THREE APPROACHES TO THE INPUT PAPER
by Enrique G. Herrscher (Argentina)
- Construction of bridges between System Thinking and System Dynamics
System Thinking (ST), fathered by L. von Bertalanffy, and System Dynamics (SD), fathered by J. Forrester, seem two babies born in the Fifties in different clinics, but now that they are grown up, they became friends and learned to work together. Both are in a mature stage, when usefulness to society has become a crucial concern. Precisely, the synergy of ST’s insight and SD’s practicality can do much to apply our knowledge to alleviate dramatic problems mankind is facing. Some examples and perspectives are provided in this direction, sspecially for the Latin American context.
- The praise of contradiction
Would the world be a better one without contradictions? A static world ruled by uniformity in lieu of variety’s dynamics and diversity’s richness? Whether we like it or not, contradictions abound. As systemist, I prefer them to the alternative, but acknowledge the problems and costs of complexity: two sides of the coin, with frequent conflict between the two. A meta contradiction, as John van Gigch would say. Some thought - provoking instances: Edgar Morin’s “dialogic between simple and complex”; the (politically relevant) tension between the parts and the whole; the dilemma (relevant to observers and researchers) between neutrality and compromise; the balance (critical for economists) between individual interest and the common good; plus key issues relevant to management, administration and business systems, such as performance – structure; short term – long term; efficiency – effectiveness; focus – wide angle; stability – change. In all these, remember Safford Beer’s dictum: “ At the metalevel, any two contradictories are one thing, because they choose the same distinction from the void”.
- The systems approach to good and bad business
For someone who all his life has advised and taught business, whether companies contribute to the common good, or produce more damage than social benefit, is possibly the Nr. 1 question. Obviously it is not a “yes or no” issue, nor can it be handled merely by talking (or even acting) about Social Responsibility. A systemic approach starts by observing differences in behavior and management styles; then uncovering the underlying design, including size and ownership; and concluding with the different types, ways, interactions and consequences of growth.