Learn How To

Map a complex system to gain clarity

Identify specific points in the system where you can make a big impact

Create leverage hypotheses to describe how you will aim to create systemic change

Develop a framework for learning and adapting over time as your system changes

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Course Syllabus

Learning Tools

35 instructional videos featuring Rob Ricigliano, The Systems and Complexity coach for The Omidyar Group

A 94-page Systems Practice workbook produced by The Omidyar Group and Daylight Design

7 workshop guides that break down each stage of a Systems Practice

7 reading guides featuring in-depth case studies Free access to the Kumu.io platform for systems mapping for course participants

Section 1: What Is Systems Practice?

Video: Why Use Systems Practice?

Video: Introduction to the Course from Rob Ricigliano

Video: What is Systems Practice?

Video: Stories of Systems Practice

Video: Misconceptions about Systems Practice

Video: Types of Problems to Address with Systems Practice

Video: Launch Your Systems Practice

Reading: Why We Need Systems Practice

Discussion: Frame Your Systems Challenge

Activity: Complexity Spectrums Chart

Activity: Define Your Systems Challenge

Section 2: Set a Guiding Star and Near Star for Your System

Video: Systems Thinking Mindsets

Video: Setting Goals for Systems Change

Video: Examples of Guiding Stars, Near Stars, and Framing Questions

Reading 2: Systems Practice in Action with Case Studies

Activity: Developing Your Guiding Star and Near Star

Section 3: Explore Forces in Your System

Video: Explore the Forces in your System

Video: Enablers and Inhibitors

Video: Upstream and Downstream Effects

Video: Structural, Attitudinal and Transactional Forces

Reading: Explore Forces in Your System

Activity: SAT Analysis

Section 4: Build Loops and Discover the Deep Structure

Video: Tell the Story of Your Loops

Video: Uncover the Deep Structure

Video: Examples of Uncovering Your Deep Structure

Video: Big Picture Reminder: Why Use Systems Practice?

Reading: Uncover the Story of Your System

Activity: Create Loops

Activity: Discover the Deep Structure

Section 5: Map Your System

Video: Build Your Map

Video: Avoid Getting Stuck

Video: Craft Your Systems Narrative

Video: Socialize Your Map

Reading: Map Your System

Activity: Build Your Map

Activity: Craft Your Narrative

Activity: Socialize and Iterate Your Map

Section 6: Find Opportunities for Leverage

Video: Discover Opportunities for Leverage

Video: Tips for Finding Opportunities for Leverage

Video: Develop Leverage Hypotheses

Reading: Find Opportunities for Leverage

Activity: Develop a Systemic Problem Statement

Activity: Find Opportunities for Leverage

Activity: Articulate Leverage Hypotheses

Section 7: Build a Systems Strategy

Video: How to Pick the Right Leverage Hypotheses

Video: Fast and Slow Variables

Video: Scaffold Your Learning

Video: 4 Drivers of Success in the Systems World

Video: Adapt Quickly

Video: Parting Words from Rob

Reading: Build a Systems Strategy

Activity: Evaluate Fit

Activity: Maximize Potential for Leverage

Activity: Develop Key Performance Questions

Activity: Learn from the System

Learn for free

New courses at no cost—made available every month.

Change your view of the world

Draw inspiration from thought-provoking readings, videos, and reflections.

Gain diverse perspectives

Learn with a team that brings different experiences and thinking to the table.

Receive a certificate of recognition

Attain a “Statement of Accomplishment” recognizing your successful completion of a course.

"Systems Practice is something we recommend to our partners a lot. This is a great crash course into the principles of it."


Course Description

With so many interconnected forces at play in our complex world, it’s easy to get discouraged by detours or dead ends when striving to create enduring change. Systems Practice is a way to make sense of complex environments and uncover the dynamics that have the greatest potential for impact.

This course will lead you through each step of understanding a system, analyzing it to find points of leverage, and learning how to adapt in a changing environment. You will also gain a portfolio of step-by-step tools, processes, and mindsets to apply to your current and future work.

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Supported By

The Omidyar Group is a collection of companies, organizations, and initiatives focused on empowering individuals to cultivate a thriving world. The Omidyar Group applies the systems approach to many complex issues and has assembled a dynamic team, led by Rob Ricigliano, to coach and support its initiative teams.


Rob Ricigliano has been in the field of conflict management and complex negotiations since he attended Harvard Law School almost 30 years ago, engaging in numerous peacebuilding efforts in the social impact field.

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Our community comes from a range of countries and socioeconomic backgrounds; differences in pricing standards and privilege shouldn't prevent access. Therefore, this course is 'pay what you can.' In order to continue to provide access to as many people as possible, we appreciate whatever you are able to contribute to help keep our courses running. Please note that a payment is NOT required to take this course.
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