The best way of explaining whole systems is in comparison to today’s most dominant operating structure in businesses, government and business organizations today: hierarchical organizational management. In hierarchical management, whether operationally, or pro-grammatically, every entity, division or person, except one, is subordinate to a single other entity. In the context of a hierarchical structure there is usually a singular or group of power at the top of the organization with subordinate levels of power beneath them.
As a humanity and society, we are so accustomed to viewing our lives and our world in a linear manner of myriads of disconnected parts – e.g., our inner world of thought from our outer world of life, our family life from our work, our work from our relationship to our broader community or the world. In the most general sense, a “whole system” is a configuration of parts connected and joined together by a web of relationships. The value of systems thinking is that “the whole” of anything will never be found through the reduction or any analysis of its parts. There is a simple Aristotle quote that is enlightening here: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
“Whole Systems:” The term “Whole Systems” is used to describe the systemic nature of life, e.g., the human body, the eco-system, our galaxy, and our universe. In every capacity, these examples are the DNA (distinctive characteristics of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable) of natural life.
Definition: A “whole system” manifests when independent parts come together to work interdependently to accomplish the goal or aim of the system. Indeed, in a technological sense, today’s virtual world mimics nature as a living system. Examples include:
Repeated stress to any single organ can slowly (or rapidly) break down the healthy function of our body.
The systemic nature of ORA’s whole systems approach is designed to operate in a comparative manner. Whether interpersonally, personally, professionally/organizationally or in community, the system design metaphorically makes symbolic use of the wheel:
Global Comparative Analysis: Hierarchical Systems vs. 4th Wave Whole Systems
Fourth Wave Government is a transformative environment where employees at all levels collaboratively co-create real time outcomes and 10x improvements. The Fourth Wave approach dissipates silos and hierarchy and brings a global and shared stewardship and leadership to government. It creates a dynamically integrated ecosystem of stakeholders, employees, families, customers, government, economy, and constituents. These stakeholders possess a pledge to service, with a sense of responsibility for the whole mission of the agency. 4th wave prioritizes a commitment to personal fulfillment in doing our jobs, serving constituents, and leaving a legacy.
The 4th Wave approach creates “waves of change” in government. To better understand 4th Wave, understanding 2nd Wave and 3rd Wave becomes important.
A goal of 4th Wave is to recognize when you, your organization or your community are making decisions or taking actions from a 2nd or 3rd Wave approach. We create change (transform) when we consciously take personal, proactive action to move the situation from its current 2nd or 3rd Wave environment to one that personifies the global stewardship of 4th Wave.
“Interdependent relationships will always enhance independent performance and organically refine our branding in the world. Likewise, as independent performance increases, it will simultaneously enhance interdependent outcomes. At all levels, the fluid freedom of this environment exponentially accelerates innovation in the context of real time unlimited possibilities and futures.”
– Rebekah Christensen, ORA Systems, Inc.