“…There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion—the questions we want to ask.”
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Given my current obsession with understanding everything I can about how cloud computing is beginning to look, feel and behave like a variety of other complex adaptive systems, I’ve started paying close attention to the widespread practice (outside of IT, it seems) of systems thinking.
Defined in Wikipedia as “the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole,” systems thinking represents a modeling, analysis and design discipline that carefully explores “macro” aspects of highly interdependent systems. Systems thinking is heavily utilized in such fields as the social sciences, organizational dynamics, and industrial engineering to evaluate, model, and/or design how systems are composed and how they behave.
Systems thinking is difficult for those that have been educated to always apply reductionist thinking to problem solving. The idea in systems thinking is not to drill down to a root cause or a fundamental principle, but instead to continuously expand your knowledge about the system as a whole.