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Seeing Systems....

“All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” ~The Buddha

Seeing systems requires curiosity, clarity, compassion, choice, and courage. Let's discuss why systems thinking is a critical leadership habit.


Systems thinking often involves moving from observing events or data, to identifying patterns of behavior overtime, to surfacing the underlying structures that drive those events and patterns. To be a systems thinker we must ask different question and hear all perspectives using active listening skills.


“Yet we act as if simple cause and effect is at work. We push to find the one simple reason things have gone wrong. We look for the one action, or the one person, that created this mess. As soon as we find someone to blame, we act as if we’ve solved the problem.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

Opening up to realize we may be wrong is a good place to start. When we think we solved the problem, ask yourself 'how can I be wrong?'


“Dangers lurk in all systems. Systems incorporate the unexamined beliefs of their creators. Adopt a system, accept its beliefs, and you help strengthen the resistance to change” ~Frank Herbert

Opening up to realize my limiting beliefs may need to be examined. Here too we need to ask ourselves and others; How can we be wrong?


As you read these quotes, what's coming to your mind? Is there a way you can open up as a leader to ask yourself more questions, hear all the different perspectives and be a systems thinker?


“Listening to both sides of a story will convince you that there is more to a story than both sides.” ~ Frank Tyger

Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.” ~Edward de Bono

“If you do not understand your role in the problem, it is difficult to be part of the solution.” ~ David Peter Stroh

“Learn how to see. Learn how to see that everything connects to everything else.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci

Want to read more on these habits of the mind, check out an interesting book Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston

or check out her fun video: https://youtu.be/s0F6z8ISLDQ



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