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Systemic thinking: meaning, definition, significance and scope

Meaning of Systemic Thinking

Before understanding the concept of systemic thinking – it’s essential to keep in mind that this term revolves around the ability of thinking. It can simply be defined as the ability to solve or decipher problems in a complex system. This pattern of thinking is included in the System theory. If there is a change in a certain part of the system, there has to be an obvious change in other parts too.

Significance and Scope

The significance of such thinking lies in the creation of a desirable future. It is unknown to a large population how to solve flaws in a complex system. Usually, people can’t think comprehensively in such situations. They fail to induce or deduce or interact in a proper manner. It’s not necessary that systemic thinking needs to be acquired from books or schools, but practical knowledge matters in this case. Experience helps significantly to gain knowledge. Those who are successful in the process of thinking holistically, decision-making gets much easier for them. They can approach problems and situations with higher confidence.

This kind of thinking is an important aspect of User-Centered Design (UCD). It is a necessity to understand the significance of the HCI Information System. The development of software with ignorance has different meanings to different people. Human beings are a truly wise creature.

They possess systemic thinking that can lead to a complete loss in Information Systems. It can also become the cause of stress and anxiety to the users of the Information Systems. And ultimately, it can lead to an increase in costs and large wastage of resources. Despite these factors, the organizations still don’t consider the decisions in the management of the project. This is the reason that organizations face heavy losses.

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The Philosophy behind Systemic Thinking

This field doesn’t come with only a few methods – but, it has philosophy beneath all these tools. Many people are attracted to various tools and diagrams at the beginning. They remain with the hope that these methods will help them immensely, to progress in their business but that does not happen in reality. Apart from these, systemic thinking is the realization that certain systems are unknown to us and these systems are more powerful than our imagination. It also means there are obvious consequences to our actions.

This pattern of thinking enables us to expand our choices to solve our problems. It also helps us in expanding our thinking and dealing with different problems in several ways. The principle of systemic thinking also makes us aware of the fact that there can be never a perfect solution. No matter whatever choices we make, it is bound to affect other parts of the system. It also helps in describing the processes of the system. The methods or tools can be utilized in understanding or description of systems.

Systemic thinking often includes observing behavior patterns. It also involves dealing with underlying problems that have resulted in such patterns.  By realizing and changing the perceptions that are not serving us well, we can be more productive. We can diversify the available choices to us and create better solutions that are more satisfying.

In short, this type of thinking requires choice, courage, passion, clarity, and interest. This pattern requires the person to be willing to view the situation completely and realize that there are many solutions to a problem and the solution we go with doesn’t need to be the most popular.


As a person begins with this type of thinking, it’s important to keep in mind that a diagram doesn’t always justify all the angles of a situation.  In a few cases, there are certain elements of the situation which go through a slow change or don’t change at all. Including such details will unnecessarily complicate the situations. Lastly, don’t tense about whether your loop is right if it reflects the story your team is trying to tell, it’s Okay. Loops are short descriptions about our current reality and if that is explained adequately – then, everything is fine.

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