Kate Mills

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

First Advisor

Robert Ricketts

Second Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter


Systems thinking is a paradigm that challenges the dominant paradigm of linear, or mechanistic thinking. It is a paradigm based on the perspective that everything in a system is inter-connected and interrelated and that the interplay of components in the system creates an emergent quality with its own behaviour and characteristics. Systems thinking as such is suited to be used for analysis of organisations, as organisations can be seen as a system where the interplay of its components create emergent qualities such as the culture of the organisation. Within systems thinking there are living and non-living systems. Living systems, such as humans and nature, are in a state of non-equilibrium which they maintain by interacting with their environment. Living systems have certain principles, which can be observed in nature and should theoretically be applicable to other living systems, such as groups of humans working in organisations together. This paper proposes a model for applying four principles of living systems using a systems thinking lens in an organisational setting. This is set in the context of how we construct knowledge and new models of thinking to create authentic ways of leading.