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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about systems thinking. They reject the notion of cause and effect and instead posit the idea that everything is an emergent property of a system.

In this podcast on Systems Thinking and the Illusion of Cause-and-Effect you’ll find:

  • There is no such thing as Cause and Effect but only “Emergent Properties of Systems”
  • Systems Thinking is a way of thinking or interacting with reality that is different from basic Cause and Effect.
  • When we try to create influenced results, we end up having limited influence over it because we are not seeing the other Influencers or Nodes in the system.
  • To have a desired result, recognize that nodes have to work in a certain way to have an “emergent” (thing that emerges from all things working together).
  • We turn to Cause and Effect thinking because things are too complex to understand and because it is easier to fuse Sequential events.
  • A System is a cluster of themes working together influencing each other; doing things synchronously and asynchronously and brings about an inevitable emergent.
  • Two things to keep in mind about systems:
  1. Initial Condition (starting condition of a system)
  2. How the nodes in the system interact with each other
  • Systems thinking is more accurate than Cause and Effect thinking. It improves relationships and gives more favorable results.
  • Raymond Kurzweil’s Theory of Singularity states that Technology doubles in an exponential growth curve. Singularity is the time period where technology is doubling too fast to observe.
  • The value of node connections is going up while the cost of information is lowering down.
  • Intuition is needed now more than ever to figure which systems to work on, how systems are working and how to manage information.
  • Gregory Bateson (Author, Steps to an Ecology of Mind) states “Systems are delicate. We don’t see them so we break them”.


Things we reference in this podcast:

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  • Aleem Khan
    • Aleem Khan
    • January 15, 2018 at 10:15 am

    I must say you guys rocks. Thanks for explaining it well.

    I am doing a research on this topic to develop a workshop for my clients. Is there anymore episodes or useful resources on this topic?

  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • November 13, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    This is an early episode, and I’d agree not my favorite. I think we didn’t do the subject justice in this podcast. It’s actually a bit of a frustration for me since I love the topic so much.

    Getting the most basic principles of systems thinking down isn’t really that complicated, it’s developing the discipline of applying it to literally everything. It means whenever I think I know the source of something I’m already wrong, since there’s no single node in a system that creates the emergent. It’s thinking of things in terms of their initial conditions, the relationship each node has to all the other nodes, the question of what would happen if the nodes were changed, swapped out or removed, trying to figure out which nodes are the most important in any system (since it can be tricky), and so on.

    Again, the principles are relatively simple. The actual discipline itself is anything but. O_O


  • Claire
    • Claire
    • November 9, 2017 at 5:31 am

    As an ENTP, I was really looking forward to this podcast – Systems thinking!! All the keywords that would light up an ENTP brain right? :) But sorry to say, this podcast was unstimulating – almost boring in a sense that there was nothing NEW for me. Perhaps because “systems thinking” is how I usually think as an Ne dominant user – But Antonia you are also an ENTP, and I definitely heard the enthusiasm in your voice when explaining this concept – Is there something I’m profoundly missing out on? Is there some material I can dig into that could at least let me peak into the content of the 5-day seminar on systems thinking that you attended and left with your brain fully packed?

  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • January 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Cool, thanks for the link and recommend. :)


  • Ralph Rickenbach
    • Ralph Rickenbach
    • January 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

    System thinking has found its expression in biocybernetics. In German, Prof. Frederik Vester has written extensively about such systems.

    I recommend his work at

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