System theory for architects


“The most important work on EA and applied System Theory today.” 

“Makes EA more powerful, coherent and usable.”

“I read and regularly refer… way beyond any other EA/system engineering/human factors/systems theory resource.”

“I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your musings on systems…  exceptionally useful”.


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1 System thinkers & their ideas

1 Ashby’s six core ideas

1 The meaning of meaning and truth

1 The relevance of systems to EA




2 Systems in general

3 System change - intro

4 Social systems thinking - intro

5 Critical system thinking etc

6 Thinkers before systems thinking  

7 Systems thinking vocabulary

Third order cybernetics

2 Complexity science

3 System change varieties

4 Social networks and systems

5 Second order cybernetics

6 Self-organising systems

7 Third order cybernetics

8 System coupling varieties

System science and philosophy

2 Systems science or poetry?

3 The physics of systems

4 Memories and messages

5 Language and logic

6 Systems as complex types

7 Triangular philosophies

Enterprise architecture

2 Enterprises as systems

3 EA as applied system theory

4 TOGAF as applied system theory

5 EA and social systems thinking

6 Premises of EA and TOGAF

7 EA and philosophy


System Dynamics

Classical cybernetics

More on complexity and science

Forrester and Meadows’ ideas

System stability and change

System Dynamics methodology

Discrete event-driven systems (DEDS)

Converting discrete to continuous

Ashby’s classical cybernetics

Ashby’s law of requisite variety

Cybernetics intro

Information feedback loops

Ashby’s cybernetics wrt EA

What is a complex system?

Complexity measurement

Complex adaptive systems

Complexity explained? – part 1

Complexity explained? – part 2 

Relativity v quantum mechanics

Idealisation in system theory

Abstraction from “the real machine”

Abstraction in the eternal golden braid

Abstraction varieties and typology

Other systems


Systems thinkers

Systems thinkers

More sociological thinking

The schism

Ackoff’s ideas

Beer’s ideas

Bertalanffy’s ideas

Boulding’s ideas

Clemson’s ideas - slide show

Checkland’s ideas

Von Foerster’s ideas

Maturana’s ideas

Luhmann’s ideas

Marx and Engels’ ideas

Snowden’s ideas    

Bausch’s overview

More sociological perspectives

Ackoff’s system classes

System types

People types

The schism in systems thinking

EA, GST and social system thinking

Social entities v. social systems

Actors, roles and assignments




System ideas 1

 System ideas 2

More about systems

Older GST musing

Introducing system ideas

Holism and emergent properties


The primacy of behavior

Determinism and hysteresis


Hierarchical (v network) organisation

Chaos and non-linear behaviour

Predictability and probability


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 state: entities and identities

Homeostasis and control

Hierarchies and lattices.

ISO 42010 in a nutshell

What ISO 42010 means

ISO change proposal


and Reality

Description theory


More musing

Type theory

A philosophy of systems

Description theory




Language, logic and data

Fuzzy types and fuzzy instantiation

Mental models and how brains work

The magic number seven

Other information theories

Taxonomies and ontologies

The evolution of description

Insights from description theory

The psychology of description

The philosophy of description

Principles for a controlled vocabulary

Data and reality – after Bill Kent

Type theory

Older musings

The evolution of types

Types in different disciplines

How things instantiate types

Types and instances

Types and meta types

Types and instances – analysis

Set and type theory



Philosophical musings

More philosophical musings

A philosophy of systems

System philosophy

Types and tokens

Knowledge and truth

A critique of realism

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

Ontology and phenomenology

Logical positivism (Wittgenstein)

About life

Relevance of the above to EA

System thinkers dictionary - draft

System thinking ontology – draft


More references  

Types and sets references  

Laszlo and Krippner references


Enterprises as systems

Business system models

More musings

Older musings

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.

Architects, descriptions and systems

Architectural descriptions of systems

EA as multi-level architecture description

The practical terminology challenge

Enterprise state data

Modelling madness.

Functionality  and  Logicality

Granularity  and  Modularity

Composition  and  Generalisation

Systems as abstractions

UML types and instances

Modelling the passage of time


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