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Systems management school

We teach how to solve problems that seem unsolvable

Online Course
"Systems Thinking 2020"

Online Course
"Systems Thinking 2020"
online course on modern systems thinking
based on engineering and management international standards
About the release
We are actively preparing the online course "Systems Thinking 2020"
and are now launching beta testing of the finished material (approximately 75%
of a full version).

You can easily enroll in the course and dive into the discipline while taking part in beta testing. We kindly encourage you to provide your feedback on any language inaccuracies, typos, or other information you would like to advise. Use the "Report an issue" or contact us at support@system-school.ru to do so.

The final public version of the course is scheduled for release on December 24, 2021.
Follow us on Medium to get more about the course.
What this course teaches

  • how to put the whole project in your head as a whole: not to miss something important
    in the hustle and bustle;
  • how to overcome complexity: think about a complex project in parts, without losing sight of the whole;
  • how do engineers, managers, entrepreneurs agree on what kind of system they
    are making.

What tasks will the course help to solve?
How to keep your attention in the project
At any moment of the project, systems thinking makes it necessary to keep attention on entrepreneurial opportunities, external project roles, system definition and system realization, works, methods of performing these works, and the team. You will become familiar with the project system diagram as a checklist that links all of these objects to track the status of the project as a whole.
How not to lose touch with reality
Systems thinking will require you to make the system physical: if the project does not change the physical world, creating or changing some kind of system in it, then you can not do it at all, nothing will change! We will teach you how to understand what exactly is changing in the physical world if you create computer programs, services, documentation, enterprises.
How to define your own and others' roles in a project
Until the 80s of the last century, systems thinking did not pay attention to the people in the project, but modern systems thinking makes it necessary to think about the external project and internal team roles that people play in the project. The difficulty here is that in systems thinking you need to think not about the people themselves, but about the roles they play: the roles of engineers, managers, entrepreneurs, law enforcement officers, doctors, etc. The course teaches to distinguish a person in projects, his project / activity role, his position, his qualifications / competence.
How to think the same about an enterprise and its products
Systems thinking is equally applicable to engineering (how to think about the product of a project), to management (how to think about an enterprise carrying out a project), to entrepreneurship (how to think about who and where the product of a project can be used).
What will you get on the course
(In addition to clarity in the head)
Ability to speak using
the concepts of a systems approach
The main content of the course is based
on the international standards for systems engineering and management. We provide basic terms, which greatly facilitates understanding of the material and helps
to talk with colleagues later.
Systems reasoning experience
The course contains 173 cases to solve,
and each case contains up to a dozen questions. The answers to these questions will be checked and correct answers given with clarifications. So in the course you will not only read how to think systematically,
but also try this thinking on educational tasks.
Ability to think about
the same in different situations
Systems thinking is strong because
it is universal: you mastered it once,
and then you can use it in a variety
of projects, regardless specifics of the domain. In what projects is it recommended to use it? If you have mastered it, then you will not have such a question: you will use
it in all projects, and in especially large collective projects, for the good of the case, you will also teach systems thinking to your colleagues.
We recommend our course for those who lack the power of their thinking to cope with the complexity of their projects: all these elusive tangle of products, services, people and equipment, software and their constantly changing environment.
To become systemic, it is not enough just to think a lot, to be logical and erudite.
To become systemic, you need to master a small set of concepts of systems thinking. The course will introduce this set of concepts. The course
is suitable for:
  • engineers who got a product, service or software that is more difficult to develop than they are able to digest right now;
  • engineers who have matured to managerial tasks and realized that they lacked knowledge;
  • managers who need to negotiate with their engineers;
  • entrepreneurs who need to start a new business;
  • a wide variety of people who are faced with unusual projects and have difficulty
    in formulating them;
  • interested in the modern version of systems thinking, which has been tested
    for operability by system engineers.
    Course Program
    11 sections

