The Components of a System

A couple of days ago, I started reading Thinking in Systems: A Primer and I have to say, it has challenged the way I think about things in general. The book had me thinking about the systems I interact with daily… It also had me thinking about grander systems that I think about but haven’t really been able to conceptualize (i.g. structural racism, slavery, capitalism, etc… ). So far, it’s been a good read.

If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves. . . . There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding. —Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

So, what’s a system? A system is a set of interconnected elements that is organized to achieve a function or purpose. A system has three components; elements, inter-connectivity and a function/purpose. Elements, are the individual components of a system. For example, at a workplace the people of the company would be the elements in the system of work. Inter-connectivity or interconnections are the things that bind the elements together, so, in terms of the workplace this would be policies, culture, communication, industry(?), and I think I’d even throw in the goal of the company… depending on the company or individual. The function/purpose would be the companies overall good or service.

I’m still going through the book, but I just wanted to write about what I’m reading to get a better understanding. I’ll continue to write about this as a read.