The Whip Alert
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The Whip Alert

Systems Thinking: An Antidote to Design Thinking

Hello, How you doing? Recently I read a topic on Systems Thinking on how to approach a problem or improve the existing process. Boy, I‘m fascinated by the idea. Well, first I’ll give you a glimpse of its concept and then will see a case study of a hypothetical project. Seems like a plan? Let’s move.

On a Friday night, thought of watching a movie or to go out for a ride. Mentally thought of sleeping. Mean while, a notification popped in my mobile. No, not my girlfriend’s text. Now put your thoughts aside. It was an unusual one and triggered my attention. It was about Systems Thinking and I gave a read.

While the read goes on in Systems Thinking, the inner voice sounded like “Holy, this is gold.” I began to crawl the supporting docs, notes & writings on the internet. So far the most intriguing and an interesting piece of thing I have read in approaching a problem. The approach focus on fixing a social issues, community development, support a cause and doesn’t stop at only building products for user needs.

Tim: Uhh another “How to” design article? 
Joe: Yeah I know it’s boring. But this isn’t “How to”.

Continuing back to the Friday night story, While the read goes deep, I started to imagine myself as Einstein, who is going to write a theory and change the world. After a while “BANG” I went, Black. I couldn’t understand a thing for word’s sake.

Didn’t gave up and again searched for multiple times to understand and this time “BHAM”. The Einstein in me woke up.

Now, imagine there is a tree in front of you. A big banyan tree, 60 years old and there is no way for a sunlight ray to penetrate. How it manages to stand still?

The Root. When the root is strong, deep and rugged, the growth is unstoppable. When the growth scales, the benefits are countless. If the root is loosen or infected, the life of the plant is a guess. When the core, the root of a problem identified and cured. Each one of them connected starts to gives a loop of feedback between them in a agile, iterative, like a system, a process, tools, input, and output of the things interlinked.

Root + Trunk + Branches + Leaves + Fruits or Flowers = The Crown!

Look the above flow. It is how the system works. Well, you can visualise on Systems Thinking works. But think you are the sub-sub-sub-sub root that is 0.0001% out of Million things out there. The actions, thought everything has a input and output which has impact with our system.

How is our ecosystem works? how is our society works? Think like why there is a difference between Western Innovation and Indian Innovation, educational differences, belief system, community, bands, family etc.. It goes on and on.

Everything works in a System. Now as you zoom off from the planet. It is our Solar System. Again a system. Are you getting it?

“Systems thinking offers a necessary antidote to some of design thinking’s blind spots by taking a holistic view of complex social challenges — rather than building new solutions that address symptoms of a problem, but not root causes.” — Amy Ahearn

Below is a hypothetical case study will reveal what does Design thinking and Systems Thinking means actually.

You know about a Pee paw? Yeah the 95 years old. Pee paw’s Doctor advised him not to eat an Ice Cream Bar. But, Pee paw couldn’t take this. Finding his way to destiny. Yeah, the BAR.

On a summer, Jane’s Mom gives a handful of coins to her daughter for buying an ice cream bar. Jane is all excited, runs towards the shop, bought her favourite and came out. Now she is all set to tear the bar cover and enjoy.

When Pee paw walking along the road in the parallel universe, he glares at a Kid with an ice cream. He founded his fortune. Old guy wants to turn down others moment. So he makes his move near to the kid and says.

Jane turns and there is no one to see from a normal human sight. Meantime Pee paw licks and bites half of the Ice cream and ran away. BHAM. The kid start to cry. Pee paw Sprints. Jane’s Mom came out of the shop to see her daughter crying. Frustrated and clueless. Jane didn’t stop her tears flow and no matter how hard anyone tried, she is still in the flow. Now, there is a chance Jane can faint and her Mom has to look out for a solution.

Design Thinking: Synthesis of a problem.
Understands why Jane is crying? Couldn’t find the root for her emotion. Tries to calm her down with all her possible solutions.

Systems Thinking: Analyse a problem
Mom tries to find the root problem of “Why she is crying?”. The system of how it happened. What is the cause? The Root. The core. She found, that someone bite half of the bar. So, she immediately buys her another bar, problem solved and the Kid builds a trust that anything happens, her Mom is there to help.

Why should Pee paw meet the girl, that too with an Ice cream? Why would the Doctor restrict him? Why the Mom would give her coins a moment early before Pee paw’s arrival. Why the kid gets out with an ice cream, when the Pee paw is nearby? It is how this universe works. As a human we are responsible for what is happening around us either consciously or unconsciously. These actions can be a “+” or “-” input and output. Which is why Systems Thinking helps us to analyse a problem and produce a solution that anyone can adapt and design better.

The Systems Thinking works without Cognitive bias, analysing the root problem, fixing the process, introducing tools to fix will create the most blissful planet on this galaxy not only results in an impact by a product, but to have a positive impact in social, life and universe health. A social case study - Beyond Design Thinking

- Continues.

Spoiler Alert: Next writing on “An Experience: Uber Eats Case study .”

Catch more of my writing on Alankar Sudarsan (Design, Business, UX, Product Management and Movies too. 🤩)



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