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Target System and Collective System Thinking

In order to conduct system (i.e. using the concept of a systemic approach) reasoning in some way, one must learn to focus their attention on various systems in a multi-level system breakdown - both levels above the target system and levels below the target system. A systemic thinker views everything in the world as systems, with systems themselves entering systems of a higher systemic level as subsystems, and having their own subsystems of a lower systemic level, so first of all, it is necessary to highlight one of them, to the characteristics of which we show interest, and we try to change something in the world to realize this interest/preference. This system, attuned by an attentive agent (subjectively! In a way convenient for the role method of agent's work!), will be the system-of-interest. This is the future successful system, with which the project team wants to do something: invent and create it, fix it, operate it, destroy it.

Further discussions can focus on any system level above and below the level on which the target system is located, but the focus of our project team always remains on this system; the systemic effect of this system will be of primary interest to us. Each agent's attention, participating in the project, always retains the target system, while the attention of other cameras for different roles played by these agents may wander to different systems of other levels and to systems of the creation chain. But each agent's attention remains fixed on the target system throughout the project, with at least one camera of attention always fixed on it, so it is not forgotten.

The metaphor here is polar coordinates, all (collective! Not just one role!) thinking revolves around the target system. This is the reference point, and movement of attention in systems thinking is counted from it. If lost in lengthy reasoning among a vast number of systems in the project, return to the target system, and then move along the chains of different relationships (mainly relationships of composition and creation) to all other systems. The target system provides stability of attention for the various roles in collective projects.

For different roles, different physical objects are seen as target systems, but in a situation of collective activity, it is assumed that all roles performing the methods of continuous creation and development of the target system (everything that happens with it from the moment of conception through numerous upgrades to the cessation of use) have agreed on what kind of system it is, where those boundaries lie. System thinking primarily supports not the thinking of one person, but collective thinking in the organization as a multitude of agents who can manage their collective work and resources with the known method (this method is a certain kind of management). Organizations are project teams, enterprises/companies/firms, non-profit organizations, clubs, study groups, and others, where it is clear "who is the boss." If it's a community, then most likely there is no boss, and the systemic thinking around one target system may not occur; there may be no agreements on what to do (on the target system). But if this community is organized by someone and formal joining the community means that the requests of this organizer will be fulfilled to some extent - then everything related to systems thinking can be in order (or not, if people deliberately were not taught it).

System thinking helps agents (including people) to agree with each other on their actions, and above all, to agree on which system they are interested in, which system is the target, what the boundaries (what is included, what is not included in the composition) of the target system are. So, system thinking is collective thinking, not the thinking of one agent; it presupposes agreements on the subject of activity, i.e., the target system. The target system is not yours or any single role; it is common to the project team, and the team agrees on it (including external project roles in the agreements). Of course, it is possible to imagine the involvement of system thinking by one agent, but this agent will have to perform many different roles, so they would not be able to implement the division of labor - high qualification in performing individual roles. The creation of complex systems is possible because systemic thinking allows different agents, each of whom possesses high expertise in performing different roles - visionaries, designers, architects, production platform engineers, etc., to come to an agreement.

The target system is usually conceived at the point in time when it is being used (operations, exploitation, functioning, operation), already in its final form, when it interacts with its environment and plays its role/performs its function in that environment. That is, an "airplane" is thought of when it is flying, a "computer" is thought of when it is processing, "craftsmanship" is thought of when work is being done using the methods of that craft. The target system during its creation is still not in a state of doing something, performing a function. When creating a system, we mostly think about the functions of the creators in relation to the state changes of the parts of the future target system; these parts change their state and are assembled into a finished system during production, it is all "the time of creation." However, when thinking about the target system and the system levels, it is the time of use/exploitation/functioning/operation of the target system.

The image represents a systemic (based on compositional relationships) hierarchy with three system levels, systems are depicted in circles, and arrows with diamonds show the relationships of composition/breakdown/structure/part-whole, the target system is shown as system 2.

A system that includes the target system is called the supra system. In the image, this is system 1. For example, for a gear in a clock that is part of a clock as the supra system, the hands of the clock, which are also part of the clock, will be part of that environment. Furthermore, there may be systems in the environment that are not included in the composition of the supra system, but without which it is difficult to discuss the operation/functioning of the target system - although they are part of some higher-level supra system. For example, the sun, heating the clock and thereby affecting the gear (it may change its dimensions when heated, which can impact its main behavior - precise transfer of movement, which further affects the behavior of the supra system - accurate time display). The environment always refers to the boundaries of the target system, and the discussion is about the moment when the system works and performs its function (not when it is conceived, manufactured, tested).

When the target system (as well as the subsystem and the supra system) is created, there will be another consideration: in the center there will be some of the creating systems, and the future systems at that moment will be inoperable, still in a raw or semi-finished state. The systems of creation (enabling systems, constructor systems) are a different time (the time of creation, not the time of use/exploitation/functioning/operation of the target system, its subsystems, and its supra systems) and therefore they are not part of the hierarchy's system levels in the "part-whole" relation to which the target system belongs. Their relationship with the target system (and other systems at the discussed system levels, i.e., the supra system, subsystems) is a relationship of creation (which is not shown on the diagram).

In the image, one of the systems in the environment (there are many such systems!) is system 3. For example, for a gear in a clock, the hands of the clock, also included in the operating clock as supra systems, will be part of this environment. Additionally, there may be some systems in the environment that are not part of the supra system but are essential for discussions about the work/functioning of the target system - although they belong to some higher-level supra-sys...