Introduction to range of tools/methods that support systems thinking and systemic design in practice 5. Wicked Problems Systems Thinking is trying to solve. Humans do this, too. This is a common pattern of a CAS: After applying a fix, the problem disappears but pops up again later. It's called a superorganism, a bunch of individual organisms that act like a single organism. But most of us have never seen the real thing. One where the interactions … Here are a few examples of complex things that have relatively simple rules underneath. At the basis of any emergent behaviour of a CAS, each agent follows a simple set of rules. The problem is, we distrust it. Each time, it follows the same laws of physics. According to Bar-Yam [19 1. On the other hand, Systems Thinking provides the insight that if we succeed to identify the agents and their simple rules, we will be able to find a successful scaled Scrum implementation. Let’s call them CAS (complex adaptive systems theories), and it will be mostly Cynefin plus relevant background theories that have informed it. Systems thinking is a complex adaptive system. If your brain was rendered incapable of any one of them, it would have difficulty thinking about even the most basic things. He knows that to achieve the outcome Daniel-san desires, his student will need to be able to adapt to the unpredictable future of bullying, fights, and competition. When we think in systems with our old mindset, we think like a field commander perched on a hill trying to design and control the complex behavior we want to occur. 1 min read, 14 Oct 2020 – Understanding the system dynamics is never easy. The longest actual chess game ended in a draw after 269 moves and 20 hours and 15 minutes of play. Thank you Roland for another great and enlightening article. Let me give you an example of what I mean by complex versus complicated. These types of systems are based on simple, local rules. If we drive our car faster, we will be transported faster (limited to the system boundaries of the car itself). When we take a systems thinking v2.0 perspective, we think like individual soldiers and rely on the collective dynamics of the system to emerge. Daniel-san is pissed off and he’s had enough and is going to quit, but he’s about to have his mind blown instead. However, the lead time (time from idea to delivering working software) increases. He is a senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab. So let's get started. Most of us have never seen the Mona Lisa, a Picasso, a Van Gogh, or a Michelangelo. Consider a flock of birds. Scrum is a CASSimple rules and agents lead to collective dynamics and emergent behaviour. Figure 2.17 illustrates the basic idea behind all complex systems—that simple rules and agents lead to collective behavior and emergence. Using Complex Adaptive Systems Thinking to Understand Community Interdependencies. Focusing on the short term system response creates a fake sense of control. Let’s revisit the idea that systems thinking, at its core, posits that the problems we face—the wicked problems we’d most like to resolve—are most often attributable to the mismatch between the way real-world systems work and the way we think they work. How? Simple rules underlie complex systems. If we greet a colleague every morning with a … Take a look at the flocking behavior of what amounts to millions of starlings. Leaders apply a change to a CAS because they want to fix a problem. One of the most important insights about DSRP is that it represents four cognitive functions that you must have just to form ideas. In 1947, Ole got samples of a plastic brick invented and patented (“self locking building bricks”) by Mr. Hilary “Harry” Fisher Page in Britain, and began creating the automatic binding bricks which we know today as Lego Bricks, a name that originated in 1953. The result was a low degree of team gel, a high degree of distrust and a company that had problems retaining its employees. CAS is a class of systems whose macroscopic behavior emerges from self-organized local interactions of their elements, such as actors … Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Complex adaptive systems (CAS), to reiterate, are systems composed of many individual parts or agents in which patterns can emerges as a result of agents deploying “simple rules” from the “bottom‐up” without external control—CAS are “self‐organizing” systems. In this episode, I want to explore Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). But we sure do go bonkers when we see the beautiful biodiversity these four nucleotides can produce when mixed and matched by evolutionary processes. If we greet a colleague every morning with a happy “good morning!”, the same person might respond differently, depending on her mood, how busy she is, or merely the anticipation of the same stimulus. At one of my customers, I observed a junior Scrum Master for some time. The term complex adaptive systems, or complexity science, is often used to describe the loosely organized academic field that has grown up around the study of such systems.Complexity science is not a single theory—it encompasses more than one theoretical framework and is highly interdisciplinary, seeking the answers to some fundamental questions about living, adaptable, changeable systems. When we think of someone intelligent, we think of someone who speaks in complicated ways, not someone who keeps things simple. For a brief introduction to Conway's Game of Life, watch below. In other words, the goal of their intervention is to change the behaviour of the CAS. Simplicity exists in many places in our everyday lives. Kick it again and it circles away. Systems thinking is a broad paradigm concerned with inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries (Williams and Hummelbrunner, 2011). These four simple rules combine in an infinite number of ways to develop Daniel-san as an adaptive, robust, and resilient fighter. When we face wicked problems, we don’t think to ourselves the answer is simple. PrepTalks. The systems thinker is not so different. In Systems Thinking, we observe different types of systems. These collective dynamics produce emergent complexity (things like adaptivity, robustness, etc.). As one American diplomat recently reflected: “from climate change to the coronavirus, complex adaptive systems thinking … Kick a rock over and over again and it doesn’t change its behavior. In other words, when we ask ourselves how we can become better systems thinkers it is important to realize that systems thinking is an emergent property. At another customer, it was common management practice to swap around Scrum team members to solve team (performance) problems. Organizations aren't just organizations—they're complex adaptive systems. If systems thinking is an emergent property, then those aspiring to be better systems thinkers must focus their efforts where they have influence: executing the simple rules. We'll further explain how they function dynamically as rules in the next chapter. Culture follows structure and leaders define structure, however, the impact of decisions taken by leadership is weakened by the powerful system dynamics. Complex Adaptive Systems and Agent-Based Modeling proved to be a potent combination of paradigms to address … We use the term “Complex Adaptive Systems” (CAS) for complex systems. Systems thinking is a complex adaptive system. If we focus on what systems thinking is we will have little hope of actually achieving it. Note that Wicked Problems are Complex Adaptive Systems too: they behave differently when repeating the same stimulus. Complex adaptive systems thinking emerged in the 1980s. These types of systems–seen across the physical, natural and social sciences in flocks, schools of fish, traffic patterns, ant colonies and across the spectrum of nature land human society–baffled scientists because it was unclear how the group behavior occurred in the absence of a leader. What makes them special is that they interact together in a complex way that makes an infinite array of colors possible. Complex adaptive systems thinking (CAST) is a different approach to analysis that takes into account the features and elements of a system, how they work together and how they influence each other. systems thinking approach to better deal with complex situations in health, environment, education, etc. We don’t think of simplicity as a good thing. There are many different interaction types… Living organisms are complex adaptive systems which undergo emergent modifications, some of which persist through generations to increase the overall strength of the species. The mental model they need is that underneath complex things are simple rules. Let’s take a look at a video online to illustrate this as there’s simply no way to experience it in writing. 2 min read,  Copright 2020 Cabrera Research Lab            Privacy Policy             Legal Stuff, Systems Thinking Is A Complex Adaptive System (CAS), How to Make Difficult Problems Easier to Solve with Systems Thinking. When the number of items in the sprint is lowered to an insane minimum, the team morale goes up. Perspectives Rule: Any thing or idea can be the point or the view of a perspective. 6 min read, 12 Oct 2020 – Instead we must focus on the simple rules and agents that bring about systems thinking. Of course I don’t mean literally go kick a dog; it’s a thought experiment. The longest game of chess that is theoretically possible involves 5,949 moves. © 2020 Roland Flemm made with by Studio nulelfzeven. Logos for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, International … I will challenge the status quo constantly because I want to grow.” The emergent behaviour of these companies as a whole will be very different. Complexity science belongs to the latest generation systems thinking, studying complex systems [], also called Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS), by focusing on the relations and interconnections of the system … Look at how quickly millions of birds pivot from all moving left to all moving right. To increase speed, management adds more Scrum teams. When you influence the flock by frightening the birds, they will change direction, but the emergent behaviour to fly as a group will not change. Systems thinking and complex adaptive systems theories share a number of components, namely emergence, self-organization, and hierarchies of interacting systems. Complex adaptive systems thinking is an approach that challenges simple cause and effect assumptions, and instead sees healthcare and other systems as a dynamic process. 3. Derek Cabrera (Ph.D., Cornell) is an internationally known systems scientist and serves on the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems mapping and is Program Director for the Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). So systems thinking must be a form of thinking that is somehow qualitatively better at helping us build our mental models. Opposed to static systems, complex systems behave differently under different stimuli. A thing or idea can simultaneously be a distinct thing, a perspective, a part of a larger whole and a relationship. 