Systemic Variables

Variables are the nouns of Systemic Governance  which are fundamental to the system steering, course correction and adaptation. They are the key forces in a systems story that impact each other and change over time.

A system is a bounded collection of three types of entities:

  • System elements
  • Relationship of system elements
  • Attributes (fixed and dynamic) of elements and relationship

Both attributes and relationship are associated  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.


  • Variables can be qualitative
    • The characteristics being non numeric: example gender, religious affiliation…
  • Variables can be quantitative
    • Information is reported numerically
  • Variables provide system state (current value of the variable attributes)
  • Variables have trajectory which represent succession of states over time as a result system behavior.


Variables have relationship with other variables which can be either defendant or independent variable.


Rule for variables definition:

  • Use of nouns or noun phrases
  • Association to what varies over time
  • Endogenous or exogenous  variables
  • Variables association to governance model
  • Variables association to:
    • System elements
    • System relationship between elements
  • Variable categories that provide clear understating systemic behavior and its purpose.
    • Variables related to goals:
      • Desired level of …..(eg: market penetration, throughput)
    • Variables related systemic thinking, perceptions, feeling
      • Level of commitment to achieve….(eg: product quality)
      • Level of alignment around organizational….(eg: mission)
      • Perceived level of….(example quality)
      • Perceived level of clarity…(organizational goals, mission, policy)
    • Variables related to demand
      • Pressure to..
      • Need to…
      • Demand to…
      • Gap between …and …
    • Variables related to supply
      • Capacity for..(eg: customer demand)
      • Ability to…(eg: supply as per agreed service level)
      • Available transformation resources…(eg: capacity, effective capacity)
      • Investment in…(eg: service resource, training)
    • Variables related to results actual level of performance
      • Profitability, revenue, debtors, creditors, cycles time , costs, market share
      • Quality of…(eg: related to errors, product)

From a systemic governance  perspective, variables are fundamental in supporting a system control tower that allow for effective governance , steering and adaptation.