A major breakthrough in understanding the vast world of highly complex organizations is the field of Systems Theory. This field studies and analyzes systems’ various subsystems and the recurring patterns in the relationships between the subsystems. The application of this theory is called systems analysis. One of the major components of systems analysis is systems thinking, which is a way of helping a person to view systems from a general and broad perspective that includes seeing overall structures, patterns and cycles in systems, rather than focusing only upon specific events in the system. Adapting such a view enables individuals to quickly identify significant causes of issues in organizations and know precisely where to work in order to address them.
Systems Thinking itself may be applied to a wide variety of systems, including the natural, scientific, human, engineered, or manufactured. Typically, systems are categorized into hard systems, soft systems, and evolutionary systems. Hard systems involve computers, simulations, and the techniques of operations research. Dynamics Based Computer Modeling orSystem Dynamics is a mathematical modeling technique for formulating understanding, and discussing complex issues and problems. System Dynamics is currently being used throughout the public and private sector for policy analysis and design. Soft systems are systems which are useful for understanding motivations, viewpoints, and exchanges.Evolutionary systems are open systems with the potential or capacity to grow, shift, expand, and change over time.
Dynamica- Dynamica, an open and peer reviewed journal, publishes articles on research and other developments in systems theory.
General Systems Bulletin- This is the Journal of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, which is published annually and available online in PDF.
International Industrial and Systems Engineering- The main objective of IJISE is to provide a platform for interaction between researchers and practitioners who are dealing with ISE theory and applications.
Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering- The Journal publishes papers that are addressed to the theory, methodology and applications relating to systems science and systems engineering.
Overview of Systems Thinking- This resource offers an introduction to the Systems Thinking and Theory.
The Evolution of Systems Thinking- This publication offers an informative and analytical perspective on the changes of Systems Thinking over time.
Leveraging Change: The Power of Systems Thinking in Action- This well-written and informative paper analyzes the results of System Thinking and Theory.
Using System Dynamics Computer Modeling Software to Teach Cause-Effect Relationships in Reading Selections- The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of system dynamics computer modeling software would affect student ability to recognize cause-effect relationships in reading selections.
What is Systems Thinking?- This resource offers a basic introduction to the field of Systems Thinking.
International Council on Systems Engineering- The International Council on Systems Engineering is a nonprofit organization founded to develop and disseminate the interdisciplinary principles and practices that enable the realization of successful systems.
Global Association for Systems Thinking- This Association is dedicated to advancing the concepts, understanding, and application of Living Systems Thinking as the natural way the world works.
Society for Organizational Learning- The Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) is an intentional learning community composed of organizations, individuals, and local SoL communities around the world.
System Dynamics Society- The System Dynamics Society is an international, nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging the development and use of system dynamics and systems thinking around the world.
COMPASS- The Center for Complex Adaptive Sociotechnological Systems (COMPASS) at Stevens Institute of Technology is a research center focusing on the study of complex sociotechnological (human-engineered) systems and organizations.
International Society for the Systems Sciences- The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) is an organization devoted to interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of complex systems. In recent years, ISSS has expanded its scope beyond purely theoretical and technical considerations to include the practical application of systems methodologies to problem solving.
New England Complex Systems Institute- The New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) is an independent academic research and educational institution. NECSI has been instrumental in the development of complex systems science and its applications.
Santa Fe Institute- The Santa Fe Institute emphasizes a multi-disciplinary collaboration in pursuit of understanding the common themes that arise in natural, artificial, and social systems.
Systems Development and Maturity Laboratory- This site is focused on innovations in system maturity indices for the development of a system-focused approach for managing system development and making effective and efficient decisions.
Tools and Methods
Cmap Tools- The CmapTools software empowers users to construct, navigate, share, and criticize knowledge models represented as Concept Maps.
Free Mind- FreeMind offers free mind-mapping software written in Java.
SystemiTool- SystemiTool is a software tool to support the creation, editing and portrayal, in the form of a storyboard of scenes, of systemigrams.
Visual Literacy- Interactive Knowledge Maps of Tools, Books, Researchers, Success Factors, and Methods in the Visualization Field.
Xmind- This tool provides a revolutionary way to enable both team brainstorming and personal mind mapping.
Peter M. Senge- Dr. Peter Senge, founder of Society of Organizational Learning and lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offers a variety of educational and research related materials.