An introduction to systems thinking


At the First Global Conference on Research and Implementation, held in Canberra, Australia, in September 2013, Gerald Midgley gave an introductory talk on systems thinking. Midgley is a British organizational theorist, professor of systems thinking, director of the Centre for Systems Studies at the University of Hull, and past president (2013-14) of the International Society for the Systems Sciences. Other presidents of the ISSS that I have already written about, sometimes fleetingly, include Ashby (1962-64), Stafford Beer (1971), Mead (1972), Checkland (1986), Ackoff (1987), Churchman (1989), Mitroff (1992, pointed out to me by David Ing, himself president in 2011-12), Linstone (1993), Nelson (2000), and Jackson (2001). So now it’s the turn of Midgley, whom I know indirectly through my work with Bob William as a co-author of Wicked Solutions. Midgley’s talk is superbly concise (just 23 minutes if we leave out the introduction and the questions), so I decided…

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