Training Courses Available

The following one-day training courses are now available

Both of these training courses require a minimum of 10 people, maximum 20. They are intended for groups of people who work together across a geographical place, and especially for those in public services.

Costs vary, depending upon number of delegates, location and provision of rooms and refreshments. Please get in touch if you are interested in running a session for your organisation/ group of colleagues.

Creating the conditions for change with systems and complexity thinking

Who is this training for?

This training if for anyone who is interested in creating the conditions for change using insights from systems and complexity thinking. It is particularly useful for front line teams and managers involved in system change.

What will I learn?

You will learn about the conditions that are required to make effective change in any situation. You will learn how to look at things from different perspectives, how viable systems work and what features are required in a system to enable system change.

Do I need prior knowledge of systems thinking?

No prior knowledge of systems thinking is required for this course. All concepts will be fully explained.

What will the format of the training be?

This is a highly interactive session using my Systems Thinking Change Wheel and action cards to understand system change. A case study will be used to apply the thinking to, and by prior arrangement, this can be a case study of the ‘place’ in which you work.

There will be some presentation whilst explaining concepts. However, the majority of the day will be group exercises and application of the thinking to the case study. You will identify where conditions might hinder system change and where effort can be injected to help create the conditions to enable system change.

Applying the viable system model

Who is this training for?

This training is for anyone who has an interest in applying the viable system model to a situation. You can be from any kind of work background, as long as you have an interest in the subject matter.

What will I learn?

You will learn the basics of Stafford Beer’s viable system model. You will learn about the five sub-systems of the model and what their functions are. You will also learn how to apply the model to a real-world situation, learning what to look for and how to spot areas for potential improvement in a situation, based on a diagnosis using the model

Do I need prior knowledge of systems thinking or the viable system model?

It does help if you have some knowledge of systems thinking but don’t worry if you don’t. Systems thinking is such a wide field that any key concepts etc will be explained throughout the session. It is important to do this because of the wide range of interpretations that exist.

What will the format of the training be?

There will be some element of presentation when explaining the model. The majority of the day, however, will be your practical application of the model to a given case study. You will undertake a diagnosis of a messy situation, using a number of ‘guides’ that you will be provided with to help you along. It will be a mixture of thinking about certain elements alone and in groups and you will be guided by the trainer throughout.

The case study will be a case study that the trainer has worked on. That way, she can share real insights as to how the model can be applied and what you can look for when trying to identify areas for improvement. It is a case study is from public services. This area has been chosen for its ‘messiness’ which gives opportunities to demonstrate areas for improvement in many places. You do not have to have experience of or a background in public services to understand the case study or undertake the diagnosis. In fact, it can sometimes help if you don’t know much about the situation in the case study.

Other bespoke systems thinking courses are available, which can be designed to meet your needs. Please get in contact to discuss your requirements.

pauline@systemspractitioner.com

Feedback from a previous course:

Through the eyes of a citizen…or…how to pass the hot potato

Wednesday 5th September 2018 and it’s started already. The very narrow cul-de-sac in which I live is packed full of cars trying to edge their way around one another, some are parked on the corner of the junction, most are parked on pathways, some are blocking the road completely and most annoyingly…… some are in our private driveways. The woman next door has already had one argument today with someone who refuses to get off her property and this has been going on for years. It’s got worse lately though. The school, at the other side of some woodland at the end of our cul-de-sac, has had a lot of policing regarding parking recently and now, instead of going to the front gates, parents come in round the back of the school, via our cul-de-sac, instead.

Isn’t it fenced off, then……… your street? I hear you ask. Well, yes, it was until the parents pushed the fence down to make a pathway through the woods to the school.

Every school day I see a near miss. Every school day I see children nearly hit by cars. Every school day, there is an argument.

It’s Sept 10th 2018 early in the morning and I get a text from a neighbour who asked someone to move down the street a little so she could pull out of her driveway. After being given a mouthful of abuse she is now frightened to be in the street alone. Out into the street I go……….

