Introducing systems thinking

Updated Wednesday 18th May 2005

Discover more about systems thinking - and sharpen your own skills.

Man lying down Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: OU

What is systems thinking?

Ever heard the expression:
'The whole is greater than the sum of the parts'?

Systems thinking enables you to grasp and manage situations of complexity and uncertainty in which there are no simple answers. It's a way of 'learning your way towards effective action' by looking at connected wholes rather than separate parts. It's sometimes called practical holism. "Systems thinking is the key literacy that we need for the future."

This is one of the main tenets of practical holism which draws on Systems Thinking and Systems Practice to understand complexity and manage change.

When you encounter situations which you experience as complex, or just plain messy, then Systems Thinking can be used to understand the situation systemically. This helps you to see the big picture, to see the connectivity between elements in the situation, so as to achieve joined-up actions.

Explore with us now some of the features of systems thinking. Research has shown that it is sometimes difficult for people to think systemically so why not find out if systems thinking is something for you?

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

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