Thanks to Aaron for linking to a very interesting article on the works of Russ Ackoff and his ideas of system thinking. You can start reading with this particularly nice thought and keep on for the rest of article:
The only profession that he believed had truly embraced systems thinking is architecture, where the design process starts by asking what sort of building is desired, and then works backwards to focus on what individual parts are required. An architect never starts by saying, “Here are the parts, what can I build from them?”
It's all good stuff.
And in case you were wondering, as I was, there seems to be a good collection of Russ Ackoff on Amazon.