On Systemness and the Problem Solver: Tutorial Comments

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IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics

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The main topic is the perceiving role played by the systems practitioner (SP) in the act of defining the system which is the subject of his problem-solving activities. A definition of system is given that makes explicit what perceptions must be made in Order for one to assert that an object under observation is a system. The corollary ideas of properties-of the-whole, suprasystem/system/subsystem, context, and (two-dimensional) multiple perspectives are discussed. The key advice is for the SP, during problem solving activity, to consciously adopt perceiving roles (perspectives), separately, at the supra-system, system, and sub-system levels, and to recognize that there is no such thing as an independent, objective perception of a system. The importance of the supra-system perspective to SP is improved ability to define context. The importance of multiple perspectives to SP is improved ability to consciously gather and organize a broad array of data about the problem. All these ideas are applicable to team problem solving. Copyright © 1986 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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