    177 subsections
    (including additional materials)
    30 tasks

    173 cases
    897 answers

    with author's clarifications
    Beta Release Course Program
    8 sections

    122 subsections
    (including additional materials)
    10 tasks

    106 cases
    634 answers

    with author's clarifications
    The content of the course is equivalent to the content of a semester university course, with the exception of writing an essay on your project (but you can also get help
    in writing an essay from us using the mentoring service).
    The course will require approximately 60 hours of your time to read the materials
    and perform the assignments well. We recommend reorganizing your life so that you can spend a couple of hours every day on the course. There is no need to stretch these hours for several months: by the end of the course, then you will no longer remember what was there at the beginning.
    The course is passed at the pace at which it is convenient for you to take it
    (self-paced). No deadlines or prodding, everyone is grown up here. When you solve all the tasks of the course (checked by a computer), you will receive a certificate
    of completion (but note that the answers to the questions must be justified in writing, and with empty justifications or with gibberish instead of justifications, we will
    not issue a certificate). Many people choose to take the course twice (or at least reread the textbook from the beginning): after completing the last section, it becomes much clearer what and why was said in the first sections.
    The program of the course "Systems Thinking 2020" is newer than
    the program of the course A. Levenchuk "Systems Thinking" on Coursera,
    it corresponds to the edition of A. Levenchuk's textbook "Systems Thinking 2020", which was published after the course was created on Coursera.
    Our course contains the full text of the textbook, additional materials, plus assignments with study cases with many questions in each case. The course
    does not contain video lectures, because our experience shows that for some reason
    it is not possible to master system engineering thinking using video materials,
    it is imperative to read the textbook.
    You can order a paper book (Russian language) on Amazon
    Course support chat in telegram (Russian): https://t.me/systemsthinking_course
    1. On Thinking
    • Before Engaging Into Systems Thinking
    • Different Kinds of Thinking
    • Thinking Requirements
    • Is Systems Thinking a Substitution for Applied Thinking?
    • The Place of Systems Thinking Among other Thinking: intellect-Stack
    • Readiness for (Thinking) Action
    • Variants of Systems Thinking
    • Systems Engineering
    • Systemic and Systematic
    • Our Version of a Systems Approach
    • Basic Concepts of the Systems Approach
    • Terminology
    • Words-as-Terms are Important and Unimportant
    • Definition: as a Coffin for a Dead Thought
    • How Were the Definitions Chosen for Our Book
    • Cases: Terminology
    • The Rigor of Systems Thinking
    • Systems Creativity
    • The Domain Specializations of Systems Thinking
    • Can Thinking Be Taught?
    • Metanoia
    • The Stages of Training to Think
    • Peculiarities of Solving Systems Thinking Training Exercises
    • Transition to the Application of Thinking
    • The Temptation by Complexity
    • How Long Does It Take to Master Systems Thinking?
    • Applicability of Systems Thinking
    2. Realization and Definition of the System
    • System Realization, Definition and Description
    • Definitions
    • How to Come to an Agreement: Do Not Generalize, but Specify
    • Composition Relation
    • Cases: Realization and Definition of the Systems
    • Holes
    • Works and Actions
    • Don't Overuse the Systems-as-a-Process
    • Cases: Processes as a Physical Objects
    • Computer Programs
    3. Roles
    • Type Engine Role_objects/Roles and Play by Role/Function/Assignment in the Operating environment
    • Aristotelian Physics in Systems Thinking
    • Physical and Functional Objects
    • Cases: Physical and Functional Objects
    • The Second Generation of the Systems Approach
    • Role Performer, Role, Concern, Preference, Intention
    • External and Internal Project Roles
    • Cultural Foundation of Project Roles
    • Theatrical Metaphor
    • Thinking About Humans: First of All They Are Role Performers
    • Cases: Project Roles
    • Concerns and Preferences
    • Don't Mix Concern and Preference Together
    • Cyber-Physical Systems Public Working Group (CPS PWG) Framework Viewpoints
    • Don't Talk to Humans, Talk to Roles
    • Cases: Project Roles and Concerns
    • Position
    • Leadership
    • External and Internal Roles
    • Organizational Places, Organizations, and Organizational Units
    • Bosses: All They Are Jokers, Expect Them to Play Any Role
    • Ranks and Skill Levels
    • How Many Project Roles
    • Mistakes in Role Definition
    4. System levels
      • Calling it a system, does not make it a system
      • Cases: What's considered a system?
      • System Breakdown Structure
      • Emergence and Metasystem Transition
      • Cases: System Breakdown and Emergence
      • Reductionism
      • Synergy: It Is Not a System Effect, It Is Not Emergence
      • The System-of-interest and Collective Systems Thinking
      • How to Depict the System Levels, How to Name the Systems They Include
      • System Levels in Systems Engineering. An Example of Computer Engineering
      • The System Levels Are Highlighted by Attention. An Example of Social Dancing
      • Intellect-stack: Systems Levels of Intellect
