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Dancing with Systems

Overview: The process outlined in the strategy plan is intended to help groups utilize a structured problem-solving process for developing the awareness, beliefs, and capabilities necessary for school improvement and organizational learning.  The process includes graphing changes over time, studying the dynamics of limits to growth, creating a stock/flow map of the interrelationships between aspects of the problem, and determining potential interventions.

Strategy Objectives

Organizational Context

Systems Thinking Concepts

  • To develop a shared understanding of changes over time which have affected current conditions

  • To develop an understanding of the dynamics of limits to growth

  • To develop a shared understanding of interrelationships, including feedback relationships, contributing to current conditions

  • To increase participants’ potential to understand the problem being addressed

  • To increase participants’ potential to identify leverage to produce desired results

Participants in this process should begin with a problem scenario as a focus.  The problem scenario should involve a change process that is in place and the potential challenges to achieving the change.  This process is best used with a small groups doing preliminary analysis, developing theories and related diagrams.  Larger groups, possibly an entire staff could be involved in developing the theories, discussing diagrams, suggesting revisions, etc. With carefully planned facilitation, it would be possible to take a large group through the process with small groups each developing their own diagrams, presenting to the whole group, discussing, developing consensus, etc.

  • behavior over time

  • structure creates behavior

  • limits to growth 

  • archetype

  • stocks and flows

  • feedback

  • leverage

 

 

Materials

Length

Systems Thinking Tools

  • Worksheets

  • Whiteboard or overhead projector

  • Markers

2-4 hours

  • Behavior-over-time graph

  • Stock/Flow map

  • Archetypes

 

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