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Envisioning our Systems of interest – Boundary and Environment


Start by naming system, define it closely and well to ensure its extent and its capabilities and limits are known and clear to those discussing it.

Boundary determines what is include and what is left out. Specify beginning and end, too small a boundary results in important items being left out.

Noteworthy items put  outside boundary but provide inputs to system exist in systems environment. Some systems may have multiple nested environments.

Beginning of system analysis

  • Assume simple boundary as starting point.
  • Place first ideas of what will be in system and what in environment.
  • Discuss system and decide what needs to be added or moved in industry and environment.
  • Can apply Delphi approach.
  • Often produce picture with sub-systems, or pointers to them.

Reference to the blind describing separate parts of an elephant as if they were the whole “system”, from Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah.

The message from the story is: The behaviour of a system cannot be known just by knowing the elements of which the system is made.


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