Systems Thinking


Systems thinking is a highly influential technique that all leaders should understand. The advantages of systems thinking in a business context are explained and how managers and leaders can develop systems thinking to improve organisational performance.

Technique Overview

Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking Definition

Systems thinking (ST) is a scientific discipline based on the study of systems which accommodates the fields of cybernetics, decision theory, operations research, physics, amongst others (Lawton, 2005). ST involves thinking of the organisation as a whole and its different parts. A system is a complete entity that consists of two or more parts with relations to each other and to an environment. Systems thinking is based on the systems approach, in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts and every part has an effect on the system’s behaviour (Vo et al., 2006).

Systems Thinking Description *

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Business Evidence

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Examples of Systems Thinking *

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Business Application

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Professional Tools

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Further Reading

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Systems Thinking References (4 of up to 20) *

  • Ackoff, R. L. (1999) Ackoffs Best: His Classic Writings on Management. Wiley: New York.
  • Aronson, D. (1996) An overview of system thinking, Thinking Page, available at: http://www.thinking.net
  • Checkland, P. (1985) From Optimizing to Learning: A Development of Systems Thinking for the 1990s, Journal of the Operational Research Society Vol. 36 ( 9), pp. 757-767.
  • Córdoba-Pachón , J.R. (2011) Embracing Human Experience in Applied Systems Thinking, Systems Research and Behavioural Science, Vol 28(6), pp. 680-688.

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