Failure and Expectations in Systems Thinking

Systems thinking approach might be regarded as a workplace fad, but its practice can be much more beneficial to individuals, businesses and well as multi-national organisations. Thinking about failure from various perspectives enables professionals to solve unseen problems and provides an opportunity for growth. In systems thinking, mistakes can be considered as a necessary evil because they cannot be avoided since systems thinking majorly involves doing something entirely new, and thus, embracing failure is part of progress (Martín et al., 2020). Moreover, accepting failure is a vital part of learning because it enables the professional to understand what works and what does not work. It is of great value to understand that systems thinking is a challenging endeavor, and thus making mistakes is part and parcel of the process.

If you think that mistakes are not part of systems thinking, ask successful companies and movie makers like “Bug’s Life,”  “Cars,” and “Toy Story.” This successful project boasts of failure, and they have made failure as part of their culture; mistakes are part of their culture because risk comes with mistakes as a burden that cannot be shrugged off (Berkhout, 2006).  In systems thinking learning from mistakes is a positive culture as most instances require professionals to develop something from scratch, and this will need some degree of unsuccessful experimentations and then recollecting the good from the mess created. Systems thinking requires one to disgrace from the original lessons taught in mainstream education that dictate that mistakes are shameful (Tani, Papaluca, and Sasso, 2018). Moreover, as a professional in information systems, equating failure with not being smart can be an Achilles tendon in the profession. On the other hand, embracing failure can open doors to numerous possibilities that one had never imagined were possible.

Therefore, embracing failure is a significant habit that all professionals should inculcate in their daily routine. The habit is positive because any excellent piece of works must always have some adjustment to fit in a real-world scenario, and this phenomenon is referred to as successive approximation. When anticipating greater results, making adjustments enables the final results to be more excellent and suitable for use or application in a real-world context. Therefore, expectation in systems thinking must include some adjustment element due to possible failures that any information systems professional might encounter in their process while applying the concept of system thinking.


Berkhout, F., 2006. Normative expectations in systems innovation. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 18(3-4), pp.299-311.299-311.

Tani, M., Papaluca, O. and Sasso, P., 2018. The system thinking perspective in the open-innovation research: A systematic review. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 4(3), p.38.

Martín, E.G., Giordano, R., Pagano, A., van der Keur, P. and Costa, M.M., 2020. Using a system thinking approach to assess the contribution of nature based solutions to sustainable development goals. Science of the Total Environment, 738, p.139693.