      • Enabling Systems
      • System-in-hand
      • Cases: System-of-Interest and System's Correlation
      • Systems Thinking Recursive Applications: Recursive Attention Management
      • Systems Thinking Essence Diagram
      • Needs, Requirements, Constraints
      • System Terminology Examples
      • System Levels and Division of Labor
      • Cases: Needs, Requirements, Constraints
      • System of Systems
      • Humans in Systems
      • Development of the State and Government Projects
      • The Future and Guiding Principles of Entrepreneurship
      • The Equivalence of Thinking for Simple and Complex Systems
      • Complexity and Complexity Measures
      5. The System-of-interest and Its Supra System
      • First Find the System-of-interest
      • The System-of-interest Depends on Who Is Looking for It
      • Products and Enabling Systems Services
      • Service Example: Barbershop
      • Service Orientation. Providers' World
      • Service and Service Provider Examples
      • You Are a Team Member
      • The System-of-interest Cues
      • The Postal Address Principal
      • Common Errors in Discovering the System-of-interest
      • System Naming
      • The Supra System: It Also Has to Be Found!
      • Systems Approach: for All Types of Systems, Not Just for the System-of-interest
      6. How to Define Systems
      • Systems Thinking
      • Transdisciplinarity
      • Three Main Kinds of System Breakdown Definition
      • Functional Analysis and Modular Synthesis
      • One System, but Many Views, Many Names: That's Okay!
      • Variants of System Breakdowns
      • The Non-equivalence Between the Functional and Product Breakdowns of the System
      • Architecturing: Functional Analysis and Modular Synthesis
      • Alphas and Artifacts/products
      • Apples From Life, Apples From Exercises
      • Alphas
      • System Definition
      • Project Roles and System Views
      • Sub-alphas
      • Concern and Viewpoint Differences
      7. System Modeling
      • View and Viewpoints, Models and Meta-models
      • Multi-model and Interdisciplinarity
      • Viewpoint and Mega-model
      • The Concept of Configuration
      • Functional Views: Circuit/principle Diagrams and Scenarios
      • Modular/product/constructive Views
      • Platforms and Technology Stacks
      • Functional Structure in Relation to Domain Mastery
      • Organizational Units
      • The Urge for Good Modularity
      • Struggling With Complexity in Thinking
      • Enterprise Engineering and Non-engineering Domains
      8. Requirements and Architecture
      • Requirements as a Sub-alpha of System Definition
      • Two Meanings of the Term "Requirements"
      • Requirements and System Breakdown
      • Goal-oriented Requirements Engineering
      • Verification and Validation
      • The Concept of Architecture
      9. Neither the life nor the cycle
      • Biological Life Cycle
      • System Life Cycle 1.0: Works that Change System-of-Interest's States
      • Execution of Works by Organizational Units
      • Depicting the Life Cycle as Works (LC 1.0)
      • Project Life Cycle
      • Challenges with the Life Cycle 1.0
      • Practices
      • Life Cycle 2.0
      • Operation as a Particular Stage of the Life Cycle
      • Chains of Enabling Systems
      • Three Realms of Life Cycle
      • The Concept of Practice
      • Life Cycle Management, Enterprise Architecture and Operations Management
      • Discipline of a Practice
      • Technology in Support of Practice
      • Improvement and Development
      • Life Cycle Practices
      • Example: Systems Engineering Life Cycle Practices
      • Methodologies
      10. Life Cycle Model
      • V-diagram
      • Model-driven Life Cycles
      • System Breakdown in the V-model
      • Hybrid Life Cycle Models
      • Obsolescence of Waterfalls and Gates
      • One More Time on Operation Management and Life Cycle Management
      • Kinds of Operation Management Practices
      • Agile Life Cycle Management Methodologies versus Case Management for Works Management
      • Trends in Works/Operation Management Practices
      • Beyond the Life Cycle
      • Life Cycle as Activity Architecture
      11. Systems Project Model
      • Systems Project Model
      • The Contemporary Concept of the Project
      • Entrepreneurial, Engineering, Managerial Areas of Concerns
      • V-diagram and Systems Project Model Diagram
      • Alphas are the Common Objects for Team Tracking
      • Alpha: Opportunity
      • Alpha: External Project Roles
      • Alpha: System Definition
      • Alpha: System Realization
      • Alpha: Work
      • Alpha: Team
      • Alpha: Method
      • Objects to Watch Out for in the Project
      • Alpha States versus Artifacts/Work Products
      • How to Work with the System Project Model
      • Sub-alphas
      • Essence Life Cycle Diagram
      • Maturity and Technology Readiness Models
      • Systems Practices
      • Final Essay
      • What Next
      Enroll Beta release
      Author:
      Anatoly Levenchuk
      Systems Management School head of science, director of research at the Russian chapter
      of the International Council on System Engineering (INCOSE)
      Anatoly lectured on systems thinking, systems engineering, systems management and entrepreneurship
      at MIPT, MEPhI, UrFU, SFU, Rosatom Corporate Academy, Systems Management School.
      He is an author of the textbooks on systems-engineering thinking, systems thinking, and the course "Systems Thinking" on Coursera. He writes blog "Laboratory Log" (http://ailev.ru) (Russian language).

