Systems are an organization of elements pursuing a goal.

They react to stimuli and inputs to work toward their goals. They grow, self-repair, and otherwise react. They are composed of certain classes of elements that create their goals and reactions. The opposite of a system is a conglomerate, which can be changed without changing its behavior or identity.rM3 It is the product of the interactions of its parts rather than the sum of component behaviors. (Improvements therefore happen at the system level rather than component.)rA4

  1. Russell Ackoff, “From Data to Wisdom,” Journal of Applied Systems Analysis 16 (1989): 3–7. (See notes.)

  2. Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub, 2008). (See notes.)