Systemsthinking steps

To work more effectively with a client, I collected the steps I use to make a diagram of effects:

  1. Tell a short story to give an overview of the situation.
  2. Select the most interesting story (In a multi story workshop)
  3. Ask (the storyteller) detailed questions on the selected story
  4. Collect variables (observables or measurables) variables and other elements based on the current situation. Interventions come later.
  5. Draw arrows between variables. does a variable have a positive or negative impact on an other? Start with the most interesting variables.
  6. Simplify. strive for 7 ± 2 variables. Remove all variables that aren’t related to others. Keep only the most interesting variables. If there are still too many, split up the diagram. Try step 10 if there are still too much.
  7. Look for loops in the relations. are the loops reinforcing or balancing/stabilizing?
  8. Add intervention points
  9. Draw a ‘new system’ diagram (in case intervention points are not sufficient)
  10. Present the diagram to a group
  11. Adjust the diagram based on the feedback (use any of the previous steps as you see fit)
  12. Store the diagram so you can easily retrieve it later (digital photos of flipovers, or use a diagramming software).

I did write every day (virtually) since march 8, only not much in public. I made a couple of fieldstones, and I’m busy writing a report for said client – this time using a lot of systems thinking.

A diagram of effects makes it easier to get the writing juices flowing, as well as connecting the dots in clients’ stories and (help them) find holes in my understanding.

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