LinkedIn Systems Thinking World Thread: Emotion and Ideas as corner cases that are transmittable in culture

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 • Well let me continue my explanation, maybe it will make more sense as I keep trying to trudge along this path of thought. The Temporal Gestalt (which is Diachronic) is sort of an oxymoron because Gestalts are considered more or less static and here we are saying that a gestalt could take time to be what it is. The opposite of this is the Synchronic Flow. Think of those pictures where you see water rushing down and all you see is a blur because the picture has captured in the same frame many different configurations of the stream of water. Synchronic Flow captures the entire flow itself, and turns out to be fuzzy when we look at it later because of the permutation of the flow during exposure. In the one case you have stop motion photography, and in the other case you have prolonged exposure time lapse photography. (Hoping I am getting this the right way around. Been a long time since I thought about it.)

Now here is the crucial insight that came to me. Synchronic Flow (time lapse) is like emotions, and Diachronic Gestalt Stop Motion is like ideas. flow itself as diachronic is like feelings, and synchronic gestalt is like thoughts. So that means these corner cases are like rectifications, or nihilistic opposites that twist the pure flow or the pure gestalt into something else which gives them a different quality, but that is a quality we can pass on in culture. So many cultural objects passed on within the tradition are combinations of Ideas and Emotions, say in plays, or art, or novels, or movies.

Now if this is true (and I have it the right way around in my memory) then I think this has implications for these more practical realms that you speak of. So when we are doing design for instance we have flows of feelings and we have gestalt like visions of thoughts, but these are hard to package up and transfer to others. In order to get something potent to transfer to others we have to go to the corner cases of Ideas and Emotions, and particularly powerful are the combinations of these together in a cultural artifact that contains both interwoven.

So a Design for instance is a network of ideas. And it is sustained in the team as it produces it by various emotions, especially those related to work situations, and politics. But these nihilistic rectifications occur over and above the thoughts and feelings that lack such extremity and nihilism for the most part. In the Design Process we might have a struggle over the ideas of how the design should be, but these are under-girded by the emotions related to the politics of the team, and the organizational structure. But the thoughts and the feelings of the team members are fleeting and are never recorded anywhere or even noticed by others for the most part.

Anyway that is a hypothesis on how to relate what I was saying before to the work process that produces products. There is a terminology I like which is “lines of work” and ” going concern”. These are meant to describe in an ethnomethodological way what really goes on at work that is performed by the individual and the group as a whole. When we talk about Processes and Systems we are talking for the most part about the official version of what is suppose to happen rather than what really happens on a daily basis. These deterministic rectifications of what OUGHT to exist are normally in blatant contradiction to realities on the ground, or within the cubicle so to speak. What I think this distinction I have made above helps us do is transition from the level of the flux of experience of individuals in their thoughts and feelings, toward what is culturally viable which are emotions and ideas, which are corner cases, or paradoxes in the normal flow of experience within the group for the individual. It is at this level that the battles are fought (won and lost) within teams of practitioners working together to produce products within the actual process they are following unconsciously (or perhaps in rare cases consciously).

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Posted March 8, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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