Systems Engineering / Systems Thinking

I’ve mentioned many times the morphing definition & understanding of my own Psybertron agenda.

Cybernetics in a word (*).
Cybernetics as in governance – kybernetes– human systems of organisation, systems which include all the processes of collective decision-making and action, involving understanding and application of all aspects of knowledge, resources and power – the art of the possible.
Politics in (another) word.
Psybertron – Cybernetics (or Politics) another word.
In a world where our thinking (psychology) is increasingly dominated by ICT – the increasingly automated movement of electrons.

[Aside – Clearly these thoughts are circulating in my consciousness today thanks to the two previous posts, Bogdanov and Taliban. I also added this catch-up on the Bogdanov I’d missed in Mason’s PostCapitalism.]

But the word “system” is in there as a given, from the outset. Over 20 years ago, probably more like 30 in fact, engineering systems / systems engineering has been both my day job and the content of this epistemological research project I call Psybertron. I probably only made the explicit connection to Systems Engineering as a named discipline when I came across two members of the Russian chapter of INCOSE in the early 2000’s in my reference-data-based information systems day job; Anatoly Levenchuk, the then chair of the Russian chapter, and his colleague Victor Agroskin, still the smartest people I ever met anywhere in any context.

Increasingly we talk of Systems Thinking dropping the “engineering” label as being associated with too narrow a field of human endeavour. (Although, as an engineer myself, I often defend its scope – as with cybernetics – as being concerned with the whole of human ingenuity in getting stuff done – ingenuity being the root of the word. The engines of everyday life every bit as much as the ancient engines of war, but I digress.)

Probably not coincidentally, the smartest person I met in one of my most recent day-job engagements was a systems engineering professional and active UK INCOSE member, Rob Black, also evangelising (and practical coaching) the spread of systems thinking within and beyond one of the most complex organisations imaginable.

The future is bright, the future is Systems Thinking.


[PS (*) always in wider dialogue people baulk at seemingly machine metaphors in engineering and systems thinking around human values and social behaviour. The discomfort is understandable. The so-called “First Cybernetics” was very much about industrial automation applications even though the “Second Cybernetics” was the original human-organisational-behaviour intentions of the thinkers that first developed the concepts.]

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