chapter  13
16 Pages

Reconciling linear and systems thinking

WithPaul Thomas

'Double-loop learning' involves the exploration of new ways of thinking and behaving, and an approach to change that encourages new ways to do things. Dynamic, appreciative interaction is at the heart of creating new ways of thinking and acting. Again, lose–lose clash of linear and systems thinking. Systems thinking can accommodate the idea that ongoing movement between parts and wholes creates and affirms both. But the linear construct cannot accommodate non-linear thinking – leader cannot fit a whole inside a part. Based on 'business process re-engineering' the intervention was intended to facilitate a 'big bang' radical transformation of the whole institution towards systems and process thinking. James McNulty and Ewan Ferlie evaluated a whole-system intervention to transform Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) between 1992 and 1997. The language of re-engineering almost disappeared from the staff at LRI, and was replaced by the language of 'incremental revolution'.