Tooling Up for Systemic Design & Learning

Change work requires the right tools

Innovation work requires a mindset, a skillset, and a toolset. The key is finding the right tools for the job.

Building anything — a new product, process, policy — requires tools (even if that is just your hands). Today we expand our profile some tools introduced in the last issue of the Censemaking Innovation Newsletter that focus on two major areas of innovation support: systemic design and organizational learning.

The Systemic Design Toolkit

The Systemic Design Toolkit represents the first comprehensive, accessible set of tools for practitioners looking to do systemic design (which is the creation and transformation of human systems). This unique toolset is designed to help diverse groups in thinking about, visualizing, and formulating strategy for how to transform human systems for positive benefit. These simple, downloadable tools and accompanying resources are practical and supported by sound systems science and design practice. 

Why use this? Systemic design by its nature is complicated and complex work. Visualizing systems allow us to see the connections within them to identify leverage points, weak signals, and emergent patterns that isn’t possible through mere analysis. Visualizing systems collaboratively through tools like this also provide a means to literally get people on the same page, reducing confusion and increasing opportunities for action.

Supporting Learning Organizations

Innovation work has few guarantees; learning is one of them. If you pay attention and evaluate your process and outcomes you’ll learn about your work (and maybe your impact). The team at Taylor-Newberry Consulting have been working with non-profits for years and have published a toolkit based on their collaborations over the years to help organizations improve how they learn. The guidebook and training tools available through the website provide practical means to set up and maintain a learning organization.

Why use this? Toolkits like this provide the practical strategies for taking the learning that might take place through reflective practice, evaluation, and monitoring and ensures there is a social process for integrating that into your organization. Non-profits often operate with few available resources. This toolkit helps them get better learning value from their social change and evaluation efforts.

If you’re looking for more inspiration and tools, keep your eye on this space and consider subscribing to the Censemaking Newsletter which will be out every 2-3 weeks with more tools, ideas, and good stuff to help you innovate better.

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

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