Richmond, Barry, "Systems Thinking: A Critical Set of Critical Thinking Skills for the 90’s and Beyond", 1990

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The problems we are facing at all levels in the world today are growing more intractable. In particular, our problems are becoming increasingly resistant to unilateral solutions. I will argue that this growing resistance and intractability result from the fact that while the evolving web of interdependencies, of which we all are part, is rapidly tightening, the development of our capacity for thinking in terms of dynamic interdependency has not kept pace. As the gap between the nature of our problems, and our ability to grok this nature grows, the planet will face increasing peril on a multitude of fronts. System Dynamics and System Thinking -- the larger framework of which it is a subset -- are an important part of an effective strategy for closing the gap between challenge and capacity for addressing challenge. Unfortunately, we as System Dynamacists and Systems Thinkers have been woefully inadequate in transferring our framework, skills and technology to the population at large. Although we have “seen the light” for some thirty years now, we have not opened the door to our inner sanctum wide enough to let others share in our insight- generation capabilities with respect to the inner workings of closed-loop systems. In order to be more effective in transferring our very valuable capabilities to a broader swath of humanity, we need to see more clearly precisely what these capabilities really are, and also to understand the forces driving the evolution of the education system into which these capabilities -- if they are to be transferred on a board scale -- must be assimilated. My purpose in writing this paper is to shed some (hopefully new) light on both what it is we have to bestow, and also on where the educational system that is to receive our bounty is headed. My intended audience therefore is both Systems Thinkers and educators. My highest hope for the paper is that it will serve to further eradicate the distinction between the two.

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