Systems Thinking Tools for Creating Change and Sustainability Peer Learning Group

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The RHNTC invites all TPP grantees to join the Systems Thinking Tools for Creating Change and Sustainability Peer Learning Group. From October 2022 through March 2023, the RHNTC will offer virtual, learning groups to provide space for you and your TPP colleagues to use your existing sustainability plan and work through a visioning process for what could come next after grant funding ends. The RHNTC has engaged national experts from the Waters Center for System Thinking to facilitate each peer learning session. Participants will build their systems thinking capacity and engage in peer sharing. It is our hope that the connections made during the event continue to grow even after the PLG is complete. Each participant will receive a Systems Thinking Toolkit (Habits of a Systems Thinking cards and workbook) from the Waters Center for Systems Thinking to support their learning. Bring your questions, comments, and experiences to this peer-focused space. You'll have the chance to learn how others are navigating similar experiences.


By the end of the PLG, participants will be able to: 

  • Incorporate systems thinking concepts, practices, and tools in their day-to-day duties and responsibilities. 
  • Apply systems thinking concepts, practices, and tools in sustainability planning, communication, collaboration, problem-solving and decision-making.


The RHNTC will support up to 40 individuals consisting of TPP Tier 1 and Tier 2 grantee staff, including program directors, program managers and evaluators from all Tiers. One person should register on behalf of your organization ( up to 3 people per organization). Once registered, you will receive a welcome email and a quick assessment survey.

Expectations and total time commitment

There are nine 90-minute sessions facilitated by Sheri Marlin, Waters Center for Systems Thinking and peers and supported by the RHNTC. Due to the nature of this peer-focused space, sessions will not be recorded, so participants should make every effort to attend all sessions given that the content builds upon the earlier sessions. 


Sessions will take place from 3:30-4:30pm ET, October 2022 to March 2023 and will tentatively cover the following topics:

Date Topic Learning Objectives
October 14 My grant as a system
  • Look at your grant through a systems thinking lens
  • Identify the elements, relationships and dynamics of your system
  • Define systems from cross-sector perspectives
  • Pre-assess personal understanding of systems thinking and ability to apply it in the context of leadership
October 28 The systems thinking leader
  • Use Habits of a Systems Thinker as shared language and practice
  • Identify Habits that will support your sustainability plan
  • Explain how actions as a systems thinking leader can grow their circle of influence 
November 18 Using mental models to affect systems change
  • Explore how mental model shifts are possible places to intervene (leverage) in systems 
  • Describe how mental models are developed overtime
  • Apply the ladder of inference to an understanding of mental model development and reinforcement
  • Identify and give examples of practices that help manage movement up and down the ladder
December 9 Change over time and the dynamic leader
  • Use behavior-over-time graphs to tell stories
  • Identify variables in a system that match generic trend lines
  • Identify variables that can be shown using both qualitative and quantitative data
  • Draw behavior-over-time graphs to illustrate patterns and trends of key variables
January 13 Making meaningful connection
  • Use behavior-over time graphs to communicate hopes and fears of system change
  • Build connection circles based specifically on your sustainability plan
February 3 Using feedback to advance your system
  • Identify feedback loops in your connection circle maps, including the reinforcing drivers 
  • Apply the core theory of success to your work
  • Determine leverage actions based on your causal maps
  • Discuss the use of causal mapping as a strategy for community problem solving
February 17 Accumulations and their rates of change
  • Understand desired accumulations in their system
  • Build a stock flow map that shows key accumulations in their system of interest
  • Use a stock-flow map to examine the role of advocates and resistors in creating systems change
March 3 The iceberg as a tool for deeply understanding your system–part 1
  • Integrate learning from throughout the course into an iceberg model that reflects your current sustainability plan
  • Articulate the mental model shifts that will likely result from your current programming
  • Reflect on behavior-over-time graphs as measures of change on key performance indicators related to your grant
  • Solicit feedback on their iceberg from key stakeholders
March 17 The iceberg as a tool for deeply understanding your system–part 2
  • Continue development of iceberg work and identification of leverage
  • Present feedback gathered from their iceberg, including key learnings and receive feedback from other cohort members
  • Revisit their self assessment on key aspects of systems thinking leadership

Registrations are due by 11:59 PM ET on September 26, 2022 and will be accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. Registrations must be submitted by a TPP grantee. The RHNTC will notify all registrants of next steps by October 3, 2022. Please review the registration questions prior to completing the form. Register by September 26, 2022. If you have questions prior to registering, please contact the RHNTC at