Systems Thinking

I used systems thinking for most of my adult life. It was at the heart of the infrastructure and services I built, the organizations I participated in, a key tool to understand the world around me, and to identify the most leveraged way for me to make a positive impact on the world. When I was asked to shared how systems thinking would inform a Human Resources team, I realized I had never written down any thoughts about systems and had never thought about how to explain systems beyond the context of computing systems. This is my starting place.

Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts (the elements) interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. Rather than isolating individual components, systems thinking emphasizes the interconnectedness of parts within a whole. Systems thinking  enables people to address complex problems which have emergent behaviors which result from a number of simple feedback mechanisms.  A systems description of systems thinking:

Figure 3 from A Definition of Systems Thinking: A Systems Approach Ross D. Arnold*, Jon P. Wade. Procedia Computer Science 44 (2015) 669 – 678. 2015 Conference on Systems Engineering Research 


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