Sustainability101 has a marvelous introduction to systems thinking for those who are learning to think about island sustainability in new ways.
Systems thinking aims to gain insights into the whole by understanding the linkages, interactions and processes between the elements that comprise the whole "system".
Systems thinking can help avoid the silo effect, where a lack of organizational communication can cause a change in one area of a system to adversely affect another area of the system (via wikipedia).
Systems thinkers consider that:
- a "system" is a dynamic and complex whole, interacting as a structured functional unit in equilibrium
- information flows between the different elements that compose the system
- a system is a community situated within an environment
- information flows from and to the surrounding environment via semi-permeable membranes or boundaries.
As Dayna Schueth says in "Sustainability Today":
"Achieving a sustainable lifestyle today is of paramount importance for the health of future generations. The key to becoming sustainable as individuals and as a society is our own willingness to change and to be creative, combining our knowledge of ecological principles with our earth-friendly technology to achieve a brighter future for our children and grandchildren."