Linda Booth Sweeney


“Linda is a regular visiting faculty for our graduate program at Seattle University. She readily connects with adult learners and brings her infectious enthusiasm and jargon-free knowledge to her teaching. Students love her focus on application and her patience in helping them to acquire a new way of seeing, and understanding, the systems all around them.”

Bill Koenig
Administrative Director & OSR 15 Core Faculty
Organization Systems Renewal Graduate Program
Seattle University
Design and Leadership of Systemic Organizational Change

Thinking About Systems

Here’s the good news: you already think about systems. And you have some good intuitions about them. For instance, when someone says “we’re on a roll!” (an indicator of reinforcing feedback at work), you know there will likely be some built-in limit that ends the growth (that’s a systems pattern known as limits to growth). And you also get it when someone says, in reference to a family or a high performing team, that “1 + 1 = 3” or “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” (that's the concept of emergence).

How can we build on these natural intuitions? One way is to pay attention to the principles that guide living systems. Another is to develop “habits of mind” rooted in a deep appreciation for living systems.

12 Living System Principles: An introduction to some of the key principles related to living systems. view all

12 Habits of Mind: An overview of “habits of mind” for thinking about and acting within living systems. view all

example:a system

What is a living system

In a spider’s web, what happens on one part of the web affects every other part. The same is true of living systems, whether an ant colony, a forest, an organization, or a city. Like a spider’s web, a living system is so intricately woven that no part exists in isolation.”

L. Booth Sweeney, Sustainable Wisdom: Living Stories about Living Systems