The 5 W’s and One How of The Systems Thinking Approach®

10 May 2017
10 May 2017, Comments: 0


The term “systems thinking” may be used more than it is understood. At the Haines Centre, it is the basis for all of our work.

What is The Systems Thinking Approach®?

The Systems Thinking Approach® is a method that balances holistic thinking and reductionistic thinking. It starts by looking at the entire system, and then takes the parts into account.

Why use The Systems Thinking Approach®?

The Systems Thinking Approach® reduces unintended consequences by ensuring that changes are well-considered before action is taken. This results in cost savings, mitigated damage to reputation, improved communication and increase in support from clients, partners and other teams.

Systems thinking provides us with new options and opportunities when planning or problem solving. It gives a broader range than reductionistic or analytical thinking offers.

When to use The Systems Thinking Approach®?

The easy answer is always. By applying The Systems Thinking Approach® to long-term planning and shorter-term problem solving you’ll reap the benefits of involving others and reducing issues.

Where to use The Systems Thinking Approach®?

While most of my work deals with organizations, Systems Thinking can be applied at work, as well as in your personal life. It can be applied to all levels – strategic, department, team or individual.

Examples of where to use The Systems Thinking Approach® include organization planning, team planning, life planning, urban planning, systems design, environmental planning, job design, vacation planning, preparing for an important communication, safety, and workshop design.

Who can use The Systems Thinking Approach®?

Everyone at every level of the organization should be using The Systems Thinking Approach® in their sphere of influence. By everyone thinking strategically, the organization is poised to exceed expectations.

How to use The Systems Thinking Approach®?

Systems Thinking Approach

Look at the entire system first – we often call this “getting up high in the helicopter”. What’s inside the system & what’s outside of it?

Then apply the questions associated with each phase:

  • Phase A:Where do we want to be? (Ideal Future)
  • Phase B:How will we know when we get there? (Measures of Success)
  • Phase C:Where are we now? (Inputs/Current State)
  • Phase D:How do we get there? (Implementation)
  • Phase E:Ongoing: What will or may change in the environment in the future? (External Environment)



If you need more assistance, contact me for a free coaching session:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *