Foreword and Abstracts of Systeemiäly! Systems analysis Laboratory


The articles in this volume are the product of a seminar on Creative Problem Solving, which we organized at the Helsinki University of Technology in the fall of 2002. The participants in the seminar were selected from the best students in the course Philosophy and Systems Thinking.

The goal of the seminar was to expand and open new dimensions in the thinking of the participants, provide tools for personal growth, management of change, self understanding and the mental inspiring of others in interactive encounters. The seminar took place in the atelier of Esa Saarinen in Helsinki.

Surprisingly, the teaching seminar became strongly research oriented. The turning point was when the discussions and presentations lead Raimo P. Hämäläinen to introduce the concept of Systems Intelligence. This concept became the fascinating and encapturing focus of studies. By Systems Intelligence we refer to intelligent behavior in which one identifies and is able to intelligently encounter structural entities consisting of interaction and feedback. A person who reflects Systems Intelligence takes creatively and appropriately into account his or her environment, himself/herself and the systemic interaction which they create. He or she is able to act in such situations in an intelligent way. To us, it began to appear that Systems Intelligence is one of the basic elements in human behavioral intelligence.

As far as we know, the concept of Systems Intelligence is new. It has its natural connections to the ideas and results of the work of Peter Senge and the pioneers in Systems Thinking. While Systems Thinking observes and models interactions from outside, then Systems Intelligence represents active practical thinking in true situations where one is involved. The new elements include the active, personal and existentially relevant contents.

The aim of this volume is to take the first steps in the formation of the concept. We hope to have done this in an inspiring way, extending the everyday thinking of the reader. We are proud that we have had the opportunity to be inspirers to these essays which begin to give contents to the theme and concept of Systems Intelligence.

Raimo P. Hämäläinen & Esa Saarinen

Abstracts in English

Chapter 1

Sakari Turunen

One-way ticket to systems intelligence

At the base of systems intelligence is systems thinking, which is described by Peter Senge, Robert Flood and their predecessors in the field. Before approaching the concept of systems intelligence more precisely. I smooth the path with three essentials that should be given thought to: 1) how the human perception can be biased, 2) how the scientific method works and, 3) what is creativity and what is its role in this composition. In the later part of this paper I begin to portray the concept of systems intelligence from multiple viewpoints.

Chapter 2

Mikko Myllys

Five windows to systems intelligence

The purpose of this paper is to enlighten the meaning of systems thinking from multiple points of view. The essay consists of five thoughts or cases that each deal with one particular concept or reflection of systems thinking. Together the fiveparts form a more complete picture of systems thinking. The perspectives can be envisioned as pictures taken from different angles, making the concept easier to envision and understand. The basis of systems thinking is the appreciation of the wholeness and understanding of the relationships between the elements. Applying systems thinking to decision making poses a great challenge: you have to subject yourself to unknown influences and abandon safe thoughts about the controllability of situations. You have to challenge your own belief systems and let yourself become fascinated about the challenge. This capability can be called systems intelligence. A person with a high level of systems intelligence can identify the self-restricting beliefs and is also able to form local and temporary boundaries to systems. He also enables the continuous development by going into new encounters with a high level of intensity and openness. He can let the situations carry over but also monitor the system from outside and be prepared and know when to shift in to a higher gear in the situation. These moments when an additional gear must be used can change the future significantly, but to identify them, you have to appreciate the wholeness and trust yourself. You have to understand that systems cannot be fully understood and when you understand why this is true, you understand a lot about systems.

Chapter 3

Paula Siitonen

The tail of systems intelligence

The insight of the possibility for a change increases the pain of bearing its presence unbearably on to be larger than the true pain of change. This culminates into making us move to bring the systems to a new level. By using systems intelligence one understands and observes oneself as part of a dynamic system and acts to change the system as a result of the insight. Both as a theoretical concept and as a realization in our everyday lifes the idea of systems intelligence still remains too big to be understood completely. We can only see its tail and follow it up to find the full body of the concept (the lion) i.e. the many ways it can appear in our minds when thinking about the wholeness of relations. If we dare to release our mental grasp from this tail for a moment, we can see a flash of all the possible systems intelligences, the reflections of the wholeness. Lets laugh and do it!

Chapter 4

Juha Kähkönen

Systems intelligence and family life

“Systems intelligence is an active observation process which leads up to action in everyday life.” What are systems, systemic thinking and systems intelligence? Some declarations or proposals are presented for defining these items. Systems intelligence is approached by asking questions “what?”, “why?” and “how?”. Systems, in this context, are something which have the human factor as a part of wholeness. Systems are complex, dynamic and have internal connections. The human factor makes systems more indeterministic, and systems intelligence is an ability which could help to control within the uncontrollable. Hard sciences like meteorology, physics and even mathematics have paradoxes and deficiencies as well. From the perspective of the indeterministic human factor, the world seems to be impossible to manage. Systems intelligence is needed especially when cooperating with other people in every day life. Some ideas of interesting writers are shortly introduced, namely, ideas of R. L. Ackoff, C. W. Churchman, P. Checkland and J. Rawls. Common to all of them is their interest in “soft things” like ethics and justice. Checkland’s Soft System Methodology (SSM) is considered a little deeper. It is a widely used problem solving methodology for human systems. SSM is a process of continuous learning and understanding in ill-structured problem contexts when both the means and the ends are unclear. Finally, the essay includes an introduction of the writer’s own family, and an application of the SSM for problem solving in the family life context.

Chapter 5

Antti Hovila

Systems intelligence within the context of global economy

This paper examines the concept of systems intelligence in the context of global economy and it provides a practical viewpoint to systems intelligence. I argue that as the world has changed in terms of the scope of human networks and the means of communication, the requirements for systems intelligence have also changed. It also emphasises the dualistic, cognition and action, nature of systems intelligence.

Chapter 6

Matti Knaapila

On the systems intelligence of Sun Tzu

The classic wisdom of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” is discussed from the intuitive and practical standpoint. The concepts of the systems intelligence and the improvement of thought related to this text and to the author’s personal view are introduced. These are compared to selected ideas of P. M. Senge, R. L. Flood, C. von Clausewitz, and E. Saarinen. Several qualitative interests in common with these thinkers are found, whilst clear differences exist as well. Sun Tzu’s central ideas, such as the use of unexpected tactics, are suggested to be systemic rather than analytic. The ideas were synthesised and successfully used in practise when launching new cooperative projects abroad. Action based approach was used. This casts a new outlook on systems intelligence.

Chapter 7

Sebastian Slotte

Dialogue as Systems Intelligence – What is Systems intelligence?

I propose that dialogue creates systems intelligence. Systems intelligence is defined as intelligence with respect to human systems - the individual side of systems intelligence - and the intelligence of that particular system - the collective side of systems intelligence. With references to David Bohm's theory about thought as a system, it is proposed that the individual and the collective side can't be separated. Moreover, systems intelligence is defined as an emergent property of human systems. It is proposed, that Dialogue and dialogical skills enhance systems intelligence. A case study were participants in dialogue reflect on systems intelligence is provided.

Chapter 8

Ari Korhonen

Systems intelligence dynamics

The universe is a mystery. Mysteries are something strange and unexplainable, without a recognisable form. Many feel this mystery is something that yearns an explanation. Mysteries are forbidden and taken into special scrutiny. They are something to be taken into possession, occupied and gotten rid of. The desire to occupy mysteries denies possibilities in an area which might be essential in order to understand life itself. Rigorous rationalisation constrains the perspective, allows observation of just a small strip – rationalisation creates an impressive informational systems, but looses the significance and meaning of a life full of experiences. Somersaults on the grass, the scent of snow and the wonderful tumbling of leaves in autumn winds or, the fundamentally profound feeling of being in love, do not find their worthy lockers in this highly informational system.

Chapter 9

Terhi Kling

Systems intelligent way of life

Systemic thinking is one way to handle the constantly changing world and the continuously accelerating way of living. One aspect of Systems intelligence is to apply systemic thinking in everyday life. Modern people are able to choose what they do with their lives, but the freedom leads to responsibility. It is impossible to control the whole world and the variety of ways of living, especially because we are deeply connected to other people, but no development is possible if we don’t even try. Taking responsibility means that we need to realise that we are decisionmakers and we need to actively try to steer our own ship. Systems intelligence means readiness to change and personal growth as well as willingness to widen the perspective to be able to find once own way of living. Life can be rich if we just open eyes and ears and focus our attention on the present and the future.

Chapter 10

Liina Saarinen

Resolutions of systems intelligence

How to become systems intelligent? What does it take? The author introduces a list of resolutions for becoming systems intelligent. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s eve, you can make them any day of the year. And by doing so, you are one step closer to Systems intelligence – and to happiness. But why should you develop your systems intelligence? By structuring the world as a composition of systems, it is easier for all of us to see our own possibilities to influence the way a system is evolving.

Chapter 11

Ville Brummer

The need for systems intelligence

Where is systems intelligence? The writer is trying to locate and reach the needs for and purposes of systems intelligence. By small and liberating examples and thoughts, he tries to build an environment and surface, where he can dig into some areas of systems intelligence. Through these grapple points and concrete tales, the writer tries to converge, and personalise systems intelligence as a fuzzy border of ideal absolutes, and incompleteness of adaptation as well.

Chapter 12

Tom Bäckström

Systems intelligence is happiness

Happiness. People seek happiness. In fact, it can be seen as the ultimate goal of life. Happiness. It is a long term project – happiness is not an event – it is an experience stretching over years. In this way, altruism becomes an important part of systems intelligence. Our good works do pay back in the long run, making oneself happier in a profound manner. A systems intelligent person is aware of this – with the long term benefits in mind, it is easy to motivate oneself to act. Moreover, having realized the long term consequences of one’s actions, it is almost impossible to resist action. Consequently, it is only a question of faith and will – faith in one’s own power to influence one’s own future, and will to improve one’s own future. Concluding, happiness – it’s yours if you want to have it.