One of our course participants gesturing towards a printed tool entitled 'Strategic Storytelling'

Systems Thinking Fundamentals

Navigate complex systems & make change happen in two fast-paced days
Systems Thinking


Course information

Systems thinking is focused on exploring the dynamic connections and relationships that shape the world around us, and the underlying structures that drive events and outcomes. A better understanding of complex systems can have a huge impact on our ability to make change happen and anticipate consequences. Working on a live scenario with coaching and feedback throughout, this course will equip you with skills and perspectives that help you to do more collaborative and impactful work.

What you’ll learn

  • Different ways to visualise and make sense of complexity.
  • Collaborative approaches to framing problems and making change happen.
  • Methods for identifying patterns and structures in complex systems.
  • How to engage with underlying causes and tackle unexpected outcomes.
  • The importance and application of storytelling and reframing in systems change.

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From £1,550.00 incl. UK VAT
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Who’s it for?

Our Systems Thinking Fundamentals course is for anyone who wants to learn what systems thinking is and how to apply it in their work. It is particularly suitable for those leading teams or facilitating collaborative projects. 

This two-day systems thinking training programme provides a fast, immersive and content-rich entry point into a topic with practical applications for a broad range of professionals working on complex challenges. 

The course covers the basics of different systems thinking perspectives with key theory put into practice; group exercises help you get to grip with the tools while offering a space for discussion and learning from others. 

As a methodology, systems thinking offers ways of seeing the bigger picture, gaining different perspectives on our work and better understanding cause and effect. Its tools, methods and mindsets can be applied to specific projects and organisational change but can also provide ways of engaging with broader social and environmental challenges. 

Day-by-day summary

Day 1:

Seeing & knowing systems 
Visualising systems to uncover the big picture

Over the course of the day you will learn how to visualise systems by bringing together diverse perspectives and making sense of complexity. You’ll learn and apply critical tools that help you visualise complex systems and set a goal for system transformation. 

You’ll understand how different approaches to systems thinking offer a range of methods for tackling systemic challenges. By end of the day, you’ll know how to frame new projects and make sure that you can see the bigger picture before embarking on new innovations or implementing changes. 

 Topics covered 

  • Introduction to systems thinking 
  • Applications of systems thinking 
  • Systems thinking approaches  
  • Mapping systems 
  • Convening Rich Pictures 
  • Systems Map 
  • System transformation 
  • Setting goals for system transformation: Guiding Stars and near stars 
  • Defining boundaries for systems transformation 
  • Patterns and structure 
  • Mapping causal loops 
  • Complexity and behaviour 

Day 2:

Modelling & shifting systems
Exploring approaches to systemic change 

On Day 2 you will explore ways of making change happen in complex systems at different levels of intervention. By end of the day you’ll know how to better understand the context and implications of intended actions and how to work at deeper levels of transformation.  

Topics covered 

  • Desirable systems 
  • Root definitions 
  • Conceptual models 
  • Leverage in systems 
  • Intervention points 
  • Intervention hypothesis  
  • Prototyping Interventions 
  • Mindsets and narratives 
  • Storytelling for change 

Our live teaching approach

Expert coaching Reveal more
Learning from experienced design thinkers & interactive workshops.
Collaborative innovation Reveal more
Co-creating with others & exploring how to drive innovation within a team.
Networking opportunities Reveal more
Connecting with people from around the world & expanding personal networks.

The coaching team

Simon Gough

Associate Service Design Director


Can I get a refund on UK VAT?

Customers outside of the UK may be able to claim a refund for UK VAT charged on our online courses, if the customer is resident overseas and attends the course from an overseas location.

If you feel that you should be refunded UK VAT on your purchase and haven’t heard from us, please get in touch.  

Please note, VAT is not refundable on in-person courses held in the UK as per HMRC UK legislation.

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking encompasses a broad range of methods for making sense of the inter-connected world around us. This means better understanding what drives current events and outcomes, where we might act to make positive change & the wider implications of our actions. 

Key to systems thinking is a cooperative mindset: it encourages us to bring people together to gain deeper insights and work collaboratively to achieve greater impact; it recognises that complex interdependencies are best understood through diverse perspectives. 

For a more comprehensive exploration of systems thinking, you can listen to this episode of our Design Thinkers Podcast in which Simon Gough – one of our senior systems thinking facilitators – looks at the topic in depth. 

Will I get systems thinking certification after completing the course?

Yes, all graduates will receive certificates from the Design Thinkers Academy London. You’ll be presented with a physical copy of your certificate at the end of the second day.

Systems thinking vs design thinking – what’s the difference?

One of the critical distinctions is mindset: systems thinking focuses on systems, ways of understanding them and methods for collectively engaging with them. Rather than emphasising the individual, systems thinking seeks to better understand relationships. 

Design thinking, on the other hand, is a human-centred approach which generally focuses on the needs of users or customers. We inevitably need to understand the wider systems around those users, customers, products, and services, when doing this - but it’s not the starting point for design thinkers. 

Together these approaches help us zoom in and out of problems, understand why things happen, see connections and enhance the ways in which we can innovate. Design thinking and systems thinking also work together well through a shared focus on creative exploration, collaborative working and continuous learning. 

Why learn about systems thinking?

Systems thinking is emerging as a fundamental approach to design as we tackle ever more complex projects, work to reduce negative impacts & seek more meaningful change. Major issues such as climate change and reworking global supply chains require systemic perspectives and approaches. Better understanding the consequences of our actions in complex systems helps us to be more deliberate and effective in our work. 

VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) is a way of life in the business world too. As much as systems thinking can be applied at a governmental and societal level, it can also provide much-needed insights into the challenges we face at work. Crucially, it helps us to connect our thinking and actions at every level, leading to better decisions and outcomes. 

Recently, we’ve seen a dramatic growth in the application of systems thinking; it’s clear that more and more of us are trying to gain a more connected understanding of the world and our part in it. 

What types of systems does this course cover?

We specifically work through a scenario that allows participants to explore different, inter-related systems – including business, environmental & personal relationships. 

We provide the theory and tools that make it possible to engage with these different perspectives to ensure that the course is relevant to everyone. 

Can I take this course online?

No, this course is face-to-face, but we do offer a systems thinking course online called Systems Thinking Essentials.

English isn’t my first language, does that matter?

This Systems Thinking course will be taught in English. In order to get the most out of it you need reasonably fluent spoken English.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Speak to one of our team now through our chatbot or get in touch.

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