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Systems Thinking: Methodology to Understanding Complexity


Do we really understand our business and its environment? If yes, why we still fail to achieve our goals or we don’t grow? We always blame others for the unexpected results from our decisions without even giving the benefit of doubt that there might be a deficiency in the understanding of our reality.  Complexity is multidimensional concept and is as it says, very complicated to understand, especially with the lack of proper tools and methods to decode it. Understanding is the first serious step in the process of any problem solving and decision making exercise. Why solutions are delayed, diluted or defeated and others fail to produce lasting results? Why many times our best efforts to solve problems by making new decision actually make it worse? Why do some firms grow while others stagnate?  How do once-dominant countries or even firms lose their competitive edge?  And how can a country or firm identify and design or redesign high-leverage actions and solutions that are not thwarted by unanticipated side effects?

The “Why” question is a tool to trigger the thinking process for understanding the reality and hence the logical question is How to deal with this issue or How to leverage a long lasting solution. Without proper and rigorous thinking approach, answers for the “Why” and “How” questions seem are unrealistic.

Fast pace and sometimes chaotic economic, technological, social, and environmental changes challenge managers to learn at increasing rates.  They must increasingly learn how to design and manage complexity with multiple feedback effects, significant time delays, and nonlinearity. Effective learning in such dynamic environments requires methods to develop systems thinking, to represent and assess such dynamic complexity – and tools managers can use to accelerate learning throughout an organization. 


This workshop introduces you to systems thinking for the analysis and understanding business complexity. 

Systems Thinking is a paradigm and methodology for dealing with complex situations underlying business, economics, scientific, and social systems. Systems Thinking views the organization as a whole and focuses on interdependencies and links between various departments, functions and divisions and how they impact each other and the entire organization. Complexity is a new paradigm drawing from Relativity and Quantum theories. This workshop will introduce concepts and tools of Systems Thinking & Complexity and relate them to strategic and leadership issues facing organizations.

Systems Thinking enables leaders and organizations:

·         Effectively deal with uncertainty and complexity

·         Foresee the consequences of their actions, policies and strategies

·         Identify fundamental causes and solutions to chronic problems

·         Avoid misjudging problem symptoms for their causes

·         Reconcile dilemma of short-term fixes vs. long terms strategies

·         Resolve endemic staff morale and productivity problems

·         Bring alignment of vision and action to teams and groups

·         Become a Living and Learning Organization

Main Topics to be cover:

What is Complexity?

·         Detailed vs. Dynamic Complexity

·         Dependency and Independency

·         Isolation vs. the Whole

·         Chaos, Order and Organization

·         Change, Stability and Renewal

·         Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Self-Organization

What is Systems Thinking?

·         Why do we think the way we do?

·         What is a system and what is not?

·         Why do leaders need Systems Thinking?

·         How do we make sense of the world?

·         Why do organizations fail?

·         How to design effective policies?

·         How to avoid between policies conflict?

Learning the Systems Thinking Language

·         Uncovering Complexity: What is a Loop Diagram?

·         How to link events, patterns, structures and mental models?

·         How to foresee growth, decline and stability?

·         How to read organizational temperature? Lessons from “thermostat”

·         Reinforcing and Counteracting forces (Positive and Negative Feedback Loops)

·         How to identify and reverse vicious cycles?

Expected Learning

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to use Systems Thinking concepts and tools to model and explain complex and dynamic situations related to growth, stability, and competitiveness, as well as management processes such as strategic planning. They will be able to draft a design of new policies and or the already-existing policies in effective way. They will be able to recognize the dynamic and interdependent nature of recurring problems and to identify key leverage points for lasting interventions.

Who Should Attend

  • CEOs, Executives, General Managers, Policy Makers
  • Senior Managers reporting to CEOs (CFO, CIO, CMO, Head of Strategy)
  • Divisional Managers of large organizations
  • Middle managers who are planned to be Executives
  • Researchers and Modelers

Duration and Delivery

This program requires 3 to 6 contact hours according to clients needs which can be delivered during suitable time span. The workshop will be participatory and interactive in style and will integrate presentations, group discussion, and case studies.

Special software will be used such as Vensim PLE, (free educational version).