      Q&A

      What is systems approach?
      A system thinker thinks about the whole world as the sets of nested inside each other and interacting at each level "matryoshkas" (russian dolls) - and a lot of dolls in each. The properties of these nested dolls at each nesting level do not match the properties of the doll in which they are nested. And each level of such a "world doll" (the top matryoshka - the universe, the bottom matryoshka - some quantum superstrings, but most interesting occurs on a small number of medium levels) is served by its community that has figured out how this particular level of matryoshka is arranged. Now if you have such "matryoshka" view of the world, and you are still accustomed to first look at matryoshka which is located in someone else's hands and which is embedded in the doll located in your hands, and only after that you would open your doll-in-hand - then you are a systems thinker. The rest is small details.
      What systems approach is needed for?
      To effectively cope with the complexity. Complex tasks become simple, impossible - complex. Yes, it is necessary to get involved in the long history of fundamental education. But then you can build airplanes, instead of making tents out of sticks.
      What I am going to do better once I master systems approach?
      Problems of different scale complexity, from the fundamental ones:
      1. Select an object from the background - control attention;
      2. To see clear the connection between all levels of generalization and the real world;
      3. To realize and be able to use the mechanisms of reasoning, to keep two or more focuses of attention (to understand about people and roles);
      4. Update your methods of reasoning as they accumulate in the baggage of mankind knowledge.

      Out of the more applied ones:
      1. Keep the whole project compactly in mind, not to lose important details (this the standard explanation for students: what they will get as a result of the course);
      2. Work at the same speed with more complex projects, and work more quickly with projects of the same complexity due to faster thinking;
      3. To negotiate with very different people, an excellent basis for productive communication;
      4. To agree with engineers and managers, because it underlies both systems engineering and systems management.

      And here is what the students themselves say in the survey of 2018:
      1. It is better to do self-diagnostics and plan your professional and personal development;
      2. Choose where to begin to act in situations of high uncertainty;
      3. Understand how to better organize activities in order to obtain results with a high degree of probability;
      4. Expand complex tasks into simple ones in real time;
      5. To look at your work and the work of others not from the point of view "How I would do it", but "How to do everything right together".
      What is needed to master systems approach?
      The habit of mastering thoughtfully complex "tools/mechanisms": it is often inculcated in several years of education in technical fields, sometimes it can be formed in a different way. Other than that, it takes time for independent work and a real problem in your project / external activity, as a good example for training. The rest depends on the desire!
      When systems approach is NOT needed?
      When solving problems not related to joint activities. We also do not recommend immediately trying to use a systems approach for, for example, the idea of reorganizing society.
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