Systems Thinking


Visit the Systems Thinking web page.

A project of the Waters Foundation.


“Systems Thinking” is a collection of tools for the mind. These tools are especially appropriate for understanding the behavior of complex systems. They have been developed by people from different fields, all of whom have thought about how we, as individuals, come to deal with the complexities we face -- at home, on the job and in our relationships. Contributors to system thinking have addressed different aspects of problem solving and the result is a collection of versatile tools. In the end Systems Thinking for an individual becomes the set of all of these techniques that work for that individual.


System Thinking uses models of the system under consideration. Sometimes these models are purely mental (thought experiments), sometimes they use diagrams to map out complex inter-dependencies and sometimes they are concrete and numerical. Often one begins with a simple model of the complex system and then changes and refines it. The model is repeatedly refined and further tested until it finally achieves an adequate representation of the system.



A Summary of the Ideas Used in Systems Thinking


Habits of a Systems Thinker



Tools of the System Thinker