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Mantra of Systems Thinking

Traditionally, the question arises: should we start with roles right away? After all, we wrote that people find it difficult to think about behavior, that is, they find it difficult to think about functions/practices/cultures/methods of work. It seems that's why we should first talk about roles (that seems easier), and then discuss their methods of work (which is harder)! But "roles first, then what they do" turns out to be incorrect in projects. Roles appear in reasoning much later, and we will repeat this once again (this sequence of thinking needs to be repeated, repeated, repeated not only in the course but also in life: this is the "mantra of systemic thinking"):

  • What needs to be changed in the environment of the system-of-interest. First, it is necessary to understand what changes in the environment of the system-of-interest are needed. So, if we remove the system-of-interest from the world, break it--what will everyone cry about? If they don't notice, then immediately stop the project of creating and developing the system, it is not needed, it does not change anything in the surrounding world at the moment of its use (the excuse that its creators will not get paid is not valid. They are not bringing irreversible benefit to the creation of the system, the world will not change for the better from the creation of the system, so the creators of a system that does not change the environment should not be paid, unless out of charity. If this is not an obvious and conscious act of charity, then the demand for resources by the creators for unnecessary work is impudence and fraud).
  • In what way/method do we change the environment of the system-of-interest. Then it is necessary to choose a method by which the system changes this world, the function/method of the system's operation. This is an examination of the behavior that should occur at the moment of using the system with some role objects, in order for changes in the environment to occur, as defined in the previous point. Here different calculations related to the moment of use are involved (what flows at the moment of use, what energy is needed, how much time it will take, etc.).
  • What is the role of the system-of-interest. And only here can you state what name is culturally accepted for systems-of-interest that perform similar functions--state the role of the system-of-interest. The role of the system-of-interest only at this stage!
  • What will we use to make the system-of-interest. Then you need to choose affordances for the system-of-interest (and since systems have many system levels, this often boils down to choosing affordances for well-identified subsystems). This is an inventive task, pure creativity.
  • By what means do we make the system-of-interest. Then you need to understand by what means to work with these constructs/materials so that the system-of-interest can function normally. Should welding, training, laser cutting, team formation be used?
  • What is the role of the creator. After identifying what needs to be done and how to do it, you need to ask about the role of the creator who will work with the constructive affordances, ultimately turning them into a functioning/used system. Choose a culturally conditioned name for the role of the creator, consult a tutorial for the agent (or at least articles, posts by specialists on role work methods) who will be the constructive affordance for the role. The role of the creator only at this step!
  • Who/what will be the creator. Only after that, you take the constructs for potential creators (people, equipment, AI agents, organizations) and choose from them affordances/suitable options that will be able to perform the roles from the previous step. Because you always have to be wary of choosing a pastry chef from skilled cobblers.

Of course, following these steps does not happen like a "waterfall," which always falls downwards and never involves going back. No, at each step, guesses are made, criticized, experiments are conducted with them (ordinary knowledge process!), and in case these guesses are refuted, you have to go back to the previous steps, often even to the very beginning: understanding why the system being created and developed is needed in the first place. But the logical sequence of steps is as written. Of course, in life, you often have to solve reverse problems, "here we have people Pete and Vasya who know how to start a fire by friction. How could we adapt them to the task so that they could at least feed themselves today?". Or "here our scientists have invented a widget. Where could we place it so that we get paid for its mass production?". But these are not direct, but reverse problems--their solutions are interesting, but it is still better to solve the direct task in each project.

Another difficulty is that creators can "create creators" (for example, the founders of a company can create the company, and then the company will create the system-of-interest). But this is simply the sequential involvement of these reasonings in some chains or even graphs of creating systems.

The main problem here is that this logical sequence of steps of systemic reasoning is rarely adhered to in work projects. Most students of the previous versions of our course demonstrated an understanding of this reasoning in detached conversations from work projects, but not applying it in their own real projects--we had to conduct training (repetition, repetition, repetition of the reasoning for a real project, teaching the neural network in the student's brain with multiple repetitions of the pattern) for this reasoning not to remain just "textbook reasoning" but to become a purposeful thinking method, consciously and consistently used in work projects.