2. The largest human wave consists of 80,000 people acting as a single superorganism with no leadership, all following one simple rule: do what the person to your left does: when they stand, you stand. Underlying all of the complex and adaptive biodiversity of life itself is simplicity. The longer-term effects that are also triggered by the intervention are not perceived to be related. Rule 1: maintain distance x (locally to nearest neighbors); Rule 2: adjust direction (locally to nearest neighbors); and. There are 1.7 x 1029 possibilities for the first 10 moves. As the last one (LP) is very known by the scientific community, it is not presented at this section but in the next. I noticed that whenever there was a problem with a team, he responded by explaining Scrum and started drawing posters. Otherwise, it's just plain old thinking, with all its sundry biases and issues. There is no central leadership in a CAS. Because of four simple colors—Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, or CMYK. The system usually behaves differently than expected. 4. If we focus on what systems thinking is we will have little hope of actually achieving it. Ole’s 1958 Lego patent (#3005282) states, “the principle object of the invention is to provide for a vast variety of combinations of the bricks for making toy structures of many different kinds and shapes.” And that was the magic of Lego—vast variety from simplicity. Simplicity can be lucrative. Although there is central management in companies, research shows (Hackmanin his book: Leading Teams and this article) that the effect of leaders on the performance of organisations is limited. The karate sensei understands the fundamental movements that combine to produce all karate moves. However, if we understand what are the relevant parts and how they interact in the system, we can change the simple rules of interaction underpinning the complex behaviour and the emergent behaviour of the whole system will change permanently. Implementing value-driven metrics is a good example of effective leadership decision taken at the autonomous agent level. Understanding that Scrum is a CAS helps me to stop fast thinking and move to slow thinking to better understand the counter-intuitive actions that are required to fix Scrum problems sustainably. With all these systems as examples, it shouldn't be hard to imagine that something as adaptive and complex as systems thinking could also be predicated upon simple rules. To prepare him for such an unpredictable future, rather than teaching him a laundry list of moves, Mr. Miagi focuses on the simple underlying fundamentals that can be combined and recombined: wax on-wax off, paint the fence, side to side, and sand the floor. How do you look at a star-nosed mole rat or a seahorse or a giraffe or a platypus and not think: nature is really creative and has an amazing sense of humor. Great leaders understand that their organisation is a CAS. People knew that if the manager invited you “to have a coffee”, this probably meant you were either fired or moved to another team. Looking forward to the next one! What were they following? The long term behaviour of the system remains unchanged. Today Lego, with headquarters in Billund, Denmark, is the sixth largest toy company in the world, with over 5,000 employees and revenue of 7.8 billion Danish Kroner. They know that when they try to steer the system on its emergent behaviour, the effects of the steering is unpredictable. Ideal future vs evolutionary potential of the present. Dr. Macal explains that complex adaptive systems are networks of dynamic interactions and that emergency managers need to be “systems thinkers” to be more effective. These effects are mostly unexpected and undesired. Thinking of them this way, says Nathan Rosenberg, founding partner of management consulting firm Insigniam, … Remarkable. Systems Concepts Complex Adaptive Systems - 19 The Kellogg Foundation Systems Methods Glenda Eoyang revised May 2004 Evaluation Practice geoyang@hsdinstitute.org 1. Systems thinking is not a process but an outcome—it is an ends, not a means. We've discovered that once people understand that simplicity underlies complexity, deep understanding and success in systems thinking v2.0 is a breeze. In fact, we delay the point (aka the setpoint) where the system tips from one type of behaviour into another. The process of systems thinking results in a product: mental models. Mr. Miagi is not only a Karate-master, he is also a master teacher. Posted on March 11, 2018 May 26, 2018 Author sonjablignaut Categories Complexity and adaptive leadership Tags complex adaptive systems, complexity I have been re-reading the work of Prof Paul Cilliers, who truly was a pioneer in complexity thinking. It is based on the recognition that the world’s human and natural systems are non-linear, characterised by complex … Dr. Charles “Chick” Macal. When an intervention is not applied at the system level (we changed simple rules inside a part of a system and not at the systemic level), the system changes only temporary. Humans are complex adaptive systems, which means that applying the same stimuli on the system will yield different emergent behaviour. In a single team Scrum implementation, agents are the Scrum team members following a set of simple rules (the Scrum guide), generating collective dynamics (Scrum practices like using a Scrum board, having the Scrum events,…) that leads to complex emergent properties like self-organisation and problem-solving. In other words, systems thinking is about building mental models that better align with real-world systems than those created under a non-systems thinking approach. In addition, thinking itself is a complex system, if not the most complex system known to mankind. What we know about complex systems is that underlying their complexity are simple rules. Complexity thinking is increasingly being embraced in healthcare, which is often described as a complex adaptive system (CAS). Basics