Mind Mapping and Systems Thinking

In a recent post on her blog EmergingRNLeader, Rose Sherman shares some insights into “Systems Thinking.” Following are some excerpts from her post, which you can read at full length here:

Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole.  In health care organizations, it is the ability of the leader to look beyond one’s own work unit or department and consider how different parts of the organization work together to achieve outcomes.  It is also the recognition that small changes in one area can have unanticipated consequences in other parts of the system, if not carefully considered.

Systems thinking can help us to view events and patterns in our lives through a different lens, because the emphasis is on the relationship between a system’s parts, rather than the parts themselves.

Of course, each of us has our own perspectives on our actions. We are unique individuals, and as such we have private goals and motivations that drive our performance at work, school, and home. Similarly, each distinct team in an organization– marketing, development, customer service, creative, management, etc.– has its own unique goals and function.

But our individual actions and the actions of our specific team also have a significance to our organization, and even to society at large. We tend to pay the most attention to the personal, immediate consequences of our actions, but each of our actions also has a slower ripple effect that spreads out to our team, our organization, and even our world.

Systems thinking, as Rose describes, is about examining the big picture. How do the actions of an individual or team relate to the overall success of a larger system? As some of Rose’s examples illustrate, thinking in this way can lead to insights and solutions that pave the way to success. One of the individuals Rose mentions in her article used systems thinking to predict the effects of a shortage of drugs, and changed practices accordingly to prevent delays in patient care.

Systems thinking emphasizes relationships rather than individuals. Mind mapping (also known as concept mapping), which allows you to visually represent relationships, is a great brainstorming technique for examining complex systems.

If you’re interested in using making a mindmap, download a free trial of MindMaple or learn more about MindMaple at our website!


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