Current logic thinking: within the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) we studied South Africa’s societal, technological and ecological trends, many of them indicating deteriorating problems. We observed that the various societal problems mutually co-produce each other and that one cannot solve the one (e.g. poverty) before solving others (e.g. unemployment, population growth, education, health, land reform). With the IFR acting as a clearing house (i.e. compiling, comparing and further processing research from other specialist sources), we also took note of the various strategies suggested by researchers and policy makers. We came to the conclusion that the sum total of proposed ideas is grossly insufficient to significantly reduce most of the problems, let alone eliminate them altogether. Typically, the proposed solutions or strategies were derived from current strategic thinking (i.e. more of the same) and / or the results of problem analysis (i.e. problem logic thinking). (See also the blog section on Emergence;
These insights led us to explore systems thinking (e.g. systems dynamics, ideal system redesign and other methods) as tools for developing strategies that could actually (dis)solve the identified problems. It made us realise that the logic of most societal problems is not that of the solution (or as Einstein observed: the level of thinking that gives rise to a problem is insufficient for solving it) and that instead of fixing problems, the focus needs to shift towards redesigning systems and their interaction to produce different outcomes that do not reproduce the problems. Useful systemic approaches are systems dynamics modelling for understanding the current problem logic and its dynamics and ideal system design for designing strategies that will (dis)solve the problems.
At that time, I found the concepts and methods of systems thinking most appealing but insufficient for meeting the magnitude and complexity of the encountered societal problems. I therefore left the IFR to dedicate myself to further developments in systems theory and methodology. The Biomatrix Systems Approach (i.e. Biomatrix Systems Theory and its methodological application) is the result of this labour some 20 years later.