A perspective on systems thinking, architecting, and art

Tom McDermott, Alejandro Salado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Systems architecture has been considered as both an art and a science. The systems architect uses heuristics, stories, and models to communicate complex architectural concepts to stakeholders. Since the earliest times, master building architects have developed their skills broadly across the technical, business, and fine art domains. Why should engineering be different? Principles and practices of systems architecture are exhibited in the creation of film scores, fine arts, and building architecture. Why not teach art as a core skill of the systems architect? In this work, we explore a formal competency model linking art, systems thinking, and systems architecture. We associate competencies across these domains with the concept of elegant design. We explore formal education in the arts as a way to bridge the communication problems that technical architects have with their stakeholders. The goal is to improve the competencies of systems architects and systems thinkers by bringing the methods of the art studio class to systems education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-655
Number of pages8
JournalSystems Research and Behavioral Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • art
  • competences
  • systems architecture
  • systems thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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