Applying Systems Thinking and
Common Archetypes to Organizational Issues


How your organization thinks about problems has a lot to do with the quality of solutions it applies. All too often, organizations rush through problem solving, overlook the relationships between contributing factors, and fail to test assumptions before implementing an ineffective “fix.”

In partnership with Michael Goodman, isee systems brings you Applying Systems Thinking and Common Archetypes to Organizational Issues. Based on more than 20 years of practical experience, this course was originally developed by Goodman to teach a new way to think about and understand the challenges you face. You and your colleagues will be introduced to core Systems Thinking concepts and given the chance to practice their application. You’ll see how Systems Thinking can improve problem solving and inspire organizational learning.

The People Behind the Course

Systems Thinking grew out of system dynamics, an approach to thinking that facilitates problem solving pioneered in the 1950s by Jay Forrester, an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Forrester introduced computer simulation as a business problem-solving tool and taught leaders in business, government, academics, and other disciplines how to look for the unintended consequences of policies and programs … before they are implemented.

Two of Forrester’s students were Michael Goodman and Barry Richmond. Recognized as leaders in the fields of system dynamics and Systems Thinking, both their careers are defined by a passion to teach others how to apply Systems Thinking to complex, everyday problems in a way that inspires collective learning and improvement.

Michael’s specific interest is in developing and applying Systems Thinking to organizational change and learning. From 1985-2002 he was Vice President and head of Systems Thinking at Innovation Associates. Founded by Peter Senge, Innovation Associates brought the Systems Thinking approach into many Fortune 100 businesses. Michael founded Innovation Associates Organizational Learning in 2002. He was one of the developers of the systems archetypes—systemic patterns common to most workplaces, that were forwarded in Peter Senge’s widely read The Fifth Discipline. He has published widely and served as the primary contributor to the Systems Thinking chapter in the acclaimed Fifth Discipline Fieldbook.

Barry Richmond founded isee systems, the leading developer of Systems Thinking software. isee systems’ STELLA® and iThink® software gives teachers, students, researchers, and business people a way to visualize, structure, and share system models. Barry received the Jay Wright Forrester Award from the System Dynamics Society in 1989 in honor of his pivotal role in revolutionizing the System Dynamics modeling process.

Many thanks go to Sherry Immediato, Managing Director of The Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), for her work in adapting the content and generating additional materials for use in this web-based course.

About isee systems

isee systems (formerly High Performance Systems) is the world leader and innovator in Systems Thinking software. Founded in 1985, isee released STELLA®, the first software application to bring Systems Thinking to the desktop. In addition to STELLA which is primarily used by educators, isee offers iThink® for business simulation.

isee systems has substantial global reach in business, education, and government markets. Its software is being used by thousands of individuals and organizations in over 80 countries around the world. Customers include Dow Chemical, Ford, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, Towers Perrin, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and a variety of government agencies and schools.

More than a software company, isee systems has become a Systems Thinking resource, providing classroom and online training, printed books and teaching materials, and links to articles and organizations.

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About Innovations Associates Organizational Learning

Innovation Associates Organizational Learning (IAOL) focuses on building an organization’s capacity for learning and change. IAOL offers unique onsite workshops enabling clients to learn by applying System Thinking tools real time on critical issues they face. IAOL also has extensive experience in developing the ability of leaders to think and act systemically and has worked with organizations of all types around the world.

For more information, please visit