Systems theory : analysing your environment


Students, when confronted with systems thinking for the first time (which is to say most of them) turn away, as they consider it too difficult to practise in real life situation.

The funny part is, the real life provides us on a daily basis with systems thinking cases.

One of them is, Smith & Wesson revealed that they made record profits during the last twelve months.

One of the key in systems theory is to identify the actors, their motivations and the means used.

Smith & Wesson is a gun seller. His main motivation is to make money selling guns. Up until here, everything is crystal clear.

The interesting part is, the jump in weapon selling occurred right after the Newtown shooting in the Sandy Hook school on December 14th 2012.

And, by reading the news, two more actors appear : politics and populations. Both have the same motivation, maintaining security. But while politics tried to do it by limiting the weapon sales, considering that if less people owns weapons, there will be more security, people considered that if more of them owns weapons, there will be more security. And guns dealer took the opportunity of both the fear of people and the threat of a gun limitation by politics to make money. This echoes with what Yuri Orlov says in the film « Lord of War » : « One weapon falls to 12 people on the planet. The only question is : how to arm the other 11 ? »

Of course, there is more than meets the eye, and here is not the appropriate place to deliver a full report on weapons selling and security in the United States of America. The purpose is just to unveil a part of what systems theory is about : a way to think globally, in order to be able to act locally.

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