The Whole System Thinking Within Which Business Competes
In order to do business successfully, it is necessary to understand the Whole System within which businesses operate and compete. — Stealing Share The Whole System is ‘everything there is’ organized as an integrated and single system.
A New Way of Seeing
The Whole System is made up a number of concentric spheres, which are themselves located in two major spheres. The two major spheres are the Physiosphere and the Sociosphere.
The Entire Universe —Physiosphere
The Physiosphere is the entire physical universe. It is the outer of the two major concentric spheres. We can think of it as the outer, surface sphere. The Physiosphere comprises three concentric and transparent layers: 1. The first of these three layers is the layer of live human bodies and their actions. 2. The second of these three layers of the Physiosphere is Nature. 3. The third of these layers comprises the civilized spaces of human artifacts.
Change Is A Constant
The Physiosphere has been undergoing a remarkable transformation on the surface of the planet Earth because of human interaction with the rest of the Physiosphere. This transformation comprises the entire ‘civilizing’ of the Earth’s surface in the form of cities, towns, villages, farms, highways, bridges, tunnels, trucks, automobiles, trains, ships, boats, airplanes, motorcycles, and bicycles. It also includes all the other structures in cities, towns, and villages, namely, buildings, houses, stations, and everything in them, such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and all the other products.
This transformation of the Nature layer into the Civilized layer is not the result of typical physical, chemical, biological, geological, or astronomical processes. On the contrary, it is the result of the Sociosphere. The Sociosphere is the major inner sphere that comprises five concentric layers: from outer to inner, these spheres are
1. Human Actions,
2. The Ideas they Serve,
3. The Beliefs that give rise to the ideas,
4. The Emotions that award value to the contents of all these layers,
5. Sentience, which is the consciousness function of the Whole System. So both the major spheres of the outer Physiosphere and the inner Sociosphere, share a common layer. What comprise human organisms in the Physiosphere are simultaneously the human actions in the Sociosphere, which is the entire realm of social reality that is generated by social processes like economics and politics.
The Whole System Thinking Interaction
The Sociosphere and the Physiosphere share a single layer. Together the two major spheres comprise seven layers: the three layers of the Physiosphere, and five layers of the Sociosphere. They both unite at the fifth layer of the Sociosphere, the Actisphere, and the actions of individual and grouped humans. A. Sociosphere: The five layers of the Sociosphere are:
1. Sentience. Sentience is the conscious and self-reflective feedback function of the Whole System, and it is aimed and focused by its sense of self, or identity. Sentience operates in all living humans, and unites us as a single species.
2. Emotions. Values are the prioritization function of the Whole System and influenced primarily by the prevailing identity of Sentience. Values function in all humans and are a strong basis for bonds among them, serving to unite them in groups that share similar values. Values are shared and spread across humans through behaviors and communications, making individual humans increasingly less autonomous.
3. Knowledge. Knowledge is the conceptual feedback interpreting function of the System, and comprises the prevailing beliefs and assumptions of living humans. By knowledge is meant anything that any human considers either true or real. It exists in all humans and is a strong basis for bonds among us, serving to unite us in groups that share similar values. Knowledge is shared and spread across humans through behaviors and other communications, making individual humans increasingly less autonomous.
4. Imaginations. Imagination or Ideas are the conceptual creative function of the Whole System and comprises ever-new combinations of pieces of knowledge. When charged with a strong positive or negative valuation charge, they become goals and aims, missions and objectives. These exist in all humans and are an additional basis for bonds among them, serving to unite them in groups that share similar aims and goals. Ideas are also shared and spread across humans through behaviors and other communications, making individual humans increasingly less autonomous.
5. Actions. Actions are the transforming function of the System, and comprise the human organisms, their interventions, their implementations, and the activities of individuals and groups of humans in the system. As we have already seen, Actions are both in the Sociosphere and in the Physiosphere. The live human forms exist in the Physiosphere. The actions of these forms are, unlike the rest of the Physiosphere, governed by all the other layers of the Sociosphere. The layer of Actions also includes group action in the form of organizations. Typically, organizations are the product of bonds in all the above layers of the System.
