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The Future of System thinking: Critical Review

By Sana Ullah Khan Reg No: 0921195

The main purpose of the research paper is to predict the future and possible application of system thinking that can applied as a solutions to different problems. The author criticized the mentality of living around the Wall his own discipline by ignoring surrounding environment. As Isolated knowledge generated by individual or group of specialists in a specific field does not contain value in itself. This can be made meaningful only when it is synthesizes with the rest of existing knowledge. The author advocated the Case of System thinking in very intellectual and appealing way using examples and evidences from todays world problems and failure of solutions to those problems. The author also pointed out the mean threat to System Thinking approach traditional and obsolete academical bureaucracy which are moving into the 21st century with 20th-century thinking and 19th-century institutions. This study pointed out that private interests like military & industrial enterprises, influential secret weapon laboratories, universities with military research grants, elitist expert groups trying to control nuclear proliferation, and of course personal patents rights are the basic causes of resistance from scientific community and academicals bureaucracy. The author wants to say behind his lines and ideas that our academics and education system should be based on System thinking approach instead of Technology. That s Why? He stressed to include System thinking from now because we will have to cover a long long journey of evolution. This study opposes the ideas of 16th-century Frances Bacon's on the extraction of maximum benefit from nature. The author predicted great economic collapse and environment disasters in the coming half century. The world is now facing severe

economic collapse starting from US to third world countries. Failure stories of big tycoon like Lehman Brothers are becoming a part of the history. Todays world also witnessed huge environmental catastrophe in the shape of tsunami, earthquakes, Katrina and floods due to environment exploitation due to short term insights and benefits. Although the author criticizes on the construction on Aswan Dam on River Neil but on the other hand there were also some adverse effects for not constructing that project like Floods and resources wastage etc.

The author uses terminology of various disciplines in system thinking Context in very interesting and best fit manner, like using second Law of thermodynamic for Short sightedness and short-range solutions which is risky and highly uneconomical having Second order effects like exhaust gases from motor vehicles and

industrialization have become primary problems influencing the global climate. On other hand, this is also the negative point of author while using/preferring unfamiliar terminologies borrowing from other disciplines for the sack of understanding and ignoring own law of System thinking i.e. The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.

The main drawback in this research work is that the author cited many examples of failed systems due to myopic view and narrow thinking, which was solution of previous problems but the author failed to present a single success story due to system thinking, which has given comprehensive and long lost solution to problems in all aspects. That success story might help the researchers to further improve their work.

We have not been very effective in sharing what we have to offer because we have failed to truly appreciate the essence of System Dynamics. We, in the System Dynamics community, have something very powerful to offer to our increasingly troubled world, that is way of thinking, doing, and being that can help the planet's citizenry to achieve a more promising longer-term future. Understanding what Systems Thinking "is not" will help us to more fully appreciate what its essence is. Nor is it to say that we should not celebrate the synergies, or avail ourselves of cross-fertilization opportunities, where these occur. What I do want to say is that we have something in what I will define as Systems Thinking that is quite unique, quite powerful, and quite broadly useful as a way of thinking and learning.

Forrester sees Systems Thinking as a small subset of System Dynamics. interview which appeared in the McKinsey Quarterly. In that interview, he stated that Systems Thinking will get you " less than 5 percent of the way towards a genuine understanding of systems. The other 95 percent lies in the rigorous System Dynamics-driven structuring of models and in the simulations based on these models" (McKinsey, 1992). Systems Thinking is the art and science of making reliable inferences about behavior by developing an increasingly deep understanding of underlying structure. Systems Thinking filter what they see using three thinking skills: System as Cause Thinking, Closed-loop Thinking and Operational Thinking.
But I will argue that it is precisely the failure to appreciate the critical importance of this third thinking skill (operational thinking) that is causing many in the field to unwittingly dilute the essence of what we have to offer.

