How Do We Become a Systems Thinking Organization?

Monday, June 22, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
A natural question for the curious is "how to do something."  What are the steps to becoming a systems thinking organization?  The answer I will leave you in this blog will be somewhat of a paradox consistent with the discipline itself.  First of all, you can’t copy another organization, each organization is unique and part of systems thinking is understanding that copying  can lead to more problems.  And it was Dr. W. Edwards Deming that said that it is difficult for an  organization to see itself.  So combining theory and knowledge the Vanguard Method takes organizations through a learning model that requires an unlearning and relearning method to change thinking.  We believe that this is best done with the work so one can see the waste and inefficiency in your organization.

Someone might say that this is awfully convenient to have to hire a consultant to do it right.  So, we offer much in the way of self-guided learning, as we also believe that an organization must change willingly.  We do not use coercive or rational methods to learn.  This is long-term counterproductive.  Here are some recommendations to becoming a systems thinking organization. 
  1. You must be curious.  If you are trying to rationalize systems thinking against other disciplines like lean six sigma you are off on the wrong foot.  As a "reformed" lean six sigma master black belt, I can tell you this journey will be like nothing you have gone through before.
  2. Read the books.  Systems Thinking in the Public Sector for government and Freedom from Command and Control for the public sector.  These will help in understanding what is involved with practical examples.
  3. Read the Fit for the Future series.  This is a series of six management articles to help an individual understand systems thinking and takes you through (step-by-step) some of the general elements.
  4. Download and read Understanding Your Organization as a System.  This is for the diehard lots of information on how to look at an organization and more importantly it is a free resource.
  5. Other downloads.  There are other downloads currently available from Rain University.  Using Measures for Performance Improvement, Transforming Call Center Operations, Process Mapping and Analysis, and Managing by Walking Around are all available for purchase.
So no matter what, there are plenty of resources to help you improve your change management methods.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at or LinkedIn at

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