# Why Next Level Learning

Systems thinking has become a popular method for solving complex problems. Systems thinking is an approach based on seeing the whole, a complex system consisting of many interacting parts. In past decades researchers have come up with additional tools and methods to improve the results of systems thinking. In spite of all these tools and methods system thinking still has a number of shortcomings. They can be summarized in four simple insights, which are described below. These insights are not difficult to understand and seem rather obvious. You probably wonder why everyone is not yet seeing the whole based on these insights. This is due to the essence of systems thinking, we have to see the whole, being part of the whole makes it very difficult to see the whole. We virtually have to get outside the whole to see the whole. In practice, this means that we have to let go our own perspective or paradigm and we do not easily do this. We need some kind of aid that takes us virtually outside of the whole, Next Level Learning is such an aid. Next Level Learning is a form of systems thinking that has been developed on the basis of the four insights and on this website we therefore call it the 4th generation systems thinking.

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## The four insights

The four insights are described below. On the page “Links” you will find links to scientific articles and summaries of books related to systems thinking. For each insight the numbers [#] of the publications are mentioned that reflect on the subject of the relevant insight. By clicking on it you will go directly to the publication on the link page.

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1) When solving a complex problem we must take ourselves into account as being part of the whole system we are looking at with systems thinking

The moment we apply a solution to a system for solving a problem, the system will respond to our intervention. This interaction process between ourselves and the system is also part of the whole system. We therefore have to take ourselves into account as being part of the whole system we are looking at with systems thinking.

[1], [7]

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2) Everyone involved in a complex problem must look at the whole system with systems thinking

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The moment a solution is applied to a system that is produced from the perspective of systems thinking the people involved will not be able to see the solution without the use of systems thinking. They will only see the solutions from their own perspectives which will potentially be in conflict with the solution from the perspective of the whole. When everybody sees everything from the perspective of the whole including ourselves we all will gain a shared perspective. We will see shared possibilities and solutions.

3) In systems thinking we also have to look at time from the perspective of the whole as if we were looking back from the perspective of the future.

If the real cause of a dynamic problem hasn’t been identified the problem cannot be solved, but at best kept under control for a certain period, usually by adding new control parameters. By looking at time from the perspective of the whole we can see the dynamics and the real causes of the exponential amplifying factors of the problem. By neutralizing these causes in the system the complex problem will be solved definitively, not only in the now but also for the future. Looking at the complex problem from the perspective of the total time span is like looking back from the perspective of the future.

4) Systems thinking needs to be a way of learning that makes us see everything continuously from the perspective of the whole.

Solving a dynamic problem is a dynamic process in which the system is changing continuously. Therefore everyone involved in a complex problem has to see the ever-changing problem and system from the perspective of the whole continuously too. Systems thinking is not a method that you can apply at a certain moment but a way to continuously look at the whole system, a way of learning. By learning to look like a kind of outsider we automatically look at problems, systems and ourselves from the perspective of the whole and this will transform everything. With this insight, systems thinking becomes a form of transformative learning with the help of which we see everything from the perspective of the whole, including ourselves, in a dynamic way.

From why to how

Now that we know why we need 4th generation systems thinking to solve a complex problem, the question arises how we do this when a lot of people are involved.

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