Businessweek Archives

Think Systems


Business Exchange

We all live and work in complex systems and if we aren’t already doing it, we need to think in systems. A system (or organization) is a physical or social entity made up of parts that interrelate with, and mutually depend on, one another to function as a working whole. This is a whole whose elements "hang together" because they continually affect each other over time and operate toward a common, fundamental purpose. Just like your business.

When you are thinking systemically, you will:

Go beyond looking at individual parts of the organization to see the interconnectedness and interrelationships among those parts.

See the world as circular, not linear; everything can be both a ‘cause’ and an ‘effect.’

Look for and observe processes of change rather than focusing on a snapshot of one particular situation in isolation.

Seek out and work toward fundamental solutions rather than particular event-based answers.

Understand that change in one part of a system will affect many other parts.

Finally, be prepared for those ripples. A small change may be amplified throughout the system and can yield both intended and unintended consequences.

Mallary Tytel

President and Founder

Healthy Workplaces

Sioux Falls, S.D.


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