The challenge: Systems Thinking is an emerging field of study which looks for the right leverage points in complex systems in order to enact change. The School of System Change was looking for ways to organise practitioners into a mutually supportive community, where theory and practice can be explored together.

The team: We were a small team of just six for this project, led by Laura Winn (Head of the School) and Neil Gunn (Head of Digital at Forum for the Future). All participants had some experience of various design methods, but hadn’t taken part in a design sprint before.

The work: One interesting feature of Systems Thinking is that it is usually performed as an ongoing iterative inquiry. The approach we decided to test was therefore not a fixed “product”, but a programme of activity, where questions could be asked and feedback incorporated. Taking place over several months, this inquiry would work with small teams of practitioners to define, then build the tools the community will need to learn together.

The outcome: A prototyped website, explaining how the community would form, along with a number of Google Docs which participants could use to collaborate in establishing the purpose, structure and activities of the community itself. These were tested with Systems Thinkers and the prototype was further improved based on the feedback we received. You can read what Neil Gunn thought of the process on the CharityComms blog.

Tools used for prototyping: A basic WordPress template and timeline plugin. Google Docs and Slack.

Deliverables: The prototype can currently be viewed at