Solving systems problems requires that you step out of the system
Our Critical Thinking workshop (also called Challenge Workshop) has generated a number of breakthroughs from the project teams engaged to date. In the future, I will post more about what we have learned, but we are still in the development stage and refining the process.
There is however a clear pattern in being able to solve complex multivariable Systems Problems; it requires proper structuring of the problem and then changing the frame of reference from which you observe the problem.
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. Albert Einstein
Here are two resources that speak to this idea; one from 1977 and one that is more recent. Charles and Ray Eames developed this short film for IBM in 1977 to explain how our context changes depending on the "frame of reference." This is also a great visualization of the macro-micro concept. It is called Powers of Ten (see link below).
The other is a 2012 book called "inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity" by Tina Seelig (link below). She said, “We create frames for what we experience, and they both inform and limit the way we think.” There is a good summary of her concepts at fastcompany.