Human systems behind the overt systems

Human systems behind the overt systems

Systems thinking is essential for anyone who wants to keep things up and running, or needs to sustain complex organizations. Situations can become complex very quickly. ToP provides systems tools and mental models that allow  complexity to remain, but holds them within frameworks that show the precise points where a small intervention can make a big difference.

Case studies

ToP has some of the most powerful diagnostic and leveraged systems thinking tools available in the world today.


Slide059SocProcThe Social Process Triangles are the most comprehensive human systems diagnostics that strips complex systems down to their most basic form, for easy understanding. It is used for understanding global, national, regional, local, neighbhourhood and family systems, and for the complex relationships internal to organizations.

The more people that are involved in the diagnostic the more comprehensive the results will be. This can be completed in a 3-6 hour setting, and the tool is best learned through its actual use.

Slide058wavetitleWave Trend Analysis empowers groups by analyzing trends in society that are supporting or hampering the group’s mission. It can also determine societal waves that a group can ride to further its own agenda, but might also expose the group’s own ethical dilemmas.

A wave trend analysis can be completed in three hours with a group of motivated individuals.


slide063Participatory Issues Plotting is a large group tool that safely outlines the major issues that any group is facing, but does it with full participation and without the possibility of any one individual taking control or subverting the group’s agenda. This is extremely valuable for Community Forums or Town Meetings and has many other applications.

This is a self-documenting tool that takes 1-3 hours, and in which more and more people in attendance leads to better and better results.


Slide061sppolesThis tool is the key to understanding the underlying motivators of any human system. Its tri-polar nature adequately describes most drivers of human behaviour. It is scalable from the individual level to the very large system level, including large organizations and small societies.

This mental model occasions instantaneous systems insight from some, but takes several hours for others.

Slide063imbalanceTri-Polar System Dynamics show how the internal drives of any system are related, so that a qualitative analysis of the various imbalances in complex social systems can be turned into a quantitative and visual tool that empowers groups by showing where energy must be put.

The elegant model generates dialogue and powerful insight and makes it clear what it really going on in a social system behind all the facade.

Once understood, this tool is used quickly by small groups and takes more time for larger groups. Allow 3 hours for the analysis.


slide066whistleWhiste Point Master Strategies are the set of strategies that can actually create an avalanche of social change. Based on experiences of 40 years in the field by ICA and ToP practitioners these four master strategies are the keys to allowing a very small group to have a very big impact. In is planning form is takes only a few hours, but prepare yourself for a lifetime of commitment.





ToP books on systems include The International Facilitator’s Companion by Jon Jenkins, Toward the Learning Organization by Ackley, Belden and Hyatt, Transformational Strategy by Bill Staples

Social Process Triangles

Wave Trend Analysis

Participatory Issue Plotting

Tri-polar System Dynamics

Rebalancing Social Process

Whistle Point Master Strategy

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