LinkedIn Systems Thinking World Thread: Duality between Systems and Process

What are the synergies between Systems Thinking (ST) and Process Thinking (PT)? Are ST and PT in conflict or they can enhance each other?


Kent Palmer • My point is that there is something funny in the tradition that the duality between system and process has not been recognized previously. I cannot find any work on that in the literature. If any of you knows of any work on that please let me know. All I could find was Rescher’s challenge that the two should be reconciled. Rescher also said that new Process Theories needed to be created, because Whitehead’s theory more or less killed prematurely all other work in the field. See Johanna Seibt’s Free Process Theory where she as a student of Rescher tries to propose a new process theory as an alternative to Whitehead. So if our tradition has a blindspot concerning the duality then that is a phenomena in itself, that is interesting to study.

What I found was that once I realized that duality, and verified it phenomenologically then it changed the way I looked at all phenomena because, gestalt and flow are always there in relation to each other in experience. You cannot have gestalt without flow, and vice versa. It is an ever present possibility to look from the gestalt to the flow and vice versa. And the fact that the phenomenological literature does not mention that is very strange,

It matters a lot whether process and system are duals or the same. To me they are like spacetime, i.e. they are both part of the same thing, two complementary sides of a coin of experience. Every System is diachronically in process and that is called Becoming, and every process shows us synchronically a system which is Being.

One of the corollaries of this is that the disdain for process work within engineering is unjustified because there is always a process whether we want to look at it or not, and of course if we don’t look at it, i.e. we only obsess about product then we are missing half the picture, which seems to be the cultural tendency that hides process from our view. We do not value process compared with product, and that is a problem which was addressed by the Software Engineering Institute and CMMI. So now we have Agile as the reaction to that, which is a different way to look at processes in development.


Posted March 8, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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