Googling "system thinking" returned a lot of resources that are about "Systems thinking" rather than "System thinking". This source indicates that "Systems thinking" is one of the three ways that could be applied in DevOps.
After reading several references "Systems thinking" is about interactions rather than silos. If one translates this to DevOps then "Systems thinking" is aligned with the theory and also important for DevOps as this is the interaction between QA, Dev and Ops.
In order to apply "Systems thinking" one should be able to communicate with people from Dev, Ops and QA, listen to them, understand their problems and find ways to let them work together instead of getting a "through it over the wall" mentality and unconnected departments in the company.
An element that really requires "Systems thinking" is Continuous Delivery (CD). Multiple departments are involved, while CI is mostly used by Dev, QA and Ops will be definitely need to be involved in this process as one does not want to release a newer version if integration or manual tests failed and Ops want to be informed if there are changes to the system as they monitor systems and try to prevent and solve issues on the platform.
In summary, "Systems thinking" is required for DevOps engineers. If one only sees Dev, Ops and QA as individual parts, but no interdependency then this is not aligned with the DevOps theory, i.e. intersection between Dev, Ops and QA.
a discipline for seeing the 'structures' that underlie complex
situations, and for discerning high from low leverage points.
The iceberg is one of the most frequently used models to explain
systems thinking (see “The Iceberg”). Thanks to movies like “Titanic,”
many people recognize that most of an iceberg sits hidden beneath the
water; that is, out of sight.
System Thinking allows people to make their understanding of social
systems explicit and improve them in the same way that people can use
engineering principles to improve their understanding of mechanical
We can therefore state that System Thinking for DevOps is required to
understand Software Engineering as a social construct using
From a System Thinking approach, DevOps thinking is fundamentally
different from the traditional form of analysis. Traditional analysis
focus on separating the individual software engineering pieces, e.g.,
architecture, coding, testing, tooling etc. In contrast, the DevOps
approach focuses on how all aspects of the software life cycle
interact with other constituents of the system. Circling back to the
definition of DevOps we can easily identify the ‘behavior traits’
observed in the DevOps movement, namely: adaptable/flexible (improve
relationship), cooperative (better communication), diplomatic
Systems thinking is a management discipline that concerns an
understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions
between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined
What exactly is systems thinking? In simplest terms, systems thinking
is a way of seeing and talking about reality that helps us better
understand and work with systems to influence the quality of our
lives. In this sense, systems thinking can be seen as a perspective.
It also involves a unique vocabulary for describing systemic behavior,
and so can be thought of as a language as well. And, because it offers
a range of techniques and devices for visually capturing and
communicating about systems, it is a set of tools.
Fundamentally, Systems Thinking is straightforward. We treat the
situation of interest as a system and examine it using system
properties and characteristics like purpose, context and structure to
System thinking is a method of critical thinking by which you analyze
the relationships between the system's parts in order to understand a
situation for better decision-making. In simpler terms, you look at a
lot of the trees, other plants and critters living around the trees,
the weather, and how all these parts fit together in order to figure
out the forest.