The general plan for today was to move through the steps of systems thinking within group work. This would take the form of 4 sessions, interspersed with opportunities for feedback to ensure understanding.
Today’s session, after yesterday’s introduction, began to look at a specific tool used for Systems Thinking.
SINFONIE, an acronym, stands for ‘Systemic Interpretation of the Nature of Factors Influencing Organisations and Networks in their Environment’ and was developed by Denkmodell in the mid 1990s.
Based upon many other thinking tools, SINFONIE brings together ‘the best bits’ to form an officially Registered concept by Denkmodell.
After an introductory discussion on the tool, the participants split into 4 groups to discuss four of their Innovation Projects in relation to one of the first steps of SINFONIE – Finding a Search Question. This will help the group to focus on what they are trying to achieve by this process, as well as give clarity to some of the group’s upcoming projects e.g. ‘Which Factors influence the successful implementation of ESD in schools?’
To wake the group after lunch, a task was set: Without talking, position yourself into an equilateral triangle with two other members of the group. An interesting exercise, considering some people didn’t realise their position in one of the triangles, moved to another space and disrupted the plans that others had put in place. A veiled representation of systems thinking, I’m sure.
The next step was to look at the System Landscape and Selection of Factors. System Landscape establishes as many important factors surrounding the project as possible, to create an overall picture of the process and what can influence it. This was done through mind mapping, quick writing of the overarching factors, then other smaller issues that come to mind as a result of these. Selection of Factors focuses on the ones you think are the most influential.
But by just stating a factor, it can remain unclear what exactly is implied. One groups ‘Economy’ can be very different from another groups ‘Economy.‘ So, the next step is to Define Factors, finding one aspect of each factor that is considered most important and writing it in a table. This will form the Influence Matrix.
This provoked nearly an hours worth of debate and discussion in the four groups, and once complete, was discussed again once the participants had all come together, with issues and problems being solved by the trainers.
Steps 1-5 have been covered today, after a lot of hard work, and the learning through SINFONIE will continue tomorrow..