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Combining vision and systems thinking

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Combining vision and systems thinking

Scott Miker

Having a clear vision of the future you want is important.  If you are leading a group sharing the future state is important.  It helps answer the question, “what’s the point?”

It allows everyone to be on the same page.  Everyone may not agree with every step we take, but if everyone shares the same ultimate end goal, then we can often put aside our differences of opinion to keep making progress towards our goals.

But many people that rely on using a strong vision statement for their group or in their personal life to chase goals, get stuck as soon as they start to work towards that vision.

The reason is simple.  The outcome (vision) doesn’t automatically match with the steps that we need to take to get there.  It is often much more complicated in reality than it is when we are setting goals and envisioning a better future. 

Therefore, it can be incredibly beneficial to turn to systems thinking to get a better sense of the systems involved and the changes that need to be made.   

In The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, he says, “I believe that the discipline of building shared vision lacks a critical underpinning if practiced without systems thinking.  Vision paints the picture of what we want to create.  Systems thinking reveals how we have created what we currently have.”

Systems thinking allows us to see the underlying systems that will impact what we do.  Ultimately this will clue us in to the areas we need to adjust. 

It can be incredibly valuable to have a solid vision statement.  It can become a rallying cry and help you to know where you are going.  This will help when making decisions. 

But it doesn’t solve everything.  In fact, it leaves a huge hole.  The specifics around how to achieve the goal is what will matter in the end, not the specific goal or vision.   

The systems and habits approach to improvement takes a goal or vision and then provides principles around how we go about reaching that goal.  We shift from focusing on the output to focusing on the process. 

Instead of perfection we work towards progress.  Instead of big goals and ambition, we rely on small steps and hard work.  Instead of effort and motivation we use routines and habits. 

It can be a great way to reach goals in your personal life or in a group setting.  It makes each step easier with a focus on repetition and taking consistent action that will result in consistent output. 

There are many ways to create a vision and use it to help you succeed.  But don’t forget the crucial underlying systems that will ultimately determine if that vision is possible.