Chapter 1

Lines or Circles

The Basics of Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is needed more than ever because we are becoming overwhelmed by complexity. …by seeing wholes we learn how to foster health.


There are many ways to solve problems. Our normal mode of thinking causes us to isolate the problem, search for causes, and find solutions. The logic behind this approach follows a straight line: problem→ cause→ solution. Often called event-oriented or linear thinking, this method is highly effective when problems are simple or effects are fairly singular. However, in today’s complex world, neither condition is true. Our socioeconomic environment is changing rapidly—often too rapidly for us to see or to understand the implications of important ...

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