Derek Cabrera, PhD

    Derek Cabrera, PhD

    Derek Cabrera (PhD, Cornell) is an internationally known systems scientist and serves on the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems mapping and is Program Director for the Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). He is a senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab. He’s authored 8 books including, Systems Thinking Made Simple and Flock Not Clock.

    Getting Started

    Achieving Compressibility In Your Systems Mapping Practice

    When mapping systems, achieving “compression” or “compressibility” in your maps is a best practice and a desirable skill. Compressibility is an indication of higher quality, more refined thinking. In other words, no matter how complex your map needs to be; if you can compress nodes in your map, it allows for you to see the 100,000 foot level; and then also have the ability to drill down to incredible levels of detail when needed for any node (sub-system) in the map.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    Systems Leadership

    In Your Organization, Build a Flock Not a Clock.

    Thanks Mark McGrath for producing this wonderful video with your son! That's why we named our book on adaptive organizations, "Flock, Not Clock"—because contrary to hundreds of years of conventional wisdom that guides us to build a clockwork organization that works like a machine, organizations are organic, adaptive superorganisms by nature...much more like a flock than a clock.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    Bias

    What You Don't See Can Hurt You...and All of Us.

    I am fascinated by how easily humans are manipulated; which is often the result of structural blindspots (bias) that are used against one another. In many ways, the last few years have been a crash course in the ways of manipulation, dishonest debate and dialogue, rhetoric, gaslighting and the like. But we often forget that these manipulations come very slowly, much like the fable of the boiling frog.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    tropes

    The 8 Sacred Cows of Systems Thinking

    This isn't a blog post, but more of a blog-collection. 8 common things that systems thinkers like to say that are bupkis. We call them sacred cows of systems thinking because it is almost blasphemous to disagree with them, even though most have a much bigger bark than bite. Click on the links below (in the right column) to red the blogs on each sacred cow. And, one thing is for sure, dare to challenge any one of these sacred cows 🐮, and you'll take a rash of shit 💩for it. People will come out of the woodwork to defend them with great fanfare and handwaving 👋. But stay steady, the logic of nature 🌱 and science 🔬 eventually win them over, but it can take time ⌛. Ug. 😛 In the list below, click on the links to go to articles on the sacred cow and its scientifically-valid replacement.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    Systems Leadership

    A Systems View is Not a Mask Mandate

    When I was a child, my mother would tell me a story of her own childhood. She spoke of how the children would collect tin foil wrappers from gum and cigarette packs and make a foil ball that could be turned in to help the war effort. This was all part of a scrap drive that children and citizens participated in willingly that included gathering grease fat containing glycerine that was used for bombs and metals of all kinds used in bombers (made by an increasingly female workforce that “manned” the factories where B-52 bombers were being made). Everyone pitched in because “our boys” were “over there” fighting.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    Sliders

    Millennial Mean

    Learn more about the definition of a slider, or read our other sliders... If you’ve raised children, you will inevitably be accused of being mean. You’re mean because you won’t let them have a third dessert. Because you insist that they wear a jacket when it is -5°F. Or, when you enforce a reasonable bedtime. But lately we’ve been noticing that Gen Z children—and to a large extent, the Millennial generation—think of a whole range of new things as “mean.” If I were to say for example, “hey can you brush your teeth? Your breath is terrible,” that might be considered mean. Even if, factually, you have halitosis.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    DSRP

    DSRP in Non-Neural Life Forms and Nonliving Compounds

    This blog has been partially adapted from A Literature Review of the Universal and Atomic Elements of Complex Cognition. Like a pack of wolves, tiny bacteria band together to hunt their evasive prey. In the soil underfoot, a nematode (“round worm”) avoids a deadly chemical. A cell runs toward oxygen to take part in photosynthesis and make the planet habitable by humans[1]. Brightly colored water droplets animate and chase each other across a glass landscape[2]. These are a few of the amazing microscopic dramas that occur just out of range of sight. Microbes and even non-living molecules use DSRP to sense and respond to their environment in a process called chemotaxis.

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD
    Emotional Intelligence

    Slider: Perfection Paralysis

    The term cognitive slider was coined by Derek Cabrera to communicate “a relatively small, nourishing or ‘meaty’ mental model” for use in increasing one’s prosocial or emotional intelligence. This blog is part of a set of blogs under the tag "sliders." Be sure to check out the tag to read them as a group and learn how sliders are at play and can help us in our everyday lives. Over the years, I’ve worked with many students and folks who are new to the workforce. I must say, working with a team of young, passionate professionals who still believe they can change the world for the better (and likely will) is one of the best parts of my job. 

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD

    Systems Thinking version 4.0

    Prominent scholars in the field accept that the history and development of systems thinking has occurred in "waves" as originated by Flood, Jackson, and Keyes[1][2] and built on by Midgley, et. al.[3][4][5] This metaphor was extended in the late '90s early '00s with Cabrera[6] [7] and Midgley [8] and the suggestion of a 4th Wave. The “waves” have proven to be a useful and powerful conceptual, historical, and pedagogical model (as long as we are aware of periodization bias and what’s-nextism bias). For a more in-depth review of the "waves" see Cabrera[6].

    • Derek Cabrera, PhD
      Derek Cabrera, PhD