I reviewed The Next Step, which meant working completely through the
program. I found that it does pretty well exactly what it sets out to do.
I am myself not a systems dynamics specialist and, while I am now
reasonably adept with causal loops, and have in the past got others to
build systems dynamics models for me (mostly around workforce planning), I
am fairly new to actually trying to use modelling software myself. I
think the CD makes a very good introduction for people who are new to
systems thinking or to stock and flow modelling.
As I remarked in my review,
"If I was asked to nominate one skill that is essential for any manager,
bureaucrat (or politician), but which is generally lacking, it would be
the ability to recognise, map and work fluently with systemic
interactions. The business literature is full of references to the pace
of change, unpredictability, the need to shift our mental models of the
world around us, and yet there is less discussion of the profound shift of
mind and the very different thinking tools required to deal effectively
with the issues that are of most concern in today's world. The tools of
systems thinking are the key to making this shift of mind.
It is worth stressing that Systems Thinking lies at the very heart of
Peter Senge's seminal The Fifth Discipline, yet it is the other four
disciplines (personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared
vision) that get most of the 'air space' in the explosion of interest in
'the learning organisation' that has followed that book.
Making progress with systems thinking requires at least two steps. The
first is to become aware of the differences between thinking systemically
and the Newtonian/Cartesian thinking on which we have all been brought up.
The second is to obtain at least a basic proficiency in one or more of the
systems thinking 'languages' in order to be able to identify when expert
assistance is likely to be valuable in tackling difficult or recurrent
My feeling, after going through The Next Step was that it makes a useful
contribution in building that sort of 'basic proficiency' among people who
are new to the field.
Bill Godfrey & Associates Pty Ltd
8 Reibey Place, Curtin, ACT 2605, Australia
Tel: (61) 6 282 2256
Fax: (61) 6 282 2447
BookWatch site: http://webtrax.com.au/BB/BookWatch.bbd
Bill Godfrey <email@example.com>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <firstname.lastname@example.org> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>