The links and excerpts below outline different ways of explaining systems thinking, and have helped others to gain and understanding of key concepts related to this approach.
Learning how to think systemically is a matter of capacity development. There is knowledge to be acquired, skills to be gained and opportunities to be sought to apply the knowledge and skills. Where do you start? Generally speaking the best choice is to start where you are right now. For instance, do the notions of focusing on inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries help you improve your own understanding of capacity development? If they do, then start there. If that is insufficient, then dive a little deeper, pick a systems method or approach that seems promising for a particular issue you are engaged in.
Capacity.org: A gateway for capacity development has a number of articles about thinking systematically. This article outlines the history of three systems concepts: inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries; and how understanding these support capacity development.
The project team discovered this webinar hosted by Steve Pedersen from Equiate.
The length of the video is 58 minutes which may seem overwhelming, but the introduction does provide a useful analogy for understanding systems thinking. Systems thinking in public health may be understood as similar to the water cycle. Remember primary school Science? Skip through the video to 3:40 for a reminder.
The video continues by outlining a number of tools in applying systems thinking and discusses a case study to highlight the key characteristics of a systems thinking approach.
More information about the webinar is available on the Equiate: Solving Social Problems site. The Canadian site also has a number of resources related to processes and organisational capacity for change, with a focus on social inequity.