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Systems Theory

Introduction to Systems Theory

Any business, organization, or family can be called a system. A system is a group of individual parts that work together to form a unified whole. The systems theory is a way of studying a system as one unit, instead of individual parts. The theory helps to focus on the primary mission, or purpose, of a system. The systems theory applies to any system in life, such as the way a family operates or the way a hospital provides health care services.


By examining a system as a whole, it is easier to understand how each part contributes to the overall mission. Additionally, the systems theory makes it easier to pinpoint flaws in the system.



Components of the Systems Theory

To understand the systems theory, you must learn the parts, or components, of the theory. The components of the systems theory include:




         Feedback Loop






Inputs, Throughputs, and Outputs

Input is anything that enters a system. Input could include money, resources, materials, or effort.

Throughput is a process that converts the input into a final product or service.

An output is the final product or service provided by a system.


Feedback Loop

The feedback loop is a process of monitoring outputs to determine whether or not the system is working. Feedback should be evaluated and then put back into the system to improve future outputs.


Controls and Environment

Controls are anything that pinpoint problems in a system before the output is complete. 


An environment is the circumstance and condition in which a system exists. The system relies on the environment for resources.


Goals and Mission

A system must have a specific, stated purpose, or mission. In order to reach the mission, a system must define several measurable goals.


Evaluate the System

Once the specific components of the systems theory are understood, the system can be evaluated. The key to evaluating a system is to determine if the mission is fulfilled. This is sometimes called evaluating the “big picture.”



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