Check: Systems thinking

Definition: Systems Thinking (

”Systems Thinking is the art and science of making reliable inferences about behavior by developing an increasingly deep understanding of underlying structure.”

It is not so easy. Hardly any topic has been misunderstood in so many ways. Still  systems thinking (ST) has more than 20 different methods to use in practice, although the term is not widely known (Edson: Systems Thinking A Primer). ST supports creating strategies, making analysis, evaluating bottle necks in organizations, estimating personal problems and the families, as well as hundreds of specific topics in numerous practical cases – not to forget its scientific benefits.

Fig 1: Thinking modes. Systems thinking requires both modes.

Practical advice for newcomers

Systems thinking is a possible tool for everywhere, where there is crossing of flows to be understood, or transformation, which creates emergence. All learning policies can be used for ST, depending on the context. PESTLE means Politics, Economy, Society, Technology, Law and Environment. They are the most used approaches for it.

  • Hard systems are like machines and mechanistic organs
  • Soft systems are based on human actions, decision making etc.

Both of them can be studied using the system architecture and the relevant mental models.

Example: Archetypes are risks in implementing changes (projects, programs)

Systems thinking archetypes are listed in Fig 2 so that the drawing describes typical challenges for any big project during it.


Fig 2. How typical archetypes (Peter Senge) are logically connected with each other.

To avoid distortions and archetypes certain survival strategies are needed, some theories are theory (cybernetics) and some heuristics, practical tools or experiments (success stories).

Jump to systems theories and the Viable System Theory


Fig 4: Generic Reference Model (link).