Mental Models for Creating Systems Change Webinar

1.00 hr
Event Archive
Systems Thinking Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Title X Family Planning Program
Last Reviewed

“Mental models are deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting. Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior.” —Peter Senge  

If you want to make meaningful, lasting change, you have to address mental models. Using a systems thinking approach can help Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program staff increase their awareness of how beliefs and attitudes influence perspectives and actions when addressing complex challenges associated with helping adolescents make healthy decisions. Mental models are the foundation of how we see and experience the world. During this webinar, we identified some of the mental models that TPP program staff experience in their work and identified leverage points in the system to more effectively move from superficial understanding to deeper understanding and ultimately action. Participants learned about mental models, their impact on systems, and about tools, like the Ladder of Inference, that can be used to reflect on one’s personal beliefs and better understand others’ beliefs.


  • Sheri Marlin, M.Ed., Chief Learning Officer, Waters Center for Systems Thinking

Learning Objectives: 

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

  1. Define mental models as they relate to systems thinking and TPP Programs
  2. Describe the importance of mental models in a systems approach
  3. Apply the ladder of inference to identify mental models

Time: 1 hour

Certificate of Completion: Yes - available after completing the evaluation at the end of the recording

Video Chapters

  • Introduction
  • Mental Models Activity 1 (07:33)
  • Mental Models Definition (11:03)
  • Words Matter: Mental Models Activity 2 (14:41)
  • The Ladder of Inference (26:11)
  • Habitats of a Systems Thinker (40:42)
  • Q&A (44:56)

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