Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Constraints of systems theory

I am interested in this cluster of topics around systems theory which I have been reading among on wikipedia:

1. Systemantics
2. Theory of constraints.
3. The 12 Leverage Points in a system.
4. Throughput accounting.

John Gall states the paradigm well:

"...the fundamental problem does not lie in any particular system but rather in systems as such. Salvation, if it is attainable at all, even partially, is to be sought in a deeper understanding of the ways of systems, not simply in a criticism of the errors of a particular system."

Abstract understanding consumes the particulars and allows for a global comprehension. But in practice, this tends to devolve into several kinds of bit-by-bit systems approaches.

One approach is to eliminate constraints, things that limit productivity. But this fails to appreciate the difference between productivity and sustainability: it may be actually unwise to increase productivity, depending on the conditions.

An appreciation of the whole system, I would suggest, is intuitive. It is a style of knowingness.

I am presently reading John F. Kennedy's 'Profiles In Courage', and here is a man who intuitively comprehends the world of the Federal government and the Senate around him, one feels. That is the kind of subtle, supportive, serviceable knowingness I mean. Anything else can give rise to unwise interventions.

And I suppose I presume that living systems have a living intention - to support life - so to some degree I trust and accept what a system produces without trying to change it. To do otherwise would be to go against the flow. So while skepticism as to the effectiveness of social and business systems is usually fair, cynicism is no use at all to actually living in and on such systems.


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