Problem solving desperately needs systems thinking

“If we want to overcome the systemic issues behind today’s problems, then we need to change the thinking that led to them to begin with, writes Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, award winning designer, UNEP Champion of the Earth, social scientist and entrepreneur.

The status quo of how we are taught to think is linear and often reductionist. We learn to break the world down into manageable chunks and see issues in isolation of their systemic roots.

This dominant way of approaching the world is a product of industrialized educational norms – in one way or another, we have learned, through our 15 to 20+ years of mainstream education, and/or through socialization, that the most effective way to solve a problem is to treat the symptoms, not the causes.

Yet, when we look at the world through a systems lens, we see everything is interconnected. Problems are connected to many other elements within dynamic systems. If we just treat one symptom, the flow on effects lead to burden shifting and often unintended consequences.