We’ve tried everything to date, contacting the school, police, council, local Councillor, we put traffic cones on our drives. This is what happens to the cones – they drive over them:

We’re on to about our sixth set of cones now. The abuse gets more regular, the entitled aggression of the parents more troublesome and at least five neighbours (men and women) are too scared to come home between 15:15 and 15:45 because of the chaos that will be in the street and the abuse they will be given when trying to park on their own private driveways.

So, I decide to try again, via the channels available to us, to make some progress towards getting this nonsense sorted out. I spoke to the school first, not least because the girl next door was trying to park on her own drive and had her tiny baby with her, only to be met by abuse from a man, who, with his 5 year old, tell her to ‘f**k off’ and they’ll park on her drive if they want to. Yep, a grown man and his kid – both at it. I’m told the chap at the end of the block moved out (he wasn’t there long enough for me to get to know who he was), after being punched in the face and the woman across the road and her neighbour had their car tyres slashed. The school absolutely don’t want to know. There’s nothing they can do, so they say. Their advice – call 101.

Weds 12th Sept, 2018 and I receive another text from a neighbour after yet another altercation. Yep, another car won’t get off her private drive. I call 101 and log it. We’re graded ‘standard’ and promised a visit from a PCSO. It never happened. We had a phone call and I was later visited by a police officer. We raise the issue with the local Councillor also, who passed the hot potato back on to the police.

Thursday 13th Sept 2018 and another neighbour tells me that their wellbeing is being seriously impacted by the debacle in the street twice a day, five days a week.

The police advised me to contact ‘parking’ at the council. So, I did. I emailed and contacted them via twitter. I know they can’t do anything about parking on private driveways, so I also mention the inappropriate dangerous driving in a narrow street, the double parking, parking on junctions and parking side by side and blocking the street completely.

Friday 14th Sept 2018 – I get a response from ‘parking’ at the council – it’s nothing to do with them. Contact ‘highways’ and the local Councillor…….so I do.

And now, taxis have started to use this tiny cul-de-sac to do their drop-offs – it’s mayhem.

Weds 26th Sept 2018 and ‘highways’ come back to me. They tell me that stationary parking offences now lie with ‘parking’ and the hot potato does the rounds again. They tell me that school gate problems happen all of the time………but we aren’t at the school gate…we’re at the back of school in a very narrow cul-de-sac where parents park on private drives, block the road completely and have pushed our fence down to beat their way through the woodland and through to the back of the school. Highways proceed to tell me that no parking restrictions work. Well I never! We call it a ‘fix that fails’ in my world! To stop non-resident cars using the street they would have to raise a Traffic Regulation Order but  they won’t do that because it is a, ‘lengthy process in its entirety and also costs several thousand pounds to incorporate the necessary design work, public consultation, advertisement in the press and the obvious physical works.’ I get a lengthy breakdown of costs…because, you know, they are more important than the safety of people in the street, including the school children, who have no paths to walk on (because cars are on them) the street is blocked and there’s mayhem with a number of cars all trying to do ridiculous manoeuvres around each other every day. They also said, ‘If motorists are specifically obstructing access to these spaces they are already contravening existing highway law that the local police teams can and do enforce, as such I can only suggest that you contact the local policing team who will be able to advise motorists of their responsibilities, ticket said vehicles or as a last resort tow away the vehicle to an impound.’ We should call them. We have, they haven’t! The Council closed the call out saying it was logged as a private parking issue. I say they’ve logged it incorrectly and don’t accept that it is closed. Of course, absolutely nothing is done.

 There’s been damage to the driveways by the cars. This is my neighbour’s drive – that hole is just the size that a child’s foot could go down it………

 And this one is sinking

 

Thursday 27th Sept 2018 and its brown bin day. We pull the bins out…………but the school bullies arrive and throw the bins in the woodland so they can park their cars on our private drives….again. I get the registrations and it’s another call logged on 101. We’re told to keep reporting it to the school…..and the hot potato does the rounds again. ‘Are you in a bad area?’ I hear you say. No, we are in one of the most affluent areas of our city.

