Systems Thinking

What is 'systems thinking'?
Why is it important?


Without getting too technical, ‘systems thinking’ is a way of understanding the way that things interact at many levels. It is a form of thinking that came out of the biological sciences, to describe the interrelationships within and between organisms in an ecosystem. Systems thinking has proved useful in understanding the way that organisations operate.
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At its most basic level, a system is a domain of interaction. Things come in to the system (inputs), things happen within the system (throughputs), to produce other things (outputs), which lead to higher level results (outcomes). Community Link uses a framework called TripleP : Planning, Programming, and Performance, to appropriate the language and thinking of systems to community service activity. The following diagram is illustrative of key aspects of the programming tier of TripleP.


Systems thinking is important because it offers a way of understanding the way things really work in a service or organisation, rather than how they appear to work in terms of formal structures. For this reason, systems thinking is an excellent way of approaching planning and program design, as well as evaluating and monitoring the performance of a program or service.
Community Link uses TripleP and other systems concepts in its consultancy services, quality auditing and in quality improvement training.

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