Systems thinking as a holistic approach to entrepreneurship


To better understand social systems, thinking from a system perspective allows us to see and recognize interactions between system elements. Systems thinking takes into account larger number of interactions as an issue being studied and therefore results in greater number of conclusions than those delivered by other forms of analysis. It’s quite an effective approach and it can be applied to any type of system, being that business or your life in general. Now, I would go even broader in my definition: successful entrepreneurs have the ability to perceive the world as a system.

Why is that important?

As Michael Gerber states in his article Systems thinking:

Your business should be systems-dependent, not people-dependent.

With no systems in place, your business depends on you and on a few people who run things for you. If you or they disappear, even for a short time, your business is thrown into chaos. But if you have the right systems in place, the systems run your business, and nearly anyone can run the systems. You can decide suddenly to take a three-month holiday and your business won’t skip a beat. Your key employees could quit, and you could replace them easily with no ill effect.

This type of thinking is like taking precaution measures: as you start your own business, with systems thinking approach you are establishing right connections between the elements of your business, allowing for business to become adaptive, responsive – you are able to manage better any change.

But I would go even step further: a real systems thinking approach is a crucial step to becoming a holistic entrepreneur. Not only when the elements of the business system are beautifully interrelated but when your business is aligned with your values, your passion, your whole outlook on the world. There is no separation between your life, work and spirituality – it’s a system that like a hologram reflects in its tiniest atom who you are. You recognize the purpose in everything and your business and life is the realization of that purpose.

To truly think and operate your life and business in such way takes time and practice. We have to work on ourselves every day to improve our habits and how we respond to everyday challenges. I see poetry as a shortcut on this journey. Poetry can be that sixth sense that most of us lack, as it translates hidden agendas and prepare us for new experiences. It disintegrates the complexity of the world around us – opening our eyes for new possibilities and making new thoughts easier to digest. Poets are true systems thinkers: with each poem we read, even for that shortest moment, we take on the world as they contemplate it to a higher level of comprehension.

Life’s Meaning by Fra Giovanni Giocondo

Life is so full of meaning and purpose,

so full of beauty beneath its covering,

that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage then to claim it; that is all!

But courage you have, and the knowledge

that we are pilgrims together,

wending through unknown country home.



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