Whole Systems Thinking

Whole Systems Thinking is a method to understand how things (elements and systems) are related, and how they influence one another within a whole. An example of whole systems thinking is how elements like water, sun, soil, air, plants, animals and human beings interact and support one another as a system.

Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect. It can be applied to understand linkages among elements, cause and effect, feedback loops or to identify leverage points, which are places in a system that can be influenced or changed.

Leverage points are most often (1) points where key choices, decisions, rules, and policies are made, determining system structure; (2) places where information is flowing (or not flowing) and affecting those decisions; or (3) places where one can intervene to break, or make, or change the causal linkages between system elements of any kind. (University of British Columbia).

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