systems THINKING Tools and Methods


systems THINKING Tools & Technologies

Learning Smarter by “Looking for High Leverage”


With systems THINKING, you will
  • Find leverage
  • Develop effective performance measures
  • Build collective understanding of the problem and solution
  • Focus on what can be done, not feel powerless
  • Challenge cherished assumptions and engage in double-loop learning
Without systems THINKING, you will
  • Feel like you’re pushing a rock up a hill
  • Experience bump in the rug dynamics (aka unintended consequences)
  • Engage in continuous – even accelerating – fire fighting
  • Dilute the impact of improvement initiatives
  • Develop a case of victimitis
  • Run faster and faster just to stay in one place


systems THINKING is…

The ability to “see” the structure (aka system) generating the behavior you wish to influence or change in ways that build collective confidence you have found the leverage needed to achieve the results you want!

Why capitalize “THINKING” and downplay “systems”?  Because the emphasis should be on strategic thinking, not every detail of the system!


Georgia’s Interagency Directors Team

The IDT is a multiagency team in Georgia with a singular focus: Improve outcomes for children with behavioral health needs.  This group felt “stuck” in making progress after a few years of meeting, finding little innovation or agreement on solutions. Through a collaboration of Pontifex Consulting and the Center of Excellence (Georgia Health Policy Center), the IDT engaged in a disciplined “systems based” strategic planning process.  They developed a new vision, and actually creating a rigorous visual map to show how that vision could be achieved.  This map was fundamentally different than the map they proposed prior to the process, and helped them see how to integrate their resources and coordinate services to reduce symptom mitigation.  Their new strategy was a systemic approach to prevention, that would achieve long lasting impact.  The process was so successful and well received, the IDT later applied it to another strategic issue (kids in crisis).


Fortune 100 Financial Services Firm

A financial services firm asked the question “Why – despite our best efforts – are we challenged to attract, develop and retain a workforce capable of meeting varied and dynamic business needs, now and in the future?” Through a rapid system dynamics modeling process, a team of senior leaders from across the organization developed a simulatable “theory of the business”.  The theory included the observed interactions between workload, skill level, stress, and the ability to retain. An important insight was that a skill set needed to better mentor staff – to increase skills and reduce stress – was emotional intelligence (EQ), especially of the mentors. By focusing on the “soft” skills (EQ) , they have developed a strategy to increase the “hard” skills (productivity).

What makes the Pontifex Consulting approach unique?

Although we have the expertise to build the complex simulation models to match the complexity of your challenges, we deliver a range of services and products that will provide you with the value you need, and with a minimum of required effort.  Unlike many dynamic modeling and Systems Thinking organizations, we determine a “just what’s needed” approach that meets your needs at just the right amount of intensity / effort.

Our services and solutions

  • VtoESimulation-based scenario planning
  • “Systems based” strategic process
  • Organizational systems THINKING capacity building
  • Leverage-focused strategy maps

We will not engage in any “modeling the system” projects that will be in the “fool’s errand” pursuit of the Mother of All Models.

christmas_bokeh_burst_desktop copyExpertise

Meet the world’s leading experts in systems THINKING.

Meet the Team

Contact us to find out more about Pontifex Consulting’s unique and powerful approach to systems THINKING.

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