What is Systems Thinking

Importance of Systems Thinking Today
Reading Systems Diagrams
Case Examples
Evolution of Systems Thinking


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Systems thinking is a language and set of tools meant to illuminate our thinking about how the systems we are all part of actually operate. Built into this language are important core principles about how systems function:

  1. Feedback: performance of our organizations and systems is largely determined by a web of interconnected circular (not linear) relationship -

    Reading Systems Thinking Diagrams provides a primer on
    how to read any systems thinking diagram on this site.

  2. Delay: actions we take have both immediate and delayed consequences that we don't always anticipate;

  3. Unintended Consequences: today's problems were most likely yesterday's solutions -

  4. Power of Awareness: when we see and understand the system as it really operates, we are no longer controlled by it;

  5. Leverage: systems improve as the result of a few key coordinated changes sustained over time.