Tool Guideline

Systems thinking for civil servants | How to use systems thinking to drive improved outcomes in complex situations.

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 26 May 2022

The UK Government Office for Science, in collaboration with the Policy Profession, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Systems Thinking Interest Group

A suite of resources to promote and embed systems thinking across the Civil Service. The guidance is intended for civil servants working all over government, regardless of grade, department, background or profession.

The guidance includes:

  • 2. the systems thinking journey, which expands on the content within the introduction to systems thinking and maps 5 systems thinking principles to different stages of the policy design process

  • 4. the systems thinking case study bank, which contains a collection of 14 personal testimonials from civil servants on their experiences of using systems thinking in their work

Case studies

Title Author Affiliation Systems thinking tools or approach used
1. Creating a tool to improve net zero policy design Adam Jones BEIS Causal loop maps
2. Reforming agricultural policy design Caitlin Jones Defra Causal loop maps
3. Improving the performance of a government directorate Gary Preece Defra Rich pictures
4. Creating a new tax system Hazel Challenger MOJ Causal loop maps
5. Understanding how universities make financial and prioritisation decisions Isabel Ruckelshauss UKRI Causal loop maps
6. Creating a healthy business finance system in the UK Mark Renshaw, Jennifer Panting, Nafeesah Ameerudden BEIS Goal setting, framing questions, causal loop maps
7. Improving Net Zero policy design Jonathan Hoare BEIS Systems mapping, Sankey diagrams, general systems approach
8. Developing a new capability for the Home Office Niki Jobson Dstl PQR statement, soft systems methodology
9. Explaining the DWP policy simulation model Rachel Bennett DWP Rich pictures, cognitive maps
10. Tackling multiple disadvantage Richard Lewis, Shane Britton DLUHC General systems approach
11. Developing the business in human rights action plan Richard Fitzgerald BEIS Soft Systems Methodology, causal loop maps
12. Joining-up air quality and climate change policies Rose Willoughby Defra Soft Systems Methodology
13. Ageing Foresight Project Tom Wells, Stephen Bennett GO-Science, Policy Lab Causal loop maps
14. Establishing a systems team to inform land use policy Dan McGonigle Defra Causal loop maps and general systems approach

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