While you may not realize it, you are already making use of some of the patterns of systems thinking. For example, you may take a certain perspective on a problem—however, you might not be aware of your perspective and more importantly, may not recognize that you are likely omitting other perspectives. It is these types of omissions that contribute to both the creation of our most challenging problems and our inability to solve them. This course will walk you through the four simple rules of systems thinking, which provide a new paradigm for solving problems. These rules represent distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives, or DSRP.
Throughout this course, you will start to unlearn some of the deeply ingrained thought patterns that result in unproductive interactions, unintentional bias, and faulty binary or linear thinking. Systems thinking means intentionally reflecting on how you think, including both the information and the structure of your thoughts and ideas so that you can break old habits and think more systematically. With a variety of examples, tools, and techniques, you will practice making distinctions between ideas or things, organize ideas into systems, recognize hidden or underlying relationships, and identify the perspectives implicit in the information you analyze. As a result, you will be equipped to identify more innovative solutions, build consensus across diverse groups of people, and approach problems with more creativity, adaptability, and clarity.
You are required to have completed the following course or have equivalent experience before taking this course:
Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking
Key Course Takeaways
Build your organizational culture around the shared mental models of your vision and mission using internal marketing campaigns and creative incentives
Create a visual map of a critical team project or process and share and refine that map with other team members to optimize your collective work
Develop an actionable list of assignments and work activities to ensure that your actions are aligned with critical team and organizational mental models
For over 15 years, Laura has conducted translational research to increase public understanding, application, and dissemination of systems science, including for USDA, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, HHS, and the Dept. of Justice.
She is also a senior researcher at Cabrera Research Lab, has authored five books on systems thinking and its applications, and is a member of the United States Military Academy at West Point’s Systems Engineering Advisory Board.
Laura holds a PhD in Policy Analysis and Management, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a B.A., all from Cornell.
Derek Cabrera (Ph.D., Cornell) is a systems scientist, Professor, and social entrepreneur and is internationally known for his work in systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems modeling. He is currently visiting faculty at Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking and organizational leadership and design. He is senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab, and co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Plectica. He has given two TED Talks, written and produced a rap song, a children’s book on cognition, and authored numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. His research has been profiled in peer-reviewed journals, trade magazines, and popular publications, and he is author of eight books including, Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems (winner of the 2017 AECT outstanding book award), Thinking at Every Desk: Four Simple Skills to Transform Your Classroom, and Flock Not Clock: Align People, Processes, and Systems to Achieve your Vision. Credited with discovering the underlying rules of systems thinking, Cabrera is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Systems Thinking. His work in public schools was documented in the full-length documentary film, RE:Thinking. He was Research Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) for the Study of Complex Systems and National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow in Nonlinear Systems in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University. As a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow, he developed new techniques to model systems approaches in the evaluation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Cabrera was awarded the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ K. Patricia Cross Future Educational Leaders Award. He serves on the United States Military Academy at West Point’s Systems Engineering Advisory Board. His contributions to the field of systems thinking have been integrated into NSF, NIH, and USDA-NIFA programs, K-12, higher education, NGOs, federal agencies, corporations, and business schools. His systems models are used by many of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies. Systems Thinking Made Simple is used as an introductory text for undergraduate and graduate students in numerous colleges and universities including Cornell University and West Point Military Academy. Cabrera has developed and patented a suite of systems thinking tools for use in academia, business, and beyond. Prior to becoming a scientist, Cabrera worked for fifteen years around the world as a mountain guide and experiential educator for Outward Bound and other organizations and has climbed many of the world’s highest mountains. He holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and lives in Ithaca, NY, with his wife, Laura Cabrera, three children, and four dogs.
Managers, leaders, decision makers, consultants, and anyone responsible for projects, complex processes, and the budgets and people involved with them. Learners will come from every continent and from a diverse range of organizations, including private sector companies large and small, nonprofits, governments, and NGOs.
For people already interested in systems dynamics or soft systems methodologies, the core principles from this program can be applied to any systems-based models.
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