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SYSTEMS THINKING INTRODUCTION

Systems Thinking were developed in the ‘50s & ‘60s by the then largest UK Company ICI.  Academic rigour was then assured by The Open University and Lancaster University amongst others.  There is a worldwide community of practitioners through LinkinED.

Systems Thinking is a process which examines a techno-social problem from a distance in order to understand the total context.  It is then possible to select an aspect for detailed analysis which is most likely to result in the greatest benefit to the total situation.

Proposed amendments to existing policies or strategies and also be examined to avoid unintended consequences.

It has marked advantages over any other analysis method where there is complexity and interconnectedness of the systems involved.

System Thinking Methodologies

We now go on to outline some of methods that can be applied.

 What are the Objectives of the Initiative?

Initiative means “policy” or “strategy”.

Test the Objectives

Are the Objectives Market Aware or Market Driven (Catch-up)

Alway question the Objectives when you have the feel for the issues

Review of the Issues

Draw a Spray Diagram to catalogue the issues and get the first pass at the systems involved

Draw a Rich Picture to portray the impacts with emotion

Draw a Systems Map to make sense of the structure of problems

Stakeholder matrix

Determine the System(s) of Interest

Re-test the Objectives

Analysis of the Issues

Draw a Systems Map to assess current organisation

Review System(s) of Interest

Draw an Influence Diagram

Review

Draw a Multiple Cause Diagram

Review

Explore the Issues

Consider a Sign Graph

Consider 2x2 matrix analysis

Re-test the Objectives

Consider a Model?

Decide on the target KPIs

Deciding on Actions

List possible remedial actions

Select the criteria against which the actions are judged

Check they relate to the target KPIs

Consider a Multiple Criteria Analysis (MCA), or SWOT or STEP analysis

The 2Ws an H can help – How, Why, What, When & Where

Do a reality check, is it practical?

Recommend the best choice(s)

Agree an Action Plan

Look at soft issues

Look at hard issues

Implement the project/strategy and phasing leading to project initiation. 


This course’s programme covers many of the techniques and tools and a flexible methodology.  The techniques are normally applied to:

  • Identify the human and technical  issues in complex interconnected situations
  • Focus on the key system in a potential solution
  • Examine the possible solutions which benefit of the majority of stakeholders
  • Evaluate the best course of action.

The programme covers the essential skills needed to explore a problem as a sole investigator, fitting you to be the coordinator of a study group.  Techniques will be introduced and their use on problems explored and then expanded to cover a wider evaluation of typical problems.  

The programme will concentrate on the skills required to deploy systems thinking effectively and maximise its benefit of as a problem solving tool and thus deliver business benefits.  

Participants will return to their organisations able to progress their understanding of systems thinking.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
This programme will help anyone who wishes to think about issues their organisation faces, in an open and comprehensive way. 

  • Senior personnel
  • Any professional seeking to influence the outlook of those he/she reports to
  • Any professional seeking to change the method of working of those reporting to him/her
  • Those specifying complex solutions with many human interfaces
  • Personnel seeking to enhance their analysis skills
  • IT Project Management professionals

Full benefit will be achieved if you begin to use in your own environment some of the concepts and techniques which the course explores.  Where your work requires you to be innovative and persuasive some will become second nature to you.

PROGRAMME OBJECTIVES
In this programme you will learn to:-

  • Understand the language of Systems Thinking
  • Look at problems from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders
  • Explore some analytical tools and techniques
  • Learn how to use one methodology of approach
  • Practice techniques that are used in this methodology
  • Be able to judge which tools may be of most use in specific circumstances
  • Participate in groups exploring familiar and new problems
  • Evaluate potential actions against organisational requirements
  • Encourage organisational learning to develop process improvement


TRAINING METHODOLOGY
Participants will learn systems thinking and other problem solving techniques by individual practice and by participation in groups during the sessions.  The exercises will allow a “hands on” approach to learning.  Exercises will be set on topics, where participants can be expected to have a general understanding of the issues involved.

PROGRAMME OUTLINE

INTRODUCTION

  • What is a system
  • The Power of Diagrams
  • Introduction to Systems Thinking

THE PREREQUISITES

  • Worldview and Perspectives
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • The Language of Systems Thinking
  • Hard & Soft Complexity
  • Introduction to a Methodology

DIAGRAMMING PRACTICE - SENSING

  • Spray Diagram
  • Rich Picture
  • Systems Diagrams
  • Introduction to a Methodology

DIAGRAMMING PRACTICE - UNDERSTANDING

  • Deciding upon a System of Interest
  • Systems Diagrams
  • Challenging the Objectives set
  • Causal Diagrams
  • Drawing Sign Graphs
  • Interpreting Sign Graphs
  • The concept of Feedback
  • Criteria and Indicators
  • Key Performance Indicators

TOOLS IN DECISION MAKING

  • Multiple Criteria Analysis
  • 5 Ws & 1 H
  • Overview of Modelling
  • SWOT
  • STEP
  • Reality Checks for Practicality

GROUP PROJECT

  • Group Worked Problem
  • Presentations
  • Evaluation and discussion

COURSE HANDOUTS
Course participants are provided with a 100+ page manual and a copy of the slides on a 3 per page notes format.

STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT - METHODOLOGIES

We now go on to outline some of methods that can be applied.

 What are the Objectives of the Initiative?

Initiative means “policy” or “strategy”.

Test the Objectives

Are the Objectives Market Aware or Market Driven (Catch-up)

Review of the Issues

Draw a Spray Diagram to catalogue the issues and get the first pass at the systems involved

Draw a Rich Picture to portray the impacts with emotion

Draw a Systems Map to make sense of the structure of problems

Stakeholder matrix

Determine the System(s) of Interest

Re-test the Objectives

Analysis of the Issues

Draw a Systems Map to assess current organisation

Review System(s) of Interest

Draw an Influence Diagram

Review

Draw a Multiple Cause Diagram

Review

Explore the Issues

Consider a Sign Graph

Consider 2x2 matrix analysis

Re-test the Objectives

Consider a Model?

Decide on the target KPIs

Deciding on Actions

List possible remedial actions

Select the criteria against which the actions are judged

Check they relate to the target KPIs

Consider a Multiple Criteria Analysis (MCA), or SWOT or STEP analysis

The 2Ws an H can help – How, Why, What, When & Where

Do a reality check, is it practical?

Recommend the best choice(s)

Agree an Action Plan

Look at soft issues

Look at hard issues

Implement the project/strategy and phasing leading to project initiation