Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsNow, a very good application, this way of thinking, is something we have come across early on in this program when we spoke about the environment within which we operate. This is actually system. So for instance, we spoke about economics as part of the bigger system, and we spoke about the political environment. And we mentioned the technological environment, and we refer to the social environment, as well as the resource environment. And what we also said, and very importantly, these different environments interact with one another.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsSo we need to look out for the relationship between economics and resources, and between economics and politics, and between politics and technology, and between technology and the social environment, and between the social environment and the resource environment. And even more, we need to recognize the fact there's a link between economics and the social environment, and between economics and technology. And so we get this typical systemic feedback between all these different variables. It's almost like a spider's web of interconnectedness. There's a further level of thinking. And that is no entity. Now for entity, you can read if you like organization. No organization operates only within the context of its own country.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsIt is influenced by, in many ways, a global story and-or the regional story, such as Africa. And naturally, there's a domestic perspective. And all of these interact with one another, again, not always in a linear fashion. And so here's an example of the system's thinking approach as applied to our future's thinking. And what we are trying to do obviously in future's thinking is we examine each one of these environments in isolation. But very importantly, we are constantly looking out for the interaction between them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 secondWe need to recognize the fact that arguably a small change in a world of economics might have a very big impact on the world of politics or vice versa, which, in turn, could boomerang back and forth amongst all the other variables. At the same time, we must recognize in conclusion that many topics for debate and discussion find a home in possibly more than one of these areas. Unemployment for instance, is often analyzed as being an economic issue. We could also look at unemployment from a political point of view and-or a technological point of view. Or we could argue that unemployment creates all kinds of social repercussions.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 secondsAnd in South Africa, we could argue that the demise or the slowdown in our mining sector is creating unemployment. Ultimately from all of this, as futurists, we want to distill those particular forces, those particular issues that will have a bearing from this system, from this mess on our chosen entity or our chosen construct.

Putting it all together

In the previous step, we looked at an example of a single decision (amending legislation around passports) and its impact on a very complex environment.

Let’s look now at how different environments interact with one another.

Discuss an example of a single decision made in your country that has had a complex set of consequences impacting on more than one environment.

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development