Reading Dan Heath’s Upstream has got me thinking about how we could do better at designing projects that change systems (as opposed to changing people).  

I’m worried that ‘system change’ tends to get neglected in smaller behaviour change projects. Which is a shame because system changes are the ones that are likely to generate sustained results, and why are we doing this if we don’t want to leave long term legacies? (In fact, isn’t that the whole point?!)

But just saying “please think in terms of systems” probably won’t help our project teams. Merely thinking about systems is liable to get our people dwelling on vague overwhelming forces beyond their control (like ‘capitalism’), which encourages helplessness. 

We need a more subtle approach – one that’s a followable process and fits smaller projects where time and budget are at a premium.

So… here’s a little 4-step Systemology tool that aims to build more wholistic system thinking practice into project design.

It’s partly based on the work of Donella Meadows, surely the mother of systems thinking. And influenced by Dan Heath’s Upstream.

I hope it inspires! Feel free to share it around, and loop me some feedback.

You can download the PDF from my homepage:

All the best – Les