Dive into Systems Thinking

By now you will realize that ideas around systems and complexity are tightly linked. Complexity Theory has been called some of the most important thinking for the 21st century – read this short paper by SiG Fellow, Brenda Zimmerman and her colleagues, that explains why complexity theory matters.

Al Etmanski is a skilled systems thinker – this case study tells the story of how he was able to make unprecedented change across different systems to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

If you want to learn more about systems, this book by Donella Meadows is a terrific introduction and is required reading by the students in the Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation at the University of Waterloo. The book highlights tools such as causal flow diagramming, identifying traps (and leverage points) and system mapping, to provide tangible ways to discover patterns and trends in systems, and to use that information to develop strategies for large scale change.As you get more familiar with systems thinking, you may become interested in activities that can help you and others explore this concept. Check out the Systems Playbook, as a first step to practicing thinking like a system.

Note: A complete list of all SiG educational resources can be found in our publicly-available document library. We hope you’ve found this pathway to learning in systems thinking helpful.