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Concepts of Systems Theory. Contemplative Questions. What is systems thinking? Why do ‘systems thinkers’ get promoted? How does the field of information systems benefit from concepts of systems theory? How can we use these concepts in the real world?. Systems Thinking. System

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contemplative questions
Contemplative Questions
  • What is systems thinking?
    • Why do ‘systems thinkers’ get promoted?
  • How does the field of information systems benefit from concepts of systems theory?
  • How can we use these concepts in the real world?
systems thinking
Systems Thinking
  • System
    • A system is an interrelated set of business procedures used within one business unit working together for a purpose
    • A system has nine characteristics
    • A system exists within an environment
    • A boundary separates a system from its environment


characteristics of a system
Characteristics of a System
  • Components
  • Interrelated Components
  • Boundary
  • Purpose
  • Environment
  • Interfaces
  • Input
  • Output
  • Constraints

On a sheet of paper, define each of these terms in your own words.

systems thinking important system concepts
Systems ThinkingImportant System Concepts
  • Decomposition
    • The process of breaking down a system into smaller components
    • Allows the systems analyst to:
      • Break a system into small, manageable subsystems
      • Focus on one area at a time
      • Concentrate on component pertinent to one group of users
      • Build different components at independent times
systems thinking important system concepts1
Systems ThinkingImportant System Concepts
  • Modularity
    • Process of dividing a system into modules of a relatively uniform size
    • Modules simplify system design
  • Coupling
    • Subsystems that are dependent upon each other are coupled
  • Cohesion
    • Extent to which a subsystem performs a single function

Which is better:

More or less modularity? High or low coupling? High or low cohesion?

Suppose you work as a systems analyst in a large organization. Your boss comes into your office and gives you a project requiring changes to another department’s system. Would you rather the existing systems have high or low coupling? high or low cohesion? more or less modularity?

systems thinking important system concepts2
Systems ThinkingImportant System Concepts
  • Logical vs. Physical Modeling
    • Logical System Description
      • Portrays the purpose and function of the system
      • Does not tie the description to a specific physical implementation
    • Physical System Description
      • Focuses on how the system will be materially constructed
systems thinking1
Systems Thinking
  • Benefits
    • Identification of a system leads to abstraction
    • From abstraction you can think about essential characteristics of specific system
    • Abstraction allows analyst to gain insights into specific system, to question assumptions, provide documentation and manipulate the system without disrupting the real situation

Example. Identify a system used by the university. Use the characteristics of systems in general to describe your system. What insight can you gain from this exercise?

systems thinking2
Systems Thinking
  • Applying Systems Thinking to Information Systems
    • Information systems are subsystems in larger organizational systems
    • Data flow diagrams represent information systems as systems
      • Inputs
      • Outputs
      • System boundaries
      • Environment
      • Subsystems
      • Interrelationships


decomposition example
Decomposition Example

Figures 8-4 and 8-5.

What system characteristics are demonstrated in these pictures?

What do the diagrams tell you?

Which diagram is more useful?