decreases, the other decreases as well. Bothchange in the same direction – The two vary in opposite directions -Bothincrease – Both decrease.
Feedback 
 That information is useful for deciding / designing… - It is necessary to knowabout that variable for…
Delays
After a certain time – Everything takes time to accomplish – Nothinghappens instantaneously – First that will happen, then the other process willstart
Information delay: We decide based on our perceptions – Forming our opinions take time- We make decisions filtering information from the realworld – We observe, we plan, we expect, we fear, we report… all thosefilters take their time to build up – Everything depends on what lenses do you use – It takes some time to be aware.Material delay:
 Take care of your strategic resources – Avoid rapiddepletion – Try to make your resources last longer.
Nonlinearities
Isn’t proportional – This subtle action has a profound impact in – Changingthat persons attitude will take an enormous and long effort – When certainthreshold is trespassed, an effect starts to build up.

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