Donella Meadows defines a system as “an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something… A system must consist of three kinds of things: elements, interconnections and a function or purpose” (Meadows, 11).
Elements are the individual parts of a system which tend to be more visible and easy to recognize.
Interconnections are the relationships that hold the elements of a system together or describes how elements work together to achieve the systems function/purpose.
Function or Purpose is determined based on the systems behavior.
Meadows, Donella H. (2008). Thinking in Systems: A Primer. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.
Explore Systems Thinking [n.d]. Center for Ecoliteracy. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.ecoliteracy.org/nature-our-teacher/systems-thinking