Physicians Leadership Academy Class - Introduction to Systems and Design Thinking

When:  Feb 7, 2019 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM (ET)
Associated with  PLA Community Forum


As a physician, systems’ thinking is not new to you. You have been trained to be aware of how cells become tissue, tissue becomes organs, organs become systems, and systems ultimately become a person and they are intrinsically linked together. You understand that in the diagnostic process what appears to be at issue may only be a symptom of something else. This is also true of organizations. Organizations are made up of human beings (each with their own uniqueness’s), that are organized based on some rationale (a department) and those are further organized within themselves. It is usually expected that those organizations (departments) will function well with other groups of organized people (departments) within some larger construct of the whole organization.

Systems’ thinking is often applied to problem solving within organizations by helping us to view “problems” as part of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific parts, outcomes or events. In systems thinking it is argued that the only way to fully understand why a problem or element occurs and persists is to understand the parts in relation to the whole. Systems’ thinking attempts to illustrate how small catalytic events that are separated by distance and time can be the cause of significant changes in complex systems. Leaders are called upon everyday to make organizational diagnoses from a system’s perspective. Understanding systems thinking as it applies to organizations is a critical tool for all leaders to have. This session will be an introduction to systems’ thinking.

Design thinking has come to be defined as combining empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context. (Wikipedia) The premise of design thinking is that by knowing how designers approach problems and the methods they use, individuals and businesses will be better able to improve their own problem solving processes and take innovation to a higher level.

Design thinking, in the scheme of things, is a relatively young concept (1960’s). The difference in thinking is often described as the difference between problems based solvers and solution-based solvers. Design thinking has most often used in the creation of products, but more recently is being used to innovate organizational solutions. This session will be an introduction to design thinking as it relates to organizations.
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