Why Systems Thinking?

Why systems thinking? Because lasting, impactful change occurs when we understand a system fully — what’s happening, what’s working, what isn’t — and when we have the tools to change the system to produce desired results.

“I credit my success and dynamic perspective of the world to systems thinking and my ability to create a plan, identify challenges, implement changes and most importantly, harness a drive to deliver beneficial results. In short, I have built my life around always trying to do the right thing and deliver benefits.”
- James Waters, Founder and Former CEO of Waters Corporation and Founder of the Waters Foundation

Habits of a Systems Thinker™

The Habits of a Systems Thinker make up the foundation of the Waters Center approach. Each Habit describes ways of thinking about how systems work and how actions taken can impact results seen over time. Together, all 14 Habits encompass a spectrum of strategies that foster problem-solving and thoughtful reflection about systems of interest. They’re called “habits” for a reason — systems thinkers refer to the Habits often and make an intentional effort to integrate them into daily life.

“I have found the Habits cards to be one of my main 'go-to' tools when facilitating and teaching. One of the best things about the cards are the questions on the back, as they invite deeper thinking and support dialogue. I keep a set of Habits cards close at hand as a personal reminder to develop and internalize the Habits in myself!”
- Mary Bouley, Educator and Facilitator

Benefits of Systems Thinking

Makes Thinking Visual

Organizes Thoughts

Changes Perspectives

Improves Communication
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 interdependent patterns of change over time.
have the tools and strategies needed to create successful learning environments.
become more empowered & engaged with their learning.
Businesses & Employers
gain a pipeline of exceptional talent ready to tackle complex challenges.
thrive with citizens committed to finding equitable solutions to civic & environmental issues.
We know that to see improved day-to-day behaviors and short and long-term results within a system, it’s important to understand how a system works. Systems thinking is a necessary approach to create sustainable and equitable systemic change that will make communities and our world a better place for all.

“When I use the language of the Habits and tools with students, it makes me more excited in my teaching because I start hearing kids who are questioning other students’ assumptions in very diplomatic, very grounded ways and conversations rooted in evidence and curiosity emerge.”
- Elementary School Teacher, Portland, Oregon

How can we help you?

Whether you are new to systems thinking or a seasoned practitioner, we have a variety of offerings and ways to connect.