|Learning About Systems by Stepping On the Cat's Tail|
|Written by Darwin Sanoy|
|Saturday, August 15, 2015 5:59pm|
When I was a toddler my dad caught me repeatedly stepping on the cat's tail. Rather than react to my childishness with a reprimand, he simply asked "What are you doing?" I proceeded to explain to him what is now commonly called a "four square" matrix.I was analyzing the cat's response ("Meow" versus "silence") against my intentionality ("purposely" stepping on the cat's tail versus "accidentally").
I didn't learn of this story until I was over 40 years old and it was an epiphany. By this time analyzing and devising systems was a true love of mine - but until then I had no idea it was such a deep part of my person!
All of us in IT deal 110% in systems. We build them. We debug them. We test them. We release them. We traffic in them ("look at this cool app!").
Yet, many of us have not taken the time to deepen our understanding of "Systems Theory" in it's own right. This includes me as well! While IT systems have some specifics that are unique - they still exhibit all the qualities of systems in general.
Recently I have been searching for a "just right" learning resource that would help me understand the next level of "Systems Theory" - to fill in my knowledge and give depth to my intuitions for systems. I also have an interest in getting my son started early on it as he is turning out to be a "Systems Head" as well.
I've found a delightful book that is written to those of use who aren't experts in systems theory in it's own right. The book stands out because it starts by explaining "why" you might want to understand more about systems. It then proceeds with fundamental explanations that are complemented by appropriately simple graphical depictions of the concepts. Perfect for my purposes and accessible for my 17 year old son. And since the target audience is the non-specialist, I think it can also be very helpful for those who have the tough job of managing a herd of "system heads".
If systems are an interest or big part of what you do, I encourage you to take a look at Donella Meadow's "Thinking in Systems: A Primer"