System Definition

According to systems theory, our bodies, our societies, and our universe form an ecology of complex systems and subsystems all of which interact with and mutually influence
each other.


Organization as a system receives input, transforms it through a process for output and operates in an environment made up forces such as economic, regulatory , environmental , competitors ect..

“A system is a set of elements or parts that is coherently organized and inter-connected in a pattern or structure that produces a characteristic set of behaviors, often classified as its function or purpose.”  (Donella Meadows)

A system consists of a interconnected set of elements (sub-systems) that are coherently organized and work in coordination with each other to achieve a desired goal or overall objectives of the whole. These elements derive their strength by means of  association and influence with other elements whereby collective contribution of the system is greater aggregate individual elements: this is known as systemic synergy.  Each system has a boundary that separates it from its environment and determine which elements is external and which is external.

Characteristics of a System: 

  • Integrity or wholeness 
  • Adaptive
  • Resilient
  • Evolutionary
  • Goal-seeking
  • Viability: Self-preserving and Self-organizing


A system must consist of the following:

  • Function or purpose. Function is used for a nonhuman system, and purpose for a human one. Many systems have both human and non-human elements.  Purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals
  • Elements : structure define by parts and compositions
  • Behavior which involves inputs, processing of outputs of materials, energy or information
  • Interconnection: parts have functional and structural relationship between each other, relationships hold the elements together. Many of the interconnections in systems operate through the flow of information. Information holds systems together and plays a great role in how they operate
  • Systems within systems

Furthermore a  system contains attributes (characteristics) :

  • Attributes of the system elements
  • Attributes of the the relationship (Interconnection) among both elements and attributes
  • Attributes are both fixed and dynamic: dynamic properties of the attributes influence variables

These associations are fundamental to understanding  cause and effect.

Variable 1

The transformation process of elements which have attributes and relationship are characterized  by function called variables (quantifiable variables and non-numerical). The system state at any time is the set of values held by the variables at that time.

Fundamental aspect with respect to system is that it transforms input via its transformation systems into output within its know environment within the context of monitoring and control.

System Definition04 Elements are not just physical but also intangible, while relationship/interconnection can be physical flows or information signals. Elements can be part of   system (endogenous) or part of the substantiation environment (exogenous). System Definition02


A system has three basic elements input, processing and output which result in system function or purpose . The other elements include control, feedback, boundaries, environment and interfaces.
Input: Input is what data the system receives to produce a certain output.

  • Capital
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Labor
  • Suppliers
  • Knowledge
  • Time

Output: What goes out from the system after being processed is known as Output.

  • Facilitating goods
  • Services

Processing: The process involved to transform input into output (Goods or services) is known as Processing.

  • Production
  • Transportation
  • Storage
  • Inspection
  • Alteration
  • Service

Coordination, Direction and Control: In order to get the desired results it is essential to monitor and control the input, the transformation and the output of the system.

Feedback: The Output is checked with the desired standards of the output set and the necessary steps are taken for achieving the output as per the desired goals

Boundaries: The boundaries define the limit of the system as well defining the substantial environment (elements outside the boundary of the system).

Environment: The things outside the boundary of the system are known as environment. Change in the environment affects the working of the system.

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Competitors
  • Regulations
  • Economy
  • Technology

Interfaces: The interconnections and the interactions between the sub-systems is known as the Interfaces. They may be inputs and outputs of the systems.

The purpose of Systemic transformation is to ensure efficacy (Adaptability) of initiatives to enable potential, connectedness and resilience via a process of understating, learning and realization.