Systems Thinking - Thoughts for the Project & Change Manager October 2020

An early challenge for the Change or Project Manager in every new Project is to understand the requirements that the delivery is expected to fulfil. We typically engage with Sponsors, Workgroups, Subject Matter Experts to define the scope of the requirements and begin the process of shaping up the execution plan for the deliverables.
I have found from experience, that this exercise tends to focus on answering “What is it you want?” and ignores the equally valuable question “What is it you do not want?”
The Systems Thinking approach to this is to understand the “What is “ and the “What is not” - the distinctions and boundaries that exist and that can help refine the scope of the deliverables early in the Project lifecycle.
We all too often under value the importance of being clear and agreed on the “What is not” aspect of the project.
An analogy that springs to mind is in the world of art. The ability to shade, highlight and paint the dark background colors on the canvas is what draws attention to the actual subject of the painting.
Chiaroscuro is the term used in the art world and I would point you at art by Caravaggio for examples.