The Definition of Systems Thinking from Wikipedia is:
the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish. In organizations, systems consist of people, structures, and processes that work together to make an organization “healthy” or “unhealthy”.
When working with Agile teams, Systems Thinking is an excellent tool to help you diagnose behaviours/issues. An example – despite repeated discussions about the affects of interruptions and the cost of context switching you notice your team members are responding to low priority tech support issues within five minutes of their arrival. This in spite of an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that says low priority items need only be responded to within 48 hrs. You do some research and find that in the past people have received good performance reviews and bonuses based in part on how quickly they responded to support. Further digging reveals that the bonuses were put in place because three years ago support issues where often ignored. You’ve just discovered some of the elements of Systems Thinking. For some time I’ve felt that the Agile community lacked a modern, well-written clear source on Systems Thinking.
Now Scott Fortmann-Roe and Gene Bellinger are working on an e-book and p-book project: Beyond Connecting the Dots. The project will develop an extensive and accessible book on Systems Thinking and System Dynamics. With topics ranging from introductory and conceptual ideas all the way to highly technical modeling details, it will be suitable for beginners as well as advanced readers, especially those who want to develop their skills further.
An especially interesting part of the project is the exciting technology we developed to enable the eBook version to be a “living” book. Models and exercises discussed in the book will be embedded directly in the eBook – allowing you to experiment with the models on the exact same page where you read about them.
We’re really excited by this technology. You can check out a video demo of the technology at:
Help make this a reality and become a supporter at KickStarter.
If five of my readers sign up at least the $25 level I will double my own contribution. If ten of you do, I will triple it. For fifteen I will quadruple my original contribution.
Let’s make this happen!
Image attribution: Gerard79 – http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1008231/
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