I emailed the council again to request they consider resident parking only and I email the school again, as advised by the police.

Friday 28th Sept 2018 and the woman who owns the house next door is cutting down the trees. She couldn’t get onto her drive yesterday because the parents were blocking it and refused to move. Another altercation……

The police advise us of the phone number for victim support……FFS……..it isn’t victim support we need (yet another sticking plaster) we need this looking at systemically and some initiatives that reduce the need for cars to take kids to school implemented. We need safety in our street.

They also advise us to ‘come along to the community meeting’……………..now I’m really getting cheesed off.

Parking services come back to me, ‘at this point we would advise you to contact the Police on their 101 number’ ……..hot potato…here, catch!

I respond and tell them about the hot potato game…..anyone else want to join in?

 It’s now 24th June 2019 –  the hot potato game continues. The abuse continues. The impact on residents continues. The Councillor was out in the street this week, at our request, but still refuses to do anything. I ask what is being done on a more systemic level to tackle issues like this across the area? I’m looked at quite literally like I have two heads and told ‘nothing!’ The Council won’t budge and refuse to put in any controls. The residents are hiring a private firm to ‘police’ their area………….but the cars still come and the verbal abuse still occurs. Two incidents were logged with 101 again today. The Coucillor….well, he agreed that the street is ‘bad’ but as far as the council are concerned it’s ‘safe’. Know why? Because no-one has been knocked over or hurt here yet. Computer says ‘safe’…………………

 

Why it’s better to be helpful than to ‘know’

This morning I was reminded by Algar Goredema-Braid of a great little video by Gene Bellinger, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKzdd63CdN0

There are some wise words in that video. You see, the cry I often hear from systems practitioners is, ‘but how do I get my organisation on board with systems thinking?’ and as Gene says, if you are asking this question, you have missed the point.

The talents of a skilled systems practitioner span much wider than the methods, models, tools, concepts of systems thinking. Some of the most talented systems thinkers I know have never been formally trained or educated in these areas, yet what they do know about is how to work with people.

One of the key skills of a systems practitioner is to guide people around to a systemic way of thinking without them ever having to learn the language or the concepts or the methods and models, in my opinion. Not everyone is going to be interested enough to do that, and we shouldn’t expect them to be.  Whether they are interested in learning the academics or not, we can still guide them towards a more systemic way of being, if that is in their interests.

Gene rightly points out, who wants to have things pointed out to them in a way that makes them feel stupid and then be told to think differently or sold a different way?

Listening, guiding, creating meaning, sharing, inquiring, sense-making and importantly – understanding relationships, how they work, why they don’t and what the implications of those relationships are is vital. When you move into this mode of using your systems thinking, this is when you become really skilled, I believe. Honour others’ perspectives (don’t criticise) and influence, use your skills to be helpful not ‘right’. The more you attempt to tell someone they are wrong, the further away you are likely to push them. If you really want change, then be helpful. Help others to make sense of their context and see things they might not have seen before but don’t sell to them. You’re a systems practitioner, not judge, jury and sales-person.

Viable system model training

Viable System Model Training – Leeds

Out of all the approaches I use, I get asked most often about the viable system model. How do you use it? What does it look like in the real world? How do I apply it to my organisation? How do I apply it to my service? What do I look for when I am diagnosing my situation to see what might be going wrong? I can’t really get to grips with all of the text books, do you have any examples?

There has been a sudden upsurge in interest in the viable system model. Some people are realising that they need to add ‘something else’ to their current approaches to help deal with the complexity of today. In the world of consultancy, it is becoming recognised. In the world of public services, it is used more and more.

It is for these reasons that I have decided to run a 1 x day training course on the viable system model. The session will give an overview of the model and how it works and what to look for in your situation when you are using it. You will be given a real case study to apply the viable system model to. It is a case I have worked on in public services and I’ve done it this way so that I can share the real issues and barriers you might face when using the viable system model. I can also share the insights and what it meant in this particular case.

When is the training and where?

