Systems thinking education—seeing the forest through the trees

Sigal Koral Kordova, Moti Frank, Anat Nissel Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Systems thinking is an indispensable tool in comprehending and analyzing real-world phenomena. Observed processes are naturally composed of many interconnected components which ought to be studied jointly rather than individually. Engineering systems thinking is a very valuable skill, which helps to successfully execute multi-disciplinary projects. In high-tech companies that deal with complex and dynamic systems projects, the need for engineers with high systems thinking skills is growing. Engineers with high systems thinking skills are able to understand the big picture and the project in its entirety, both functionally and conceptually, without necessarily knowing all of the small details. Systems thinking enables understanding the entire system beyond its components, and clarifies the importance of the isolated component as part of the system as a whole. Systems thinking helps understand how sub-systems connect to one whole system, and provides solutions for the client’s specifications and requirements. In addition, systems thinking enables perceiving the inter-relationships and mutual influence among the system’s components and other systems. The current study examined the development of systems thinking among engineers and engineering students. In addition, the personality traits of engineers with high systems thinking skills were examined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality type test. This article also presents the initial results of the development of a new systems thinking study course, taught as a pilot course to industrial and management engineering students. It seems that engineers with certain personality traits can acquire or improve their systems thinking capabilities through a gradual, long-term learning process and by acquiring the necessary tools. Additionally, the study includes recommendations for the continuation of ongoing research on developing systems thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalSystems
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Capacity for systems thinking
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality type test
  • System thinking
  • Systems approach

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