So on a dark and rainy Monday night I travelled down to Renton, Washington to spend a day exploring Systems Thinking 101 with these great folks, which shifted into café and Open Space conversations as part of a Pegasus Communications Regional Event that would last until end of day Wednesday. Here’s the first part of my harvest – my loves, ah-has and notes from the 101 Workshop:
- We have 10 minutes for 20 people to introduce themselves. Nice shared time management.
- Connection of Heifetz’ adaptive leadership to systems thinking. So similar to the Cynefin framework, which I think I prefer. But I’d like to read more on Heifetz and also to better learn Cynefin/how to distinguish between the different domains.
- Waters Foundation Habits of Systems Thinker cards sorted by: 1. This is a habit for me, 2. Understand it but not yet a habit, and 3. Don’t do it or understand it. Used analogy of habit: crossing arms one way, then the other. Lovely tactile reflection activity and I’ll use the cards frequently for their fantastic questions.
- Recommendation to read Language of Systems thinking by Michael Goodman.
- On questions: open, closed and dirty (those that lead, imply, trap or infer guilt). Work in triads: storyteller, inquirer, observer. Lovely language on circle practice from my triad partner: keeper.
- System analysis in six steps:
- Tell the story
- Name the variables
- Determine the system boundaries
- Sketch the trends (behaviour over time graphs)
- Make the system visible (connection circles, causal loop diagrams, stock/flow diagrams)
- Share and look for leverage
- Behaviour over time graphs: sometimes this is what it takes to get people on the same page.
- Connection circles: does the rise or fall of one variable affect the rise or fall of another? E.g. as the ________ rises/falls, the __________ rises/falls. Find the loops.
- Iceberg model: lower the water line to see more. Love these words – will use this in a coaching workshop I host.
- The bodywork: bombs and shields with various changes (same person as anchor, move one person then another, readjusting as necessary). Debriefed all rounds – connections to systems thinking. Living loops (passing feedback through a system) and group juggling (how many balls can we keep up in the air? Metaphor: watch your thrower, change the structure).
- Loved the one central simple handout we referred to throughout the day.
And the best part of the workshop: leaving with the thought “How can I better integrate systems thinking into my practice?” Thank you to Steve, Nalani and Colleen for a great day.
Where can you see more of the whole? How can you cultivate the habits of a systems thinker?