of systems thinking 3. The dog is a complex adaptive systems (or CAS), in that it adapts its behavior to better navigate its environment. A few have been lucky enough to see them in person at the Louvre or other famous places. All kids could unleash their creativity on the world with simple, modular, relational blocks. In the next chapter, you will see that—like bird flocks, biodiversity, karate sensei, or grandmasters—all systems thinking is predicated on simple rules. More than two decades of research went into discovering that there are four simple rules that underlie systems thinking which go by the acronym "DSRP:". As a Scrum Master in my servant-leader role, I am in the perfect space to trigger systemic changes because I master the simple rules of the system (the Scrum guide) and work at the agent level (team members) of the Complex Adaptive System (Scrum). Maybe you recognise some of these dynamics: When we understand that Scrum is a CAS, then scaled Scrum is a CAS too. Wicked problems are deemed so for a reason: the systems that lead to them are complex, which means that they are harder to build mental models of and to understand. Not really. There’s a relatively simple formula for these complex adaptive systems: autonomous agents follow simple rules based on what’s happening locally around them, the collective dynamics of which lead to the emergence of the complex behavior we see. In one of our favorite scenes from The Karate Kid, Daniel-san has asked Mr. Miagi to teach him karate and all he seems to be doing is hard labor and household chores around Mr. Miagi’s property. If we analyse and optimise its parts, it is unlikely the performance of the whole system will improve. 22 Nov 2020 – The agents act locally: everybody focuses on his neighbour. A large, … The qualities, disposition, and skills that make up a systems thinker rely on a deep understanding of a simple set of rules. Humans are complex adaptive systems, which means that applying the same stimuli on the system will yield different emergent behaviour. I observe many times how people apply the same fix to solve a reoccurring problem. Systems thinking tells us to look at the system as a whole, and not to analyse its parts. The focus on Complex Adaptive Systems is closely identified with this notion of changes in behavior over time, which relates to an important aspect of dynamic complexity: evolving complexity. In this section, the concepts and techniques involved in the proposed conceptual scientific model are presented and discussed. When they sit, you sit. Yet we are all familiar with (and could describe) the Mona Lisa. Surprisingly, it isn’t the simple rules themselves, which are actually remarkably easy to grasp. Instead, it is that many people hold the false assumption that underneath complex things are complicated explanations. The behavior of the rock is complicated but not complex; it doesn’t adapt its behavior. A complex adaptive systems (CAS) approach means stepping away from reductionist thinking and accepting that within a social-ecological system, several connections are occurring at the same time … Over the past decade, Cabrera has applied her expertise in research methods and translational research to increase public understanding, practical application, and dissemination of sophisticated systems science and systems thinking models. We seek to integrate these … Let's review the basic logic of the situation: Complexity theory tells us to look for the simple rules that underlie the complex and adaptive human behavior that we know as “thinking.” So what are the simple rules that underlie both the complex systems that make up the world and the way we think about those systems? 1) A quest for certainty? Distinctions Rule: Any idea or thing can be distinguished from the other ideas or things it is with; Systems Rule: Any idea or thing can be split into parts or lumped into a whole; Relationships Rule: Any idea or thing can relate to other things or ideas; and. To perform the wave in a stadium, every person gets up, raises arms in the air and sits down again. She is also a senior researcher at the Cabrera Research Lab. There are static systems like cars and complex systems like people for instance. As we have given talks and trainings throughout the world to diverse audiences, we have discovered one big barrier that impedes understanding systems thinking v2.0. Y. Bar-Yam, Dynamics of Complex Systems, New England Complex System Institute, Cambridge, Mass, USA, 2003… The seemingly simple moves of chess combine into staggering mathematical possibilities. The reason we can't solve world hunger is because we don't have a mental model that accounts for the social, economic, political, motivational, and cultural issues that shape the problem. It is revered as a complex game, causing us to bestow grandmasters with the title of genius, yet it is a game a child can learn to play at an early age. For example, there are 318 billion possible ways to play the first four moves. For example, a wicked problem might be world hunger, yet there is enough food to feed the world (2640 kcal/person/day of per capita food availability), so this issue is resolvable. It turns out there were no leaders, only followers. Someday we will develop this mental model and world hunger will no longer be a wicked problem. This set of simple rules creates emergent behaviour. During the course of this conflict with Mr. Miagi, he realizes he has been taught four simple movements that underlie all of the strikes, kicks, and blocks that make up karate. In ways that are conditioned by current and previous interactions The behaviour of a dynamically-complex adaptive system emerges from the interactions between the parts of the system. Increasing the pressure on the team to attain a certain Sprint velocity leads to complexity inflation of story-points (pokering 5 points complexity for what used to be 3 points). Systems thinking is an important way of approaching complex phenomena today. Your email address will not be published. After some time, the team concluded that “Scrum was not working” and wanted to abandon Scrum: The repeated “fix” resulted in an undesired side effect. Main features of complex adaptive systems theory. Now try the same experiment on a dog. The next four pages provide a quick description for each of these four concepts as well as synonyms you will be familiar with. Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species wrote, “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” He only had an inkling of what we would later discover to be the hand of DNA, but his mindset was one of simplicity and complexity. Applying CAS to healthcare as an explanatory model for … Social-ecological systems (SES) are complex adaptive systems (CAS). These four rules do not operate in isolation, but in parallel. For example, systems-as-cause and closed loop thinking allow members to better understand causality and change that is not linear and always predictable (Richmond, 2000). In the upcoming Systems Thinking episode I will talk about the human CAS and our learning capabilities being one of our emergent properties. Built on autonomous agents following simple local rules, chess’s potential for complexity is immense. When scientists first began studying such systems we thought they must have exceptionally good leaders! We now know that underlying complex adaptive systems are simple rules. Your email address will not be published. Scaling is a larger system that encapsulates local operating Scrum teams. On the third kick the dog bites. In my previous episodes of this series on Systems Thinking, I elaborated on what systems Thinking is and on the Wicked Problems Systems Thinking is trying to solve. Looking at Scrum from the CAS perspective made me truly understand why “Scrum is simple to understand but difficult to master”. They followed simple rules that brought about this remarkable, adaptive, and complex behavior. A complex adaptive system is a system that is complex in that it is a dynamic network of interactions, but the behavior of the ensemble may not be predictable according to the behavior of the components.It is adaptive … The birds at the bottom of the column are following rules one and two and have no idea that rule three (avoid predators) was followed above. Conway developedConway's Game of Life, a cellular automata that animated complex adaptive systems for generations of people. These mental models are representations, approximations, guesses, hypotheses, biases, or predictions about the real world. What then causes this behavior? These techniques are the Complex Adaptive System (CAS), Analytic Network Process (ANP), and Linear Programming (LP). For the last 2,500 years, our mindset has been that underneath complex systems there are probably layers and layers of complicated subsystems. Strange? Iain Couzin, who studies collective animal behavior at Princeton University, did a simulation to show exactly what rules these flocks were following and found just three: In the video you can actually see the simple rules perturb through the system as predatory hawks attempt to catch the birds. Our post today is about complex adaptive systems (CAS), in memory of English mathematician and systems thinker John Conway who died on April 11, 2020 due to COVID-19. Complex adaptive systems in healthcare organizations Complexity science belongs to newest systems thinking, which explore complex systems, also called CAS, by focusing on the system … Compare it to another company where the employees say: “I work here because I am the best and that is what I expect from my teammates too. Anything imaginable could be built. RIP, Excerpt from the book: Systems Thinking Made Simple, Chapter 2. Complex adaptive systems: a different way of thinking about health care systems This paper, authored by Beverly Sibthorpe, Nicholas Glasgow and Duncan Longstaff for the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute provides a brief synopsis of literature relevant to CAS and health care systems. Systemic thinking, planning, action and leadership must now be mainstreamed – individually, organisationally, societally, across public, private and charity sectors. The problems that need to be fixed to adopt scaling are very context-sensitive, there is no one size fits all: Systems Thinkers understand it is impossible to prescribe a scaling approach as a set of best practices that will work anywhere. The solution requires a deeper understanding of the varied systems that contribute to world hunger, and that can be difficult, but it is not the case that we need to transgress the laws of physics in order to solve the problem of world hunger. All syste… There is a set of simple rules executed by all or most of the agents of the system. With just 6 unique pieces (sixteen total per side) and a simple set of local rules, perhaps nothing captures the complexity-simplicity paradigm better than chess. Distinctions in the Systems Thinking Landscape The field of systems thinking … Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter, founded Lego in 1932. New: Effective Servant Leadership Training. Complex adaptive systems thinking is an approach that challenges simple cause and effect assumptions, and instead sees healthcare and other systems as a dynamic process. Instead we must focus on the simple rules and agents that bring about systems thinking. 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