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The Systems Thinking Playbook: Exercises to Stretch and Build Learning and Systems Thinking Capabilities Har/DVD Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1603582582
ISBN-10: 1603582584
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Editorial Reviews

Review

As a person charged with organizational change at our college (the largest two year technical college in the US, with over seventy thousand students, more than three thousand employees, four campuses, two public television stations, three unions and an annual budget of over 207 million dollars a year), I am always looking for ways to get our employees to see a clearer picture.

We have been using "Teeter Totter" as part of our leadership effectiveness training and have noticed several things. First, of course, is the expected "you want us to what?" and the "this won't take more than five minutes" responses. Second, we see a lot of conscious effort on the part of the teams to actually make the exercise work. Third, we have seen some real glimpses of learning. When using this exercise with our campus leadership teams, I noticed an increase in understanding of the dynamics at play. As team members gingerly stepped onto the board, the member who was acting as the coach for the team kept saying "don't just look at where your opposite is on the board, feel where he or she is. Feel the board, feel your contact with the board, feel the other member and what they are feeling." In the de-brief, the conversation turned quickly to how we can understand what the other members on our team are going through during their daily jobs.

Great exercises, great book. -- James B. Rieley, Director The Center for Continuous Quality Improvement Milwaukee Area Technical College<br /><br />I did a Human Dynamics workshop in April. I went into the Playbook and pulled several exercises. They were so valuable (before and during tha day) because: - the intention is explicit - the directions are so clear - the advice is wise I used "Five Easy Pieces."

Your description was very clear and easy to follow. I also did "Circles in the Air" at what turned out to be exactly the right time.

Thanks for doing such a great job of documenting and sharing your knowledge. -- Ruthann Prange<br /><br />I have just received the second volume of the Systems Thinking Playbook. It has been a much-awaited treat. Thank you for creating something which is so easy to use and so incredibly valuable. -- Cindy Schlough Madison Area Quality Improvement Network<br /><br />I have the constant challenge of managing a diverse and talented graphic arts staff, so I am always looking for ways to engage them in discussions of the larger issues facing our company. The "Mind Grooving" exercises made a big impression on my management team. In one group, "Furniture" turned up the usual 'chair' and 'sofa' - and 'dust'! We also did "Arms Crossed" at a full division meeting of sixty as part of a discussion on change in our working environment. Keep up the good work. -- Rebeccah K. Neff, DirectorCreative Solutions Division SAS Institute, Inc.<br /><br />I tried out the first five exercises last night in my class and they worked beautifully!!! The facilitation went smoothly. These exercises are very effective in helping other learn the key concepts of systems thinking. -- Carol Ann Zulauf, Professor, Organizational Behavior Suffolk University<br /><br />Your Systems Thinking Playbook has become a bible to me! What is so wonderful about these exercises is that the point you're trying to make is immediately obvious to everyone; there's no need to explain what participants were supposed to have learned. I used "Circles in the Air" as an icebreaker that kicked off a week-long international meeting with all of my company's international subsidiaries. The simple point about perspective was especially relevant for this international group. --Peter Smith, Director of Organizational Development WorldxChange Communications --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Linda Booth Sweeney, Ed. D., is an educator, researcher and writer dedicated to helping people of all ages integrate an understanding of complex, living systems into learning, decision making and design.  She has worked with Outward Bound, MIT's Sloan School of Management, and Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development (SEED). She is the author of The Systems Thinking Playbook; When a Butterfly Sneezes: A Guide for Helping Children Explore Interconnections in Our World Through Favorite Stories; Connected Wisdom: Living Stories about Living Systems; and numerous academic journals and newsletters. Sweeney lives outside Boston, Massachusetts. For more information see her blog, Talking about Systems (www.lindaboothsweeney.net/blog).

 



Dennis Meadows is emeritus professor of systems policy and social science research at the University of New Hampshire, where he was also director of the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research. In 2009 he received the Japan Prize for his contributions to world peace and sustainable development. He has authored ten books and numerous educational games, which have been translated into more than 15 languages for use around the world. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from MIT, where he previously served on the faculty, and has received four honorary doctorates for his contributions to environmental education.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; Har/DVD edition (April 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603582584
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603582582
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Spiral-bound
Here in South Africa we have no less than 11 official languages! Can you imagine how many mental models are at work in organisations?
As a teacher of Systems Thinking, especially Managerial Cybernetics, I have found the exercises very helpful in grounding the concepts and unlocking the rich variety of perspectives that make up the South African gestalt.
Everytime I facilitate an exercise I learn something new. Makes for a great learning partnership. However, there is a risk that groups have so much fun, they neglect the challenge to get more deeply into 'the thinking within systems thinking' i.e. epistemology and ontology, and may miss opportunities for even deeper awareness and consciousness.
Some more references to other Systems Thinkers and their writings might be useful as follow through and encouragement to embark on deeper learning cycles that lead to more rigourous understanding.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Systems Thinking is a complicated topic. This book includes great group exercises, that in the hands of a good facilitator, will enable people to grasp the concepts. It includes a DVD of people doing many of the exercises so you can get a feel ahead of time as to how things operate. Great resource.
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Format: Spiral-bound
As corporate trainers and authors of books for trainers, we keep a lookout for quality and innovation in our field. The Systems Thinking Playbook is a handy three-ring binder filled with interactive lessons that breathe life into systems theory. These clear lesson plans make sometimes intimidating concepts accessible and can inspire course designers to strike off in their own creative directions. If any part of your job includes helping people function in groups or organizations, you should keep The Systems Thinking Playbook within easy reach. - Bill Withers and Keami D. Lewis
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Format: Spiral-bound
The Systems Thinking Playbook is one of the most pragmatic and effective books I have found that actually enables one to take theory into practice and make it fun! Learning is most effective when one embodies concepts and Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows have done a wonderful job here. Play with it and learn!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Examples to learn by. This book takes the main ideas of modern thinking about system's and puts them into games we can all play. A learning tool that makes the toughest intellectual ideas more easily digested and understood. All while having some fun together as a group!
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Format: Spiral-bound
Here in South Africa we have no less than 11 official languages! Can you imagine how many mental models are at work in organisations?
As a teacher of Systems Thinking, especially Managerial Cybernetics, I have found the exercises very helpful in grounding the concepts and unlocking the rich variety of perspectives that make up the South African gestalt.
Everytime I facilitate an exercise I learn something new. Makes for a great learning partnership. However, there is a risk that groups have so much fun, they neglect the challenge to get more deeply into 'the thinking within systems thinking' i.e. epistemology and ontology, and may miss opportunities for even deeper awareness and consciousness.
Some more references to other Systems Thinkers and their writings might be useful as follow through and encouragement to embark on deeper learning cycles that lead to more rigourous understanding.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Spiral-bound
I stumbled across this great piece of work when attending the International System Dynamics Society Conference 2007 in Boston. Between the sessions strolling around the book stands, I got this red something between my fingers. A seconds later a man with a badge "Dennis Meadows" crossed my way.

This was it, I got an signature by him (one of the early students of the founder of the field, Jay W. Forrester, and main contributor to the World Model back in the 70's)

The collection of games and small exercises (suitable for any kind and size of group) with detailed background information and questions around outcome provides some sort of bible for daily change efforts.

Right now you will only get used copies. There should be new version out soon.

Not cheap - yet one of the best buys ever :-)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those people working to help others come to see the importance of understanding systems this book is priceless. Activities you can use today or build into a series steppingstones.
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