Systems thinking as a theory is a collection of ideas and thoughts spanning back to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Lao Tsu [ CITATION Cabnd l 1033 ]. Other influential systems thinking scholars include W. Edwards Deming, Jay Forrester, and Peter Senge. Senge (2006) described systems thinking as a branch of knowledge for seeing the whole picture as well as the interconnected parts. The context of systems thinking is seeing the relationship of two or more variables, i.e., how they connect to each other as well as to other variables. Patterns of connectivity, movement, and change define systems thinking, for systems thinking applies to active, recurring, repetitive systems [ CITATION Mel09 l 1033 ]. Looking at the system broadly instead of a single loop, snapshot, or moment in time is the essence of system thinking.
Basic Characteristics of Systems Thinking.
Mella (2009) defines five rules for understanding the basic characteristics of systems thinking. The first three rules work together to create a logical sequence. Rule One is seeing both the whole picture and the individual, interconnected components, i.e., "seeing the forest and the trees" [CITATION Mel09 p 80 l 1033 ]. A system is composed of independent variables that connect and interrelate to create the bigger picture. Systems thinking sees the individual variables, the connection, and dependency between the variables, and the whole picture. Rule Two is seeing past the variables that hold one's interest and seeing all the variations of all the variables. Rule Three completes the logical sequence by searching for the underlying cause of the variations. Rule Four requires a conscious attempt to understand the variables, and the link between them. Rule Five recognizes that even with a conscious attempt to understand all the variables, one must specify boundaries. Mella (2009) differentiated between external boundaries that apply to the system as a whole, and internal boundaries that apply to the individual parts.