Essay Example on The author John Sterman of the article Learning In and About Complex Systems









The author John Sterman of the article Learning In and About Complex Systems is looking at the greatest eternal challenge of humanity as change Through time and with varying degree of acceleration its magnitude can be incomprehensible thus we struggle to comprehend what has happened and how it come to be as we might be too late before we have the chance to preserve humanity's survival The exponential acceleration of change in growth or decline is real and it all boils down to the question what lies ahead at the end Adams in Sterman 1994 formulated the Law of Acceleration to describe exponential growth brought by Industrial Revolution in technology production and population The experts are concerned of the emergence of new forces and old forces working at different levels defy our efforts to use arithmetical ratios to accurately measure changes and its intended and unintended consequences to humanity The drastic changes in the society according to Sterman would require a new set of optimistic mind or new way of thinking This kind of thinking would put to test how our minds will respond successfully relative to the accelerating changes The advocacy for systems thinking is pushed to develop the ability to see the world as a complex system and recognize the connection of everything to everything else The holistic worldview will eventually find its way to responsively act to the best interest of that system as a whole This kind of thinking they call Systems Thinking Those who are supportive of development of systems thinking believe that it is crucial for survival of humanity 

According to Adams 1918 in Sterman 1994 systems thinking is something that can be learned and mastered In a way the experts say that we also need to accelerate our learning if we would like to cope with the accelerating changes There are various processes and approaches proposed to master the skills of systems thinking and learning in and about the complex systems One is by learning using the concept of feedback and information of the real world However in order for the learning to take place the following must be present tools to articulate and frame issues elicit knowledge and beliefs formal models and simulation methods and methods to sharpen scientific reasoning skills group processes and overcome defensive routines Following the process of learning in the feedback loop the cycle of the real world information feedback and decisions it is important to generate the mental model of a real world There are impediments in learning in the feedback loops according to the authors Learning is not linear because of the high level of dynamic complexity of natural and human systems The complexity can create positive or negative feedback loops The time delays making decisions and its effects may cause one to go around the learning loop repeatedly or may change the course of learning Limited information can also impede the process as data and evidences feedback may come too late insufficient erroneous or unavailable 

Confusing variables and vagueness of feedback can results to opposing interpretations and meanings There can also be misperception of the feedbacks and may manifest resistance of the social system The flawed cognitive maps of causal relations resulting to difficulty in understanding connections misconceptions and attributions of the decisions Erroneous inference about the dynamics will lead to dysfunction in the complex system due to misconception of the feedback structure and faulty mental simulation Scientist are also subjected to unscientific reasoning errors and biases and laypeople are to superstitious and spiritual beliefs The person's tendency to defend his stand to assert dominance over others becomes a defensive routines of an individual working in groups and interpersonal impediments make him close to accept other views Implementation failure can damage ones reputation and reliability and can cause withdrawal from the interest or suppress the scientist to work further To counteract such impediments to learning the author proposes how to overcome such Sterman talked about evolution he said that the working and successful strategies observed through time can be selected and applied There must be a continuous improvement of the learning process through experimentation of virtual and real world using feedback approach to create mental models formal models and the design of the experiments Lastly the use of simulation to test the models Learning in and about the complex systems requires multifaceted approaches and the use of as many models of analysis as possible can contribute in establishing the clearer and understandable problems to be addressed The systems thinking employing the Root Cause Analysis RCA using the 5 whys or the Fishbone Analysis and or other common ways of analyzing problems like Problem Tree Analysis SWOT analysis and the like as long as the processes are well understood and truthful information can be elicited the usefulness of these tools can be explored The learning in and about the complex system has no definite pathway as presented in this article and can lead to many possibilities but then the quest to learn the turns around this maze will continue with the existence of the human species in the real world

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