It’s all a system

The dilemma that faces me from my own question…

What class (in high school, college, or grad school) influences you now in a way that you did not anticipate at the time you originally took the class?

There have been so many great classes with so many good lessons. How can I settle on just one?

Thinking back to high school I could go with my biology classes (some inspiration from last week’s post,) my English classes for the writing skills they inspired, or even my time in band, which is still the only part of high school I would be willing to experience again!

College brought more fabulous classes. For majoring in biology though, the memorable or impactful classes had nothing to do with my chosen field of study. The personal finance class taught lessons I use to this day while my interest in political science can be traced back to Dr. Hershey and the class I took from her my junior year at IU. Environmental law, limnology, and my risk assessment course are also contenders.

However, after much thought around impact, I think I find myself finally deciding to settle on one of my graduate school classes. Introduction to Systems Thinking brought to clarity some of the factors I had always thought about. I could finally put words to the influence of one event upon another as well as the creation of both virtuous and vicious cycles. We experience these systems in all aspects of our lives and being able to apply the tools of systems thinking (primarily through the work of Peter Senge) has made me a better leader and HR professional. Being able to graphically and verbally explain what is happening to a group or process and the presenting some options to consider a change are now essential tools in my own leadership and consultative approach.

The base elements of systems thinking, the archetypes, have become more ingrained as I use them and rarely does a day go by when I do not think through a situation from a systems perspective.  Judging by impact, the systems thinking part of my grad school curriculum has provided me with not just theory, but a practical approach that I use in my HR world as well as seeing the larger scope of public education (my current industry) through a whole new set of lenses.

Thank you Claudia (my instructor) for providing a solid foundation that many other elements of my MBA were able to build upon.




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