Now to the Whole System Thinking Physiosphere
The Physiosphere is the entire Universe of Matter/Energy in all of its forms. There are three layers in the Physiosphere.
1. Actions, identical to A.5. in the Sociosphere above.
2. Civilispace. The human-influence spaces and structures, we.e., the extent to which the Physiosphere has been transformed by the Sociosphere. This includes not only social artifacts such as cities, towns, villages, plantations, farms, buildings, roads, highways, tunnels, canals, dams, bridges, cars, trains, ships, boats, planes, rockets, satellites, pollution, and all the other technological inventions and products. The Civilispace includes the changes in climate and other natural motions in the Physiosphere.
3. The rest of Nature. This is the rest of the Physiosphere, the physical universe, which is left after subtracting live human forms, and the artifacts of the Sociosphere, the Civilisphere. There is ever less Nature left on the planet Earth, and even the climatic influences of the Civilispace upon climate and the rest of the Biosphere of Nature. Another, simplified way to think about this: Our focus should be on flows in the Whole System, especially on invisible and intangible flows that exert powerful impact on what actually happens in our world, but which most people are not aware of as such.
How the whole system thinking works
Every individual human constitutes a vertical feedback loop in the Whole System. What do we mean by vertical? We use the term merely to distinguish it from horizontal, which involves feedback loops ACROSS two or more individuals. However, let us make an attempt anyway. If we were to speak to a ten year old, we would use the metaphor of a hand with many fingers (and no thumb).
Imagine the Whole System is your left hand, and every finger in it is an individual human. All the fingers share a common palm. All the fingers have nails, fingerprints, a top joint, a middle joint, and the bottom joint where the finger meets the rest of the hand. Any connection or interactions among all the nails or all the fingerprints, or all the top joints, or all the mid joints or all the bottom joints are lateral flows. Any interaction among the nail, the fingerprint, the top joint, the mid joint, the bottom joint, and the palm with a single finger is a vertical flow. The hand was a metaphor for human society (all the fingers) and the rest of Nature (the rest of the hand).
Let us say the fingernail of every finger is the sentience or consciousness of the individual human. The sentience function makes for a feedback system, if only because sentience observes, generating the opportunity for feedback (there can be no true feedback without the sentience function).
Now let us say the fingerprint in every finger is the emotional ‘valuation’ or prioritization function of the individual human. The valuation function awards varying degrees of positive or negative charges to every content of sentience’s observation, and thus prioritizes the relative importance of that specific observed content within the individual.
Now let us say the top joint of every finger is the interpretation and inference function of the individual human. The interpretation/inference function extracts meaning from the every content observed by sentience, according to the knowledge content already stored in that individual.
Now let us say that the middle joint of every finger is the imagining and ideation function of every human individual. The imagining/ideating function keeps developing new combinations of the knowledge content stored in the individual, generating ideas, options, possibilities, which in turn get charged positively or negatively to various extents by the valuating function.
Now let us say that the bottom joint of every finger is the acting, implementing, intervention function of every individual. This is where the rubber of the individual meets the road of Nature, and human activities and processes take place. Finally, let’s say that the palm that every finger shares is the common rest of Nature that every individual shares, and which gets transformed a little or a lot, depending on the scope and effectiveness of the action function.
The Interaction In short, every individual interfaces with the rest of Nature through one’s human form, and transforms it a little, which in turn generates new sentient experiences, which get stored as new knowledge, which contributes to new ideas and imaginations, which in turn according to the prioritization of the valuation function, gets acted upon in the rest of Nature and transforms it all over again. The vertical feedback loop works that way. The themes referenced in this article are continued in Business and The WHOLE SYSTEM