Making Systems-Level Thinking Sexy: Saul Kaplan

Normative interview

It starts by changing your lens. No one will ever transform anything by seeing a challenge through their current lens. The industrial era has inculcated us with a way to understand the world and how organizations and social systems work. If the goal was to make incremental changes to the way things work today than our current lens is fine. If the objective is to create entirely new business models and social systems we will need a new lens or way to see the world. It requires the ability to see the world through the lens of the customer or end-user and then the capacity to re-imagine and play at a systems level. What gets in the way of solving most of our big hairy social challenges is the ability to play with the parts, to combine and recombine capabilities in new ways to change the way we create, deliver and capture value. The future we want will only come about if we learn how to design new models and systems not by tweaking the ones we already have. Call me a geek but thinking and playing nicely with others on social system level experimentation that matters is sexy as hell!

The ability to see from the point of view of the end user is key to this. What is interesting for me is how Kaplan talks about recombining capabilities in new ways. Especially because he plays in the space of health, education and government systems.


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