What is Systems Thinking?

This blog has extensively covered all manner of things relevant to the industrial and construction industry in recent months, including BIM and sustainable building, BREEAM certifications, and of course the importance of keeping the industry open to apprenticeships and the like.

Systems Thinking is a relatively undiscussed part of the construction industry, and generally, to understand it, you have to view it as a framework for understanding complex issues with a site or an individual build and structuring problems out – in order to deliver better results.

Take very well-known civil engineering Denbighshire firm, for example. Brenig Construction are a firm which work on a multitude of projects within the North Wales and North West England area, and have particular experience in infrastructure, railway, and marine developments.

Brenig Construction have dealt with projects throughout any of these which no doubt would have involved multiple stakeholders with differing motivation, purpose, aim, objective, and of course monetary and non-monetary constraints, and some, or all of which is very probable to have caused multiple conflictions throughout the length and breadth of the project.

Civil engineering in North Wales, Scotland, the UK, or even in far flung regions such as Australia is of course demanding. The same limitations and challenges which affect British companies are the same as those that affect other companies on the other side of the earth. There is the old style of thinking, of course – the “brief, design, construct and deliver” mind set only takes a civil engineering firm so far, and is often referenced as the UK-wide recognition that the industry must learn other ways of thinking.

Systems thinking is generally considered only a part of the new ways of thinking, and Brenig Construction in particular have embraced Systems thinking with their projects, to great effect. First of all, when you look at a project, you must understand that success involves collaboration, and that stakeholders must understand and agree the purpose of each and every stage of the construction and planning effort. Essentially, it’s communication – albeit logged communication and the establishment of a common goal.

Systems thinking has proved its worth across the UK in terms of providing a framework for understanding and management, as well as allowing stakeholders to add value to a project, and enabling the structure of problems, as well as identifying what exactly is needed for the project’s success.