In the context used by the International Systems Institute (ISI), the terms systems analysis, systems thinking, and systems design refer to approaches toward human systems change that are guided by, and grounding in, a systems philosophy.
A systems philosophy assumes that the world can be best conceptualized as interconnected systems of elements and relationships. While this cannot be proved definitively, systems theorist believe that it is the best concept yet devised for describing fundamental, isomorphic properties that all real phenomena seems to exhibit.
Although systems are found in the material world, ISI is primarily concerned with the use of the systems concept to describe and change social networks, communities, and organizations. This involves applying systems analysis to understand how human systems form and operate, as well as engaging in social systems design, which is a methodology for participatively designing human systems.
The following books and articles have been recommended by ISI fellows as useful resources for learning about social systems design and about the social, cultural, philosophical, and scientific inquiries that have a bearing upon design and conscious evolution.
These books give straightforward descriptions of basic systems thinking principles.
|Systems Thinking Basics: From Concepts to Causal Loops. Simple, easy-to-read description of basic systems principles. Clear, detailed explanations of how to model systems problems using causal loop diagrams (CLDs).|
|Introduction to Systems Thinking|
|A Systems View of Education: Concepts and Principles for Effective Practice|
|Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life|
Systems Theory and Methodology
These books give more detailed, robust approaches to systems theory.
|Designing Social Systems in a Changing World (Contemporary Systems Thinking)|
|Systems Thinking, Systems Practice: Includes a 30-Year Retrospective|
|Rethinking the Fifth Discipline: Learning Within the Unknowable|
|Systems Approaches to Management|
Systems Thinking in Organizations
|The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization|
|The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook|
|The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations|
This post was written by Doug on September 28, 2008