The Systems Thinking Playbook: Exercises to Stretch and Build Learning and Systems Thinking Capabilities

by Linda B. Sweeney. The Institute for Policy and Social Science Research, 2001.

'The Systems Thinking Playbook' contains over 30 various group and individual exercises to illustrate the five disciplines outlined by Peter Senge in 'The Fifth Discipline': Mental Models, Team Learning, Systems Thinking, Shared Vision, and Personal Mastery. The activities illustrate one or more of the five disciplines by translating otherwise complex theories into understandable, applicable learning modules. Each exercise contains easy-to-follow directions for the trainer—specifying the purpose, outcomes, context, resources, time, space, equipment, set-up, and ideal number of participants. For example, the "Moon Ball" exercise allows participants to see their own behavior as a critical part of the larger system. Each team must keep a beach ball in the air as long as possible. Each member must touch the ball once before any member can touch it twice. As the teams have a chance to step back, strategize, and learn from their behavior, they can identify the barriers to their own learning and success. With the increasing number of attempts, individuals begin to see in real time the impact of their behavior on their team, and their team’s impact on the overall goal. In addition to presenting the exercises, the book highlights important facilitation techniques, such as framing exercises and debriefing learnings. Any facilitator will benefit tremendously from the insights, tips, and ideas colorfully illustrated in this resource.