Practicing systems thinking
A Two-Day Seminar
- Gain a practical understanding of systems thinking principles, approaches and tools in order to integrate and use them in individual and team work.
- Understand the complementary strengths of systems thinking and Continuous Quality Improvement.
- Understanding of how systems thinking helps surface and challenge existing mental models and habitual ways of thinking.
- Practice in applying causal loop diagrams to current issues and cases.
- Understanding of the range of systems thinking applications.
- Intact team or group of executives and middle managers.
- Mixed group interested in exploring their growing sense of interdependency (e.g. administrators, nurses and physicians in healthcare).
- Review of the objectives and agenda, introductions and expectations.
- Introduction to systems thinking as the fifth discipline of learning organizations; characteristics of systems and implications for systems thinking; moving from and event to a structural view or reality.
- Mental models as structures: exercises to identify individual and collective mental models.
- Introduction to the basic building blocks of systems dynamics language: links and loops; examples of reinforcing loops and balancing loops. Introduction to a few basic archetypes (with appropriate examples) and practice on participants’ own cases in small groups: fixes that fail, accidental adversaries, shifting the burden and eroding goals.
- Small group presentation of cases to the large group and dialogue on insights and questions.
- Introduction to other archetypes (with appropriate examples) and practice on participants’ own cases (in small groups): limits to success, tragedy of the commons, escalation, success to the successful.
- Small group work: application of causal loop diagrams on a selected issue.
- Small group presentation of cases to the large group.
- Dialogue on opportunities and limits of applying causal lop diagrams to address complex issues; further steps in systems thinking.
- Illustration of the complementary strengths of systems thinking and CQI.
- Evaluation of the session and identification of possible next steps for the group.
- Brief presentations of concepts and tools followed by individual reflection periods and interactive application in small groups and large group.
- Optimal number of participants: from 12 to 24. Suggested maximum size: 30.
- Preparation steps: advance reading on systems thinking and mental models; individual reflection on current issues that are problematic, long standing and resistant to change interventions.