Systemic thinking is a technique for developing system-wide insights into challenging situations and complex subjects very quickly.
A common way for the understanding of a complex system is to analyze it (to make sense of a system by breaking it apart). However, analysis focuses on the elements of a system in the isolation and, therefore, loose relations between parts.
Systemic thinking combines analysis (making sense of things by taking them apart) and synthesis (making sense of things by by seeing how they fit together). Analytical thinking is used for identifying the elements, synthetical thinking is used for finding the repeating pattern.
Systemic thinking process can be represented as three process steps:
(this figure is taken from the Gary and Lynne Bartlett presentation, see http://www.probsolv.com)
The following theories contributed to the domain of Systemic Thinking:
The figure below represents is a system pattern pattern taken from the presentation of Alain Wegmann (my thesis director). Each key business process has a system pattern around it!