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#### Don Winton

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Part of it is that we are products of an upbringing that looks at systems the wrong way. We see a system (say four units in larger units-platoons in a company, departments on a ship or whatever) like this:

A+B+C+D= the system.

So we think that if we have the best possible A, the best possible B, C and D, we will have the best possible system. It sounds good, but it is wrong. It ignores a fundamental truth about systems-that systems are not merely collections of components thrown together. Systems are defined more by their interactions (and, of course, the product of all the interactions-the aim) than by their components.

A Venn Diagram is a better picture of a system. With a Venn Diagram you get to see that it's not A+B+C+D, but A+B+C+D+(A intersect B)+(B intersect C)+(C intersect D)...+(A intersect B intersect C intersect D). So it's OK to optimize A, but you have to do it with an appreciation for how it will affect (A intersect B), (A intersect C), (A intersect D), (A intersect B intersect C), (A intersect C intersect D) and (A intersect B intersect C intersect D). If you do NOT understand those interactions and the effect your "optimization" efforts have on them, you have no business whatsoever attempting to optimize, as you stand in danger of actually becoming a disease that will harm, cripple or kill the larger system.

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Those familiar with the Venn diagram will immediately see the truth of this picture. From another of my posts:

There are those that would focus on customer wants so intently they would drive the organization to the brink of extinction. I have seen it before and I see it now. But these are the same folks that see a system as a sum of its parts, whichis not true.

I guess what I am trying to say is that to concentrate on any singular portion of a system without regard to the rest of the components of that system is doomed to failure, with the degree of that failure proportional to the lack of concentration on the balance of the components.

I wrote the words above with the knowledge but without the simplicity of Rip’s model. But upon review, I realize that the Venn diagram is a very good example of system/circular thinking. No singular component of a true system is mutually exclusive, it

**has**to interact with the other components. My statistical training knew they could not be mutually exclusive, but my

**lack**of statistical training kept the Venn model at arms length. Now, I SEE it as well as conceptualize it. Thanks again, Rip.

Define the organization as A, the shareholders as B, the customer as C and the community as D and you will see my point. These are then broken down into smaller Venn diagrams, each optimized with regards to the others, resulting in a better overall system (whole). Similar to an affinity diagram, start at the innermost points and work your way back, or with a Venn, out.

So it's OK to optimize A, but you have to do it with an appreciation for how it will affect (A intersect B), (A intersect C), (A intersect D), (A intersect B intersect C), (A intersect C intersect D) and (A intersect B intersect C intersect D).

Again, a good example of this is the automobile. Try the Venn on your car, and you will see it. Try it on your organization. The truth is out there. Catch it if you can.

If you do NOT understand those interactions and the effect your "optimization" efforts have on them, you have no business whatsoever attempting to optimize, as you stand in danger of actually becoming a disease that will harm, cripple or kill the larger system.

I sincerely hope the above will help us all, including myself, better understand system/circular thinking and avoid the pitfalls of linear thinking.

Comments, anyone.

Just the ramblings of an old wizard warrior.

Regards,

Don