Systems Thinking Strategies

 Systems thinking strategies fall into three general categories: visual, listening & speaking, and kinesthetic.  All three categories, especially when applied together, help people practice the habits of a systems thinker, building capacity to think systemically over time.

Visual, listening/speaking, and kinesthetic strategies that build systems thinking capacity

Visual Strategies

The visual tools of systems thinking include the ladder of inference, behavior-over-time graphs, stock/flow diagrams, an iceberg visual, and causal loop diagrams. Visual tools help students and educators collect, analyze, synthesize and communicate their thoughts about systems. 

Listening & Speaking Strategies

Development of a common vocabulary and the use of different communication techniques increase understanding of how systems work by increasing the ability to see a bigger picture through multiple perspectives.

Kinesthetic Strategies

These strategies engage the body along with the mind to study how and why a system functions as it does.


The Systems Thinking in Schools, WebEd site includes instruction and practice opportunities for using various strategies within educational settings.