A set of gears held together by human hands

The ‘Bigger Hammer’ approach is simplistic thinking that blithefully assumes that more of the same, just increasing intensity or scale, will work. It is a prime example of Linear Thinking, the polar opposite of Systemic Thinking, and usually ignores concealed complexities and supposes a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship.

Systemic Thinking sees and expects a complicated world, with many convoluted interrelationships, hidden feedback loops (often with time delays) and interdependences that can lead to unintended consequences from interventions. Linear Thinking tends to focus on symptoms, things have one cause and assume one solution will work. Systemic Thinking focuses on root causes, believes outcomes are multi-determined (have multiple causes) and a multi-disciplinary approach is best. Linear Thinking is a static snapshot in time, Systemic Thinking is a movie, showing patterns of change and linkages over time. Unfortunately, all too often, Linear Thinking is Magical Thinking.

Two Maxims of Systems Thinking

Every organization is perfectly aligned to produce the results that it does.

The quickest way out of a complex situation is usually the fastest way back in.

Closing Quotes:

“In complex systems, cause and effect are often distant in time and space.” – Jay Forrester, 1918-2016

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956

“A system is more than the sum of its parts; it is the product of their interactions.” – Russell Ackoff, 1919-2009

“All things are connected. What happens anywhere affects what happens everywhere else.” – Chief Seattle, b. circa 1780-86, died 1866

“If you do not understand the system, even the best solution becomes the source of a new problem. Reality is made up of circles, but we see straight lines” – Peter Senge, b. 1947, Fifth Discipline

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier