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Mastering systems thinking in practice
Mastering systems thinking in practice

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Mastering systems thinking in practice

Introduction and guidance

Welcome to this badged open course, Mastering systems thinking in practice.

The course lasts eight weeks, with approximately three hours of study each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete another week’s study.

This course may present you with challenges. You may not have studied systems thinking in practice via distance learning before. You may also have your own personal expectations of what you want to achieve through studying this particular topic.

By studying this course, you shouldn’t expect to master systems thinking in practice, but it should give you an in-depth introduction and prepare you for further studies if that is what you are interested in doing.

Systems thinking can be taught to people of any age and some of the key ideas can be quite easy to understand but can be very difficult to put into practice as they depend on experiences. Part of that difficulty is that while those ideas can be easy to understand in principle they are counter to the predominant ways of knowing, thinking and acting in most societies. So, while you may be enthusiastic about thinking and acting systemically, those people you work for and with may be uninterested or even antagonistic to such an approach because it is different or because it challenges their own beliefs and assumptions.

Equally, you may currently be among the latter group and are seeking quick answers to ‘what is this systems thinking thing’ because it has been talked about and adopted by many people and organisations worldwide. But while there are particular tools and techniques that can be learned and deployed quickly to some effect, using systems thinking in practice requires a more profound approach to learning and to understanding the implications of particular ideas.

That is why this course uses many self-reflective activities where you can try to ground your studies within your own professional practice and experiences and also uses quizzes to test your basic understanding of key concepts, ideas and practices.

After completing this course you will be able to

  • challenge systematic thinking and systematic approaches to understanding and working with complex situations
  • explain how and why different systems of interest can be defined and described within complex situations
  • recognise that each person brings with them their own perspective on a situation and to work with those multiple perspectives
  • relate key ideas, techniques and approaches in systems thinking to professional practice when working with complex situations
  • plan how to take the study of systems thinking in practice further for professional development.

Moving around the course

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you can find a link to the next week. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Course content’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course. Alternatively, use the week links at the top of every page of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.