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Introduction to systems thinking for civil servants: driving improved outcomes in complex situations

Systems thinking Public sector innovation Public service Public sector United Kingdom

The Government Office for Science (UK), in collaboration with the Policy Profession, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Systems Thinking Interest Group, has produced this suite of documents to promote and embed systems thinking across the civil service.

The guidance is intended for civil servants working all over government, regardless of grade, department, background or profession.

The documents include:

  • an introduction to systems thinking, a short summary of what systems thinking is, when it is useful and why it can be beneficial to your work
  • the systems thinking journey, which expands on the content within the introduction to systems thinking and maps 5 systems thinking principles to different stages of the policy design process
  • the systems thinking toolkit, which contains step-by-step instructions on how to use 11 systems thinking tools
  • the systems thinking case study bank, which contains a collection of 14 personal testimonials from civil servants on their experiences of using systems thinking in their work

This suite of documents aims to act as a springboard into systems thinking for civil servants unfamiliar with this approach. The authors introduce a small sample of systems thinking concepts and tools, chosen due to their accessibility and alignment to civil service policy development, but which is by no means comprehensive.

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Open Government Licence v3.0
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