Leveraging Systems: Thinking for Adaptive Challenges
Adaptive challenges (as coined by Ron Heifetz of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) are new to the organization, have no easy answers, and typically generate
contentious debate. Learn how Systems Thinking guides individuals and work groups through adaptive challenges with productive, communal learning, solution testing,
and stakeholder buy-in.
Adaptive challenges often bring opposing viewpoints to the table: executives from an acquired company and their counterparts from the buyer company; inventors with a
specific product vision and marketers with their own (and vastly different) vision; Democrats with their healthcare plan and Republicans with another.
Instructors Chris Soderquist and Craig Weber introduce you to a process for turning fractured work groups into solution-oriented learning teams that successfully
address adaptive challenges. Using real-world examples, Chris and Craig demonstrate how Systems Thinking can be used to develop high-leverage solutions by improving
work team communication, analyzing issues holistically, and developing a more systemic view. You’ll develop practical skills for engaging team members with divergent
viewpoints to reach common understanding and work together to achieve buy-in from other stakeholders.
Each class is followed with a question and answer session with Chris. Online access to these class recordings, sample models, handouts, and homework assignments are
included to cement your learning.
Class 1: Framing Adaptive Challenges
Ensure your adaptive change process starts on the right track with an “out of the weeds” and “onto the balcony” perspective:
- define the complex, adaptive changes facing your organization
- identify the key stakeholders who should – and shouldn’t – be involved in the change process
- determine the group’s capacity for discussing the adaptive challenge and barriers to productive engagement in the work
Class 2: Engaging Others
Increase the group’s capacity for doing adaptive work by increasing the quality of conversations.
- surface and integrate disagreements through productive, rigorous dialogue
- use the stock/flow language of STELLA and iThink as a framework for group facilitation
- map systems to reduce defensive routines
Class 3: Building Simple and Effective Mental Models
Build collective understanding using Systems Thinking maps and simulation capabilities.
- distinguish symptoms from causes to understand what is happening in a rapidly evolving system
- determine where feedback loops and unintended consequences present hurdles to adaptive change
- find ways to engender buy-in from stakeholders
Class 4: Developing a Culture of Continual Learning
Create a framework for embedding Systems Thinking and the conversational capacities you’ve learned into your organization.
- use every problem, meeting, or conversation as an opportunity to learn and improve
- monitor change implementation with a dynamic dashboard and build a library of models to improve on-going Systems Thinking
- tie Systems Thinking and conversational skills into a decision-making process that works by generating “honest to goodness” buy-in