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The Systems Thinker works to catalyze effective change by expanding the use of systems approaches. All articles are available free of charge in an effort to expose as wide of audience as possible. Browse, share with others, save your favorites and tell others about this valuable resource!

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Building Organizational Learning Infrastructures

The systems and structures that have served our organizations well throughout the Machine Age are no longer adequate to meet the demands of the …

How Can We Solve Our Toughest Problems Peacefully?

How Can We Solve Our Toughest Problems Peacefully?

For the past 15 years, I have focused all of my attention on answering one question: How can we solve our toughest problems peacefully? …

From Key Success Factors to Key Success Loops

Many of us are familiar with the following drill: Corporate pushes a new program, and each department must come up with its own plans …

The Inner Game of Work: Building Capability in the Workplace

“What would be more interesting to you,” I ask an audience of executives, “engaging in a dialogue on learning how to coach or one …

Systems Archetypes II: Using Systems Archetypes to Take Effective Action

Toolbox Reprint Series Systems Archetypes II Using Systems Archetypes to Take Effective Action More than just a “how-to” guide; this companion guide to our bestselling …

The Thinking in Systems Thinking: Eight Critical Skills

Ihave been writing and re-writing this guide (Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA, 1985–2000) for 15 years. I always begin by reeling off a …

Fine-Tuning Your Causal Loop Diagrams—Part II

Distinguish Between Actual and Perceived Conditions Perceptions and reality often differ, and it is usually important to capture these differences in your causal diagrams. The …

Using the Archetype Family Tree as a Diagnostic Tool

Consider the plight of a small “mom and pop” lawn care company. The owners faced periodic cash shortages due to the cyclical nature of …

What is Your Organization’s Core Theory of Success?

Managers in today’s organizations are continually confronted with new challenges and increased performance expectations. At the same time, they are bombarded by a bewildering …

Managing in the Knowledge Era

The world economy is in the midst of a profound change—one that is creating huge shifts in the way companies are organizing to provide …

Strategic Questions: Engaging People’s Best Thinking

Stop asking so many questions,” many children hear at home. “Don’t give me the question, give me the answer,” many students hear at school.

Conversational Leadership: Thinking Together for a Change

AUTHORS’ NOTE: We’d like to thank and honor Carolyn Baldwin, a pioneering educator and World Café host, for coining the phrase “conversational leadership”; strategic illustrator …

A Palette of Systems Thinking Tools

In this issue’s Toolbox it may be helpful to lay out the full array of systems thinking tools from which this column draws. You can …

The Sustainability Challenge: Ecological and Economic Development

Imagine picking up a newspaper and reading that the country’s largest petroleum company has petitioned the government to increase the gasoline tax at the …

Systems Archetype Basics: From Story to Structure

Does your organization focus too much on the short term? Do you often use quick fixes? Do you find yourself saying; “We’ve been in this …

Systems Archetypes III: Understanding Patterns of Behavior and Delay

The latest volume of the acclaimed Toolbox Reprint Series, Daniel Kim takes a deeper look at the “signature” patterns of behavior associated with each systems …

Solving, Not Attacking, Complex Problems: A Five-Stage Approach Based on an Ancient Practice

Organizations today suffer from a severe disability when it comes to solving problems. In virtually every organization, regardless of mission and function, people are …

Systems Thinking as a Language

Language has a subtle, yet powerful effect on the way we view the world. English, like most other Western languages, is linear—its basic sentence …

“Positive” Systems Archetypes

Many readers of The Systems Thinker are familiar with the systems archetypes developed in the mid- 1980s based on the work of Jay Forrester, …

The Systems Orientation: From Curiosity to Courage

Systems thinking is different from most other problem-solving tools because it takes into account the fact that we are a part of the system …

Introducing Systems Thinking into Your Organization

So you’ve read The Fifth Discipline, attended the Pegasus “Systems Thinking in Action” Conference, bought simulation software, and created your first computer models. You’re …

Systems Methodology

Daily, we are exposed to information from a multitude of sources: the media, newspapers, radio, T. V., and the Internet. Generally this kind of …

