Why Systems Thinking?

No matter your role in a particular system, you are vital to the way that system behaves and the outcomes it produces. The Waters Center is internationally recognized for helping people improve performance and results through our customized approach.

Our Impact

With over three decades of experience, the Waters Center has helped people around the globe approach learning, teaching and leading with confidence through the Habits, tools and strategies of systems thinking. We are known for making our capacity building accessible, impactful, and relevant to day-to-day decision making.

Our global network includes over 80 countries, and counting!

“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, (Retired) Sr. Director of Early Childhood Professional Development at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

The Power of Meaningful Connections

The Waters Center is an internationally recognized leader in systems thinking capacity building. Through virtual and in person learning opportunities, large scale events, and use of Waters Center products and resources, we have made many connections and impacted hundreds of thousands of people including educators, teachers, students, business and community members.
The graph shown is one example of our impact. Our free, online learning system, the Thinking Tools Studio, has seen significant growth in monthly and cumulative subscribers. Users benefit from applicable courses on the Habits, tools and archetypes of systems thinking in addition to an array of resources which are updated on a regular basis.

“Systems thinking (and the Waters Center) has provided the opportunity for our district employees to develop new skills and behaviors to resolve long-standing issues that have historically impacted student achievement.”
- Dr. Steven Martinez, Superintendent, Twin Rivers Unified School District

Systems Thinking for Everyone

We've helped people from a variety of industries and areas build their systems thinking capacity, including:
Advocates in medical education and public health actively incorporate the Habits of a Systems Thinker into their curricula, professional development, and day-to-day practices. The Waters Center has collaborated with renowned medical schools, institutions and associations to promote systems thinking in medical education. The Habits of a Systems Thinker have been cited and included in several health textbooks, including "Health Systems Science", developed by the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.
For over 30 years, the Waters Center has worked with thousands of educators and administrators to implement systems thinking with students grades PreK-12, at district, school and classroom levels. A systems thinking approach to learning, teaching and leading has lasting benefits and provides young people with the tools needed for successful futures, both professionally and personally.
Waters Center staff have been guest lecturers, curriculum designers, adjunct faculty instructors, and advisors for a wide range of public and private colleges and universities, both in the United States and internationally. Students in departments of environmental studies, business, law, medicine, public health, education and more have seen the necessity of a systems thinking approach when applied to their learning, research and work.
The Waters Center has extensive experience working with leading early childhood (EC) organizations; state Departments of Education, Early Childhood divisions; large foundations; and nonprofit organizations that support the EC sector and the notion that all young children deserve high quality care and education. Children as young as four years old are able to naturally draw connections within and between systems on the playground, during story time, and when engaged in exploration.
The Waters Center has helped countless parents and guardians use systems thinking to help navigate the challenges of raising children through a variety of developmental stages. The Habits and tools of systems thinking deliver adults a myriad of ways to help children with problem-solving and decision making, both inside and outside of the classroom.
The Waters Center regularly partners with other nonprofit organizations to collectively learn with and from one another and to deliver benefits to people and communities around the world. These worthwhile relationships result in notable mutual benefits and help forward the mission of making systems thinking available to all.
The Waters Center’s multilevel experience in local, regional, state and national government systems has shown leaders benefit from incorporating systems thinking into decision-making, problem solving and strategic follow-through as they implement new mandates, programs and laws. The complex structures seen in Ministries of Education, U.S. Departments of Education and federally-funded organizations, makes systems thinking key for alignment of diverse perspectives and a whole-system approach.
Many corporations, from organizations with a few staff members, to large Fortune 500 companies, have used the Waters Center approach to systems thinking to help break down silos between teams/departments and to increase alignment and cohesiveness when pursuing key performance indicators. Corporations have also seen long-term success when working with the Waters Center for professional and leadership development.



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“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).”
- Chief Communications Officer, Fortune 500 Company

Learning With the Waters Center

“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.”
- Former Principal, Lee County Schools, Alabama

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.