This is the online (now expanded and continually updated) version of a teaching and coaching resource I published in January 2018.
The primary goal of this resource is to foster systemic and holistic reflection. I am especially interested in describing how a systems level approach might inform the way we think about strategic planning, research and analysis, project design, and program evaluation. The System Thinker Notebook aims to provide an accessible, shared ‘lexicon’ for bolstering the strategic capacity of groups and organizations.
A key feature of this project is that it is in perpetual development. I use the word ‘notebook’ intentionally, to differentiate this document from a formal ‘book.’ I will keep adding and adapting this resource as I go along. One of the principle takeaways from studying complexity is an acute sense of how little one person alone can comprehend about the totality of the system around them: to open the door to complexity is to accept a state of personal ignorance indefinitely. Every time I teach or facilitate on this topic, I learn so much from others: pedagogy is a mutual affair. It takes a community to think holistically. Therefore, this is a ‘notebook’ because I have no intentions of ever considering it ‘complete.’
Table of Contents
- System Concepts
- Dispersed Knowledge Systems
- Leadership in Systems
- Bathtub Universe
- Stock and Flow
- What is in the bathtub?
- Leverage Points
- Grappling with Complexity
- Air, Guppies, and Carbon
- For the Want of a Nail
- Recipes, Rockets, and Raising Children
- Ant Colonies vs Combustion Engines
- Leadership in Complex Systems
- Thought Experiments