Trust As A Systemic Structure in Our Organizations

Trust is a subject close to many people’s hearts. Whenever I make presentations on this subject, I never cease to be amazed by the …

Overcoming the Seven Sustainability Blunders

In response to growing environmental and social equity problems, hundreds of private and public “sustainable development” initiatives have blossomed across the globe since the …

Empowering Multigenerational Collaboration in the Workplace

Today’s workforce represents a broad range of age groups. As a result of college internships, modern healthcare, antidiscrimination laws, and a plethora of lifestyle …

Learning Organizations: The Promise and the Possibilities

This year’s annual Systems Thinking in Action Conference explored both the promise and the reality of the learning organization through the theme, “Learning Organizations …

The Inescapable Need to Change Our Organizations: An Interview with Peter Senge

The Systems Thinker (TST): What are the two or three new big ideas for management in the 21st century? Peter Senge: Organizations will have to …

Learning Through System Dynamics as Preparation for the 21st Century

What should be the outcome of a systems education? We do not expect most students to spend their lives in front of a computer …

From Riots to Resolution: Engaging Conflict for Reconciliation

As members of communities and organizations, many people feel their days (and their energy!) being consumed by contentious conflicts between diverse stakeholder groups. Organizations …

The Blind Men and the Elephant

The parable of the blind men and the elephant illustrates how our individual perceptions (what Peter Senge calls our “mental models”) can lead to …

A Subversive’s Guide to Systems Thinking

Just the other day, a colleague made a comment reminiscent of so many similar remarks:, “You worked in a hospital. You understand all there …

The “AND” Method

TEAM TIP Apply this method to anticipate— and avoid—unintended consequences before taking action. Irecently read an article by Daniel Aronson called “Targeted …

Communicating Through Conflict

Where there are people, there is conflict. It affects us all. The failure to communicate effectively, or to communicate at all, is a leading …

Step-By-Step Stocks and Flows: Improving the Rigor of Your Thinking

The systems thinking community has always considered stock and flow diagrams to be important tools, and recognition of their key place in the …

Wired for Change: Leveraging Insights from Biology

Either way you spell it, this former CEO’s name is “mud.” Though the pun may be entertaining, the result of failing to explore “unthinkable” …

Hearts in the Stream: Learning to Learn from Nature

You are fly fishing, standing knee-deep in the Housotonic River, which tumbles down the western edge of Connecticut. As you cast for the fifth …

Step-By-Step Stocks and Flows: Converting From Causal Loop Diagrams

Once you have a basic knowledge of stocks and flows, you can begin converting CLDs to stock and flow diagrams. The steps we describe …

Sustainability: The Inner and Outer Work

Over the years, many people devoted to sustainability have used the phrase “the triple bottom line” to articulate strategy. They don’t focus solely on …

Meetings That Matter: Conversational Leadership in Today’s Schools

If the element in greatest evidence in a school system is “young people,” and the second most prevalent feature is “desks,” surely a close …

A New Path to Understanding Systems Thinking

Many readers will recognize this scenario: A group in your department is planning a highly complex project, but the conversations you’re hearing about it …

The World Cafe: Living Knowledge Through Conversations That Matter

Consider all the learning that occurs as people move from place to place inside and outside an organization, carrying insights and ideas from one …

Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace

Any time you hear the phrase, “Here we go again” in response to a problem, it is a clue that a pattern is in …

Conversation as a Core Business Process

Take a moment to put on a new set of glasses. Change your perspective. Consider, for a moment, that the most widespread and pervasive …

Transformational Learning: A Blueprint for Organizational Change

Attempting to bring about organizational change through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, yet it may be the most effective way. The belief …

Vision Deployment Matrix: A Framework for Large-Scale Change

Vision can be a powerful force for action when it is clearly articulated and there is a genuine desire to bring it into reality.

Organizational Learning and Leadership Development at EDS

Evaluating a program on “learning how to learn” is difficult using traditional quantitative criteria. Fritjof Capra, author of The Turning Point, offers these guidelines …

Guidelines for Designing Systemic Interventions

The phones were ringing off the hook and the fax machine was humming 24 hours a day. The entire staff of the specialty goods …