Systems Thinking Lecture at Cornell's Johnson School of Business

Dr. Derek Cabrera was invited to speak with Graduate Business Students at Cornell's Johnson School
Dr Derek Cabrera was invited to speak with Cornell Business graduate students about a systems thinking approach to solving complex problems, at Johnson School on Friday, November 21, 2014.

At Johnson, approximately 40 students every year pursue careers in sustainability. Such a broad topic inherently means tackling broad, complex problems. As such, the curriculum in their capstone project, the Immersion, includes, and encourages students to use, systems thinking to solve real problems for their clients.

Dr. Cabrera discussed the essence of systems thinking, and broke down complex systems into simple underlying rules; that the basis of complex systems are independent agents that follow local, simple rules, in which the collective behavior leads to emergent complexity. He discussed with students systems thinking at the individual level (dsrp) and how when students understand this, they can apply it to systems thinking at the organization level (vmcl). Students were interested in the culture of an organization and how the culture can lead to the success of the vision and mission of that organization. Dr. Cabrera addressed this, discussing a shared mental model of all of the parts of the organization, and how a vision-mission is not just something hanging in a frame on the wall, but rather something that is shared by everyone in the organization--a shared mental model

Students engaged in using systems thinking techniques to map out problems they were interested in. They discovered that breaking the problems down into their parts, relating ideas, and looking at them from multiple perspectives helped them gain clarity of the problems and they began to discover solutions and different ways of looking at the problems.

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