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Why is Systems Thinking Important to Innovation?

Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole; it is essentially the system of thinking about systems. Integrating innovation and systems thinking principles to influence how we mature great ideas has four major benefits:

1. Rapid Learning : Understand the Big Picture

No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service–Make them all work together seamlessly. Tug on the string. Think past execution phase. Does this solution seamlessly work within the larger system?

2. Rapid Impact : Solve Real Problems

Difficulties in solving problems often stem from the fact that problems do not occur in isolation, but in relation to each other. Offer real value and avoid creating more problems or unintended consequences. “Small changes can produce big results–but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.”

3. Rapid Adaptation : Identify Patterns

Systems thinking is a powerful approach for understanding the nature of why situations are the way they are, and how to go about improving results. Historical perspective is important in understanding the evolution of a situation and in identifying patterns of behaviors over time.

4. Rapid Innovation : Eliminate Bloat

The best solution could be one that does not build anything new; The best solution may be as simple as the right person making a better policy decision and enforcing it consistently. Eliminate the unnecessary. Each unnecessary function or procedure adds a layer of complexity that costs you money and time.

Kishau Rogers

Kishau Rogers is an award-winning technology entrepreneur specializing in wrangling complexity using computer science, systems thinking, creativity, and common sense. She is the Founder & CEO of Time Study, Inc., a high-growth startup offering solutions for using machine learning, advanced natural language processing, and data science to automatically tell a story of how enterprise employees spend their time and its impact on the areas that matter. As the Founder and CEO of Time Study, Kishau is one of the first Black women in Virginia to raise millions in venture capital to scale her tech startup. She is also the owner of Websmith Studio and the editor of the bigThinking project, a resource for promoting the principles of systems thinking.

Kishau’s work is featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and Black Enterprise. In addition, she is a recipient of many awards, including the VCU Distinguished Alumni (in Computer Science), NAWBO Wells Fargo STEM award, the Lyn McDermid Community Impact Award, and the MBL Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In her commitment to using technology as a tool for social good, she also serves as an advisor to organizations and initiatives like AI for Afrika, Think Of Us, WAAW Foundation, Level Up Ventures, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Computer Science, the first U.S. White House Hackathon for Foster Care and SheHacks Africa, a software engineering intensive providing training to women & girls across Africa.

She holds a Computer Science degree and has over twenty-five years of experience in the technology industry and more than 15 years of entrepreneurial leadership.

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