Extra. Systems Thinking Examples of areas in which systems thinking can be helpful include: Complex problems that involve helping many actors see the "big picture" and not just their part of it Recurring problems or those that have been made worse by past attempts to fix them Issues where an action affects (or is affected by) the environment surrounding the issue, either the natural environment or the competitive environment Problems whose solutions are not obvious

A Partial List of the Laws of Systems Thinking Today's problems come from yesterday's "solutions" The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back Behaviour grows better before it grows worse The easy way out usually leads back in The cure can be worse than the disease Small changes can produce big results - but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious There is no blame

Critical Reviews of Journal Articles

Herbert T. Coutts University of Alberta A critical review of a journal article is an evaluation of an article's strengths, weaknesses and validity. It is used to inform readers of an article's value through explanation, interpretation and analysis. The reviewer must present information that will allow the reader to make a value judgment about the article. Good reviews convey the content of the article, the author's approach to the subject, and the author's conclusions; the best reviews avoid a point-by-point listing of themes in favor of a more integrated approach. Good reviews place the work in the context of its field and give a sense of the work's significance. Good reviews present a balanced analysis of the article's strengths and weaknesses and illustrate those points with examples. Good reviews are written in a clear and lively style. Style is not easy to define, but the best reviews illustrate that elusive quality which makes their piece both interesting and engaging. Guidelines and Questions to be Considered 1. Reviews should begin with a full bibliographic citation (author, title of journal article, name of journal, volume, issue, date of publication, pages). 2. Is there any biographical information about the author given? What are the author's qualifications and authority? 3. Who is the intended audience? 4. Define the general problem area. What does the author intend to discuss? Why? 5. Does the author try to build on past research? 6. What is the objective or purpose of the research? Is this clearly stated? 7. Does the author define any terms? Are the definitions specific, useful, circular? 8. What is the effect of the author's language? Is the vocabulary and sentence structure appropriate? Does the author maintain neutrality in his/her choice of words and terms or are they emotionally charged or biased? 9. Are references given (footnotes or bibliography)? What is the size of the reference section? Are the references recent, important? How are the references used: for support, rebuttal, etc.? 10. If the article is a report of a research study, does the author clearly state what is expected to happen? What is the sample for the study and how is it selected? Does the author discuss factors or variables that may affect the research? Are the methods for measuring results clearly explained and appropriate? Does the expected result occur? 11. Are illustrations, tables or graphs used? Do they complement the text? Are they the best method to present data, or are they unnecessary? 12. What are the author's major findings and conclusions? Have these been supported by the author's analyses, arguments, findings or evidence? Has the author overlooked anything? 13. Is the article referred to by anyone else? (Check the Social Sciences Citation Index for this information.) How is the article used by other authors: background, support, rebuttal, etc.? 14. Does the author accomplish her/his objective? Does the author do what she/he has set out to do? 15. Does the author suggest areas for further research or discussion? The guidelines and questions listed above are suggestions that should be considered when writing a critical review of an article. Not all of the questions or guidelines will be appropriate for every article and depend upon the purpose of the review.

Peer review
Look for the positives and the strength of the text as well as the weaknesses. It is usually a good thing to start off on a positive note. Try to give creative criticism instead of just negative criticism e.g. instead of just stating that the introduction is unclear try and give pointers to how it could be improved. If something appears unclear to you, state how you interpret what the author means and ask if this is the correct interpretation. What to look for

Does the text, according to you, meet the specifications of the assignment? Does the organization of the text make sense or would it be clearer with another way of organizing the sections or the paragraphs within the sections.

Is it easy to differentiate between the opinions of the author and what are the opinions of others? Does the author refer to two or more relevant papers?

Are there areas that you would like to know more about or see expanded in the text?

Are there areas that are off topic or could be cut down?

Writing a Critical Review

What is a critical review? A critical review is a review of an article that combines a summary and a critical comment. Why are you asked to write a critical review? Students in the Australian School of Business are required to write critical reviews in some of your courses to enable you to demonstrate that you can: read to understand the main points in an article analyse the findings or argument of the article decide the appropriate criteria by which to evaluate the article provide a critical evaluation of the article based on the criteria selected.

