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Tool BoxSystems Thinking

Systems thinking is the study of complex integrated systems in nature and society. It is a framework by which one can analyze and describe any group of objects or actors that work in concert to produce some result. It is the art of seeing the world in terms of wholes and the practice of focusing on the relationships between the parts of a system.

Systems thinking is a valuable approach with complex problems, problems that are made worse by past "solutions", or with an issue where an action affects or is affected by the environment surrounding the issue.

The Natural Step is an example of applied systems thinking.

For additional information in Systems Thinking, contact Sustainability Team members:

Organizational Learning

  • Pegasus Communications
    A company that helps individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in an increasingly complex world through hosting the annual Systems Thinking in Action® Conference, newsletters, consulting and various publications. The Pegasus Communications website offers a variety of definitions and resources on systems thinking and organizational learning.

  • Systems Thinking
    This site provides a variety of links on Systems Thinking, Learning Organizations and Organizational Learning.

  • Center for Ecoliteracy
    This web site believes systems thinking as an essential part of schooling for sustainability. A systems approach helps young people understand the complexity of the world around them and encourages them to think in terms of relationships, connectedness, and context. The site provides links to related content including Thinking Like and Ecosystem, Earth’s Limits, Peak Oil, Life and Leadership, Institutional Change, and more.

  • Free Management Library
    This web site has definitions and blogs related to Systems Thinking, Systems Tools and Chaos Theory.

  • Society for Organizational Learning
    This link connects to Peter Senge’s biography. Senge is a senior lecturer at MIT and the founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning. He has published several books on the topics of Learning Organizations including systems thinking and theory. The web site also provides information on organizational learning, publications and resources, consulting and community.

  • Donella Meadows Institute
    Formerly known as the Sustainability Institute, DMI has resources on systems thinking tools and ideas including simulations and courses, websites and blogs.

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