Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a complete entity, or larger system. In nature, various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to create an ecosystem. In organisations, systems consist of people, structures, and processes that work together to make an organisation “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Systems are scalable.
A Systems Thinking approach to community engagement allows us to model a social system on a small scale. From this we can understand how it functions in a healthy way, and from there it can be scaled up or down. For example think of a steam system; it can be a medium sized machine in a café or as huge as the steam machines that used to run entire factories, or scaled down to a little prototype.
The principle works the same at any size. What happens to our capacity as a community to function as a single cohesive unit when we apply systems thinking to our community? We not only create a replicable model that can scale up to communities, but it can filter back down to individual families to improve these smaller units. As a result it provides an impressive social return on investment in the community.
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