System theory for architects



“The most important work on EA and applied System Theory today.”  “Makes EA more powerful, coherent and usable.”

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<create and use>           <idealise>

Describers <observe & envisage> Realities

Blurb   Preface   Comments   Tutorial in London Saturday March 2nd 2019

Home page


1 The science & philosophy of systems  2 Thinkers before systems thinking   3 System thinkers & ideas  4 System stability & change   5 Systems thinking: science or poetry?


General System Theory (GST)

Soft Systems

Enterprise architecture

Description and reality


6 Cybernetics

8 GST: Bertalanffy

9 Soft Systems: Checkland

10 Enterprises as systems

11 Description theory

12 System philosophy

Ashby’s ideas

Beer’s ideas

Ashby on cybernetics

Information feedback loops

System properties

More system ideas

Holism and emergent properties


The primacy of behavior

Determinism and hysteresis  

Boulding’s ideas

Complex adaptive systems?  

Marx and Engels ideas

Ackoff’s ideas

Ackoff’s system classes

More sociological perspectives

Premises of EA and TOGAF

EA as applied system theory

EA as applied systems thinking

EA and philosophy

Abstraction in TOGAF and Zachman




Language, logic and data

Fuzzy types and fuzzy instantiation

Types and tokens

Other triangular philosophies.

Knowledge and truth

Realism or Idealism?

System Dynamics

Background research and musings

7 System Dynamics

 More obscure system properties

Challenging systems thinkers

Business system models

Older musings

Older musings

Relativity v quantum mechanics

Discrete event-driven systems (DEDS)

Continuous System Dynamics

Converting discrete to continuous



Hierarchical (v network) organisation

Chaos and non-linear behaviour

Predictability and probability


System types

System approaches - Midgely

Participatory democracy - Bausch

People types

Maturana’s ideas

Luhmann’s ideas

Snowden’s Cynefin framework

Business system modelling premises

Business architecture as systems

Business capabilities as social systems

EA in the system theory space

EA as applied system theory

Quality systems  Error! Bookmark not defined.

The magic number seven

Other information theories

Taxonomies and ontologies

The problem of universals

Description and reality

The 9 propositions of scientific idealism

Insights from the idealism triangle

System theory as scientific idealism

Philosophical position statement 

Existence in space and time

Intelligence and Abstraction

More about systems

The schism


Older type theory musings

Mental models and how brains work

Idealisation in system theory

Abstraction from “the real machine”

Abstraction in the eternal golden braid

Abstraction varieties and typology

The elements of systems

Primacy of external and behavioural views

Terms and concepts in system description

The anatomy of the reference model

Formalising system description

System theory dictionary and ontology

The schism in systems thinking

EA, GST and social system thinking

Social entities v. social systems

Actors, roles and assignments

Architects, descriptions and systems

Architectural descriptions of systems

EA as multi-level architecture description

The practical terminology challenge

The evolution of description

The evolution of types

Set and type theory

Types in different disciplines

How things instantiate types

Why we confuse types and instances

Types and meta types

Types and instances – analysis

Philosophical dichotomies

Ontology and phenomenology

Logical positivism (Wittgenstein)

About life

Relevance of the above to EA

Other / older

Other / older musings



System state: entities and identities

Homeostasis and control

Hierarchies and lattices.

Enterprise state data

Modelling madness.

ISO 42010 in a nutshell

What ISO 42010 means

ISO change proposal

Functionality  and  Logicality

Granularity  and  Modularity

Composition  and  Generalisation

Systems as abstractions

UML types and instances

Modelling the passage of time

Insights from description theory

The psychology of description

The philosophy of description

Principles for a controlled vocabulary

Data and reality – after Bill Kent


System theory terminology  

References   More references  

Types and sets references  

Laszlo and Krippner references


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