A Holistic View

Does the seed cause the sprout?

 How did that happen? Why did that happen? We humans want to know cause and effect. In fact, we humans want to believe in single cause and effect. Teachers caused student scores; banks caused the economic crises; labor unions caused the auto industry’s financial problems; “It’s all his fault”; the seed caused the sprout. However, we humans need to acquire a holistic view of cause and effect. This blog is intended to get us to focus on the whole.

A famous hypothetical question may help us see the whole. “Does the seed cause the sprout?” The seed is an important factor in the growth of the sprout, but not the whole story. The sprout needs fertile soil, sun and water to be able to continue growing. The sprout did not grow from a single cause. In our reality there is almost always multiple causes.

Blaming only the seed if the sprout doesn’t grow is like blaming only teachers for low test scores, blaming only the banks as the cause the economic downturn, and blaming only the labor unions as the cause of the auto industry’s financial problems. It takes the whole environment to grow a sprout, a whole village to teach a child, a whole nation, and world to create economy stability. It takes multiple solutions to solve one problem.

Holistic definition: characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. Holistic is hard for us humans to comprehend. We are told that in our reality everything is interconnected to everything else in an unbroken wholeness. Quantum physics tells us: Each part is the whole. How are we supposed to understand that? We aren’t; that’s why it is called “Chaos Theory.”

Systems scientist Russell Ackoff years ago said there was no word for the complicated interconnectedness of interrelated problems so he coined the term “mess”. This is helpful because no one is expected to understand a mess. You cannot solve a holistic mess with single-minded, single-cause strategies. Ackoff offered an intervention strategy called “mess management”.

Ackoff explains: The behavior of a mess depends more on how the parts interact than on how they act independently of each other. The key to mess management is the way you see the problem —- see it as a holistic system of problems. And solve it with multiple, inclusive, big picture, creative interventions.

Notice: The key to mess management is the way you see the problem. Today our messy, interconnected, unbroken whole problems, like our national or world or political problems (or personal problems), are not independent problems looking for independent solutions. Our solutions depend on how we see, or if we see, all the whole problem.

Solving our complicated political problems of today will require “mess management”. See it as a holistic system of problems. And solve it with multiple, inclusive, big picture, creative interventions. However, the Senate is now, with republicans and democrats, attempting to solve this problem ignoring its holistic, interconnectedness, mess. The way they see the problem will be the problem. I am not sure why I am pointing this out — as if it needs to be pointed it out.

I hope it is not an insult to suggest that today’s political solutions need “mess management”.  However, expecting a holistic view of the problems and the solutions doesn’t seem possible.  This blog is intended to get us to focus on the whole. But it won’t get politicians to see the whole.

You think because you understand one you must understand two because                               one and one makes two. But you must also understand andSufi saying                                             








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1 Response to CAUSE AND EFFECT

  1. EUGENE UNGER says:

    What a mess. But. Well done mess. Sorry but no breakfast tomorrow. Going to DMV to take test. A real mess. 😱

    Sent from my iPhone


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