Models can be both help our thinking while hindering it in other ways. Models will never be able to represent the full complexity of a problem/topic since, at the end of the day, they’re a simplification which leads to some interesting benefits and oversights.

New LOoK at the ITGS Triangle - OSC IB Blogs

The first model I’ll use an example is the ITGS triangle, which allows people to analyse the social/ethical problems tied with IT systems and their stakeholders. For those unfamiliar, ITGS as a subject considers and discusses the social/ethical issues that are often caused as a result of IT systems, and the consequences they can cause. The ITGS triangle then should be the perfect simplification and representation of this: it has a list of social/ethical issues, a list of IT systems and a list of stakeholders to do with those IT systems. The main reason this model helps ITGS students is, of course, speeding up the process of thinking and analysis of social/ethical issues to do with the IT system in question, and not a whole lot else. Anyone that wants to think of a solution to the problem at hand will have to use a different model.

Systems thinking process-iceberg model. | Download ...

If we want to find the solution to the underlying problems behind a social/ethical issue in ITGS then the Systems Iceberg serves much more useful. For starters, the systems iceberg helps think of a problem one layer of thinking at a time. We start with the surface level, the event itself, and the reactions that may come as a consequence of the problem, no deeper than that. second the patterns and trends behind a problem, then the underlying structures and finally the mental models. This is a pretty good model when it comes to coming up with solutions but struggles when there is overlap between patterns and structures. Additionally, the model doesn’t offer a way to determine which solutions are the most effective.

The Systems Thinker – Shifting the Burden: The "Helen ...

When it comes to determining the effectiveness of a solution, Shifting the Burden model has the most distinct advantages. For starters, it encourages the distinction between short term and long term solutions as well as the side effects those solutions may cause. Short term solutions feed into long term solutions and vice versa, allowing the user to eventually determine an effective solution or analyse the side effects of less effective solutions (both short and long term). However, this model is the most specific, only useful when discussing solutions to a problem.

As you can see, all three models possess advantages and disadvantages towards one another and the user’s thinking. One thing to note is that these models do not have to be used independently of one another and if used together, may cover many of the disadvantages on the other models. If utilised in this way, I’d say that models clearly help our thinking, but only once we have identified their weaknesses and how they hinder our thinking.





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