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The Learning Organization - Systems Thinking

             Specifics to a Learning Organization.
             Characteristics of systems thinkers.
             Individually and within organizations.
             VI. Conclusion to systems thinking.
             For many, including myself, systems thinking is a relatively new concept that began in 1956 when J.W. Foster at MIT began to apply the knowledge he gained from his work in electromechanical research towards management of corporate environments. Today the world is very complex and getting more so with increasing technological inventions and innovations. Systems Thinking is fast becoming a powerful tool for decision making and organizational change. The words "systems thinking" mean many things to many people. A system can be defined as a collection of parts or factors that maintains its existence through interaction with each other in a specific order to function as a whole. The human body is a good example. Systems have input, processes, outputs and outcomes, with ongoing feedback among these various parts. Removing one part of the system changes the nature of the system. The systems thinking approach differs from the traditional forms of analysis that focuses on the separation of individual pieces being studied. Systems thinking in contrast, is the ability to understand the pieces as a whole and appreciate the consequences of actions on other parts of the system. Instead of just thinking how A causes B, systems thinking uses a circle to consider the ways in which B influences A. The systems thinking discipline has often been viewed as the foundation of a Learning Organization upon which the four other disciplines function. Systems thinking being the primary focus, this paper will further review some of the tools and barriers associated with systems thinking along with various characteristics that make it an essential discipline.
             Systems" thinking does not come without barriers. In fact, it is the most difficult of the five disciplines within a learning organization.

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