How would I describe my systems thinking in practice?


Like an energy saving lightbulb:

  • It is illuminating – it gives light to areas of darkness
  • It is energy saving – it saves me and others wasted time. It uses less energy but still gives an illuminating effect.
  • Once you use it, you don’t want to be without it.
  • It is sustainable
  • It considers the wider environment.
  • It sheds a new type of light on situations.
  • It is a quick and easy method of seeing your way forward

But, you have to have something to plug it into to feel its benefits; you need an opportunity to use it!


Time to put your blame thrower away


Do you have low level chaos, bottlenecks, inefficient flows and oscillations in performance in your organisation/ service? If so, put your blame thrower away and look for co-ordination failure.

Co-ordination mechanisms are those things that systems practitioners know as existing in system 2 of the viable system model. They are the things that prevent primary operations from causing chaos for one another. They create stability and keep conflict to a minimum. They are things like: shared protocols, common standards, timetables and communication mechanisms. They are simple things; things we take for granted. Yet, without them we can descend into unfathomable chaos. For example, imagine a school without a timetable! The whole system would start to crumble very quickly.

But, in many change programmes, the co-ordination mechanisms are often overlooked. It is not unusual for it to be taken for granted that they exist. They go unscrutinised when it comes to making improvements and often deemed too insignificant to focus on. Sometimes all you need is a tweak in the co-ordination mechanisms to make a big change.

Remember – the small things count!