Systems Thinking
for Service Designers

6 interactive online sessions
120-minute weekly classes
10 participants maximum per cohort
Next cohorts starting after summer break

Module I. of the Systems Thinking Foundation provides you with a lens through which you can have a fresh look at complex problems – that is to say, problems where causes and effects are intertwined, and the implications of decisions are unclear. This systemic lens helps you examine these problems from multiple perspectives, reiterate them in novel ways, investigate them more holistically and thereby make more informed choices.

After completing Module I, participants can apply to Module II. of the Systems Thinking Foundation. In service systems, dynamic behavior arises from the resource structure. In this Module II we will be working with Stock and Flow Maps, as a method for understanding the relationship between resource structure and the behavior of a service system over time.


After the course, you will be able to...

…move beyond a solely event- or data-oriented approach to problem solving. You will gain insights into how to identify trends and patterns of behavior over time to surface the underlying structures that generate these events and patterns. You will be able to fine-tune and improve your mental models, and design high-leverage interventions in services, resulting in more impact through less effort.

Course Content

Module I.

Systems, thinking, and systems thinking

Exploring the origins and the principles of systems thinking; silo versus holistic thinking, dynamic versus detailed complexity, non-linearity, recursion and emergence.

Causal tracing and diagramming

Developing insights into complexity by visualizing and mapping cause-effect relationships between elements within a system that are distant in time and space.

Systems Archetypes

Gaining an understanding of the commonly recurring patterns of behavior in a system, such as limits to growth, shifting the burden and tragedy of the commons.

Patterns of behavior

Developing an intuitive understanding of the dynamic behavior of a system over time such as exponential growth and decline, s-shaped growth and overshoot and collapse.

Leverage points in systems

Enhancing capability to intervene in complex systems by examining the leverage points or the places for an effective intervention in a system.

Learning in and about complex systems

Developing our capacity of learning how to learn in complex systems; refining our mental models, thought patterns and decision rules.

Module II.

Stocks, flows, and information elements

Understanding resource accumulations in service systems and developing resource maps of service systems.

Modes of dynamic behavior

Build structures that generate exponential growth. Understand ‘goal seeking’ and ‘oscillations’. Formulating dynamic hypotheses and creating formal simulation models of service systems.

Multi-stock systems

Identifying resource interdependence and feedback in service systems.


Exploring the structure and behavior of delays as critical source of behavior dynamics in service systems.

Aging chains

Conceptualizing resource flows through and within service systems. Developing experiments for model understanding, confidence building and policy design in service systems.


Representing key attributes of resources in service systems.

Graphical functions

Graphing non-linear relationships between service parameters.

Application to Module I.


Peer learning is a central part of this module. Accordingly, we ask you to submit a reflection on what motivates you to take this module, to help us form a well-balanced group. See below in the form. Think it through, but don’t overthink it.


In the selection process the applications are reviewed, and the 10-person cohort for Module I. is formed. A combination of the time of your application, and the contents of the reflections will be taken into consideration.


We inform selected applicants of the cohort, and confirm details. If you are not selected for the upcoming cohort, you will be placed in the priority list of the upcoming cohort. Payment is only due upon acceptance.

Your personal details will only be used for communication about Design Dissolve courses and webinars. No information will be shared with any third party. You will be able to unsubscribe at any time. Payment is only due upon acceptance to the course.

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