Analysis is not enough

Most of us have been taught that analysis is the way to deal with complexity, breaking the problem up into small manageable parts and treat them in isolation. Systems thinking puts a different spin on this, showing that synthesis is equally important to fully understand a system, especially in order to get a grasp of the emergent behaviour that are not explainable based on the parts alone.

In this talk we will take a look at these two paradigms, reductionism and holism, investigating how taking a wider view can provide important insights and knowledge to handle the complexity in domains we normally work in, especially where people are involved be it user stories, microservices, and architecture. We will also see that those of us with a STEM background ought to take clues from social sciences about how to approach software development. That enterprise is inherently a sociotechnical system and we therefore need to learn how to jointly optimise both the technical and the social. Only then can we build sustainable and thriving software systems.

This is an introduction to systems thinking and its importance when dealing with complexity.

Trond Hjorteland

Senior IT Consultant and sociotechnical practitioner.

Oslo, Norway

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