Learning diary Systems Thinking, day one

The first lecture of the course was very different from previous lectures given in the CS
program. Gary Metcalf introduced himself, and his previous experience in family
therapy, which made a good example of systems thinking. The lecture clarified
the term ‘systems thinking’ quite well. I especially enjoyed the explanation
made by Brand, in which a building is analyzed by seeing all the different
elements as separate layers.

After listening to a radio interview with Russel Ackoff on the educational
system of business schools, I thought of the way in which these systems are
designed. They are thought of in governmental institutes, and slightly modified
by the individual universities. The Dutch high-school learning system has been
changed several times over the last few years. In the five years I spent in
high-school, they changed the system twice, and after I graduated, they changed
it again. The ministry of education, culture and science decides on these
changes, after which all the high-schools have to implement the new learning
system. The educational systems appear viable in theory, but in practice, as
the often change shows, it doesn’t work quite so well. This problem occurs
between the theory and the practical part. Besides that, changing your plan
every two years doesn’t do well on your credibility. Then the business-school
system Ackoff is talking about in the interview also faces a problem in the
communication between theory and practice. Students get thought in all kinds of
different fields of expertise, but not the management skills they will need on
the job.

I feel I might have a slight knowledge of what systems thinking actually means.
The metaphorical explanations or the examples clarify the theory the best to
me. The articles remain a little abstract to me. I’m a very visual person, and reading
the long texts is tough. I do feel motivated to gather as much knowledge as I
can in the given time. After the lecture day I felt good. It was inspirational.
Not tiring like full day lectures can be sometimes. There was a good variation/
alternation between lecturing, questions, and group work.

In the group, we discussed the pro’s and con’s of ‘greenfield development’ vs. ‘brownfield
remediation’. We searched for the key-stakeholders in issues regarding both
these developments. In general, I personally prefer remediation of brownfields.
These areas of land have been exploited somewhere in the past, and have now
been forgotten about. Of course they usually have a specific look and
destination, but if there is a possibility to re-use these areas to the fullest
of their potential, in my opinion, that should always be preferred over
developing new land. In the group there was a small discussion about this,
regarding the costs. Also greenfield development can be done in other ways than
constructing buildings on the land.

I’m looking forward to the second lecture day, and working on the project in
the group.

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