strategic plan

Three Ways You Already Use Systems Thinking

Hey folks!

Systems thinking is one of my favorite tools to use with clients because it pairs really well with graphic facilitation, and it almost always leads to new insights and solutions.

And, systems thinking can be a complex, nebulous, and overwhelming.

For me, this boils down to two factors:

-          The world isn’t as simple as we’d like, so truly seeking to make change or find the root cause of things takes some digging

-          I was over-complicating the theory in my head

Thinking in systems, while not necessarily simple, is natural for us. We navigate them every day! Here are three ways you’re probably already using systems thinking.

Bathtubs. This everyday example illustrates the concept of stocks (elements of the system) and flows (how stocks change). When you turn on the water, you know the bathtub will take some time to fill up. And, when you pull the drain plug, you know it takes time to completely empty. So, with this simple example, you can see how stocks act as delays or buffers in the system (the tub isn’t instantly full or empty). If the tub is half full and you pull the plug and turn the water on at the same rate it’s leaving, you can see how the stock of water will be maintained at the same level (this is called dynamic equilibrium).

Caffeine. If you drink coffee or caffeinated tea, if you feel your energy level dropping, you might make yourself a cuppa to pick yourself back up to the desired level of energy. Your stock here is energy, and the caffeine is a flow. The energy delivery isn’t instantaneous; there’s a gap. This gap is what drives your decision on when and how much caffeine to drink. This illustrates a balancing feedback loop: energy available leads to a discrepancy (gap), which leads to drinking coffee, which leads back to energy available.

Your Savings Account. This next example shows us about reinforcing feedback loops. When you put money in a savings account (high five!), there is also an interest rate. The more money you put into the account, the more interest is accumulated, which puts more money in your account. You get the idea.

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These are three examples of how systems behave, but of course there’s a whole lot more that goes into applying systems thinking to finding solutions or changing a system. Next time I’ll be sharing two key questions guaranteed to fire up your Systems Thinking Brain!

Intrigued and want to learn more? One of the all-time best books on this subject is Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows.

Intrigued and want to apply some visual systems thinking to a challenge in your organization?

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers,

Karina Signature_100.png



Where in the World is ConverSketch?

University of Illinois:  Graphically facilitating a strategic planning retreat for Technology Services. Here’s a snapshot of the agenda I designed and facilitated visually for the group. If you’re curious about tech and higher ed, definitely check out the work happening with  ShapingEDU!

University of Illinois: Graphically facilitating a strategic planning retreat for Technology Services. Here’s a snapshot of the agenda I designed and facilitated visually for the group. If you’re curious about tech and higher ed, definitely check out the work happening with ShapingEDU!

Temecula, California:  Capturing the big ideas about the future of the vision industry from today’s emerging leaders, facilitated by Sanitas Advisors. The energy was palpable and the community built in just one day was very cool to witness!

Temecula, California: Capturing the big ideas about the future of the vision industry from today’s emerging leaders, facilitated by Sanitas Advisors. The energy was palpable and the community built in just one day was very cool to witness!

Fire It Up

Hey folks!

We’re back from co-leading an absolutely stellar service learning trip in Kenya with a rockstar group of students from Colorado State University.

Between the significant time change, over 30 hours of travel, having been trusted with the safety and wellbeing of 12 college students, and having no internet or phone access for nearly 18 days, last week felt a little slow and fuzzy.

Which, in Karina-Speak, means a little frustrating.

Getting back, I was simultaneously fired up to immediately leap into projects and emails that had been put off during the trip, and at the same time I wanted to maintain the blissful state of disconnection and presence that being in Kenya facilitated.

Coming back to winter in Colorado, near our wood stove has been a favorite spot. So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about fire. For me, this month has been an exercise in understanding that all fires –whether they’re in a stove or the heart behind what you share with the world – need the right tending, fuel, and time to burn bright and clean.

Many of us feel the tension between creating space for ourselves and wanting to exceed our clients’ or teammates’ expectations. How do you keep your fire burning?

conversketch-learn-to-draw-fire

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Mapping Out Complexity  – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

Mapping Out Complexity – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

Psst…What’s that behind you? It’s impacting your life more than you realize

You’ve been leaving them behind you all month. All your life, really. You probably let a few slip out behind you today. Sometimes they’re messy, sometimes perfectly designed, sometimes barely discernible, other times they last for weeks. They are uniquely you.

What the heck am I talking about? Footprints.

What do footprints have to do with business? Well, it depends on how you look at it.

Here’s two ways:

What you do impacts those around you, probably more than you realize.  Have you ever thanked someone for a nugget of wisdom they shared that really struck a chord for you, only to have them look at you with a mildly puzzled smile? They don’t even remember what they said, but it shifted the way you looked at life and made a difference for you. On the other end of the spectrum, a flippant and uncaring word can ripple through someone’s life and uproot confidence.

What kind of imprint are you going to leave with those around you? Will it feel like stepping in a mud puddle, or crunching in sparkling snow? (Is stepping in a mud puddle really a bad thing? I don’t think it has to be, which is part of the unshakable optimism that makes me great at getting groups through tough conversations.)

Footprints are also useful tools for change in visual strategic planning.

Having clear steps visually outlined is a super powerful tool to be more productive, synergistic, collaborative and creative with your team. Why?
- You all know where you’re going with a clear vision.
- You all know what’s expected of you within the larger group to make sure the team is successful.
- Everyone understands the mile stones that will keep you moving toward the vision, even if different people approach achieving them different ways.
- And everyone knows how what they’re doing is contributing toward the group’s success. You all know where to find this map, and check in regularly using it as a guide.

So next time your team is meeting to lay things out for the week, or for the next five years, try putting a few footprints on the whiteboard to show the path forward, and fill them in together. Here’s some to get you started…

Click on the image below to see the larger version on the blog.

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so pumped if you shared it with your friends!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.
 
Cheers, Karina



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Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This month I've officially launched my custom watercolor greeting cards and prints! All cards are 5x7 and printed on recycled paper and paired with recycled envelopes. They come as the individual images above, or with nice, uplifting quotes I've compiled. I'm still working on an online platform to purchase them, but you can email me for a direct order or stop by the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery or Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House if you're local.