Using systems thinking to unpack problems

When dealing with the increasingly complex and messy problems of today, it’s probably not the best strategy to focus on just one particular behaviour without first understanding the wider system. Doing so could result in frustratingly ineffective programs or even create new problems.

This course introduces a practical way to apply systems thinking to understand the problem and reveal the social, economic and environmental factors that may contribute to it. With these insights, you will be able to make better decisions about where to intervene and know which behaviours to target.

This short course is for anyone who needs to understand a problem holistically and better identify ‘who needs to do what differently’.

Bring your own problem to apply a systems approach and gain a broader perspective.

What you’ll learn

All BehaviourWorks’ short courses support skills development and the practical application of behavioural science theories, tools, techniques and methods.

By attending this short course you will:

  • know why, and how, systems thinking can directly contribute to the development of effective behaviour change initiatives
  • practice using ‘cause and effect’ mapping to gain a broader perspective of the context and situation of a problem.
  • discover how these holistic, big picture approaches can illuminate different actors/behaviours that may be more impactful to focus on
  • uncover connections and influences that can inform later stages of the BehaviourWorks Method, such as identifying specific drivers of a behaviour and designing effective behaviour change evaluations.

This course aims to contribute to the learning and development capabilities encouraged in the public sector: e.g. ‘systems thinking’ – level: Applied – VPS Public Sector Commission, p. 3 ‘ under meaningful outcomes’.

BWA Toolbox Series of practical short courses

This course is part of our Toolbox Series of practical short courses that are designed to support your skills development and the application of behavioural science theories, techniques and methods. See our other short courses:

The benefits of taking a holistic, big picture approach

For behaviour change programs to be successful, we need everyone to be on the same page. One of the tactics we use to achieve this is by showing how problems emerge from systems.

By examining the interconnections and/or influences between networks, processes, policies and organisations, we are better able to identify some of the challenges (i.e., silos, competing agendas, organisational cultures) that may be playing a role.

Systems mapping helps us identify the range of influences contributing to the problem to reveal parts of the system where behaviour change can have the biggest impact – ideally for the least effort.

More on Systems Thinking as a methodology and Research Service

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Frequently asked questions

What format of course do you run?

Our training portfolio offers a variety of opportunities to suit a wide range of needs, from half-day or two day short introduction or foundation programs, a 15 hour skills development course (toolbox series/short courses) to an eight week bootcamp, and our 12 week accredited program. We also welcome applications for our doctoral program for the truly behaviour obsessed!

Can you provide training for my organisation?

We have specialist courses for organisations, from a coaching and mentoring team-based bootcamp to bespoke, tailored programing to meet identified needs within your team. Please get in touch to discuss you requirements.

How often do the courses run?

We have a calendar of delivery dates for open to market offerings. If there is something you are interested in that is not in the calendar, let us know!

What makes your course different to a traditional university course?

All BWA programs focus on providing our participants with the knowledge and confidence to apply practical behaviour change tools and methods in their workplace/life.

Who runs the course?

All our courses are delivered by the experienced and engaging BWA applied research team. The researchers are all engaged with cutting-edge projects with clients, using evidence based behavioural science to address real world problems. This means we draw on live examples and personally developed case studies in the programs.

How much experience do I need to participate?

We offer programs to suit everyone, from those who are just starting to explore behaviour change and what it offers, to those who have already been applying in their work and want to boost their toolkit, to organisations who want to support their own behavioural insights team.

Is behaviour change applicable to my industry?

Understanding WHO needs to DO WHAT differently, and exploring why people do the things they do, is at the heart of many government departments, industries and life itself! All our work is underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals, and we work across sectors including health, societal equity, financial development and environmental protection. If you work with people and problems, a behavioural perspective could be extremely helpful in increasing your program or policy effectiveness.

I am not based in Victoria - do you have any online offerings?

Yes! We have online courses with the same content and same fantastic interactive delivery techniques as our face to face programs. We design our online programs with flexibility in mind, so that working professionals and others can easily access the content at a time that suits their needs.