Greater than its parts

For my current M.Ed. practicum I’m looking at systems thinking, an area I’ve had an interest in but am now just diving into understanding. Today I started reading Margeret Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science and was struck by this passage:

One of the differences between new science and Newtonianism is a focus on holism rather than parts. Systems are understood as whole systems, and attention is given to ‘relationships within those networks’. Donella Meadows, an ecologist and author, quotes an ancient Sufi teaching that captures this shift in focus:
“You think [that] because you understand ‘one’ you must understand ‘two’, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand ‘and’.”


I love this idea: that we must understand the ways in which connection amplifies us, not just the individuals involved. 

A few hours later browsing Reddit I came across a photo series linked as “16 things greater than their parts.” I don’t know the source of these photos (although some remind me of similar ones by Todd McLellan) but they embody the “one and one is two” systems thinking idea beautifully. 

A Rubik’s Cube

A rose: 


Check out the rest of the photos here. 

One thought on “Greater than its parts

  1. Hi Alex- This really represents a solid first step in understanding systems thinking. It’s a *very* rich field of study, but Wheatley is a great place to begin. Start thinking about the implications for your work, okay? Use this as a lens for reflecting on your past experiences and decisions. What would you have done differently had you had this understanding? What would have been different if others had had it?

    (Love the photos, too!)

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