Systems Introduction 

Two approaches to systems understanding are:

  • Reductionist- breaking problems into smaller pieces, and
  • Holistic – the idea that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts

Systems thinking

  • Process of understanding systems requires us to think in a systems manner
  • Ability to think in terms of whole systems

Software developers, and similar professionals, prefer to use to reductionist approach when solving problems.
Modern IT education requires study of soft systems analysis, this does not make systems thinkers.
Definition – A system is a ‘collection of organised activities that exist for some purpose’ or ‘structures that exhibit order’.
Key words are organised, purpose (purposeful) and order (ordered).
Systems are not random collection of elements.
Systems have:

  • Purpose, therefore goals and objectives
  • Organised elements so goals & objectives can be produced
  • Continuation of identity (lifetime) – goal/objective reason to exist

Continuance of identity – system tries to adapt to and “survive in” environment by process of dynamic equilibrium.
What is:

  • A whole system – see later notes
  • Dynamic equilibrium – a state of balance between continuing processes


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