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“Thinking in Systems” book inspires online course

thinkinginsystemsOne of the questions I often get asked in both my professional and personal life is “What is Systems Thinking?”  It seems like a simple question but the answer can be very different depending on who you’re talking to.  Much of my career has been involved in the development of software so it is only natural for a lot of the folks I know to think of “systems” as having something to do with computers.  Then there are certain unnamed members of my family who still don’t quite understand what it is I do for a living.   And even when I do my best to explain, their eyes glaze over and they claim to get it “sort of”.  That’s why I was so excited after I read the book Thinking in Systems – A Primer by Donnella Meadows.  Finally there’s a book I can recommend to everyone because it so clearly explains what this systems stuff is all about.

I have Chris Soderquist of Pontifex Consulting to thank for recommending Thinking in Systems to me but also for suggesting we collaborate on an online course based on the book.  Chris was one of the book reviewers and together with Diana Wright of the Sustainability Institute (the book’s editor) we developed a syllabus for a four-session web seminar series titled Thinking in Systems: Practical Lessons for Building Sustainable Organizations & Communities.

Here’s how the online course will work.  For four consecutive Fridays in April and May participants will log on to a web site where the course is being hosted. (We use the GoToWebinar service.)  During each 70 minute session, Chris and Diana will present materials  and provide step-by-step instruction followed by an interactive discussion period.  Sessions will be recorded and all of the course materials will be available for download afterwards.

[UPDATEThe live course is now complete but we have made the recorded series available for purchase]

We’re really excited about this course because it is so relevant to the headlines we’ve been reading daily and will provide a framework for discussion regardless of your Systems Thinking experience level.   If you’ve never done any modeling before, this course will be a great place to start.  We’re even offering a time limited student license of iThink or STELLA for course participants.

Looking forward to having you join us on Fridays, beginning April 17th.

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  • http://www.oliver-pospisil.com Oliver Pospisil

    Hi Joanne,

    Wonderful recommendation and a pleasure to get a very good reason to reflect the basis of our thinking.

    Best wishes,

    Oliver

  • http://www.erein.ca Coim Janakiraman

    A letter sent on February 23, 2008 to Globe & Mail when Asset Based Commercial Paper crisis.
    Your article on the use of spreadsheets and risk models (Miscalculating the Risks-February 23, 2008) argues hedge funds and banks can go wrong while that
    old-fashioned wisdom of contrarians reveals can profit, When dealing with complex structure scenarios about the financial markets, stating that
    “there were no models that accurately predict,” I would like to clarify
    the purpose and accuracy of early systems thinking approach that provide
    a range of alternative outcomes.

    The advance estimate of systems thinking provides a quick reading on wisdom
    and experience on complex problem solving. According to, the early best way to apply,
    systems thinking for insight into business problems “ it’s not just what you know
    that counts, it’s how you think.” The banks and hedge fund modellers use a
    well-established process that incorporates more complete and accurate data
    as they become available. However, they typically tell financial institutions
    possible outcomes to see what happens.

    All risk and correlation models face a trade-off between complexity
    and estimates of the losses. Applied systems thinking figures a striking
    balance for insights to strike a balance to understand the problem and give you insights.

    Coim Janakiraman

  • http://na Christiaan McComb

    Hi,

    My name is Christiaan McComb. I am a lecturer from Newcastle University in Australia. I was interested to see your course, which is developed from the text above. I am thinking about developing a “coaching” course based on a text from a local publisher. The course would be a private one, and not associated with my University in anyway.

    I was interested to know if you came across any Intellectual Property/Copyright issues when developing your course? Did you have to get permission from the publisher first? Any advice would be helpful.

    Regards
    Christiaan

    • Christiaan McComb

      Plagiariser Copies Copyright Material Calls Her Own

  • http://www.SystemsThinkingPress.com Stephen Haines

    Hi Folks, Just so there is integrity in these discussions on Systems Thinking, Systems Dynamics is a great APPLICATION of Systems Thinking but the clear FOUNDER is Ludwig VonBertalanffy. If you go to my website, there are over 400 products on both the Theory, Research and tons of OTHER APPLICATIONS OF SYSTEMS THINKING beyond Systems Dynamics. Check out the FREE ARTICLE there on ST: THe Winning Formula to reveal the truth that is missing form this course.

  • http://www.SystemsThinkingPress.com Stephen Haines

    My website was not listed so here it is: http://www.SystemsThinkingPress.com. Check it out.

  • http://www.iseesystems.com Joanne Egner

    @Christiaan McComb
    Hi Christiaan,

    We haven’t come across any intellectual property issues but also haven’t been too concerned since the course is being offered in collaboration with the Sustainability Institute. Diana Wright, one of the course instructors, is also the editor of the book. I did contact the publisher, Chelsea Green, so that we could offer the book for resale and have been sharing information with them about the course. We’ve also been hearing from a number of our University customers that “Thinking in Systems” has become required reading for their courses.

    Hope this helps,
    Joanne

  • Pingback: Thinking in Systems Online Course « World is Green

  • Pooja Diddee

    hi..
    it was great to see a site mention an online course, with discussions on Syatems Thinking…but i was disheartened as i discovered it a bit late…will the course start all over again, sometime soon?

    will appreciate a quick response
    pooja

  • http://www.iseesystems.com Jeremy Merritt

    @Pooja Diddee
    Hi Pooja. We make the online courses available after a live course ends. We record each session and you can download the videos and presentation materials. See some examples of past courses here: http://www.iseesystems.com/store/Training/OnlineCourses.aspx

  • http://www.techtel.com Mike Kelly

    My interest in systems thinking is primarily applications rather than technical aspects. I work with company efforts in marketing and more broadly in influencing markets and being influenced by them. There are many systems thinking opportunities out there with huge implications for making organizations more effective and life better for millions of people. After many years in systems I found two uses for this book: for things I thought I knew, it made things much clearer, elegantly so. And for things I didnt know, it brought about a much needed deep insight just as elegantly. I’ve told three others to buy and read it, and highly recommend it to business systems people. Thanks to iSee for bringing it to my attention.

  • Christiaan McComb

    Hi,

    My name is Christiaan McComb. I am a lecturer from Newcastle University in Australia. I was interested to see your course, which is developed from the text above. I am thinking about developing a “coaching” course based on a text from a local publisher. The course would be a private one, and not associated with my University in anyway.

    I was interested to know if you came across any Intellectual Property/Copyright issues when developing your course? Did you have to get permission from the publisher first? Any advice would be helpful.

    Regards
    Christiaan

  • Christiaan McComb

    Plagiariser Copies Copyright Material Calls Her Own