Wake Up Your Systems Thinking

System dynamics is not a disciple of a select group of people that is elusive for the mass majority of society. In fact, systems dynamics and systems thinking is basic processing of information that even children do. Children are natural system thinkers seeing beyond the linear solution to a problem, but finding the loopholes and sidesteps that create frustration for parents (Strot, 2013). The assumption has been that systems thinkers are high-end thinkers with expensive degrees and limitless time to ponder over concepts like the systems that govern our lives. My blue-collar background is constantly pulling me to think on more substantial, linear, problem-solving efforts. What I have learned, though, is that the simplicity of systems thinking makes it accessible to everyone, and the change opportunities of systems thinking makes it necessary for everyone.

Each day individuals make a host of decisions that are attempts at manipulating a system for the desired results. Whether it is the food being eaten, the money being spent, or the connections being made, each decision presses a leverage point to move closer to a desired goal (Meadows, 1999). This makes every individual a problem-solver on one level or another, and problem solvers are manipulators of systems (van der Lei etal., 2011). The frustration individuals have with their lives is their inability to see themselves out of their problems, or their inability to push the leverage points of their life systems in the proper direction. I believe, with the proper exposure the systems thinking, and a simplification of tools like causal loop diagrams, anyone can not only learn how to be a systems thinker, but they can discover the leverage points and push them in the direction necessary to live their best lives possible.


Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene Within a System. Sustainability Institute.

Strot, D. (2013, March). Systems Thinking: Help Your Giving Create Greater Change. Workshop, Council on Foundations.

van der Lei, T., Enserink, B., Thissen, W., & Bekebrede, G. (2011). How to use a systems diagram to analyse and structure complex problems for policy issue papers. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 62(7), 1391–1402.


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