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 Systems Thinking





Reflexions: Thinking About Thinking

What is "Reflexions"?

Kymokeo's Puzzle (an illustration of the power of assumptions):

Kymokeo has to fly three animals across a treacherous chasm to the other side, where they can be safe. Kymokeo's craft can only hold one animal at a time (plus Kymokeo), so each must be transported individually. (If more than one animal were in the craft with Kymokeo, the weight would be too much and the craft would plunge into the chasm, killing all aboard.)

The three animals are: a Frokkei, a Cholimoe, and a Seelokis. Unfortunately:

 If Kymokeo leaves the Frokkei and Cholimoe alone (on either side of the chasm), the Frokkei will eat the Cholimoe

 If Kymokeo leaves the Cholimoe and the Seelokis alone, the Cholimoe will eat the Seelokis

The problem: How can Kymokeo get the three animals across the chasm, making sure all of them are still alive?


The value of this puzzle is in exposing how our assumptions limit the possibile solutions we see.


1) How does Kymokoe succeed without having any additional resources or time (e.g., to build a craft that holds 2 animals)?

2) What additional solution possibilities are there that don’t require the use of any additional materials at all?

3) What additional solutions are there as additional assumptions (besides materials and time) are challenged?

What is "Reflexions"?

The  first four sections of the Thinking Page  Systems Thinking, Cybernetics, Creativity, and Palimpsest  each address the lessons we can learn from individual disciplines, such as systems thinking or creativity, while the mission of this section is to assemble the insights of the other sections into an integrated whole.

This first edition of Reflexions begins this process by addressing the purpose of the Thinking Page which, like this column, is a synthetic one: to bring together separate but complementary perspectives on thinking and join them into one resource that allows us to learn from all of them and allows each discipline to learn from the others.

The Thinking Page is founded on the belief that each of the disciplines represented can contribute something unique to our understanding of how we think and how we can think better, and that together they can provide us with a whole new way to look at thinking and at ourselves.

We live in a revolutionary time for the understanding of how we think. Just as the  understanding of the physical world took a quantum leap forward when people discovered that the forces that keep the stars in the sky are the same as those keeping us on the earth, we are at a time when different disciplines for understanding how we think are discovering that they are all different sides of the same coin, and that together they provide us with a clearer, more complete picture of the way we think than any of them do individually.

The Reflexions section and the Thinking Page as a whole are dedicated to providing a place for such synergy to take place and to spreading the insights that result as widely as possible. That synergy is a milestone on the road to a thinking better as individuals and in organizations. I hope you´ll come along.

- Daniel Aronson, host of the Thinking Page

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©Copyright 1999 Daniel Aronson. Documents (c) their authors.  all rights reserved.

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