Creative Holism: Systems Thinking for Managers -- Michael C. JACKSON, August 3, 2002

46th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Shanghai, P.R. China, August 2-6, 2002.

Saturday, August 3, 2002, 9:40 a.m.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing ( at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( ).

Introduction by Professor WU Jie

Mike Jackson

Systems thinking can contribute in two ways:

Title of the talk: Creative holism

Structure of the talk:

The nature of problem situations

e.g. British higher education system, which the government is dealing with right now.

Complexity in enterprise management

Too often, however, these problems are not treated holistically or creatively.

Given increased complexity, change and creativity, need holistic solutions.

What we need to do to tackle these problems, is to adopt systems thinking, holism, and creativity.

Benefits of holism, then benefits of creativity.

What is it about holism that helps us?

Faced with complexity and change, this type of systems thinking may be helpful with holism and creativity.

Issue of methodology, and the improvement of systems methodology over the past few decades, in UK and USA, and maybe in China.

Dealing with subjectivity: societies where we can't take for granted that everyone shares the same aims and objectives.

Poses other problems: creative holism presents another approach.

Argument: creative holism is the kind of approach we want to management problems.

Conclusion: In thinking about organizations and society, it's not easy to say where the simple problems lie.

Four categories of difficulty:

We can use creative holism to face the challenges of the 21st century.


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