Online course

Systems Learning - introduction to course

Systems Learning

The Systems Learning online course is designed for quick browsing or deeper exploration. Using six short videos, Martin Sandbrook provides a gentle, yet detailed, introduction to ‘systems thinking’ and how it can help you deal more effectively with complexity and uncertainty.

Details and links for the six videos are set out below.

For ease of learning, each video is broken up into sections along with explanatory notes and suggested activities. All content is explained ‘in brief’ and ‘in depth.’ We hope this makes the process easy and enjoyable! 

While it’s recommended to follow the suggested order, (the whole course takes only 90 minutes), you can also dip in and out of each section – and you will always know where you are thanks to the navigation tool on each page.

How do I see the world? And why is this important?

How you see the world - your worldview - affects everything you do. The lens through which you look at the world affects how you see it, and therefore what you do in it. It is, therefore, useful to develop an awareness of how you see the world.

How do we see the world? Is there a prevailing worldview?

Machines and technology dominate our lives, but do they also dominate our ways of thinking and acting in the world?

What is a system?

This word 'system' crops up in so many places. How do we recognise a system when we see one? Is there a way to define a system, do they actually exist or are they what we construct as a way to manage complex relationships?

What is systems thinking?

How do we think about the world and relationships in a systemic way? What are the skills, techniques and attitudes that will help me to think in systems?

Making sense of different systems

Systems Thinking – so what next? How do we make sense of systems? We can start by asking what sort of system are we dealing with: simple, complicated, complex or even chaotic.

Action experiment

Analysing something usually means working with the benefit of hindsight, but systems are dynamic, always moving forwards; their context and elements constantly changing. It’s better to look for solutions to complex systems by looking forwards rather than back, by acting and experimenting.

A note of thanks and appreciation to the many teachers and writers whose ideas have shaped my own learning, in particular, the faculty of the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice at the University of Bath. There are too many others to list here, but the references in each section show who they are and provide links to their work. For their wisdom, I am deeply grateful.

Thanks also to Triodos Bank, for providing us with a great venue to do the filming!