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Book : The Systems Thinking Playbook (2008)

The Systems Thinking Playbook

Publisher:The Sustainability Institute

Author(s):Booth Sweeney, LindaMeadows, Dennis

Published: 2008 • ISBN: 0966612779 • 252 pages • Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Ring Bound

Available from: Amazon (DE)Amazon (UK)Amazon (US)


The Systems Thinking Playbook is a lively resource for the promotion of Systems Thinking.

Packed full of hands-on games and activities that stretch the mind and alter pre-conceived perceptions, The Systems Thinking Playbook is an ideal way to teach people to “go wide” and see underlying cause and effect relationships and recognize the delays inherent in any complex systems. The Playbook also abounds with practical advice for using the exercises to maximize the learning experience.

It has been used widely by schools, government agencies (both in the US and Internationally) and corporations to train managers to “think beyond the loop.”

Book with companion DVD!

This book has become a favorite of K-12 teachers, university faculty, and corporate consultants. It provides short gaming exercises that illustrate the subtleties of systems thinking. The companion DVD shows the authors introducing and running each of the 30 games.

The 30 games are classified by these areas of learning – Mental Models, Team Learning, Systems Thinking, Shared Vision and Personal Mastery. Each description clearly explains when, how, and why the game is useful. There are explicit instructions for debriefing each exercise as well as a list of all required materials. A summary matrix has been added for a quick glance at all 30 games. When you are in a hurry to find just the right initiative for some part of your course, the matrix will help you find it.

Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows both have many years of experience working with adults. This book reflects their insights. Every game works well and provokes a deep variety of new insights about paradigms, system boundaries, causal loop diagrams, reference modes, and leverage points. Each of the 30 exercises here was tested and refined many times until it became a reliable source of learning. Some of the games are adapted from classics of the outdoor education field. Others are completely new. But all of them complement readings and lectures to help participants understand intuitively the principles of systems thinking.

The book includes many quotations from practitioner, who share their insights about the relevance of specific exercises. There are also citations for related reading


Review this book - The Systems Thinking Playbook

Book : When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Kids Explore Interconnections in Our World ... (2001)

When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Kids Explore Interconnections in Our World ...

Categories: EducationSystems Thinking

Tags: bookchildeducationsystems thinking

Publisher:Pegasus Communications Inc.

Author(s):Booth Sweeney, Linda

Published: 2001 • ISBN: 1883823528 • 128 pages • Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback

Available from: Amazon (US)Amazon (UK)Amazon (DE)


From the publisher:

New kind of thinking prepares kids for a complex world

Preparing our children for life in the complex world of the 21st century is arguably the most important of all our responsibilities. Now, a new book focuses directly on how we can cultivate in kids the thinking skills that will help them the most in facing the unique challenges ahead. When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Kids Explore Interconnections in Our World Through Favorite Stories (Pegasus Communications, 2001, $14.95), breaks new ground by educating our children to think beyond the limitations of conventional mindsets and to find creative, responsible paths to sharing our lives and our world.

Praised by innovators in learning such as Dawna Markova, and Peter Senge, When a Butterfly Sneezes guides parents (or teachers) in using popular children’s picture books to help kids learn the basic skills and concepts of “systems thinking” in a fun and memorable way. So, when you consider the outlandish consequences of giving a mouse a cookie or the escalation of the Zooks’ and Yooks’ battles over the right way to butter toast, you really are starting to understand the same basic processes that underpin such weighty issues as global warming, population changes, and international conflicts.

Systems thinking, a method for understanding complex interconnections, always looks for the “feedback loops” that determine the behavior of a system, whether biological, social, ecological, or economic. These loops are the building blocks of all systems, regardless of their level of complexity. Because most picture books fail to take into account feedback processes, author Linda Booth Sweeney contends that they give children the wrong ideas about how the world really works. Typically, A causes B, B causes C. End of story.

But our world is rarely so simple. Sweeney points out that getting stuck in this kind linear thinking can be a big obstacle for kids as our world becomes more complicated and interconnected. The stories featured in When a Butterfly Sneezes focus on connections that are best described as loops: that is, A causes a change in B, B causes a change in C, and then C in turn causes a change in A. In this way the feedback loops form a web of relationships among the changing elements of a “system.”

Changes in the world around us that are puzzling when examined with linear thinking become understandable from the perspective of systems thinking. Aided by systems thinking skills, children learn to question simplistic explanations. They start to see the systems they are part of, to look for patterns in how things happen, to understand why problems arise, and to figure out what they can do about them. Ideally, they learn to influence and design systems to produce better outcomes.

The first two sections of the book offer a basic introduction to systems and systems thinking, and detailed tips for how to use the book with children. The third section includes a comprehensive guide to the 12 children’s books. The books include The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, The Sneetches, The Lorax, The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats, Anno’s Magic Seeds, Zoom, traditional Native American stories, The Butter Battle Book, and If You Give Mouse a Cookie. Each chapter outlines the age range (generally 4 to 8 year-olds), the relevant systems thinking concepts, a quick summary of the plot, teaching tips, personal accounts from people who have used the stories with kids, the questions to stimulate thought and conversation, and a short list of related books. The book comes complete with several appendices-a guide to reading systems thinking diagrams, tips for choosing your own systemic children’s stories, and guidelines for using the book in trainings with adults.

Linda Booth Sweeney is a Harvard-trained educator and researcher who is dedicated to helping children and adults understand how the natural and social worlds function through the field of systems thinking. As a researcher and consultant, Linda has worked with the Society for Organizational Learning, and has helped member companies-including AT&T, Ford and Visteon, and other for- and non-profit organizations-to develop capacity in systems thinking and its related disciplines. Linda lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two children. She is currently at work on several “systems-oriented” stories for children.


Review this book - When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Kids Explore Interconnections in Our World ...

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