SystemsButterfly effect

Quality Learning is about improving systems and processes

Organisations are complex social systems. Like mechanical systems, they are composed of many parts. However, with social systems, performance is not just a result of the many parts working together; but also greatly impacted by numerous complex interactions – interrelationships - between the parts.

Systems thinking helps us to better understand the parts, the interrelationships, and the context in which our organisation exists. The better we understand, and can predict, how these interactions affect the performance of the system, the more we improve.

Fundamental to this concept is that a system drives performance and behaviour, rather than just the efforts of its people. Very few people come to work to do a bad job!

If we wish to improve the behaviours or outcomes of our organisation,
it is the system we must focus on to improve, not its people

People work in a system.
The job of a manager is to work on the system,
to improve it, continuously,
with their help.
Dr. Myron Tribus

Schools, like other organisations are complex, and becoming increasingly so. Systems thinking helps us to view our school from a broader perspective, to explore structures, patterns and events rather than just the events themselves.

Systems thinking also leads us to isolate the real causes of issues and identify where to achieve the greatest leverage for improvement. When we analyse a problem in isolation of understanding its environment, we usually only improve the situation at a superficial level. This can adversely affect other issues in other parts of the system. This leads to today’s solution becoming tomorrow’s problem.

System Map Mungindi Central SchoolImprovement tools help us to apply systems thinking.

They include the System Map, the Process Map (Flow Chart), and Fishbone Diagram

Read more about Systems in our blog post Working in and on the system.