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Systems thinking

Systems thinking is an approach to integration that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system will act differently when isolated from the system's environment or other parts of the system. Standing in contrast to positivist and reductionist thinking, systems thinking sets out to view systems in a holistic manner. Consistent with systems philosophy, systems thinking concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that comprise the whole of the system. When you encounter situations which are complex and messy, then systems thinking can help you understand the situation systemically. This helps us to see the big picture - from which we may identify multiple leverage points that can be addressed to support constructive change. It also helps us see the connectivity between elements in the situation, so as to support joined-up actions. The links below provide an introduction to systems thinking and how to manage and facilitate it.

A related page covers complex systems, and highlights how social systems are complex (like bringing up a child) rather than complicated (sending a rocket to the moon). Links to Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) can be found later in this page. SSM is an approach to organizational process modeling, and it can be used both for general problem solving and in the management of change.

Systems thinking

Soft systems methodology

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