An introduction to the field of systems thinking | Pittsburgh PA
Course | 51-172 Systems
Professor Cameron Tonkinwise and Kakee Scott
Spring 2016 | Carnegie Mellon University

An exploration on how to understand complex phenomena by creating models of the interrelations between components. Developing skills in soft systems diagramming as well as systems thinking associated with ecologies, integrative science and sociotechnical regimes. The course also explores how to see design as a way of making interventions into a leverage point in a system in order to transform how it functions elsewhere in the system.

ACTIVITY 01 | Diagramming
The task | Identify two personal problems, and through the use of various diagramming methods such as Venn diagrams and matrices, apply systems thinking into these problems. These soft systems methodology allow for comparative analysis, delineative method that helps with generation of ideas and distillation of concepts.

problem 01 | jetlag

problem 02 | biting nail

ACTIVITY 02 | Taste Regime
The task | A taste regime is a soft systems methodology which analyzes a subject’s interest on a matrix. In this particular matrix, the x-coordinate signifies the cultural capital, and the y-coordinate represents the financial capital. By mapping out where an object, a service falls on the quadrant, it helps see into the worldview of the subject and better understand how they think, and their preferences. The task asks to plot two matrices with the same objects, but with two subjects, to see how their values, their preferences affect where each object falls within the quadrant. The taste regime helps visualize subjective preferences in an informative manner.

ACTIVITY 03 | The Human Model
The task | Analyzing the human model helps understand people’s motivation and governing variables, which can be pivotal to the success of marketing strategies, product designs, and other service sector. The task asks to analyze an existing advertisement and product, predict the human model(s) said advertisement and product was catered towards, and provide suggestions to improve the current configuration.

ACTIVITY 04 | The Ritual
The task | A semester long assignment, where we were to add two ‘rituals’ that are not interdependent to one another into our daily lives. The frequency and activity were left open-ended for us to define and select, and throughout the course of the semester we were to monitor whether these rituals were successfully achieved on a weekly basis.

The two rituals I decided to analyze were working out and doing laundry. While each ritual was monitored independently, through graphically showcasing the ritual together, I discovered correlations between the two rituals.