Introduction to Complexity Language

A Systems Thinking course with a Swiss university partnership

FORMAT: interactive live online sessions

DURATION: 6 weeks, 1 session of 120-minutes per week

GROUP SIZE: Maximum 16 participants per cohort

CERTIFICATE: certificate of attendance issued by Franklin University Switzerland

NEW STARTING DATE: 29th March 2022.


What is it about?

A language has a powerful impact on the way we perceive and act upon our world. This module provides you with a language to describe, examine, and structure complex problems and situations, in which causes and effects are intertwined, the implications of decisions are uncertain, and policy interventions are distorted and delayed.

Learning this language helps you examine complexity, identify potential unintended consequences of decisions, develop awareness of the sources of policy resistance, and ultimately enable you to make more informed choices.

What will you be able to do after the course?

  • Develop a precise visual language to map cause-effect relationships, interdependencies, contextual and temporal factors in complex problems.
  • Capture and make explicit the mental models and individual perceptions of complex problems.
  • Improve dialogue and facilitate shared understanding and consensus amongst organizational participants in decision making.
  • Grasp and effectively articulate the key characteristics of complex problematic situations, such as conflicting interests of stakeholders, dynamic complexity, or policy resistance.

Who is it for?

  • If you are creating services or products, and feel the approaches at your disposal have reached their limit of usefulness…
  • if you think that the off-the-shelf tools or templates do not adequately address the nuances in the decision situations that you face…
  • if you want to elevate your practice and explore the wider ecosystem of your problem space…
  • if instead of relying on existing tools, you tend to and want to create your own tools
  • …then this course is for you.

What topics are covered?

Comprehending feedback structures

Identifying and mapping reinforcing feedback (engine of growth and decay) and balancing feedback (goal seeking processes) as the building blocks of complex dynamic behavior in socio-economic and human activity systems. 

Mapping patterns of behaviour

Understanding the trend of, and the interaction between system variables over time, and exploring the correspondence between feedback structures and patterns of behavior such as exponential growth and decline, s-shaped growth and overshoot and collapse.

Tracing and diagramming causality

Combining reinforcing and balancing loops to form a cohesive and holistic view of a system, and to gain insight into the possible unintended consequences of decisions, thereby anticipating deviations from expected results of interventions.

Exploring systems archetypes

Gaining an understanding of the commonly recurring patterns of behavior in a system, such as limits to growth, shifting the burden, eroding goals, and tragedy of the commons, and enriching an intuitive sense of how complex structures work.

Leverage-points in systems

Enhancing the capability to intervene in complex systems by identifying and examining the leverage points as the places for an effective intervention in a system, where a small change can yield substantial improvements. 

Designing systems interventions

Getting acquainted with designing systems-based interventions, by learning how to conceptualize and elicit key system variables, develop reference modes, conduct group model building and collective sensemaking exercises, and create and communicate systems narratives.

Apply to 'Introduction to Complexity Language'


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 16-person cohort 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 next cohort. Payment is 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 due upon acceptance to the course participation.

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