Systems Thinking and Coffee: An introduction for designers

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A minizine for a class project giving an introduction to what systems thinking is and explanation of the terms through a coffee shop and coffee.

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<ul><li><p>SYSTEMS THINKING </p><p>&amp; COFFEE</p><p>alex marshall - ross giblin rebecca wesolowski - Nicola liston</p><p>an introduction for designers</p></li><li><p>1. reductionism vs systems thinking2. Systems boundaries3. Subsytems4. feed back loops &amp;stocks and flows</p><p>contents</p><p>1</p></li><li><p>2</p></li><li><p>Lets take a reductionistapproach to a bad cupoff coffee. We break ourprocess into individualparts, the beans, thebarista, the machine andthe milk, each of thesethe milk, each of thesecan be improved can be improvedseperately, you can getfresher beans, hire anew barista, buy a newmachine and get adiffedifferent brand of milk,however, once youvebroken down the partsyou no longer have acup of coffee. This isbecause a system isgreater than the sum ofit itit its parts in otherwords, your missing outon a vital part, therelationship betweenthings, and this is wereSystems Thinkingcomes in.</p><p>Now lets look at the coffee again followingthe journey of the coffee bean from a systemsthinking view point, the beans are picked,roasted, ground, tamped, extracted and com-bined with milk as a process to create the cupof coffof coffee. Along the journey of the bean itinteracts with different parts of its system withdifferent dynamics to each relationships, andeach relationship has an important role on theoutcome of that coffee it is only throughlooking at the entire system, the relationshipsand parts that you can truly</p></li><li><p>A ststem boundary is where you draw the line. Because all things are connected in systems that are infinitely small and large it is important to have scope when using systems thinking.</p><p>In the case of a coffee shop looking to improve iits coffee, oursystem bound-ary would be the coffee shop, where the owner has the control and influence to intervene in the system.</p><p>Imagine the coffee shop as a box, everything inside the coffee shop is part of the system contained in the box, everything outside the coffee shop is an actor, these actors play a part in the system, however are not included in our system boundary as we can not directly invervene on them.</p></li><li><p>Subsystems are how we break up our system. We could break the system of making coffee into the subsystem for ordering and recieving the beans and milk, preparing the beans, making the coffee and consumption.</p><p>Subsystems allow us to focus or zoom in on finer relationships, the more we can learn about the system both how it works on large and small scales, the more we can create interventions that work within the system to create better solutions.</p></li><li><p>Slabalising feed back loops are also known as balancing loops, is where the stock remains within a consistent range, this is generally cause by a safety valve mechanism, this prevents growth or uncontrollable effects. In relation to the coffee shop, this could be seen in the adjusting of an order for beans to keep a consistent ammount throughout the week.Reinforcing feedback loops are where the stock is compounded and has exponetial gexponetial growth. This could be seen through a customer posting a status about the coffee shop, and then friends liking and sharing it, cause growth to the coffee shops customers.</p><p>Stock flows through the system and has an eventual output. Think about making coffee, the water from the machine is your input flow, the build up of water in the portafilter is our stock and the coffee flowing out the spout is the output flow.. The varying levels of stock can be attributed to controlling and manipulating feedback loops. Within systems these feedback loops are broken into stabalising and reinforcing.</p><p>Stocks and flows &amp; feedback Loops</p><p>6</p></li><li><p>thanks for reading</p></li></ul>