The training is being held in Leeds City Centre, on Friday 22nd March. Details and booking can be found on the Eventbrite site here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/applying-the-viable-system-model-training-tickets-55827383206

I would advise booking sooner, rather than later because there are limited places and booking will close 10 days before the day

 

Who is this training for?

This training is for anyone who has an interest in applying the viable system model to a situation. You can be from any kind of background, as long as you have an interest in the subject matter.

What will I learn?

You will learn the basics of Stafford Beer’s viable system model. You will learn about the five sub-systems of the model and what their functions are. You will also learn how to apply the model to a real-world situation, learning what to look for and how to spot areas for potential improvement in a situation, based on a diagnosis using the model

Do I need prior knowledge of systems thinking or the viable system model?

You do not need any prior knowledge of the viable system model to attend this course. It does help if you have some knowledge of systems thinking but don’t worry if you don’t. Systems thinking is such a wide field that any key concepts etc will be explained throughout the session. It is important to do this because of the wide range of interpretations that exist.

What will the format of the training be?

There will be some element of presentation when explaining the model. The majority of the day, however, will be your practical application of the model to a given case study. You will undertake a diagnosis of a messy situation, using a number of ‘guides’ that you will be provided with to help you along. It will be a mixture of thinking about certain elements alone and in groups and you will be guided by the trainer throughout.

The case study will be a situation that the trainer has actually worked on. That way, she can share real insights as to how the model can be applied and what you can look for when trying to identify areas for improvement. The case study is from public services. This area has been chosen for its ‘messiness’ which gives opportunities to demonstrate areas for improvement in many places. You do not have to have experience of or a background in public services to understand the case study or undertake the diagnosis. In fact, it can sometimes help if you don’t know much about the situation in the case study.

Do I need to do any prior reading for the training?

No, prior reading is not required.

Do I need to bring anything with me on the day?

Just the usual pen and notebook, if you want to make notes and, of course, the willingness and enthusiasm to learn in a friendly and sharing environment.

 

Systems Thinking Training

Are you keen to learn systems thinking in a relaxed and friendly environment? Want something that fits your context? Want to learn about practical on the ground use of systems thinking using case study examples? Sick of the really high prices charged by large consultancies? Get in touch. I might be able to help you.

I am a Visiting Lecturer in Applied Systems Thinking at CASS Business School, City University, London and an Associate Lecturer in systems thinking (thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change) at the Open University. I also work as an independent systems thinking trainer and consultant.

Partnering with a number of colleagues (which allows us to bring experience from a wider scope of sectors) we can deliver our standard systems thinking training or develop something bespoke for you. Our prices may well be much cheaper than larger consultancies.

Get in touch pauline@systemspractitioner.com

SCiO Open Meeting – winter 15/16 – London

SmallLogoHeld on Monday 25th January 2016 in London.

These meetings are open to all and are extremely cheap! Only £10!

An open meeting where a series of presentations of general interest regarding systems practice will be given – this will include ‘craft’ and active sessions, as well as introductions to theory.
For this open meeting we would like to bring the two ‘communities’ of complexity and systems thinking together to explore what they have in common and what (if anything) is signficantly different. We have speakers on both complexity and viable system modelling, so the conversation should be lively, challenging and very interesting. This is one you really don’t want to miss! Excellent speakers lined up!
Booking is required via eventbrite. More details can be found on the SCiO website here: http://www.scio.org.uk/node/969

 

Who is this website for?

SmallLogo

This website is not for the consultant level systems practitioner. It is for the beginner or anyone who might have heard of systems thinking, doesn’t know what it really is but would like to find out more. Also, people often learn about systems thinking but then have difficulty applying the concepts in the real world. This website is for those people. It intends to give practical examples and advice about how some of the tools and techniques used in systems thinking can be used in every-day situations. You do not have to aim to change the world with systems thinking! Nor do you have to be an expert or know everything about systems thinking to put some of its concepts into practice.

Systems thinking is used with primary school children in some countries. It is for people of all ages. If you are reading this then, yes, this website is for you.