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Systems Theory, Systems Thinking

Abstract: This one hour talk discusses several important concepts in cybernetics, including organized complexity, transformation, feedback, and control. The talk concludes with a brief overview of three important systems thinking approaches which are based on these concepts: Jay Forrester's System Dynamics, Peter Checkland's Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), and Stafford Beer's Viable Systems Model (VSM). Using causal loops and System Dynamics, the analyst can model and simulate interactions among system elements and avoid emergent problems when a system or organization becomes operational. Using SSM, the analyst learns about the whole problem under study, the criteria for success, and all the influences and constraints. Using VSM the analyst diagnoses and controls the organization and works towards improving it.