The Waters Center for Systems Thinking helps people from all backgrounds, age groups, careers, and areas of interest learn strategies and tools for overcoming complex challenges. From the classroom to the boardroom, a systems thinking approach puts desired results within reach.

Quite simply, systems thinkers are best able to help make our world a better place for all. We firmly believe that systems thinking is a necessary approach for understanding how the world works.

We are constantly adapting and customizing our strategies to meet the diverse needs of those we serve. Our offerings remain innovative because it’s imperative to stay current in a constantly changing world with increasingly complex challenges.

About the Waters Center:

  • Leaders in systems thinking capacity building worldwide since 1989
  • Over 30,000 educators and hundreds of thousands of students in over 800 schools have benefited from Waters Center systems thinking work
  • Waters Center materials used in hundreds of schools, districts and organizations around the globe
  • Successfully facilitated the development of thousands of systems thinkers, many who began as children and are now contributing organizational leaders and community members
  • Experience working in over a dozen countries with methods effectively benefitting varied cultures

The Impact of Systems Thinking

Systems thinking gives learners the tools to develop a deeper understanding of systems around them and move closer to achieving their highest performance. Systems thinkers have a sharpened and clarified understanding of how systems actually work. Confusing, disconnected snapshots of life start to make more sense when understood as patterns of change over time.

Systems Thinking...


Makes Thinking Visual

Organizes Thoughts

Changes Perspectives

Improves Communication

When a person develops the capacity to understand how elements interact within and among systems, and can then communicate these observations effectively, tremendous change is possible. Learn more about systems thinking here.

A systems thinking approach helps people from all types of backgrounds and any type of system achieve positive results and deliver ongoing benefits.

The benefits of implementing systems thinking include short-term gains and long-lasting changes that affect all elements of a system in a positive way.

Teachers
have the tools and strategies needed to create successful learning environments
Students
become more empowered & engaged with their learning
Businesses & Employers
gain a pipeline of exceptional talent ready to tackle 21st century challenges
Communities
thrive with citizens committed to finding equitable solutions to civic & environmental issues

Whether you are a teacher, a manager, a school administrator or community leader, paying attention to the complex relationships among all system parts will help you design and foster structures that will produce desirable outcomes. Systems thinkers pay attention to the causal factors that generate particular outcomes and behaviors, and if they want to see different day-to-day behaviors and short and long-term results within a system, it’s important that they understand how a system works.

Our Offerings

The Waters Center utilizes a set of Habits, concepts and tools to bring systems thinking concepts and strategies to life. This instructional toolbox is the foundation of our approach to helping people become systems thinkers. We have facilitated the development of thousands of systems thinkers, many who began as children and are now successful, contributing organizational leaders and community members. Having worked with people from around the world, we know our methods effectively benefit and support people from all cultures, age groups and work places.

Our offerings include:

  • Coaching and support structures to adopt and implement systems thinking into your organization, school, community and more
  • Professional development options such as workshops varying from introductory to advanced
  • Customized systems thinking integration plans created for specific desired outcomes
  • Multi-day learning events including Systems Thinking Institutes
  • The Thinking Tools Studio: a free, online learning community with courses on the Habits and tools of systems thinking – coming soon
  • Ongoing counsel to assist you, your team and your organization during your systems thinking learning journey

For more information, click here.

Get Involved

Are you interested in finding out more about our approach? Click here to see a list of services or email us to get started today.

Support Our Work

As a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, we rely on donations to continue our mission of bringing systems thinking to schools, classrooms, organizations and communities. Become a part of changing lives through systems thinking. Learn more here.

Systems thinking and the work of the Waters Center has promoted deeper thinking and learning at my school. I’ve found that teachers can better facilitate critical and visual thinking in students, and work with multiple perspectives in an organized fashion. I’ve seen that students can better justify and explain content. Systems thinking not only stretches thinking, but it also simplifies it in the most beneficial way.

Bonnie Short, Principal, West Smiths Station Elementary School, Lee County Schools, Alabama

Waters Center For Systems Thinking
2019-06-05T14:19:22-04:00

Bonnie Short, Principal, West Smiths Station Elementary School, Lee County Schools, Alabama

Systems thinking and the work of the Waters Center has promoted deeper thinking and learning at my school. I’ve found that teachers can better facilitate critical and visual thinking in students, and work with multiple perspectives in an organized fashion. I’ve seen that students can better justify and explain content. Systems thinking not only stretches thinking, but it also simplifies it in the most beneficial way.
The Waters Center has been instrumental in helping United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona create, as part of a large early childhood professional development grant, a complex, multifaceted system that has improved outcomes for teachers, children and families. Our partnership with the Waters Center has helped me hone my own systems thinking skills. I see systems thinking as something that should be introduced to young children in order to create and strengthen their reasoning and problem solving skills. The Waters Center is leaving a legacy of a new generation of thinkers and leaders who understand how decisions and actions impact systems and people, both over the short-term and for years to come.

Naomi Karp, Senior Director of Early Childhood Professional Development at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

Waters Center For Systems Thinking
2019-06-05T14:43:03-04:00

Naomi Karp, Senior Director of Early Childhood Professional Development at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

The Waters Center has been instrumental in helping United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona create, as part of a large early childhood professional development grant, a complex, multifaceted system that has improved outcomes for teachers, children and families. Our partnership with the Waters Center has helped me hone my own systems thinking skills. I see systems thinking as something that should be introduced to young children in order to create and strengthen their reasoning and problem solving skills. The Waters Center is leaving a legacy of a new generation of thinkers and leaders who understand how decisions and actions impact systems and people, both over the short-term and for years to come.
I came across systems thinking as a school of thought only three years ago but have been regularly amazed by the power it holds. I’m also often struck by how our most successful projects adopted systems thinking techniques before we even realized consciously what we were doing. The ability to see, understand and influence systems is one of the greatest capability needs in business (and in the world, generally). The Waters Center's tools have been a helpful and fun way to make these concepts accessible. I just ordered their “Habits of a Systems Thinker” cards for my entire department!

Stacey Tank, Chief Communications Officer, The Home Depot

Waters Center For Systems Thinking
2019-06-05T14:44:13-04:00

Stacey Tank, Chief Communications Officer, The Home Depot

I came across systems thinking as a school of thought only three years ago but have been regularly amazed by the power it holds. I’m also often struck by how our most successful projects adopted systems thinking techniques before we even realized consciously what we were doing. The ability to see, understand and influence systems is one of the greatest capability needs in business (and in the world, generally). The Waters Center's tools have been a helpful and fun way to make these concepts accessible. I just ordered their “Habits of a Systems Thinker” cards for my entire department!
Systems thinking (and the Waters Center) has provided the opportunity for Twin Rivers Unified School District employees to develop new skills and behaviors to resolve long-standing issues that have historically impacted student achievement. Also, it has repurposed how and why we deliver services to schools and students and the role each of us play in student/teacher success. Without a doubt, systems thinking has accelerated the process in building capacity in the system for all staff.

Dr. Steven Martinez, Superintendent, Twin Rivers Unified School District

Waters Center For Systems Thinking
2019-06-05T14:46:13-04:00

Dr. Steven Martinez, Superintendent, Twin Rivers Unified School District

Systems thinking (and the Waters Center) has provided the opportunity for Twin Rivers Unified School District employees to develop new skills and behaviors to resolve long-standing issues that have historically impacted student achievement. Also, it has repurposed how and why we deliver services to schools and students and the role each of us play in student/teacher success. Without a doubt, systems thinking has accelerated the process in building capacity in the system for all staff.