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Some problems are very persistent despite a lot of efforts by plenty of people to solve them. Examples are climate change, antibiotics over- and misuse, …. Persistent problems tent to be complex problems for which our traditional linear thinking recipes are ineffective. Einsteins quote “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” descibes this need to search for new and more appropriate ways to tackle these problems. Systems thinking is one of the lenses potentially providing clarity in complex problems. Other useful perspectives are complexity theory and design thinking.

A key understanding within systems thinking is that a system as a whole cannot be understood by analysis of its separate parts (M.Q. Patton 2015). The functions and meanings of the parts are lost when separated from the whole.