Systems thinking lies at the conjunction of two phenomena. The first is the amazing verity that we can think at all. We can even think about thinking! But as the song goes, "If we can solve any problem, why do we lose so many tears?" In a very real sense, we are no better off for our thinking. Paradoxically we can’t live with it and we can’t live without it. The second phenomenon is the ubiquity of the word system. Who does not use that term today in common speech? Systems describe all manner of things – laptops, cell phones, the networks that connect these devices together, the corporations that make, sell and operate these devices and networks, and the legislation that governs these corporations. If all of these are so very different, how can one little word encompass such diversity of objects? How can a little mean a lot?

Our world is hugely diverse – in peoples, cultures, standards of living, and ways of operating. And yet we are told we live in a small world, that six degrees of separation apply to each of more than 6 billion of us on the planet. Systems thinking is one way of explaining that paradox and others that follow it – the juxtaposition of the vast and the tiny, the significant and the obscure, the complex and the simple, the weak and the strong. If you appreciate systems thinking, you can make a difference in your world and ours, what is more, this site is for you.

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John Boardman
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Brian Sauser
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