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Systemness is not systematicness

In systems engineering, which uses system thinking as the primary method of thinking, it is emphasized that it is simultaneously systemic and systematic.

Systemity in science and engineering is usually understood as adherence to a systemic approach – a special fundamental/transdisciplinary (external in relation to any applied subject discipline, but deeply penetrating into the thinking of this applied/subject discipline) set of types/concepts/ideas and their relationships that directs the engineer's attention to the main things to think about first for successful world change: "system," "system level," "messiness," etc.

Systematicness is something else entirely. It is simply an honest formal (non-substantive) consistent attention to what should have been paid attention to. If you do not allow any objects to be missed in attention and action, which should be touched on 'formally' (i.e. regardless of content), then you are systematic. Any method discipline (in all senses of the word - both subject-related and administrative, "following the algorithm of actions with objects of the subject area") needs to be respected, systematicness is about that. It is necessary to honestly/systematically perform all difficult mental maneuvers, systematically/without omissions perform the recommended reasoning to be confident in getting the result. And if it also involves actions in the physical world, you need to honestly carry out those as well.

If you need to fill in every cell of a 10*10 table, you need to focus, gather yourself – and systematically (i.e. completely without omissions, neatly and without mistakes, in the specified order) fill it in. This is not systemic, but it is systematic. It is meticulous and time-consuming. Systematicness does not imply systemity. You can systematically check off each item on an absolutely non-systematic instruction list, and carry out all its absurd prescriptions, not missing a single item, and bringing it to completion, but there will be no systemity in that, meaning there will be no use of concepts of a systemic approach.

Systemity is about the content of thinking, about concepts of systemic thinking. It is the content of a checklist determined by a systemic approach, and which needs to be checked with your thinking – pay attention to the concepts of a systemic approach. Systemity is about finding the system of interest among all systems, finding the supra system, finding the enabling system, and even a whole chain of enabling systems. If you do it absolutely unsystematically, but chaotically – you are still systematic!

Systematicness is about documentation and objects of the surrounding world, in other words, about making sure that no points from any (possibly completely non-systemic) checklist are missed, all planned work is completed, and the results of these works are documented.

Systematicness immediately implies a huge amount of all kinds of (both substantively necessary and substantively unnecessary, although this "substantively unnecessary" work to engineers may be "administratively necessary" to some bureaucrats from the neighboring organizational system) mental work, all of which needs to be documented. Systematicness implies diving into certain details with the persistence of a maniac. Systemity increases the likelihood that this is important work (you work with important objects that are the focus of a systemic approach), rather than a mix of important and unnecessary work (you work with random objects, some of which turn out to be important). Systemity and systematicness, nonetheless, go hand in hand, they are in balance[1].

The importance of systematicness applies not only to the method of systemic thinking. Systematicness is needed for any activities. A person engaged in systemic fitness based on somatomexic[2], can 'know in their head' as much as they want about how to build a luxurious and mobile body for themselves. But if they do not systematically follow the prescribed method of "five approaches in an exercise for 30 seconds each," equally systematically not defining beforehand which part of their body is the most problematic so that these five approaches bring irreversible benefits, this does not mean that they are practicing systemic fitness as an engineering method/practice. They might even be systemic (using systemic approach and somatomexic concepts in their thinking), but not systematic: they would be neglecting important actions in thinking and important actions in the physical world. To achieve results in projects of any kind, both systemity and systematicness are needed. Simultaneously. Discipline of thinking and discipline of action. To check what is prescribed by systemic thinking - work with the object types prescribed by systemic thinking (systemity), check everything prescribed by the work methods without omissions (systematicness).


  1. https://incoseuk.org/Normal_Files/WhatIs/Systems_Engineering, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327073164_Envisioning_Systems_Engineering_as_a_Transdisciplinary_Venture ↩︎

  2. Text chain "Systemic Fitness", https://ailev.livejournal.com/1429126.html, in 2021 systemic fitness as an engineering method was reformulated based on the concepts of somatomexic, because the foundation of fitness as bodily engineering lies in (physics understood) mechanics - including statics and dynamics - of soma (the human body, perceived from inside by the human themselves, not by an external observer). ↩︎