• Gary Robert Smith INCOSE


systems thinking, attitudes, concepts


By thinking about systems thinking, our aim was to provide other system thinkers with a mind map for the key elements of the thinking that took place.

The sepsis problem is highly complex and spans not just the biological system, but also the healthcare enterprise. Sepsis is the context in which systems thinking has been applied and examined.

Sepsis is an emergency situation that if left unrecognised and untreated in its early stage leads to multiple organ dysfunction and death. It is also the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals. Stays with septicaemia (sepsis) have the highest aggregate hospital costs in comparison to all other conditions (US 2011 $20.3 billion) and these costs have more than quadrupled since 1997.

A systems thinking mind map was examined while relating the story of a systems thinker, Paul, who attempted to deal with the sepsis problem. Paul wanted to better understand sepsis in order to recognise potential leverage points for prevention, treatment and recovery.

This case study highlights the attitudes; comments on the system approach, and puts forward the cognitive concepts.

All these concepts are integrated in an overall mind map looking like a tree: the branches of the tree represent the systems thinker's attitudes; the roots of the tree represent features of systems that are commonly considered when systems’ thinking.

By examining the systems thinking applied in an unfamiliar domain this has facilitated new perspectives on systems thinking and systems science.

Author Biographies


System Engineering & Dependability Senior Expert - Design and Art teacher

Gary Robert Smith, INCOSE

Gary is an INCOSE ESEP and senior expert in systems engineering at Airbus Defence and Space. He has been a lead systems architect for their border protection systems and is currently working on transformation programmes.


He is an active contributor to the INCOSE systems science and healthcare working groups where he participates as the outreach leader for the EMEA region and is an INCOSE Healthcare Ambassador.


In 2004, “just for fun”, he undertook the Open University course S807 Molecules in Medicine and as a direct result of the course published “Cancer, Inflammation and the AT1 and AT2 receptors in the BMC Journal of Inflammation. This was featured in the UK national press, “Open University Student publishes new theory of inflammation”. The paper has nearly 100 citations, including one in Nature Review Oncology.


His more recent paper “Angiotensin and Systems Thinking: Wrapping your mind around the big picture” describes a conceptual model for understanding complex diseases.



How to Cite

DANIEL ALLEGRO, B., & Smith, G. R. (2017). MIND MAPPING SYSTEMS THINKER’S ATTITUDES FACING A SEPSIS PROBLEM. Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2015 Berlin, Germany, 1(1). Retrieved from https://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings59th/article/view/2983