One of the goals of the Prairie Idea Exchange is helping people of the region look at the world around them with systems thinking in mind: Very rarely is there a straight line between cause and effect. Instead, most of the time, things happen in a web of connections: One action can have many effects, and those effects can be unintended and sometimes not obviously connected to the things that caused them. This iceberg graphic provides an overview. As you read the stories in this issue, consider what trends and patterns, structures and behaviors, and mental models might be at the root of why things are happening the way they are.
In any system, there is almost always a lot more going on than we can easily notice, and so much of the “how” and “why” of what is happening stays hidden from view, like an iceberg. When we try to change the system just by seeing what is obviously happening, we miss most of what is causing that to happen, and end up creating a quick fix that backfires or doesn’t solve our problem.
If we can address what is beneath the surface—what’s actually causing those events—we can make changes in the structures of the system to drive new kinds of action that will create the outcomes we want.
It turns out that what happens in a human system is driven by thinking—what we believe and how we view the world. We ultimately create change by changing the way we think and challenging what we assume to be true. —Joe Bartmann, vice president of innovation at Dakota Resources