The ability to read critically is not only important in academic study, it is also important in business because critical abilities enable practitioners to keep up to date and adjust to change; to assess and comment on problems and proposed solutions published in professional literature; and to evaluate and comment on solutions proposed in the workplace. What steps should you take in summarising an article? 1. Take a quick overview of the article by reading the title the abstract the introduction the subheadings the conclusion 2. Read the article without taking notes in order to gain an overall idea of its aim and main idea. 3. Read the article again analytically and make notes of main ideas and main topic. Highlight important ideas. Make brief notes in the margin or on paper. 4. Check your notes to ensure that they include: the main aim of the article, e.g. to analyse, explain, evaluate, argue, citicise, discuss opposing views the methodological approach, e.g. empirical research, financial analysis, textual analysis the main findings/conclusions 5. Use your notes to write a summary 6. In your summary ensure that you have paraphrased not plagiarised the authors' words and used quotations sparingly. What is involved in commenting critically on an article? Commenting critically on an article involves analysis and evaluation. Analysis of the article involves dissecting the information presented in order to identify the purpose, the main points, the methodology and the findings or conclusions of the article (This is done in the initial summarising step). In addition, analysis for critical comment involves identifying: 1. unstated assumptions 2. steps in the argument that are not logical 3. any additional purposes of the article that are not explicitly stated. Evaluation of the article involves making judgments about the value (both positive and negative) of the article against specific criteria. What criteria can be used for evaluating an article? The following criteria are useful; however, not all of them will be relevant for evaluating all articles: the timeliness of the article the degree to which the article makes an original contribution the logic of the view put forward the validity of the evidence put forward

the theoretical framework used Is the framework valid? Has the framework been applied appropriately? the methodology used Is the methodology appropriate? Is the methodological approach explained clearly? Does the methodological approach have any weaknesses? Is the study sufficiently comprehensive and thorough? Is anything important omitted in the research? the findings Are the findings presented and described clearly and fully? Do the findings seem sound? Could the data be interpreted in another way? Do/does the author(s) account for everything in the data or do they ignore something that might be important? the validity of the conclusions the thoroughness with which the article treats the topic its value compared to that of other articles on the topic the appropriateness of the article for the intended audience the extent to which it might satisfy the specific needs of a specific user. What is the structure of a critical review? Like most other writing you do at university a critical review has an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Introduction In the introduction you should: provide a context for the article (background information or shared knowledge) give the title of the article and name of author (full name is possible here with subsequent references to the family name only) identify the writer by profession or importance if appropriate include some indication as to why the subject is important and thus worth writing about identify the purpose of the article give an indication of your overall impression of the article in general terms. Body In the body you should: summarise and analyse the contents of the article make clear by frequent reference to the author(s) of the article that you are presenting the author(s) views, not yours evaluate the article. The following is a suggested structure: an analytical summary of main findings/arguments/conclusions of article strengths/usefulness of article weaknesses/limitations/problems of the article especially for your purposes (Or you might put these together so that each paragraph includes all four.) Conclusion In the conclusion you should: summarise the previous discussion make a final judgement on the value of the article comment on the future of the issue/topic or implications of the view expressed.

critical review: gives correct information about the author, date and article in the introduction summarises the purpose and main idea of the article in the introduction shows evidence of analytical thinking in the summary section evaluates the article against a number of criteria provides a final evaluation indicating the balance that is seen to exist between the strengths and weaknesses of the article makes sufficient reference to the author of the article makes appropriate use of reporting verbs makes appropriate use of summarising vocabulary - words that sum up the ideas in previous sentences and paragraphs makes appropriate use of evaluation vocabulary provides clear transitions between paragraphs that are helpful in guiding the reader through the review provides full bibliographical details of the article at the end of the review.

This assignment consists of three parts: summary, critique, and suggestions. 1. First, summarize the design and findings of the study in about 200 words. 2. Then, analyze and critique the following three aspects of the study: a. Statement of the problem and the research question(s); b. Methods, including data collection and sampling methods; c. Authors analysis of results, conclusions, and interpretations. 3. Finally, briefly suggest how the problems identified in your analysis could have been resolved or minimized. If you were conducting the study, what would you do differently (including starting over from scratch)? This section should be brief; do not write a research proposal. How convincing an authors conclusions are will depend on soundness and adequacy of methodology, logic of the argument(s) the author uses, and quality and nature of the data. But how convincing you find the authors conclusions and interpretations will also depend on your views, knowledge, and experience. For example, you may be more readily convinced of conclusions based on modeling or cross-cultural comparisons than of conclusions based on ethnographic fieldwork.


Forrester, Jay W., (1961) Industrial Dynamics, Productivity Press. Barry Richmond (1994) System Dynamics/Systems Thinking: Let's Just Get On With It. International Systems Dynamics

Lars Skyttner (1998) The Future of Systems Thinking Systemic Practice and Action Research Volume 11, Number 2, 193-205. . .pdf